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 choose at least one interdisciplinary thematic module e.g. in Urban, Climate Change or Food and Sustainability Studies. Students also choose elective studies according to their interest.



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. See course details for the module.

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. See course details for the seminar.

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 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!

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.

Master’s degree programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability 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.

See the preliminary course selection of courses offered by ECGS. Please note that thematic and  study track modules include courses that are offered in co-operation with other programmes and thus might not appear in the list.

If you already are a student in some other masters degree programme at the University of Helsinki, but would like to study ECGS courses, that is possible. ECGS offers study modules also for other Helsinki University students. These modules are: Food and sustainabilityConsumer citizens and sustainability transitions courses and Environmental policy and economics. If you are interested to join single courses instead of modules, see the ECGS Weboodi course descriptions and contact the person in charge to find out about the possibility to join the course.