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Master of Science in Environmental Governance with Specialization in Biodiversity


Our master's programme prepares students to understand environmental governance from a policy and social science perspective. While the curriculum looks at the natural sciences as a starting point, it focuses more on applied social sciences in order to teach students the dynamics of biodiversity and the problems of environmental governance.


Core Courses

The core courses on Biodiversity Governance and Policy, Political Economy of Sustainable Development, and Legal and Socioeconomic Aspects of Biodiversity Governance provide the conceptual, contextual and analytical base for the programme. The curriculum also incorporates research-oriented classes that prepare students to conduct fieldwork based on empirical research, which is fundamental for policy-oriented work, and provide guidance for the thesis writing process. These classes are complemented by two research-oriented core courses: Research Methods and Thesis. The former helps students to conduct fieldwork-based empirical research, which is fundamental for policy-oriented work, and the latter assists students in their final thesis assignment.


Electives and Optional Courses

Students can also choose from a range of multidisciplinary elective and optional courses that examine biodiversity from the global scale of international environmental law to community-based governance. In order to attain a better grasp of the UN system, students are encouraged to take the UNU Intensive Core Courses (UNU-IC)  in Tokyo as well.

Full-time students must take at least 30 credits per semester (two quarters). If all courses are completed, including electives, students can graduate in 18 months. Part-time students must finish the programme in 36 months or less and take at least 15 credits per semester. One credit is equivalent to 25 to 30 hours of work (both classroom work and individual study).


The Academic Year


The academic year is divided into quarters of twelve weeks with a typical core class module running for 12 weeks. The academic year is divided as follows:

*September to October: UNU Intensive Core Courses  in Tokyo (intensive course)
First Quarter: October to December
Second Quarter: January to March
Third Quarter: April to June
Fourth Quarter: July to September

Year 1

First Quarter

Second Quarter

Third Quarter

Fourth Quarter

Biodiversity Governance and Policy

Biodiversity Governance and Policy

 

 

Political Economy of Sustainable Development

Political Economy of Sustainable Development

 

 

Legal and Socio-economic Aspects in Biodiversity Governance

Legal and Socio-economic Aspects in Biodiversity Governance

Internship

 Research Methods

Research Methods

Research Methods
(Fieldwork + Thesis)

Research Methods
(Fieldwork + Thesis)

Biology for Policy
(Optional for students with strong biology background)

UNU-IAS elective courses

UNU-IAS elective courses

UNU-IAS elective courses

UNU-IAS elective courses

UNU-IAS intensive courses

UNU-IAS intensive courses 

UNU-IAS intensive courses

UNU-IAS intensive courses

Optional courses at UNU-ISP and other universities Optional courses at UNU-ISP and other universities Optional courses at UNU-ISP and other universities

*Students may take an exam to opt out of Biology for Policy.

Year 2

First Quarter

Second Quarter

Third Quarter

Fourth Quarter

Thesis

Thesis

Thesis

Thesis

Internship

Internship

UNU-IAS elective courses

UNU-IAS elective courses

UNU-IAS elective courses

UNU-IAS intensive courses

UNU-IAS intensive courses

UNU-IAS intensive courses

Optional courses at UNU-ISP and other universities

Optional courses at UNU-ISP and other universities

Optional courses at UNU-ISP and other universities


For a full list of courses, please see our Course Listings.

The First Quarter  is a preparatory term that introduces the general framework of the programme with broad conceptual and theoretical issues addressed in the core courses. The curriculum also aims to level the knowledge base of the students, as students are expected to come from different educational and professional backgrounds. Students who do not have a background in biological sciences should take Biology for Policy: Fundamentals of Life Sciences for Environmental Governance.

The Second Quarter is a mix of conceptual and more practice-oriented academic training. The content of the courses are less theoretical and students may take more elective courses in specific areas that will build their knowledge on biodiversity governance. The fieldwork preparation course starts as well.

The Third Quarter focuses on the practice-oriented component of the programme, and formalized discussion about the master’s thesis begins. By this stage, students are expected to be knowledgeable on the main debates of biodiversity and be able to apply the knowledge they acquired during the first two quarters. Students will take more elective courses and concentrate on their field-work training.

The Fourth Quarter  is a culmination of the academic year with students undertaking overseas fieldwork. This experience will test students' abilities to use their knowledge to address real problems in the field.

In the following quarters, students can continue to take elective courses, but the focus will be on the thesis.


Fieldwork and Internship

Applied knowledge and practical experience in the field are critical elements of the programme. To equip students with the skills to initiate innovative biodiversity policies and facilitate effective implementation, fieldwork activity is a requirement.

Students will undertake two weeks of overseas fieldwork  to gain first-hand experience at putting research into practice. To ensure output-focused field experiences, students will be required to take courses in research methodology and fieldwork methods prior to going to the field. Students can also be matched with UNU-IAS
research programmes  as interns. As part of their master's thesis, students can work directly with their supervisors and engage in ongoing UNU-IAS research projects. Students’ theses can directly contribute to the outcomes of the Institute’s programmes; thus students will have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and practical experience of research while obtaining a graduate degree.


Master's Thesis

The Master’s thesis is an independently and individually written research paper on a particular subject related to environmental governance and biodiversity. The subject matter will be discussed from a theoretical and/or practical point of view and be built on scientific analysis. The thesis should be between 10,000 and 15,000 words.

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