International joint MSc programme: Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security

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    The main purpose of the two-year Master’s of Science programme is to provide postgraduate students with detailed knowledge, critical understanding, strategies and the tools required to take an interdisciplinary approach towards environmental risks and human security. The Master’s programme addresses theoretical and methodological debates in geography to better understand the complex emergence of environmental risks and natural hazards and their implications for human-nature relations (vulnerability, resilience, adaptation) and how to deal with them in practice.

    As a joint programme by the Department of Geography and the United Nations University in Bonn, the course provides a unique combination of advanced conceptual and applied engagements with the field of environmental risks and human security in an international context.

    Fields of expertise include Vulnerability Assessment, Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Development, Disaster Management, Climate Change Adaptation, Human-Nature Relationships, Science & Technology Studies, Development Geography, Geomorphology, Socio-Hydrology, Future Studies, GIS and Remote Sensing.

    The Programme consists of 11 modules, of which nine are taught in the first three semesters followed by a compulsory internship and the independent work on the Masters’s thesis. An internship of at least eight weeks is a compulsory part of the programme.

    Since its launch in October 2013, a total of 122 students from 33 different countries have been studying within the programme.

    The programme’s primary goals are:

    • Theoretical and methodological expertise in the field of environmental risks and human security combined with practical experiences
    • Strong focus on developing countries/ the “Global South”
    • Intercultural and interdisciplinary learning environment
    • Possibility to engage in ongoing research projects at both institutions
    • Close cooperation with the UN system & international organizations

    The Master’s programme offers great visibility and exposure to international organizations, federal agencies, academic and non-academic research organizations, as well as private companies and corporations involved in disaster risk reduction and preparedness, humanitarian aid, international relations, research on climate change, food security, spatial planning, and policy. Future career options may arise in all of these thematic fields depending on individual preferences and career goals.

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  • Applicants must possess a first, higher education qualification (Bachelor’s Degree) in Geography or a related/comparable professionally certified study programme. Out of all higher education qualifications earned (Bachelor’s, Master’s, additional academic coursework, etc) applicants must have accumulated at least 100 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) within courses related to the three following areas:

    1. Human Geography and Social Sciences with a focus on spatial patterns, society, development;
    2. Science methodology and empirical research methods;
    3. Physical Geography, Geosciences and Environmental Sciences with a focus on Earth System Science.

    A strong motivation to contribute to the area of human security and management of risks related to environmental change is a prerequisite to study in this Master’s Programme. Applicants should be highly motivated to learn in a multicultural and interdisciplinary environment.

    A minimum of two years of related professional experience is required for candidates from developing countries who additionally wish to be considered for a scholarship under the Development-Related Postgraduate programmes (EPOS) of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

    Non-native English speaking applicants must prove proficiency in the English language.

    For further details on the application requirements, please consult the FAQ.

  • UNU-EHS and the Geography Department of the University of Bonn welcome applicants who possess a first degree (Bachelor’s) in a higher education programme in Geography or a related discipline. The ideal candidate has a strong interest or experience in working in the field of human-nature relations and risk governance in the Global South. Women and applicants from developing countries are strongly encouraged to apply.

    The Joint Master’s Programme has an annual intake. The next programme will start in October 2018. Applications are accepted during the application period from November 2017 to January 15, 2018.

    A completed application packet consists of the following documents:

    1. Completed and signed application form (REQUIRED)

    2. A signed resume/CV (REQUIRED)

    • A current resume including a chronological listing of employment and other significant activities must be submitted with any application.

    3. Official transcripts (REQUIRED)

    • Applicants must submit an official transcript from each college or university in which they were enrolled for any period of time, showing all courses, grades and degrees received
    • Only transcripts that have been certified by the university where the degree was awarded will be accepted
    • In cases where the transcript is written in any other language than English, a certified translation of the transcript into English or German is also required
    • Translated versions can be certified either by the originating university or an official national or international institution

    4. Letter of motivation (REQUIRED)

    • A written statement, one to two pages in length, describing motivation, area of proposed research, background, past work in the intended field of study, plans for further postgraduate study and any other information that is relevant. Applicants who are currently registered in a postgraduate programme at another university should explain why they wish to change programmes.

    5. For non-native English speakers or applicants where English is not the official language, an English language proficiency certificate. (REQUIRED).

    6. A sample of academic writing written as part of the fulfillment of the first degree (preferably in English). (REQUIRED).

    7. If the candidate wishes to be considered for the EPOS funding by the DAAD the candidate should add the DAAD application form, a motivation letter with reference to the current occupation, professional letters of recommendation from your employer (with recent date, stamped and signed), academic letters of recommendation from your university (with recent dates, stamped and signed), as well as a confirmation of employment from the employer in your home country and if possible, a guarantee of re-employment upon your return home.

    8. Other relevant documents to support your application (OPTIONAL):

    • Further certificates on professional experience and expertise (recommended for EPOS applicants)
    • Additional certified transcripts in cases where additional academic credits were earned outside of degrees awarded
    • Letters of recommendation

    All documents must be scanned and sent together as one single PDF file. Only EPOS applicants can organise their application in two files. The file size for each file should not exceed 8 Megabytes (MB).

    Send completed application package to:

    Only digital versions sent via email will be accepted. We do not accept applications sent via post.

    Completed application packets must be received by the application deadline January 15th, at 23:59 CET (Central European Time) for Bonn, Germany. Any applications received with timestamps of 24:00 CET or later on the following day will be automatically excluded.

    All candidates get a notification on their application status by mid May 2018.

    For additional questions that are not covered by the FAQ, please contact:

  • This Joint Master’s is part of a selected group of international postgraduate programmes that benefits from the EPOS funding scheme offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). We will be able to offer a certain number of fully-funded scholarships to students from “developing countries” for the student intake from 2017 onwards.

    Eligible candidates should fulfill the following requirements in addition to the general eligibility criteria for the Master’s programme:

    • Being a candidate from a “Developing Country” (according to the classification of the DAAD)
    • Having at least two years of practical work experience (e.g. with an NGO, GO, or the private sector) in a field related to the study programme
    • Having graduated from the Bachelor no longer than five years ago
    • Having completed no other Master in a similar field of studies
    • Aiming at a career as a practitioner in a field related to the programme of study

    Students wishing to be considered for these scholarships need to apply for the programme as well by filling the applications forms for the DAAD; acceptance to the former does not guarantee acceptance to the latter.

    The selection process for the EPOS funding among shortlisted candidates will happen between February and April each year.

    Candidates that do not fulfill the EPOS requirements but wish to benefit from financial support during their studies are invited to apply individually and early to other available funding programmes in Germany.

    A list of available programmes can be found via the following link: <>

  • The international MSc-Programme is taught equally by members of staff from the department of geography at the University of Bonn and researchers from the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University. Fields of expertise include Vulnerability Assessment, Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Development, Disaster Management, Climate Change Adaptation, Human-Nature Relationships, Science & Technology Studies, Development Geography, Geomorphology, Socio-Hydrology, Future Studies, GIS and Remote Sensing. The Programme consists of 11 modules of which nine are taught in the first three semesters, followed by a compulsory internship and the independent work on the Master’s thesis.

    Fields of study include:

    • Geographical approaches to risk, vulnerability and resilience
    • New approaches to development geography
    • Earth system science.
    • Qualitative & Quantitative Methods, as well as GIS & Remote Sensing
    • Social-ecological systems, Risk & Technology.
    • Risk management and governance, forecast & prediction.
    • Disaster management, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and humanitarian response.

    For an overview of the Modules please click here. 

    For a full list of the course lecturers and their research, click here