by Weronika Zurawska
Course name: MSc Sustainability Science, Policy and Society
Level: Postgraduate, Master of Science (MSc)
University: Maastricht University
Course Length: 12 months, full-time
Location: Maastricht, The Netherlands
The Program is divided into three pillars, namely scientific basis, sustainability assessment, and skills courses. The academic year is divided into six periods that last seven weeks, except periods three and six, which are shorter. The first two periods focus on building your scientific knowledge through courses such as Sustainable Development; Sustainability Science, Policy, and Society; Innovation for Sustainable Development; and Governance for Sustainable Development. Alongside content-focused courses, you will have skills courses such as Sustainability Assessment Skills, Problem-based Learning, and Academic Skills. In the third period, you will choose your thesis topic and start the course Research Approaches and Methods, which will give you an overview of different approaches you can take for your thesis. In period four you will start the Sustainability, Law and Environment course alongside Methodology for Sustainability Assessment. All those courses together equip you with skills and knowledge which you will use in practice during the Integrated Sustainability Project. During this course, you will be given the freedom to choose a project with the university, a local business, an environmental non-governmental organisation, or an international company. Together with your team, you will produce a sustainability assessment for your chosen client. Alongside this project you will be working on your thesis – the Thesis Research and Writing course will guide you through this process.
- What did you like most about the course?
The interdisciplinary backgrounds of fellow students and professors. It is an amazing experience when you get to work with people from very diverse backgrounds towards the same goal. There are people with economic, legal, social sciences, and natural sciences backgrounds. Therefore, this course is a mini sample of how sustainability problems should be solved by the involvement of stakeholders from different fields. Thus, during this course, you are able to see all the different dimensions of sustainability issues thanks to the various backgrounds of your fellow students and professors.
- What did you do before this course? Are there any specific requirements for being able to apply to and take this course?
For my bachelor’s, I completed a European Law School Bachelor at Maastricht University, where I studied comparative law as well as European and International Law. After that, I did a master’s in Energy and Climate Law at the University of Groningen. Two main requirements for this course are proficiency in English and a bachelor’s degree with a thesis. However, there are no specific requirements for your academic background.
- What sort of work are you doing (e.g. more group work/more individual work; more project-based work/more essay writing etc.)?
Just like all other programs at Maastricht University, Sustainability Science, Policy and Society uses problem-based learning. This means that you study in small tutorial groups of up to 13 people and you learn how to solve real-life problems. Although content-focused courses involve more theory learning and individual work, you still work with your small learning communities (5 people) and apply theories to practice. However, Skills courses and Sustainability Assessment courses are mostly group work.
- Is there anything you would change about the course?
In general, I wouldn’t change much about the program. I think it is well designed. I would change some minor things around the organization of some courses and study load.
- Why did you choose this course over other courses you may have been considering?
I did my bachelor’s degree in Maastricht, and I knew that the quality of courses and teaching is very high. I also chose this course because it had a nice combination of social, legal and natural science aspects. Furthermore, I was looking for a practical approach to studies where I could develop skills that will help me to solve sustainability-related problems.
- What is life at this university like?
Maastricht is a very small and cozy city so you will experience the perks of small city life where you can easily bike or walk everywhere. There are many student associations and sports clubs where you can meet many interesting people. Small tutorial groups also make it easier to make friends within your study program.
- What are you planning on doing after you’ve graduated/what are you currently doing if you have graduated?
I am thinking about working for the European Commission Directorate-General for Energy or another organization focused on shaping energy and climate policies. I am currently volunteering for Generation Climate Europe, which is pushing the EU to take stronger action on climate and environmental issues. Therefore, in the future, I hope to contribute to the creation of those more ambitious climate policies.
- What are typical jobs graduates do after completing the course?
After this program, you can work as a policymaker, sustainability coordinator, analyst of strategic policies, consultant in sustainability issues, or scientist.
Weronika is studying Sustainability Science, Policy and Society at Maastricht University. She studied comparative law during her bachelor’s, and for her first master’s she completed the energy and climate law program at Groningen University. She is primarily interested in the green energy transition and circular economies.