Sustainability, Society and the Environment


Most modules have 6 credit points (ECTS), equivalent to a workload of 180 hours. However, a few modules in our catalog that do not have 6 credit points, so please check in the PDFs.

A - Core modules

All students take the following 3 mandatory modules :

  • MNF-Geogr.-201: Concepts of Sustainable Development and Environmental Management (taught in winter semester) - PDF
  • MNF-Geogr.-207: Project 1 (scientific project or change project) - PDF
  • MNF-Geogr.-208: Project 2 (scientific project or change project) - PDF


B - Knowledge and Analysis

In Section B each student chooses 2 out of the following 4 areas of specialization:

  • B1 - Society, Development and Governance
  • B2 - Sustainability Economics
  • B3 - Environmental Management
  • B4 - Coastal Systems

In each area of specialization, each student takes 3 modules.

B1 - Society, Development and Governance

In the specialization area B1, the societal aspects of sustainable development are discussed in detail. Societies are complex systems that differ in their capacity to learn from and adapt to changing circumstances. In this area, students will deal with different concepts from economic, social, political, and developmental theory that will provide them with the ability to identify social mechanisms of collective action and whether they lead to sustainable or unsustainable paths of development. Furthermore, the differences between late industrialized and developing societies are addressed in detail. Students will learn about the geography of sustainable economic dynamics as well as about the specific challenges for sustainable development in the context of our rapidly growing urban agglomerations. Additionally, development economics deal with the role that migration and globalization play in development and with the various approaches to poverty alleviation under different circumstances. Political ecology addresses questions of power, emancipation, and conflict in our relation to nature.

Students take 3 of the following modules:

  • MNF-Geogr.-141: Urban Development and Governance (winter semester) - PDF
  • MNF-Geogr.-142: Political Ecology (summer semester) - PDF
  • MNF-Geogr.-105: Economic Geography and Sustainability ( winter semester) - PDF
  • VWL-MiFi-PED: Poverty, Equity and Development (summer semester)- Link
  • BWL-SocEntre-SSE: Social Entrepreneurship (summer semester)  Link
  • FE-PO-CS: Corporate Sustainability
  • PHF-phil-sust1: Theories of Human Relationship to Nature - PDF

B2 - Sustainability Economics

Sustainability economics addresses the questions of how human action depends upon and affects nature. Students learn about the many ways human action and nature are related to each other, how sustainability in the relationship between humans and nature can be achieved and how policies for long-term sustainability could be designed. Students take three of the modules described below:

  • The module "Sustainability Economics" focuses on the conceptual basis of sustainability as intergenerational and intragenerational justice, and how sustainability can be operationalized in an economic context. 
  • The module "Environmental Economics" examines why environmental problems can be economic problems and will be able to evaluate the most important environmental policy instruments and their effects. 
  • The module "Resource Economics" is about optimal rules to extract renewable and non-renewable natural resources. They will learn how markets for these kinds of resources perform, and under what circumstances there can be market failure and how policy instruments can correct for it. 
  • The module "Environmental Valuation" provides a rigorous treatment of the theory of monetising the value of environmental externalities, focusing on the neo-classical approach but also discussing its alternatives. The student will learn about the categories of economic value assigned to the natural environment, and the distinction between use and non-use values. 
  • The module "Theories of Distributive Justice" takes place in the winter term. A major part of economics – in particular environmental and resource economics – is concerned with the question of how a society should allocate its scarce resources or product among individuals with competing needs or claims. In this module students will learn to assess the philosophical and economic concepts of distributional justice and their application to current problems of sustainable development. 
  • The module "Seminar in Environmental and Resource Economics" provides an in-depth study of previous semester‘s lecture contents.

Studentstake 3 of the following modules:

  • VWL-MiFi-SuEc: Sustainability Economics (winter semester) - Link
  • VWL-EnRe-ReEc: Resource Economics (summer semester) - Link
  • VWL-Res-Sem: Seminar in Resource Economics - Link
  • VWL-EnRe-EnVa: Environmental valuation - Link
  • VWL-EnvVal-Sem: Seminar in Environmental Valuation - Link
  • VWL-EnRe-EnEc: Environmental Economics (winter semester) - Link
  • VWL-EnvEcon-Sem: Seminar in Environmental Economics - Link
  • VWL-EnRe-DiJu: Theories of distributive justice and sustainability - Link
  • VWL-Jus-Sem: Seminar in Theories of Distributive Justice and Sustainability - Link
  • VWL-EnRe-CliEn: Climate and Energy Policy - Link
  • VWL-EnRe-CliEn-Sem: Climate and Energy Policy (winter semester) Link

B3 - Environmental Management

The modules in this section are tailored to provide information and skills required in various fields of environmental management. The required socio-economic background is addressed in the module AEF-EM009. Important skills on how to acquire and to manage environmental data on variant spatio-temporal scales are trained in the modules AEF-EM013, MNF-Geogr.-332 and MNF-Geogr.-333. The resolution ranges from local and site specific data acquisition during field work (modules MNF-eco-110 and AEF-agr078) up to the analysis and interpretation of satellite images. Having attended either the module offered during the first term (AEF-EM009) or being equipped with the respective knowledge already during preceding studies students have the opportunity verify their theoretical background during the field trips offered in the summer term (MNF-eco-110 and AEF-agr078) and/or to advance their methodological skills advanced modules on remote sensing (MNF-Geogr.-333) and/or other application areas (e.g., AEF-EM022, AEF-EM019, AEF-EM018).

