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Tackle today’s sustainability challenges

Take on current and future sustainability challenges

This one-year Master’s programme recognises that environmental problems and sustainability challenges do not stop at national borders. And solutions to those challenges require professionals who have the ability to build bridges and go beyond their own disciplines. Therefore, Environment and Resource Management offers an international and interdisciplinary classroom: the programme is taught in English and is open to students from all academic disciplines and nationalities. It actively teaches you to cooperate in interdisciplinary teams and to contribute your disciplinary knowledge, while looking for possible solutions to specific environmental problems. 

During the programme, you can determine your own focus by choosing a specialisation. Select from Global Food Challenges, Energy and Climate, Global Water Challenges, or Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity. If you want to broaden your knowledge in all these disciplines, you can opt for the Global Sustainable Futures specialisation. This offers you the option to select your own combination of specialisation courses. 

Depending on your specialisation, there are many topics you can dive into. For example, former ERM Master’s students answered the following questions in their theses: What role does water play in cross-country migration? (Global Water Challenges). What are the determinants of the uptake of electric cars among citizens of Amsterdam? (Energy and Climate). What is the economic value of healthy ecosystems? (Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity). What is the true cost of meat production? (Global Food Challenges). 

This Master’s programme aims to ensure that you acquire theoretical concepts, academic skills and operational techniques that allow you to find solutions to the complex problems of our generation.

The Environment and Resource Management Master’s programme is organised by the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), which is considered to be one of Europe’s leading research institutes in sustainability. Class sizes are relatively small, allowing a personal and open atmosphere that students enjoy. Institute for Environmental Studies staff members are always available to provide support and guidance.

You can find all course descriptions, the year schedule and the teaching and examination regulation in the Study guide.

The start date of this programme is September 1st.

If you are interested in a two-year research Masters programme, you might want to look at the GECP track of the Msc Earth Sciences programme.

Which specialisation do you choose?

Find out what the different possibilities are within the Master's programme

Summary

Analysing the governance and value of ecosystem services

Ecosystem services are 'the benefits people obtain from nature’. The concept of ecosystem services underscores the inextricable links between biodiversity, ecosystems and human well-being. In the debate over nature conservation and resource management, making the ecosystem services approach a central focus stresses the societal benefits of nature conservation and the need to align conservation and development goals. Classical examples of important ecosystem services include pollination, coastal protection, carbon sequestration, food provisioning, and socio-cultural services. 

The Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity specialisation covers methods for assessing societal values with economic and socio-cultural methods. It also examines the theoretical tools for analysing the governance of ecosystem services and the management options from local to global level, as well as from the public to the private sector. Typical subjects addressed in this specialisation include protected areas, payments for ecosystem services, sustainable supply chains, wildlife management, sustainable agriculture and marine management.

All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, you will focus on the value and governance of Ecosystem Services with two specialisation-specific courses. 

In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.

Please see below an introduction video of this specialisation.

Compulsory courses

  • Value of Ecosystem Services
  • Governance of Ecosystem Services

You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

Summary

Study the sustainability of the current food system

Food production has a major impact on global environmental change. With changing consumption patterns, this impact is expected to increase further in the near future. The world faces a massive challenge to increase the sustainability of the current food system, thereby helping to ensure healthier diets, increase food security and support rural communities while addressing climate change and safeguarding biological diversity. 

The Global Food Challenges specialisation aims to provide you with a profound understanding of the functioning of food systems and the ways these can be studied and evaluated in terms of sustainability. The specialisation will address the ways in which food systems vary across the world and how they change with time. More specifically, we will analyse how different stakeholders (i.e. public and private sector, civil society, international organisations, research communities, consumers) can contribute in their own way to the transformation towards a more sustainable food system.

All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, you will focus on Sustainable Food Systems and Governance with two specialisation-specific courses.

In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.
 

Please see below an introduction video of this specialisation.

Compulsory courses

  • Food Systems & Sustainability
  • Food Governance & Sustainability

You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

Summary

Study complex interdisciplinary water issues

Water is essential in many ways. It is vital for ecosystems, crucial for human wellbeing, key for agricultural and energy production, a scarce resource subject to cooperation and competition, but also a destructive force. People have exerted deep modifications to most of the earth’s hydrological systems. Societies and ecosystems need to be protected from excess, scarcity and contamination of water. It is thus necessary for the planet’s socio-environmental sustainability leaders to govern water resources wisely. 

