Master's Programme in Sustainable Development

120 credits

Do you want to gain the knowledge and skills required to deal with complex challenges towards sustainable development? Are you interested in conducting your studies with a diverse group of international students? Do you aspire to co-create sustainable futures? The Master's Programme in Sustainable Development is built on the three pillars - interdisciplinarity, systems thinking and future orientation - that permeate our courses.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) have jointly created the Master's Programme in Sustainable Development to offer higher education on complex problems facing humanity and the planet and challenges concerned with sustainable futures. The programme approaches the concept of sustainable development.

The programme combines advanced courses on various topics concerned with sustainable development, including theoretical and practical courses on natural resource use, society and the environment, and energy-water-food.

During the programme, you can expect to:

  • gain an understanding of the evolution and sociopolitical uses of the concept of sustainable development,
  • use systems thinking to analyse complex challenges to sustainable development, such as resource extraction and use, biodiversity loss and protection, or economic growth and social inequalities,
  • apply analytical approaches from different research fields and improve your understanding of subjects outside your academic background,
  • enhance your critical and reflective thinking on the opportunities and challenges to achieving sustainable development by learning about alternative visions and building future scenarios,
  • co-create sustainable futures in a highly diverse group of international students with different academic backgrounds,
  • gain practical experience through in-depth method courses and internships.


The programme leads to the degree of Master of Science (120 credits) with Sustainable Development as the main field of study. After one year of study, it is possible to obtain a degree of Master of Science (60 credits).

Year 1

You will devote the first semester to subject areas within and outside your specialisation, balancing between social and natural sciences. You will also take part in interdisciplinary seminars where current issues concerning sustainable development are explored.

During your second semester, you will study how society's structure influences our ability to achieve sustainable development. The studies embrace global issues, decision-making processes and interdisciplinary methods. You will use your knowledge in a case study that you pursue together with the other students.

If you wish to obtain a one-year Master's degree, you must conclude the second semester with an essay.

Year 2

In the third semester, you may choose from a wide range of advanced courses in your specialisation to deepen the knowledge obtained from your Bachelor's degree. You may also choose to gain practical experience or broaden your knowledge from courses at a lower level outside your field of expertise. During this time, you may apply for one of the departmental student exchange agreements or other exchange agreements at the faculty and university.

The fourth and final semester is dedicated to writing your degree project. You may pursue this project within the academic world, industry or the public sector, abroad or in Sweden.

Courses within the programme

See the programme outline for courses within the programme.

The Master's Programme in Sustainable Development is interdisciplinary, which implies that your classmates might have previous experiences that are completely different from your own. We see the diversity of the student body and the differences in perspectives as a great benefit to our students and the programme.

Teaching takes place at Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), located in Uppsala. Usually, you will take two courses in parallel.

Teaching is usually composed of lectures, computer and field exercises, and seminars where you discuss your written work and others. In seminars, the teacher usually only moderates the discussion. The aim is to develop critical thinking and collaborative skills. All students are expected to be active participants in all forms of discussions. The more you participate in discussions and other classroom activities, the more you will learn.

Group work is often carried out in interdisciplinary teams. You will need to complete your tasks together with your classmates outside of the classroom. This way, you learn from each other, and you train to be a team player.

The language of instruction is English.

Addressing challenges associated with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires both global measures and local actions. These efforts include, for example, managing sustainable transitions, and restructuring local economies, industries and communities. It also involves developing sustainable production and consumption patterns or introducing sustainable policies, norms and practices concerned with resource use and environmental protection.

The knowledge and skills in sustainable development are required in jobs across different sectors worldwide. Employers representing various industries, businesses, governments and organisations search for employees who can address complex challenges associated with the SDGs, solve interdisciplinary problems and co-create sustainable futures.

After obtaining a Master's degree in Sustainable Development, our students find their way out into the labour market in various jobs in, for example:

  • planning,
  • construction and technology,
  • consultancy,
  • private and public management,
  • research and development.

Specific examples of job positions that our students acquire include:

  • energy and climate advisors,
  • sustainable project managers,
  • environmental coordinators,
  • sustainability analysts,
  • environmental communications officers,
  • doctoral students.

Examples of companies include RISE, SwedBio, Sweco, IKEA, WSP, Ecorys, and Enact Sustainable Strategies.

Career support

During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career.