ICIS education

ICIS offers various opportunities to improve your knowledge and skills in Sustainable Development and Integrated Assessment methodologies. Education is offered on various levels, including Bachelor, Master and PhD level. Also, research internships are offered.


Maastricht University Graduate School of Sustainability Science (MUST), with the research base in the field of Sustainable Development at the International Centre for Integrated Assessment and Sustainable Development (ICIS), linked to a wide (inter)national network, is leading internationally in the interdisciplinary field of sustainable development and integrated assessment.

MUST aims to advance the role of science in the transition toward sustainability, building upon the conceptual distinction between problem-solving and critical research strategies as starting point.  MUST aims to find new ways of integrating knowledge across the divides between social and natural sciences as well as between critical and problem-solving research.

This will be done in the context of major sustainability challenges such as globalisation, climate change, global health, loss of biodiversity, water issues, regional sustainability, tourism, mobility, governance and innovation.

“Sustainability is a MUST”

In 2009, ICIS started the Maastricht University Graduate School of Sustainability Science (MUST)

Research on complex issues is usually best pursued in groups where researchers with different but related expertise investigate different aspects of a joint problem. ICIS – Maastricht University Graduate School of Sustainability Science will offer scientific training and a fruitful learning environment where the exchange of knowledge between younger and more experienced researchers is emphasised and developed. PhD candidates from different disciplinary backgrounds and post-docs work closely together under professional scientific leadership and where research students are supervised in interdisciplinary groups.

The MSc and PhD programme ‘Sustainability Science and Policy’ is offered under the umbrella of ICIS – MUST.

Master Sustainability Science and Policy MSc SSP

There is an urgent need for scholars who are trained in interdisciplinary and integrative approaches towards sustainable development, enabling them to assess and deal with the complexity involved from a system’s perspective. Furthermore, there is a need for professionals that are able to cross ‘boundaries’ between different disciplines and domains, and that can operate at the interface of science, policy and society. The new Master of Science in Sustainability Science and Policy (MSc SSP) provides an intensive programme where students will acquire knowledge and skills (competences) to deal with one of the world’s most relevant and complex questions: how can we balance ecological, economic, and social developments for our present and future well-being?

The Master will create a unique opportunity for students to specialize in sustainability science and policy, and especially in sustainability assessment, through an interdisciplinary curriculum in an international ambience. The MSc SSP can be characterized as a ‘society oriented Master’, with a duration of one-year (60 ECTS).

The Master has its own unique character, composed of its integrative and interdisciplinary approach embedded in an international context, and its focus on methods and tools for integrated knowledge production and sustainability assessment (for policy). None of the already existing Master programmes on sustainable development in the Netherlands combine all these ingredients,  and the need for and value of this new Master programme is clearly expressed by different stakeholders in policy-making (all governance levels), representatives of the business community, non-governmental organisations, international scientific organisations and other institutions for higher education.

Maastricht University (UM) started this new Master programme on Sustainability Science and Policy in the academic year 2011/2012.

Please contact master-ssp[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl for more details and enrollment procedures.

PhD Programme

The interdisciplinary Ph.D. programme in Sustainability Science and Policy (SSP) is designed to educate researchers, university teachers, and world leaders in the social, economic and natural science disciplines that underpin sustainable development. Sustainability science is a new multi-disciplinary approach to science that recognizes the limitations of traditional scientific inquiry in dealing with the complex reality of social institutions interacting with natural phenomena.

The research produced by the program’s doctoral dissertations will focus on integrative, interdisciplinary research that is needed to explore science and policy issues in sustainable development. Integrated Assessment methods and concepts (e.g. transitions, modeling, scenario analysis) will be instrumental to provide answers to the central questions of sustainable development. Applicants should demonstrate an ability to pursue independent research through their prior work and academic distinction. Upon graduation it is expected that the candidates will play an important role as scholars, policymakers and professionals in their home countries and in the international community, taking leadership roles in government, international organizations, non-profit organizations and business.

Click here for more information about ICIS PhD

Bachelor Programme

Introduction to Sustainable Development
The main objective of this course is for the students to understand the principles of sustainable development by understanding the possibilities, constraints and interactions of its academic definitions, decision-making tools and practices.

University College Maastricht
University College Venlo

Globalisation, Environment and Society
The main objective of this course is for the students to improve their understanding of the different interpretations of globalisation, to identify the principal forces and processes at work, to explore the significance and implications of globalisation processes, to adopt an interdisciplinary and integrative attitude towards handling the complex interrelationship between global developments, the environment and society, and to appreciate the different accounts in the globalisation debate.

University College Maastricht

Hands on Sustainability
In this course, the theoretical knowledge and insights from course ‘Introduction to Sustainable Development’ and ‘Globalisation, Environment and Society’ are further deepened, and applied to a specific case.

University College Maastricht

Science & Sustainable Development: An Introduction
This course is aimed at developing the students’ understanding of sustainable development as a complex concept and one that may mean something different to different people. It takes an interdisciplinary and integrative perspective to treat the most pressing sustainability issues. This basic understanding is then applied in a specific ‘sustainability assessment’ case study. Originally developed for students with a natural science background, a final course objectives is to reflect on the role of science in sustainable development and understand that sustainability is more than calculation.

Maastricht Science Programme

ICIS coordinates courses in three different Bachelor programmes
University College Maastricht
University College Venlo
Maastricht Science Programme