Master's degree (2 years)
Full time
International Environmental Studies

The International Environmental Studies Master Programme (M-IES) provides in-depth knowledge of the relationship between society and nature, and how governance and economic structures influence current environmental trends. The programme builds competence for addressing environmental challenges at global, national, and local levels.

Application deadline:

Applicants outside EU/EEA: 1 December

Norwegian, Nordic, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens: 15 April 

Start of Studies:

Autumn 2024

Number of students:



Bachelor degree or equivalent in the social, natural, environmental, or agricultural sciences, or humanities.

  • Applicants must hold a Bachelor degree or equivalent in the social, natural, environmental, or agricultural sciences, or humanities. 

    A minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of C (or the equivalent) is required.   


    A one-page (A4) motivation letter outlining their background (personal, professional, academic), their motivation to study the M-IES programme and their contribution to the learning environment is recommended. In the international admission round, applicants with a strong motivation letter will be prioritized above similarly qualified applications without a motivation letter if all other admission criteria are met. In the local admission round, applicants with a strong motivation letter will receive a 0.5 increase in the grade point average if all other admission criteria are met.


    Admission will be based on the applicants' academic transcripts and the motivation letter.


    Applicants must meet NMBU’s requirements for English language proficiency

    General information on Admission requirements | NMBU.

Master i Miljø og naturressurser
Uttørket jordsmonn. 2015 er "International year of the soil". IMV har kompetanse innen fagområdene jord, vann, geologi og miljøkjemi.

The International Environmental Studies Master Programme (M-IES) will provide you with insight and knowledge relevant for addressing environmental challenges at global, national, and local levels. You will learn analytic tools and practical skills to help formulate policies and strategies for sustainable development. The programme combines interdisciplinary research methods with empirical insights related to a broad range of environmental issues (climate change, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, food security, pollution, and more).

Student-active learning strategies are emphasised, including excursions, field courses, internships, and dynamic student collaboration. A wide selection of courses will allow you to specialise in topics such as political ecology, sustainable agri-food systems, environmental governance, or green economy. The programme also offers the possibility of study exchange with other universities (global or domestic).

The M-IES programme gives you the opportunity to study in a unique learning environment with an interdisciplinary and international composition of students at a green and beautiful campus. The M-IES programme attracts students from all over the world. 

This programme is suited for students who wish to combine academic analysis with real-world knowledge to understand the complex environmental challenges facing the world today. 

The M-IES degree is a two-year, full-time English language programme.

Career opportunities

M-IES students develop professional and analytical research competences that employers seek. You will be qualified for employment in a wide range of national and international organizations, including government agencies, education and research institutions, media, business, and non-governmental organisations. 

  • The M-IES programme is interdisciplinary and uses a socio-ecological approach, with courses that focus on both natural science and social science aspects of the environmental challenges of our time. 

    The programme provides an in-depth understanding of the relationship between social and natural processes, and how governance and economic structures influence current trends. The programme has an international scope, with a curriculum that covers topics that are relevant for countries across the globe and utilises research-based knowledge from a wide set of geographical contexts. 


    • Extensive knowledge regarding the characteristics of environmental challenges and their drivers at different scales: global to local
    • In-depth understanding of key concepts, frameworks and tools for understanding sustainability problems and creating solutions
    • Comprehensive insights regarding complexity and interrelated social and ecological processes occurring across temporal, spatial, and organisational/political scales


    • Ability to engage in management and policy formulation for sustainable development
    • Capacity to analyse complex environmental problems and governance issues in an interdisciplinary way
    • Learn about and critically assess academic advancements within the field of environmental and sustainability studies, as well as new policy developments
    • Capacity to create and evaluate solutions to environmental problems, acknowledging the dynamics between ecological and socio-political processes
    • Competence in planning and conducting field research, project management and development work.
    • Ability to use various frameworks and methods in the study of socio-environmental issues in the field.
    • Develop writing skills and learn to evaluate and use primary and secondary sources of data in the writing of papers, including the correct use and presentation of references.
    • Develop a critical perspective on power relations, ethical issues and conflicts of values related to environmental change and policy.