In the Global Water Challenges specialisation, you will address the multiple dimensions of water from management and governance perspectives. The specialisation provides you with expertise to scientifically assess the interactions of water and human systems and the tools to address complex interdisciplinary water issues that involve multiple stakeholders.

All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, you will focus on Water and Climate and Water Governance with two specialisation-specific courses.

In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.  

Please see below an introduction video of this specialisation.

Compulsory courses

  • Water and Climate Systems
  • Water Politics and Governance

You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

Summary

Focus on the multiple dimensions of the climate-energy nexus

Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it climate change mitigation, job creation, security, food production or increasing incomes. Investing in renewable energy resources, prioritising energy-efficient practices and adopting clean energy technologies and infrastructure can accelerate the transition to an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system. 

In the Energy and Climate specialisation, you will address the multiple dimensions of the climate-energy nexus from socio-economic and governance perspectives. The specialisation provides expertise to scientifically assess the transition to sustainable energy systems and to critically evaluate the range of policy options to accelerate this transition. Attention is also paid to regional, national, international and transnational efforts to mitigate climate change. 

All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, you will follow courses about Sustainable Energy Challenges and Energy and Climate Governance.

In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.  

Please see below an introduction video of this specialisation.

Compulsory courses

  • Sustainable Energy Systems
  • Energy and Climate Governance

You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

Summary

Assemble your own programme

This specialisation offers you the opportunity to mix and match different courses offered by IVM and other faculties and departments at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. At the same time, this specialisation will give you a clear focus on environmental and sustainability themes. Your course choices will depend on your specific interests and capabilities. 

All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, there is a wide range of elective courses you can choose from. 

In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.  

Courses

You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

  • Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity

    Summary

    Analysing the governance and value of ecosystem services

    Ecosystem services are 'the benefits people obtain from nature’. The concept of ecosystem services underscores the inextricable links between biodiversity, ecosystems and human well-being. In the debate over nature conservation and resource management, making the ecosystem services approach a central focus stresses the societal benefits of nature conservation and the need to align conservation and development goals. Classical examples of important ecosystem services include pollination, coastal protection, carbon sequestration, food provisioning, and socio-cultural services. 

    The Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity specialisation covers methods for assessing societal values with economic and socio-cultural methods. It also examines the theoretical tools for analysing the governance of ecosystem services and the management options from local to global level, as well as from the public to the private sector. Typical subjects addressed in this specialisation include protected areas, payments for ecosystem services, sustainable supply chains, wildlife management, sustainable agriculture and marine management.

    All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, you will focus on the value and governance of Ecosystem Services with two specialisation-specific courses. 

    In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

    The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.

    Please see below an introduction video of this specialisation.

    Compulsory courses

    • Value of Ecosystem Services
    • Governance of Ecosystem Services

    You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

  • Global Food Challenges

    Summary

    Study the sustainability of the current food system

    Food production has a major impact on global environmental change. With changing consumption patterns, this impact is expected to increase further in the near future. The world faces a massive challenge to increase the sustainability of the current food system, thereby helping to ensure healthier diets, increase food security and support rural communities while addressing climate change and safeguarding biological diversity. 

    The Global Food Challenges specialisation aims to provide you with a profound understanding of the functioning of food systems and the ways these can be studied and evaluated in terms of sustainability. The specialisation will address the ways in which food systems vary across the world and how they change with time. More specifically, we will analyse how different stakeholders (i.e. public and private sector, civil society, international organisations, research communities, consumers) can contribute in their own way to the transformation towards a more sustainable food system.

    All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, you will focus on Sustainable Food Systems and Governance with two specialisation-specific courses.

    In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

    The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.
     

    Please see below an introduction video of this specialisation.

