Global Studies: Sustainable Societies and Social Change (Two Years), 120 credits
Global Studies: Sustainable Societies and Social Change (Two Years), 120 högskolepoäng
Programme Code: LAG22
Confirmed by: Dean 2021-10-15
Version: 1
Reg number: Vd-beslut § 21/093
Valid From: 2022-08-22
Education Cycle: Second-cycle level

Title of qualification

Degree of Master of Science (120 credits) with a major in Global Studies specialisation in Sustainability Studies

Programme overview

The master programme in Global studies: Sustainable Societies and Social Change has a special focus on global perspectives and strategies for sustainability and social change and how current research can be applied in local settings. It is not enough to study strategies for sustainability; they need to be tested and implemented. To create sustainable societies and social change, the programme uses applied research and is based on close cooperation between the academic world and society. The programme is interdisciplinary and focuses on cross-cultural, comparative research, and long-term social change. The programme curriculum is based on social science perspectives on sustainable development and social change. The goal of the programme is for students to learn about various theoretical perspectives of sustainability, to get experience in data collection and analysis, and to develop practical skills and experiences in planning and working for sustainable societies and social change.

For the thesis work, the student works independently but together with a host-organisation (within the non-profit, public, or corporate sector) and with the support of a supervisor with developing and formulating a plan for the thesis. The student carries out the assignment in close cooperation with a host-organisation, but the thesis also fulfills the academic standard for a master thesis on advanced level.

The programme provides a set of social science methods and tools for designing and applying solutions in real life situations within the framework of sustainable development goals by looking into recent changes and trends in different regions of the world. Throughout the programme, academics, practitioners, and other resource persons use lectures, case studies, group work and exercises to strike a balance between theory and practice and to stimulate interaction with the resource persons and among participants.

The emphasis is on issues of sustainable development and social change that cut across different countries and world regions, and how these issues are applied in local settings. Examples are globalization, social justice, equality, diversity, human rights, environmental challenges, climate change, and urban and rural development.

In addition, courses on general aspects of the development of sustainable societies, social change, and global environmental challenges, including interdisciplinary ways of working, expand the interdisciplinary perspective. Human rights, diversity and gender, and social and cultural diversity are treated as cross-sectional fields. Students learn to recognise, analyse, and reflect on global issues in local settings and to deal with problems on an interdisciplinary level. In addition, students acquire key competences and soft skills for the professional world, such as self-responsibility, problem-solving skills, and intercultural competence, in addition to skills in project planning and practical experience with sustainability work.

The programme consists of two semesters for the one-year master degree, and four semesters for the two-year master degree. 1) The first semester introduces sustainability in relation to social, political, and environmental aspects and focuses on theories, strategies and planning for sustainability and social change and how these can be applied in different settings. 2) The second semester introduces research methodology, followed by a 5-week research planning course, a thematic course focusing on urban and rural challenges and the first module of the master thesis course. 3) The third semester provides the opportunity for the students to choose courses freely, including the possibility of studies abroad or internship, after agreement with the programme director. 4) The fourth semester offers further studies in research methodology, followed by the second module of the 30-credit master thesis course.

One academic year consists of 40 study weeks, divided in two semesters. This is equivalent to 60 credits (60 hp). Each study week consists of 1.5 credits (1,5 hp) that correspond to 40 hours of study. All coursers are taught in English.

This programme is designed to develop leaders with a deep understanding of sustainable development ideas and strategies and their application in different settings - and the necessary critical thinking skills to inform policy and create social change and long-term impact. Upon completion of the programme, you will have enhanced your existing knowledge of sustainable development and social change and will have the relevant theoretical and practical knowledge to take on high-level roles in government agencies, non-government organisations and private firms. The programme also prepares students for the possibilities to apply for further education on third cycle, i.e., doctoral programs. The student graduating from the programme is thus prepared for both post-graduate studies in various sustainability-related research areas, and for qualified positions at various levels of society.


General aims
Second cycle education shall essentially build on the knowledge students acquire in first cycle education or corresponding knowledge. Second cycle education shall involve a deepening of knowledge, skills, and abilities relative to first cycle education and, in addition to what applies to first cycle education, shall:
- further develop the students’ ability to independently integrate and use knowledge
- develop the students’ ability to deal with complex phenomena, issues, and situations
- develop the students’ potential for professional activities that demand considerable independence or for research and development work

Programme specific learning goals
For a Degree of Master (120 credits) the student shall:

Knowledge and understanding
- demonstrate knowledge and understanding in the main field of study, including both broad knowledge of the field and a considerable degree of specialised knowledge in certain areas of the field as well as insight into current research and development work, and
- demonstrate specialised methodological knowledge in the in the main field of study.

