In our Master's course, students will be trained to conduct problem-driven transdisciplinary environmental research.

Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development (Graduate level)

Our 2-year Master's programme aims to enhance students' knowledge of the complex interactions between ecological and social systems

Students are introduced to multiple research approaches and methods for studying coupled social and ecological systems. The programme focuses on using systems-based methods to develop new approaches to the governance and management of social-ecological systems. Students will be trained to conduct problem-driven transdisciplinary environmental research.

During the first year students attend four mandatory courses (see below). These are firmly embedded in the research at the Centre and are designed with an emphasis on resilience - the ability to deal with change and continue to develop. They also define the challenges we face today and reflect on how resilience thinking can be applied to social-ecological systems to solve real-life problems.

Students will also have the opportunity for a traineeship at the end of the first year.

During the second year, students develop and conduct their own research and write it up and defend it as their masters’ theses. These are mainly incorporated in on-going research projects and are all related to one or more of the research themes at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Our ambition is that our graduates publish their research in peer-reviewed journals.

Click here to access previous theses from our students

The programme attracts top international students. In order to ensure a high quality, spaces are limited to 18 students per year.

Watch video below where programme coordinator Tim Daw provides you with a brief overview of what you can expect from the Master's programme:

Programme details

First year activities:
The first year kicks off one week before courses start with week 0. This is a preparatory week for all new students and includes an introduction to the SRC, Stockholm University, essential study skills to begin work at the Master’s level as well as time to settle into Stockholm. 

Course 1: Social-Ecological Systems: Challenges and Approaches, 15 ECTS. This course introduces students to the concept of the Anthropocene, the new geological era in which humanity is the dominant force structuring the planet. Students then reflect on the role of theory in sustainability science and explore concepts and methods for understanding how ecological processes support human wellbeing. Read more

Course 2: Systems Theory and Resilience Thinking, 15 ECTS. This course introduces qualitative and quantitative approaches to the analysis of systems. Students apply these methods to real cases to understand system resilience and potential transformations towards sustainability. Read more

Course 3: Governance and Management of Social-Ecological Systems, 15 ECTS. This course will explore alternative approaches for analyzing how people make choices, use rules, and learn to manage and govern social-ecological systems.  Read more

Course 4: Resilience Reflections and Applications, 7.5 ECTS. This course will reflect on how resilience thinking methods can be applied to study social-ecological systems, building students’ research skills in anticipation of their thesis year. Read more

The courses run full time and back-to-back. There are no other breaks other than those listed below under Term dates.

On completion of the above courses, students have 7.5 ECTS for optional courses or a traineeship (see below). Optional courses need to be given at a university and approved by the SERSD programme director.

Traineeship in Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development, 7.5 ECTS (optional) Note: This is for SERSD Master’s programme students only. If interested in doing a traineeship at the SRC as an independent student please go to: Independent Courses.


In my work as a Social Scientist at WWF I develop different types of evidence and knowledge to inform decision-making and adaptive management. I also work hard to bring a systems and resilience lens to the work we do!

Former student Shauna Majaha

I am doing a PhD at the Natural Resources Institute in Finland. SERSD provided me with an excellent introduction to issues of sustainability science and transdisciplinary research. This inspired and encouraged me to pursue a PhD within similar topics.

Former student Viola Hakkarainen

Second year activities
Students will execute and write their Master's thesis (60 ECTS).

The students' theses are mainly incorporated in on-going research projects and are all related to one of the research themes at Stockholm Resilience Centre. We strongly encourage students to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals.

Students are required to contact centre researchers to incorporate their thesis into ongoing centre research.

Details about the second year activities and thesis writing are available in the Thesis Guidelines that are distributed to programme admitted students.

Term dates for the academic year 2019/2020

Week 0: Aug 26 - Aug 30, 2019

Autumn term 2019: Sept 2, 2019 — Jan 19, 2020

Christmas and New Year’s break: Dec 23, 2019 — Jan 9, 2020

Spring term 2020: Jan 20, 2020 — June 7, 2020

Easter break: April 10, 2020 — April 17, 2020

The programme starts every autumn term and application deadline is January 15th each year for ALL applicants.

Programme page on SISU

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stockholm Resilience Centre
Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B
Phone: +46 8 674 70 70

Organisation number: 202100-3062
VAT No: SE202100306201