Brief description

The inter- and transdisciplinary programme Climate Change and Societal Transformation conveys a systems perspective on the global climate crisis.

Humanity is about to transgress planetary boundaries, with climate change inducing one of the most critical societal challenges. Increasingly, climate change adversely impacts our physical environment and socio-ecological systems so that growing and diverse groups of society call for a low- to zero-carbon transformation. This transformation will provide opportunities and risks for a more just society and inevitably will be conflict-laden due to trade-offs, adverse feedbacks among sectors and diverse competing interests.

Brief description

The inter- and transdisciplinary programme Climate Change and Societal Transformation conveys a systems perspective on the global climate crisis. It integrates (1) a physical understanding of the climate system, its processes and drivers, and climate change and associated impacts, (2) a socio-ecological analysis of the drivers, agents and impacts of climate change and of potential solutions, and (3) transformative approaches for a sustainable and just society explicitly taking global North-South dynamics into account. Thereby, the programme provides fundamental knowledge about the climate system and climate change as a physical phenomenon, environmental threat, and as a social and political crisis with its associated strategies and solutions.

Structure of the master programme

The programme is structured in four phases. During the onboarding and foundation phase students will obtain fundamental theoretical knowledge regarding climate change and transformation and training in core methods for inter- and transdisciplinary research. This first phase also provides the basis for deepened studies in the second phase where students select one of three specialisations.

The specialisation phase is structured as follows. The compulsory modules provide in-depth theoretical and methodological skills in the respective field and the elective modules are dedicated to further study on climate impacts on nature and society, mitigation and adaptation strategies and trade-offs/synergies with other SDGs, and transformative processes and developments towards a just and sustainable society.

The integrative closing phase brings together students from the individual specialisations. This will allow them to apply the knowledge and skills obtained in the preceding phases, work jointly in inter- and transdisciplinary settings, interact with stakeholders and practitioners, and develop creative, innovative, and sustainable approaches to solve complex real-world problems.

During the thesis phase students will work on a research problem rooted in their respective specialisation and obtain additional skills relevant to their research and training in presentation techniques during the master seminar.

Admission requirements

For admission the proof of English knowledge at level B2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) must be provided.

Graduates of the bachelor’s programme in Environment and Bioresources Management (Umwelt- und Bioressourcenmanagement), Environmental Sciences and Civil Engineering (Umweltingenieurwissenschaften), Landscape Architecture and Landscape Planning (Landschaftsplanung und Landschaftsarchitektur), Agricultural Sciences (Agrarwissenschaften), and Forestry (Forstwirtschaft) offered by BOKU – University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, as well as Environmental System Sciences (Umweltsystemwissenschaften) offered by University of Graz, and Geography (Geographie) offered by University of Vienna, University of Innsbruck, University of Salzburg and University of Klagenfurt are eligible for admission with no further requirements.

Graduates of other relevant bachelor’s programmes in environmental and sustainability sciences, natural sciences or social sciences can be admitted with no further requirements if they can prove 9 ECTS credit points each in social and natural sciences as well as 3 ECTS credit points in technical sciences.

Admission of those holding other relevant degrees will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may be made contingent upon successful completion of additional subjects. To compensate for substantial subject-related differences, supplementary examinations may be specified, which must be taken by the end of the second semester of the master's programme. The notice of admission may specify which of these supplementary examinations are a prerequisite for taking the examinations provided in the curriculum of the master's programme. If the substantial differences exceed the extent of 30 ECTS credit points, the corresponding bachelor programme may not be considered as a relevant study programme.

Career prospects

The Master’s program qualifies graduates to pursue the following professional activities:

  • Teaching and research in inter- and transdisciplinary climate and sustainability science at university level, in public and private research and educational institutions, both at national and international level.
  • Development, implementation and assessment of strategies and policies for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the public sector (regional or national administration, international organizations), in non-governmental organizations, (e.g., development, environmental and nature conservation organizations), consulting and advisory firms, statistical offices, sustainability departments, etc.
  • Contributing to the development and implementation of solutions for sustainable development in the public and private sector, e.g., business, public administration, non-profit organizations, social and health care, etc.
  • Knowledge “translation”, communication, and dissemination: adult education, investigation and media coverage, journalism, (non-)governmental organizations and boundary organizations concerned with environment and climate, etc.