MSc Sustainability Science, Policy and Society – Maastricht University

by Lucia Rua

Course summary

This masters course is suitable for any person passionate about sustainable development, protecting the planet, and ensuring the wellbeing of present and future generations. On this course, the students learn how to develop strategies for private and public organizations. This programme has a holistic view, focusing on different factors that affect sustainability (eg: the climate crisis, science-policy interface, sustainable entrepreneurship, innovation, governance, international environmental law, methodology for sustainability assessments). After completing the core courses and an integrated sustainability project on a real-life case study, the student will have the chance to focus on the research and writing of an individual thesis related to sustainable development.


  • Scientific based courses:
    • Sustainable Development
    • Sustainability Science, Policy and Society
    • Innovation for Sustainable Development
    • Governance for Sustainable Development
    • Sustainability, Law and Environment
  • Sustainability Assessment courses
    • Methodology for Sustainability Assessment
    • Integrated Sustainability Project on a real-life case study
  • Skills courses and masters thesis courses
    • Problem Based Learning (PBL) and academic skills
    • Sustainability Assessment Skills (Participatory Methods, Modelling, Foresight, Multi-Criteria Analysis)
    • Research Approaches and Methods
    • Thesis Research Proposal 
    • Thesis Research and Writing


  1. What did you like most about the course?

It was wonderful to be surrounded by students from all over the world, and learn from their different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Moreover, I enjoyed the Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach implemented at Maastricht University. We had to work in small tutorial groups, which were formed by different people each month. All the team members had to actively discuss the readings, prior knowledge, doubts, and ideas. This methodology was key to learning how to carry out complex discussions on sustainability issues, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and understanding topics in a practical way instead of learning them by heart.

  1. What did you do before this course? Are there any specific requirements for being able to apply to and take this course?

I studied Business Administration and Management, specialising in Finance, at the University of the Basque Country, in Spain. During the last semester, I carried out a thesis about globalisation, sustainable development, and circular economy. Since then, I have aspired to dedicating my career to achieving a positive change in the world.

People from different backgrounds can access this masters programme, which is enriching for everyone! The most important part is the motivation letter, where you have to explain the reasons why you want to be part of this programme. Besides the letter, other admission requirements are: a university bachelor’s degree, research skills, proficiency in English, and a CV.

  1. What sort of work were you doing (e.g. more group work/more individual work; more project-based work/more essay writing etc.)?

Every week there were tutorials based on Problem Based Learning (PBL), which meant that we had to be ready for discussions with our fellow students. For this reason, it was essential to individually read the articles, prepare the answers to the learning goals that were set in the previous tutorial, and analyse the questions one might have during the readings. On the other hand, for two of the courses, we had to write essays instead of taking conventional exams.

Regarding the group work: there were group projects and presentations for almost each course. In addition, from March to May, we were put in groups to carry out a sustainability assessment project for a company or public authority. In our year, the whole process was in an online setting for the first time. For that reason, we had to tackle some barriers and challenges, but by the end the result was wonderful and we became more resilient!

  1. Is there anything you would change about the course?

This programme had intensive academic courses, which required full-time dedication. From September to January, at the end of each month we had one final exam. A couple of times, the weekend after the big exam, we had to work on another project to submit it at the beginning of the following week. This was quite stressful and exhausting. Therefore, it would be great to have a couple of extra days for these types of assignments in the future, since some time off is essential for the wellbeing and health of the students.

  1. Why did you choose this course over other courses you may have been considering?

The Netherlands is one of the pioneering countries in sustainability research and implementation of circular economy strategies. For this reason, I decided to continue my career at a Dutch university. After reviewing all the options, this programme at Maastricht University was the most interdisciplinary one, where the students learn how to use tools and knowledge from different disciplines. Besides, this program was developed by Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI), a centre where renowned scientists carry out research projects with NGOs, businesses, and public organizations, such as the European Commission. Here you can read some of the research topics carried out at MSI.

  1. What is life at this university like?

The university has many student organizations that organize events on a wide range of topics every week. Moreover, the city is a beautiful place to live in, full of magical corners, and many cultural activities to do while enjoying an international atmosphere. I particularly liked the variety of green areas around the city; perfect to disconnect and take long walks. In addition, the location of Maastricht is ideal, you can easily go to Belgium for the day, as well as travel to Germany, or other Dutch cities. 

  1. What are typical jobs graduates do after completing the course?

After completing this programme, the majority of the students pursue a career as sustainability consultants, sustainability project managers, analysts of strategic policies, and academic researchers. In recent years, many organizations, from the public and private domain, are requesting professionals to help them drive their actions towards sustainability. In my opinion, this is a field that will grow exponentially, since we really need more people working towards creating a better world for everyone, while protecting the planet and all the living beings. 


Lucia graduated in 2021 from Maastricht University with an MSc in Sustainability Science, Policy and Society. She strongly believes that people’s kindness, cooperation, and small-good acts can be the clue to create a better world. She is always happy to attend courses and conferences related to sustainability and the climate crisis, to continue learning and developing her critical thinking. Her interests are governance for sustainable development, innovation, circular economy, and organic agriculture. Lucia would like to dedicate her career to solving the current environmental and social problems at the local and international level.

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