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Sustainability in Practice


Admission requirements

To take part in Sustainability in Practice, students must have followed the previous course Sustainable Development: Big Issues New Answers.


In this course, which is part of the Minor Sustainable Development, you will experience how research into sustainability problems can be developed and how sustainability ideas and theories can be put into practice. Several activities and invited guest speakers will showcase some existing and new sustainability projects. The course will provide you with knowledge of tools and techniques that will help with researching and developing solutions to sustainability problems and is mainly grounded in the concept of systems thinking. You will put this into practice in a case study of a current sustainability challenge. The course will illustrate that there is no right or wrong methodological approach to investigating a problem, but that the method should be chosen based on its appropriateness to the problem at hand, the research question, the details required, the knowledge base, the available resources, and the socio-cultural context.

A strong emphasis will be placed on acquiring and/or improving practical skills, particularly communication skills. To help you communicate your research outcomes to your target audience in the most effective way, you will follow workshops in pitching, visualization and English writing. The benefits, and in fact necessity, of multi-disciplinary teamwork in solving sustainability issues will also become apparent during this course.

Course objectives

The course is intended to provide you necessary knowledge and insights for the Area Study in January 2023 and provide you with knowledge and practical skills for doing research in the field of sustainability.

After completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply sustainability theory to practically approach sustainability research;
  2. Apply a systems approach/perspective in addressing sustainability problems;
  3. Obtain relevant information to assess sustainability problems and their potential solutions;
  4. Present information in the most useful manner to the target audience;
  5. Propose a valid and feasible research approach to use in finding sustainable solutions;
  6. Obtain topical additional knowledge for the area study;
  7. Work in an interdisciplinary team to address a complex sustainability problem;


The course is from 13 November – 22 December 2023. It is a full-time course with compulsory classes mostly scheduled on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday self-study, group work and an occasional compulsory class is scheduled (so always check the schedule). Exact timing of the course, and programme details will be announced via Brightspace. Dates might change.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login).

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

This course runs over a period of six weeks, during which there will be lectures and interactive workshops on various topics related to the complexity of sustainability issues, proposal writing, and communicating research.

In addition to the scheduled lectures and workshops, every group is expected to have weekly meetings with their assigned group supervisor and to contribute to scheduled plenary presentations.

Assessment Method

The course assessment consists of four parts:

  • Individual assignment (20%)

  • GIS assignment (20%)

  • Proposal presentation (10%)

  • Research proposal (50%)


For students of Leiden University registration is possible from May 8th until July 15.
From 2023 onwards, registration for minors will be done via eduXchange. In March 2023 you will find an instruction video on this page demonstrating how to use eduXchange.
Should you have any questions regarding the registration, please reach out to


Students will be enrolled in Brightspace. All the lecture notes, announcements, the schedule, assignments, etc. can be found there.