Competence and skills
- demonstrate the ability to critically and systematically integrate knowledge and analyse, assess, and deal with complex phenomena, issues and situations even with limited information
- demonstrate the ability to identify and formulate issues critically, autonomously, and creatively as well as to plan and, using appropriate methods, undertake advanced tasks within predetermined time frames and so contribute to the formation of knowledge as well as the ability to evaluate this work
- demonstrate the ability in speech and writing both nationally and internationally to clearly report and discuss his or her conclusions and the knowledge and arguments on which they are based in dialogue with different audiences, and
- demonstrate the skills required for participation in research and development work or autonomous employment in some other qualified capacity.

Judgement and approach
- demonstrate the ability to make assessments in the main field of study informed by relevant disciplinary, social, and ethical issues and to demonstrate awareness of ethical aspects of research and development work
- demonstrate insight into the possibilities and limitations of research, its role in society and the responsibility of the individual for how it is used, and
- demonstrate the ability to identify the personal need for further knowledge and take responsibility for his or her ongoing learning.

Independent project (degree project)
A requirement for the award of a Degree of Master (120 credits) is completion by the student of an independent degree project (master thesis) for at least 30 credits in Global Studies, specialisation in Sustainability Studies. The degree project may comprise less than 30 credits, however no less than 15 credits, if the student has already completed an independent project in the second cycle for at least 15 credits in Global Studies, specialisation in Sustainability Studies or the equivalent from a programme of study outside Sweden.


The programme consists of the following courses. For details about each course please consult the course curricula. The courses that are included in the specialisation are marked below.

Semester 1
Social Sciences of Sustainability, 5 credits
Introduction to Global Studies: Sustainable Societies and Social Change, 2.5 credits (specialisation)
Critical Issues in Sustainability 1: Social Perspectives on Climate Change and the Environment, 7.5 credits (specialisation)
Critical Issues in Sustainability 2: Social Justice, Equality, and Human Rights, 7.5 credits (specialisation)
Project Planning and Sustainability Strategies, 7.5 credits (specialisation)

Semester 2
Research Methods 1 in Global Studies, 7.5 credits
Research Planning, 7.5 credits
Critical Issues in Sustanability 3: Urban and Rural Challenges, 7.5 credits
Master's Thesis in Global Studies, 30 credits (specialisation) Module 1, 7.5 credits

Semester 3
Elective courses, alternatively studies at other university, exchange studies or internship, 30 credits.

Semester 4
Research Methods 2 in Global Studies, 7.5 credits
Master's Thesis in Global Studies, 30 credits (specialisation) Module 2, 22.5 credits

Teaching and examination

To pass a course, the student needs to fulfil all the course requirements. Examination takes place in the form of written exams, oral exams, or term papers. Different methods of examination can be used within a single course. The student will be offered at least three examination opportunities in each examination period. The university is not obligated to offer re-exams in courses that a student already has passed. Mandatory workshops and assignments can exist within a course. The courses within the programme are graded A-F or Pass (G)/Fail (U). Grades A-E all constitute passing grades and grades FX and F are equal to Fail. For most workshops and mandatory group assignments, only Pass (G) or Fail (U) is given.


The applicant must hold the minimum of a bachelor’s degree (i.e. the equivalent of 180 ECTS credits at an accredited university) with at least 90 credits in global studies or social science including independent work, i.e., a thesis or the equivalent. English proficiency is required.

Continuation Requirements

Specific entry requirements within the programme are set out in the course curricula.

Qualification Requirements

To obtain the Master of Science (120 credits) with a major in Global Studies, specialisation in Sustainability Studies, the student must complete the course requirements of at least 120 credits at the higher education level that were not used for the bachelor's degree, with at least 90 credits overall in second-cycle courses and at least 60 of those second-cycle credits in Global Studies, specialisation in Sustainability Studies, including two 15-credit master's theses in Global Studies, specialisation in Sustainability Studies.
The degree certificate will be issued after formal application from student.

Quality Development

The programme is evaluated at the end of the second semester as well as at the end of the fourth semester. This evaluation work is carried out in collaboration between students and the programme director. Each course is also evaluated according to the regulations and guidelines for first, second and third cycle education at Jönköping University.

Other Information

The programme targets both Swedish and international students from all over the world in order to obtain the best student environment as possible. The programme is collaborating with the undergraduate programme in International Work – with an emphasis on Global Studies, as well as the established research environments at the School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University. The programme also has an ambition to collaborate with strategic partner universities as well as other organisations and institutions engaged in sustainability to broaden the perspectives and opportunities for the students.

A list of available elective courses will be provided each year.

Regulations regarding accreditation of completed and passed university education at another Swedish or foreign higher education institution are found in “Regulations and guidelines for first-, second- and third – cycle education at Jönköping University”, BRJU.