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Transitions, Innovation and Governance


Admission requirements

This course is obligatory for students of the MSc Industrial Ecology (joint degree TU Delft and Leiden University). This course is obligatory AND ONLY OPEN for students of the MSc Industrial Ecology (joint degree TU Delft and Leiden University).


This course provides an overview of sustainable innovation, sustainability transitions, in particular socio-technical transitions and their governance. The starting point of the course is that sustainable innovation, transitions and their governance are required to bring about sustainable development and transitions to sustainability. Innovation is considered as both a technical and non-technical novelty that can be brought successfully to the market, can improve business practices, or can lead to major changes in user practices in society. Sustainable innovation is related to concepts like social innovation, eco-innovation and responsible innovation. It is shown that sustainable innovation can take place at various scales from product and technology to system level society and when taking place at a system level it will lead to societal transitions, which are needed to move towards sustainability. Adequate participatory visioning methods, governance strategies and policies are needed to facilitate sustainable innovation and sustainability transitions. The course content is organised in the following blocks:

  1. Sustainable Innovation and Transitions
  2. Governance for Sustainable Innovation & Transitions
  3. Intervention Instruments: Backcasting and Transition Management
  4. Self-governance, Politics and Power in Transitions
  5. Business Models and Transitions
  6. Governance Transitions and Policy Instruments for Transitions

Cases and illustrative examples are taken from both (i) energy innovation & renewable energy transitions, and (ii) circular economy innovation and the transition to a circular economy.

Course objectives

After completion of the course students:

  • understand the main theories, frameworks and methods about sustainable innovation and socio-technical transitions as well the governance frameworks, policy and strategies thereof,

  • are able to apply these theories and frameworks to practical cases in the context of Industrial Ecology, and

  • can reflect on limitations and conditions of these theories, frameworks and methods, as well as on how to apply these.

The following skills are trained:

  • Applying the main theoretical frameworks and methods from TRIG to practical cases and developing understanding of limitations and constraints of these frameworks and methods, as well as barriers and constraints of exploring and facilitating transitions in real-life.

  • Development of research problem statements and research questions.

  • Conducting a niche-transition analysis and governance analysis on a sustainable or social innovation relevant to sustainable energy transitions or the transition to a Circular Economy.

  • Using vision development and governance and actor analysis.

  • Writing coherent scientific reports that have relevance for professionals, and practitioners.

  • Critical reading of scientific articles.

  • Giving peer feedback to work by other groups.


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

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

The course consists of two parts: a theoretical part and a group assignment, while there is a voluntary bonus assignment.

Theoretical part contains lectures and paper discussions. Lectures are not obligatory but attendance is strongly recommended. It is important that students are present during the scheduled meetings and have studied the papers that are scheduled for that particular lecture. Students have to collect reading material themselves, which avoids copyright costs. Most papers can be obtained through the links provided in the course description. Otherwise, readings will be uploaded.

Group assignment is done in groups of 4-5 students. The group assignment consists of applying different sustainable innovation frameworks and perspectives to a chosen sustainable or social innovation and it is split into several steps. For more information on the assignment, see the ‘Group assignment’ document.

Bonus assignment consists of 6 short written assignments based on 2 core readings every week, and two individual reviews of group work by another group. A grade of 0.8 on the exam grade is possible (till a maximum exam grade of 10.0).

Assessment method

The individual part consists of a written exam based on the content of the readings and the lectures (50%). The group part consists of group work (50%) on existing cases or to develop a case relevant to transitions, innovation and governance for IE, related to the energy transition or the transition to a Circular Economy. A grade of 0.8 on the exam grade is possible (till a maximum exam grade of 10.0). Final grades are expressed by means of a figure between 1 and 10, rounded to the nearest half. The grade 5.5 cannot be granted. Grades between 5.01 and 5.49 are rounded to 5.0 and grades between 5.50 and 5.99 are rounded to 6.0.

The grading is based on an individual part (50%) and a group part (50%). A grade of 0.8 on the exam grade is possible (till a maximum exam grade of 10.0). The final grade is calculated as follows. Final-grade = (1written exam + 1bonus assignment+1*group project)/2.

Exam and Resit
The exam is at the end of period when the course is lectured. At the end of the next period there is every year 1 resit option.

Inspection and feedback
Intermediate feedback is given by peer review, followed by aggregated feedback by the lecturers. Written feedback is given on the final report of the group project.

Reading list

Reading consists of selected journal papers and book chapters on topics relevant to the course. A reading list of articles and chapters and of additionally recommended literature will be provided. Students are expected to collect relevant literature themselves.  


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Coordinator(s): Dr. J. N. Quist and Dr. T. Hoppe


MSc Industrial Ecology students can register for the course and exam via MystudyMap. Other students need to contact the study advisors of the programme via