Structure, content and study tracks

The credit requirement for the Master’s programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability is 120 ECTS credits, which can be completed in two years.

The Master’s programme is taught in English. All assignments, exams and dissertations can be done in English, as well as in Finnish and Swedish.

ECGS is a truly multidisciplinary Master’s programme. It covers an introductory Core Module common to all students, followed by two distinct study tracks.

Overview of the programme structure

All students complete an introductory Core Module that focuses on the methodologies of environmental and sustainability science as well as the interactions between science and society. 

In addition to the common Core Module studies, there are two study tracks in ECGS for applicants to choose from: the Environmental Change study track in natural sciences and the Global Sustainability study track in social sciences. Both study tracks offer several modules of advanced studies.

In addition to the core studies of sustainability science and the chosen study track, the students also choose elective studies according to their interest.

Core studies

The introductory Core Studies Module (30 ECTS) is compulsory for all ECGS students and it focuses on the methodologies of environmental and sustainability science as well as the key concepts regarding interactions between science and society. Core studies consist of:

Sustainability Science Module 15 ETCS 

The Sustainability Science Module forms the basis for studies in the Environmental Change and Global Sustainability Master's Programme. After completing the module the student has basic understanding of what sustainability science is and how human and natural systems interact. The student knows key concepts of sustainability science, and is able to put knowledge into action when seeking solutions to real-world problems in multidisciplinary teams. 

Methodological Studies 10 ETCS

As a part of the Core Module, students choose a set of methodological studies. These studies provide students with the necessary research tools to tackle socio-ecological challenges.

Master's thesis Seminar 5 ETCS

All ECGS students take part in a common master's thesis seminar. During the course, students plan their research and present their thesis to other students. 

Study tracks

There are two study tracks in the ECGS Master’s programme: the Environmental Change study track and the Global Sustainability study track. Within the chosen study track students complete their Master's thesis (30 ECTS). 

En­vir­on­men­tal Change

The study track in Environmental Change educates experts in natural sciences. Environmental Change modules are offered in, for example, the following research fields: aquatic sciences, soil and earth sciences, environmental ecology, environmental biotechnology and agroecology.

Read more about the Environmental change study track.

Global Sus­tain­ab­il­ity

The study track in Global Sustainability educates experts in social sciences. Global Sustainability modules include themes such as environmental and natural resource economics, environmental policy, development studies, public and social policy, consumer research, forest policy and economics, and development geography.

Read more about the Global Sustainability study track.

Major and minor modules

Students compose their degree of major and minor modules, which account for 45 credits in total.

Read more about the major and minor modules on the study track pages (Environmental Change, Global Sustainability).

Elect­ive stud­ies

Students can select elective courses according to their agreed personal study plan. Electives can be used to deepen the student’s knowledge in a field of specialization or to broaden exposure to additional relevant areas. Courses can also include those in other Finnish universities, student exchange abroad or an internship.


The Master’s Programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability (ECGS) offers three different degrees – Master of Social Sciences, Master of Science or Master of Science (Agriculture and Forestry). The degree is determined by the choice of study track and modules within the chosen track.

Students in Environmental Change study track will be awarded the degree Master of Sciences. However, if they choose the module in Environmental Soil Science or Agriculture and Environment as part of their advanced studies, they will have the choice to be awarded the degree of Master of Science (Agriculture and Forestry) upon their graduation instead.

Students in Global Sustainability study track will be awarded the degree Master of Social Sciences. By choosing the module in Global Forestry Sustainability as part of their advanced studies, students will have the choice to be awarded the degree of Master of Science (Agriculture and Forestry) upon their graduation instead.

Course offering

The ECGS Master’s programme is taught in English. All assignments, exams and dissertations can be done in English, as well as in Finnish and Swedish. ECGS also offers study modules and courses for students in other Master's degree programmes at the University of Helsinki

More information about ECGS courses.