    General competence:

    • Plan and carry out independent research, develop relevant research questions and engage critically in policy formulation and project development.
    • Solve theoretical, methodological and project/policy problems independently.
    • Apply insights and knowledge in development or environment management, teaching or business
    • Engage in public debates, media, voluntary organisations, community meetings, popular dissemination and in meetings with policy makers
    • Build research teams and inter-personal communication across cultures and across academic fields.
  • Most students do thesis research in other countries than Norway, and many in countries in the Global South. During the third semester (Aug.-Sep.), some students attend a 15-credit field course for the time being at partner institutions in India. Internships and / or student exchange to partner universities are alternatives to the field course.
  • The Master Programme in International Environmental Studies requires a total of 120 ECTS over two years.  

    The first year consists of course work covering environmental studies theory, interdisciplinary research perspectives, research methodology, and an excursion that introduces new students to practitioners in the field. In addition, students can choose from a wide range of core and elective courses. Students can choose elective courses offered in the M-IES program, but also more broadly at NMBU.  

    During the first semester, students design an individual study plan for their M-IES degree allowing to specialise within topics such as political ecology, sustainable agri-food systems, environmental governance, or green economy.   

    The second year comprises an individually designed combination of electives, field course and internship. Students are encouraged to spend a semester on exchange at a university abroad or in an internship with a national or international organization. Students are encouraged to write their Master Thesis based on field research and may locate their study in a variety of geographical contexts. The Master Thesis is normally written in the final semester.

    Year 1:

    Semester: Autumn

    Compulsory Courses:

    Elective courses include:

    Semester: Spring

    Compulsory course:

    Elective courses:

    The availability of electives may vary between years, and space limitations apply.

    * Students must choose 20 ECTS among a set of core elective courses.

    Year 2:

    Semester: Autumn

    Elective courses:

    Semester: Spring

     M30-IES Master thesis

    A 30 ECTS Master Thesis is normally written in the Spring Semester of the second study-year. 

    A 60 ECTS Master Thesis is normally written in the Autumn and Spring Semester of the second study year.

    M-IES Study Structure 2023-2024

    • All humans depend on the Earth`s ecosystems and the services they provide, for food production, water supply, a healthy environment, suitable climate, spiritual well-being, and aesthetic pleasure. Many consider the rate at which people have changed the ecosystems during the last fifty years alarming. The M-IES programme offers interdisciplinary knowledge about how and why a sustainable future will depend not only on our ability to understand the ecosystems, but also on our realization of how human societies can interact sustainably with the environment. Sustainable development depends on competent analytical and management capacity both in the public sector and in civil society. The M-IES programme equips students with such capacities. To build the capacity needed to ensure long-term ecosystem services, students will explore complex relationships between society and the environment. Graduates are expected to contribute with integrated and innovative solutions to far-reaching problems, fostering action and change to meet socio-economic and biophysical challenges. Job opportunities can be found in government agencies, environmental organizations, research and education, media and business.
    • The overarching approach to learning in the M-IES programme is problem-based and process-oriented. Such student-active learning strategies are based on responsibility for own learning facilitated and supported by educators, as per the NMBU Learning Philosophy. This implies that, in many courses, students will be given responsibility for developing assignments, finding information, and deciding on the form of the presentation. The development of collaborative and communicative skills is central in the programme, and problem-based learning is often done in groups. Most courses will combine problem-based and process-oriented learning with other teaching and learning methods, including lectures, seminars, tutorials, digital and visual methods and individual work, including academic writing. Guest lectures by practitioners or scholars contribute to courses and debate.
    • Courses use a variety of evaluation methods designed to match the learning goals, such as term papers, group work, oral presentations, podcasts, digital storytelling and written exams. In some, performance is evaluated based on work and assignments during the semester in others on a final assignment or examination at the end of the semester. Course descriptions include information on the form of evaluation used.  
    • The programme is taught in English. Incoming exchange students can design a programme involving a variety of course combinations.

Study advisor(s):