Students take 3 of the following modules:

  • AEF-EM009: Principles in Environmental Economics and Environmental Planning (winter semester) - Link
  • MNF-Geogr.-307: Integrated Environmental Management (winter semester) - PDF
  • MNF-eco-110: Terrestrial Ecosystems - Field Studies (summer semester) - PDF
  • AEF-EM013: Digital Spatial Analysis - Practical Exercises (summer semester) - Link
  • MNF-Geogr.-332: Remote Sensing and Environmental Modeling (winter semester) - PDF
  • AEF-agr078: Integrated Management of Rural & Woodland Regions (summer semester) - Link
  • MNF-Geogr.-333: Remote Sensing Applications (winter semester) - PDF
  • AEF-EM011: Principles of Ecosystem Analysis (summer semester) - Link
  • AEF-EM022: Ecological Indicators (summer semester) - Link
  •  AEF-EM019: Advanced Ecosystem Analysis in Environmental Management (winter semester) - Link
  • AEF-EM033: Ecosystem Development and Ecosystem Protection (winter semester)- Link
  • AEF-agr076: Integrated Management of River Basins (winter semester)- Link
  • AEF-EM018: Integrated Management of Wetlands (winter semester) - Link
  • AEF-EM001: Principles in Ecology for Environmental Sciences (winter semester) - Link
  • AEF-EM006: Principles in Ecosystem Protection and Management (winter semester)- Link
  • AEF-EM031: Modelling Ecosystems - Practical Exercises (winter semester) - PDF
  • MNF-eco-101: Geo-ecological Regional Processes (winter semester) - PDF
  • MNF-eco-107: Terrestrial Ecozones and Ecosystems (winter semester) - PDF
  • MNF-eco-115: Planning and Construction of a Wind Farm - PDF


B4 - Coastal Systems

The coastal zone is an area directly affected by physical, biological and biogeochemical processes with aquatic and terrestrial mechanisms. This area usually comprises the coastal waters as well as the hinterland adjacent to the coast that influences the coastal area. Coastal systems are highly productive areas, offering a wide variety of habitats and ecosystems services. The beauty and richness of coastal zones have made them major settlement areas and tourist destinations as well as important business zones. The modules in this section provide the necessary background to analyse abiotic and biotic aspects as well as the impact caused by variant anthropogenic land and sea use activities (MNF-Geogr.-341, AEF-EM012, MNF-ftz-geo-S125, MNF-ftz-geo-S129). Furthermore, the module MNF-Geogr.-342 provides an in depth training in relevant methods to create the needed data basis to develop integrated management options for the coastal zone (AEF-EM032).

Students study 3 modules of the following:

  • MNF-Geogr.-341: Coastal Zone Dynamics (winter semester)- PDF
  • MNF-Geogr.-342: GIS and Remote Sensing Applications in Coastal Zones (summer semester) - PDF
  • AEF-EM012: Coastal and Marine Ecosystems - Field Studies (summer semester) - Link
  • MNF-ftz-geo-S125: Abiotic and Biotic Interactions in the Wadden Sea (summer semester) - PDF
  • AEF-EM032: Integrated Coastal Zone Management (winter semester)- Link
  • MNF-ftz-geo-S129: Wind Energy: Technological Challenges and Environmental Impacts (winter semester) - PDF
  • Ftz-geo-S174 Decision Support Systems for the Governance of Coastal Ecosystems - PDF


C - Communication and Empowerment

Students learn how to create their own innovative solutions for challenges of sustainable development and how to use media, communication and education to empower other people to solve such problems. The study area integrates the "yooweedoo changemaker programme" that enables students to plan and implement an own "change" project as part of their master's programme. The following elements are offered:

