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Governance of Sustainability

In the Governance of Sustainability programme you will learn to become a future ‘change agent’ who can develop and inform governance solutions to complex environmental sustainability challenges.

In this programme you will obtain in-depth knowledge of both the governance perspective (social science) and the natural sciences. You will learn how to integrate these perspectives to develop governance solutions to complex environmental sustainability challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and the transition to a circular economy. In addition, you will learn a variety of skills required to cope with complex sustainability problems and to develop yourself into a future ‘change agent’ – someone who can apply and communicate natural science insights, while also understanding the governance context.

1st year

The first year is composed of 4 thematic Modules of 12 EC each, Transdisciplinary skills (6 EC) and Qualitative skills (6 EC).

Overview first year:
Thematic course 1: Materials & Circular Economy, linked to institutions & policy cycles (12 EC)
Thematic course 2: Biodiversity & Ecosystems, linked to decision-making & governance networks (12 EC)
Thematic course 3: Climate Change & Energy Transition, linked to global governance & multi-level analysis (12 EC)
Thematic course 4: Water & Toxicity, linked to policy framing (12 EC)
Transdisciplinary Skills (6 EC)
Qualitative Research Skills (6 EC)

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Transdisciplinary Skills 6
Thematic course 1: Materials and Circular Economy 12
Thematic course 2: Biodiversity and Ecosystems 12
Thematic course 3: Climate Change and Energy Transition 12
Qualitative Research Skills 6
Thematic course 4: Water and Toxicity 12

2nd year

Overview second year:

Quantitative Research Skills (6 EC)
Sustainability Challenge (12 EC)
Thesis Research Project (30 EC)
Electives (12 EC)

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Quantitative Research Skills 6
Sustainability Challenge (MSc GofS) 12
Thesis Research Project (MSc GofS) 30

Specialisation Courses

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Governance of Sustainability Capita Selecta Module 2-6
Nitrogen and Sustainability 3
Sustainability, Power and Place 6

Career Orientation

During the MSc Governance of Sustainability we want to provide you with the best possible preparation for the job market. In addition to knowledge, it is important that you develop skills, gain practical experience, orientate on positions & careers, and reflect on your own profile and development.

Governance of Sustainability prepares you for governance and strategic positions at (semi-) government institutions or private sector on sustainability issues and to take leading broker-roles connecting different actors. You can be a change agent on sustainability, through the synthesis of different scientific fields and non-scientific knowledge and insights. Thus, as a graduate you will contribute to the development of integrated solutions needed to achieve a sustainable society and contribute to the implementation of these solutions.

Not only is the substantive knowledge you acquired during your studies important for future employers, they also pay attention to so-called transferable skills. These are, for example, your cognitive skills such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation, innovation, flexibility, initiative, appreciation of diversity, communication, responsibility and conflict resolution. Transferable skills, such as cognitive skills, are usually developed unconsciously during and outside your studies. Awareness of these and all other skills contributes to the development of yourself as a professional to the best of your capabilities.

In this prospectus, learning objectives have been formulated for each course to inform you which theories, methods and skills are obtained during the course. These all contribute to the development of your (study) career profile and preparation for the job market.

Our core courses include:

  • Lectures from people outside of academia, for instance coming from ministries, NGO’s, consultancy, etc.

  • Our study association (sometimes together with other study associations) organises career events, such as interesting lectures by possible future employees, researchers and alumni. They also organise a yearly career event.

Science Career Service

Science Career Service, one of the utilities of the Science faculty, offers information and advice on study (re)orientation, career planning and personal professional profile as well as preparation for the job market, such as job applications. Facilities provided to students include online information, walk-in consultations, workshops and individual counselling sessions. In addition, Science Career Service offers expertise and support to programmes that want to strengthen the connection between their curriculum and the job market. This can vary from providing specific guest lectures/workshops to advising on integrating career orientation programmes into the curriculum. Students of the MSc Governance of Sustainability can also contact the Career Service of the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs.

LU Career Zone

The Leiden University Career Zone is the website for students and alumni of Leiden University to support their (study) career planning. You will find advice, information, video recordings of webinars and tools such as professional tests to get an idea of your personal profile. You can also explore positions and sectors, you will find tips about CV, job application, LinkedIn and there is a vacancy platform that you can make use of.


Leiden University likes to prepare students and young alumni well for the job market. For this we use the knowledge and experience of Leiden alumni. To bring students and young alumni with questions about their careers into contact with experienced alumni, Leiden University has established the Mentornetwerk. Students and young alumni can register for free.


Do you have questions about your (study) career choices and has the above information not been able to help you further? Please contact one of the study advisors via