    Compulsory courses

    • Food Systems & Sustainability
    • Food Governance & Sustainability

    You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

  • Global Water Challenges

    Summary

    Study complex interdisciplinary water issues

    Water is essential in many ways. It is vital for ecosystems, crucial for human wellbeing, key for agricultural and energy production, a scarce resource subject to cooperation and competition, but also a destructive force. People have exerted deep modifications to most of the earth’s hydrological systems. Societies and ecosystems need to be protected from excess, scarcity and contamination of water. It is thus necessary for the planet’s socio-environmental sustainability leaders to govern water resources wisely. 

    In the Global Water Challenges specialisation, you will address the multiple dimensions of water from management and governance perspectives. The specialisation provides you with expertise to scientifically assess the interactions of water and human systems and the tools to address complex interdisciplinary water issues that involve multiple stakeholders.

    All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, you will focus on Water and Climate and Water Governance with two specialisation-specific courses.

    In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

    The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.  

    Please see below an introduction video of this specialisation.

    Compulsory courses

    • Water and Climate Systems
    • Water Politics and Governance

    You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

  • Energy and Climate

    Summary

    Focus on the multiple dimensions of the climate-energy nexus

    Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it climate change mitigation, job creation, security, food production or increasing incomes. Investing in renewable energy resources, prioritising energy-efficient practices and adopting clean energy technologies and infrastructure can accelerate the transition to an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system. 

    In the Energy and Climate specialisation, you will address the multiple dimensions of the climate-energy nexus from socio-economic and governance perspectives. The specialisation provides expertise to scientifically assess the transition to sustainable energy systems and to critically evaluate the range of policy options to accelerate this transition. Attention is also paid to regional, national, international and transnational efforts to mitigate climate change. 

    All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, you will follow courses about Sustainable Energy Challenges and Energy and Climate Governance.

    In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

    The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.  

    Please see below an introduction video of this specialisation.

    Compulsory courses

    • Sustainable Energy Systems
    • Energy and Climate Governance

    You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

  • Global Sustainable Futures

    Summary

    Assemble your own programme

    This specialisation offers you the opportunity to mix and match different courses offered by IVM and other faculties and departments at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. At the same time, this specialisation will give you a clear focus on environmental and sustainability themes. Your course choices will depend on your specific interests and capabilities. 

    All specialisations start with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which you are presented with the breadth of environmental problems. In the two parallel courses that follow, Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, you will learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors. In addition, there is a wide range of elective courses you can choose from. 

    In the second semester, the focus shifts to the development of specific skills, such as research methods, research design, academic writing and employability skills. In the Research Methods and Research Design courses, you will get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

    The year ends with the Research Project, integrating all previous course work in one condensed activity in which your specialisation knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.  

    Courses

    You can find the complete course overview for this year in the study guide

Sem Duijndam, junior researcher at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Sem Duijndam, junior researcher at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

“Environment and Resource Management provides the ideal springboard into a green career.”

"I started my ERM journey with the aim to green my education and career. I could not be happier with my choice! Through ERM, I learned the tools to identify and solve environmental problems and had the opportunity to do an amazing research project in Sint Maarten. As a junior researcher, I am putting everything I learned into practice."

Sem Duijndam

Internships and thesis

Writing your thesis is the moment to demonstrate that you can link theory to practice and use proper academic methods and tools. In preparation for the Research Project, the programme organises the ERM thesis/internship market in early December. During this market, you will be presented with the thesis positions that are available at IVM, and at a large number of external organisations around the world. You will be invited to choose a research topic and a supervisor. You also have the freedom to develop your own project instead of applying for one of the presented projects.

Spending part of your study time in external traineeships and research projects is a good way to prepare for and familiarise yourself with the labour market. Through its extensive network, the IVM assists you in finding opportunities for external projects. The ERM Alumni network can also assist you in finding traineeships and help you become oriented in the labour market.


You can find some ERM sample theses here.

Change your future with the Environment and Resource Management programme

Change your future with the Environment and Resource Management programme

After completing this Master’s programme, you can follow a PhD programme or enter the job market. As a graduate in Environment and Resource Management, you can start work as a consultant at an (environmental) consultancy, as an environmental economist or project manager at an NGO, or as an international civil servant.

Explore your future prospects
People working on solar panels

Want to know more?

Do you have any questions about the curriculum of this programme?

If you have any questions regarding this Master's programme, please contact the Master's coordinator Lotte van Oosterhout by sending an email to: info.erm.ivm@vu.nl