  • The module "Changemakers and Social Entrepreneurs" is offered in the winter semester (October - January). It allows students to plan their own change project. Projects are planned in teams of 2-4 students. Each team develops a detailed concept for a six months project which can be implemented in the summer term in the Kiel region.
  • The "yooweedoo idea contest" takes place at the end of the winter term (February - March). Students can submit the project concept developed in the module "Changemakers and Social Entrepreneurs" to the idea contest for funding. Projects can gain up to 2.000 Euro in support.
  • Teams who are successful in the yooweedoo idea contest will implement their project in the module "Change Project" in the summer term (April to September). Project implementation is supervised by the yooweedoo team. Students can participate in further workshops on aspects such as project management, fundraising or business plan development. These workshops are offered in German language so it is worthwhile to develop your German language skills. Teams who want to develop their change project into a non-profit organization or a social business will be supported through coaching.
  • Change projects can be further developed into a master's project or within the scope of the modules "Project 1" and "Project 2".
  • The modules "Sustainability Communication and Marketing" and "Introduction to video production" allow students to develop media and communication strategies related to change projects or with an independent focus.
  • The module "Planning and Managing Science Projects" allows research focused students to learn methods for planning and managing research projects.
  • Students of the Master in Sustainability, Society and the Environment can expand an interest in social innovation, communication and empowerment with the modules "Volunteer Work" (6 or 12 ECTS) and "Internship" (6 or 12 ECTS) in the study area E - Open Studies.

Further information on the yooweedoo changemaker programme is available in German language at:

Students study 2 modules of the following:


D - Complementary Methods

Students take 1 of the following modules:

  • MNF-Geogr.-205: Spatial Data Handling (winter semester) - PDF
  • AEF-EM030: Statistical and Mathematical Tools (twinter semester) - Link
  • MNF-Geogr.-206: Social Research Methods (winter semester) - PDF


E - Open Studies

Students take 3 further modules of their choice equivalent to 18 credit points.

  • Internship or volunteer work MNF-Geogr-272-Internship
  • MNF-Geogr.-210: Current Topics in Sustainability Sciences - PDF
  • MNF-ftz-geo-S025: Engineering Mathematics - PDF
  • AEF-EM039: Economic Aspects of Environmental Management - Link
  • AEF-EM036: GIS and Population Dynamics in Landscapes - Link
  • MNF-ftz-geo-S122: Principles of Nutrient Dynamics in Coastal Areas - PDF
  • MNF-ftz-geo-S126: Coastal Evolution and Protection - PDF
  • MNF-ftz-geo-S128: Coastal Environmental Surveying - PDF
  • AEF-EM025: Theory of Ecosystem Dynamics and Decomposing Systems - Link
  • AEF-EM002: Hydrology and Climatology - Link
  • AEF-EM034: Principles of Soil Ecology - Link
  • AEF-EM008: Identifying and Modelling of Chemical Chemical Key Processes - Link
  • AEF-EM016: Ecology of Soils - Practical Exercises - Link
  • MNF-eco-111: Freshwater and Wetland Ecosystems – Field Studies - PDF
  • AEF-EM023: Fieldtrip Hydrobiology Poland - Link
  • AEF-EM024: Fieldtrip Limnoecology Lake Baikal - Link
  • AEF-EM027: Hydrological Modelling - Link
  • AEF-agr826: Principles of Hydraulics of Rivers and Lakes - Link
  • AEF-EM021: Managing Matter Fluxes and Eco-toxicological Effects - Link
  • MNF-eco-102: Climate and Landscape Changes – Past and Future - PDF
  • MNF-eco-103: Long Term Development of Landscapes – Field Studies - PDF
  • MNF-eco-104: Field Studies in Environmental History - PDF
  • MNF-eco-105: Long Term Analysis of Environmental Trends - PDF
  • MNF-eco-106: Geoarchaeology and Holocene Palaeoecology – Reconstruction of Natural and Human Processes in Ecosystems - PDF
  • AEF-EM010: Nutrient Cycles and Sustainability - Link
  • MNF-biol210: Principles in Aquatic Ecology - PDF
  • MNF-biol224: Applied Aquatic Ecology - PDF
  • MNF-biol221: Acclimation Reactions of Plants - PDF
  • MNF-biol227: Evolution, Ecology and Genetics - PDF
  • MNF-biol269: Methods in Ecology - PDF
  • MNF-biol263: Lab Studies Symbiosis - PDF
  • MNF-biol211: Introduction to Experimental Plant Ecology - PDF
  • MNF-eco-108: Analysis of Environmental Processes - PDF
  • MNF-eco-109: Geoarchaeological and Holocene Palaeoenvironmental Field and Laboratory Analysis - PDF
  • PHF-hdil-Envi1: Theories of Sustainability and Sustainable Development - PDF
  • AEF-EM026: Landscape Systems Analysis Northern Finland - Link
  • AEF-EM037: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Linking Ecological and Philosophical Approaches - Link
  • MNF-ftz-geo-S175: Long Term Evolution of the North-Sea Coast - PDF
  • MNF-eco 113: Reconstructing Quaternary EnvironmentsPDF


Alternatively students can receive credits for the following items, if approved by the examination committee:

  • courses studied abroad
  • other courses offered by Kiel University including language studies