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Sustainable development (interdisciplinary minor)


This interdisciplinary minor addresses sustainability challenges from a systems perspective, and investigates ways to sustain society within planetary boundaries.

The minor provides knowledge of society, energy and material flows, climate change, land use and biodiversity, and the interlinkages between these. You will also be taught academic skills and tools to design interdisciplinary solutions to sustainability challenges, including innovative and circular economy approaches. Moreover, you will improve a lot of practical skills like English writing, debating and presenting. In the final course of the minor, you can apply your acquired skills and knowledge to current and real-life sustainability challenges in the Netherlands, Indonesia, the Philippines or South Africa.

For whom?

Whether you are a language or chemistry student, a biologist or a cultural anthropologist, the minor Sustainable Development is open and of interest to third year bachelor students from all degree programmes.

Please note that we can accommodate a maximum of 90 students. Admission is based on the students’ qualifications + a first come, first served basis. Students of Leiden University are given priority over external students.

Why opt for the minor Sustainable Development?

  • It is a specially designed minor with courses that are closely coordinated

  • You will learn how the world’s major problems can be made manageable

  • You will work within both a local and a global context

  • The course uses modern teaching methods (debates, seminars, Facebook, e-learning)

  • The course combines academic and practical skills

  • You will receive extensive feedback from teachers and from your peers

Final attainment objectives for the minor Sustainable Development

After completing the minor Sustainable Development, you will be able to:
A. Describe the world as a complex system of cycles and processes, and explain how that affects sustainability challenges;
B. Use theory, factual knowledge and a system’s perspective to explain the drivers of sustainability challenges and how they interact with economy, culture and biodiversity;
C. Analyse complex sustainability problems using various methodologies, and use the results to propose well-founded and creative ideas for solutions;
D. Substantiate and defend statements and findings regarding sustainability challenges and proposed solutions to a broad audience, both verbally and in writing;
E. Identify how the knowledge and skills of your major programme can contribute to managing and solving sustainability challenges;
F. Recognise the value of the interdisciplinarity of the field of Sustainable Development by integrating different perspectives and sensitively interacting with people with different backgrounds.


The minor is a full time programme lasting five months (3 September 2018 – 1 February 2019). Please be aware that it is an intensive programme with lectures and tutorial group sessions throughout the week. Most classes are scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with compulsory attendance. Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved for occasional extra classes and independent studies, which does not mean that these are days off; you will need them to study the literature, do assignments and prepare presentations.


You could officially register for the minor Sustainable Development in uSis from 1 May until 15 June 2018. To register for September 2019, please check the E-prospectus for 2019-2020.


As a preparation for the minor in September we ask you to submit a survey, for which you will receive an invitation in July. The deadline for completing the survey is 15 August. We will try as much as possible to incorporate the outcomes of the survey into our programme and class discussions.

Registration students TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam

Since 2015, Leiden, Delft and Erasmus have together been applying special admission criteria for their minors. To avoid students not being able to enroll for a minor at one of the other two partner universities because the programme is full, in May the three partners reserve one-third of the places in their minors for one another's students. Please note, to join this easy registration process you can only register for the Minor from 1-31 May. The link to the application form (open from 1 May, 09:00h onwards) can be found on the following page (between 1-31 May). After May, you can still register for the minor until 15 June, but then by following the registration process of ‘Other students’ (see below). Please note that MST, LST and Klinische Technologie students need to register via uSis.

Registration for an elective (half minor) of 15 EC

For students who do not have the full 30 ECTS available, we have a few spots availabe for the ‘Sustainable Development: Big Issues New Answers’ course. In uSis you can register for this course only (so not for the whole minor), from 1 May - 15 June 2018. The uSis class number (studie activiteit nummer) is 4981. You may need permission from the exam board of your degree programme to follow the course as an elective.

Other Students

In principle, the minor is also open to students of other universities and universities of applied science (HBO), provided that they are highly motivated to do so and show great commitment. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of places, participants will be selected on the basis of a letter of motivation and order of registration. Please note that for 2018-2019, we don't have any spots left for guest students.

You can also register your interest. We will then keep you informed of developments regarding the minor programme through a newsletter.

Further information and links

If you have any questions about the programme or registration process you can contact the minor coordination team at minor coordinator, or tel: 071 527 1477.