International Joint MSc Programme “Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security”

Application Procedure
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    The Master of Science (M.Sc.) in “Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security” is jointly offered by UNU-EHS and the Department of Geography at the University of Bonn as an international degree programme with a research-oriented profile.

    The two-year programme educates students in an interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary manner on how to investigate and manage various resources related to environmental hazards by implementing science-based principles and methodologies to disaster risk management.

    It offers an in-depth introduction to problem-oriented research methods, theories and concepts as well as real life challenges and problems that international and UN organizations are facing. The curriculum draws from research areas such as vulnerability assessment, resilience analysis, risk management and adaptation strategies within linked human–environment systems, and environmentally induced internal displacement and transboundary migration.

    Since its launch in October 2013, a total of 75 students from 24 countries have been studying within the Master programme.


    The main purpose of the MSc programme is to provide postgraduate students with detailed knowledge, critical understanding, strategies, and tools required to take an interdisciplinary approach towards environmental risks and human security.

    Upon completion of their study, students will be able to:

    • Understand and analyse scientific inquiry in physical and human geography and related disciplines, focusing on vulnerability and environmental risk in developing countries;
    • Understand and apply appropriate methods for research design regarding data collection and analysis, particularly focused on contemporary qualitative and quantitative methods;
    • Formulate new research questions and apply the acquired knowledge in the context of international organizations and mechanisms; and
    • Master scientific writing, presentation and proposal writing skills, as well as, perform project management tasks.

    Career Opportunities:

    The course provides a spring board to young students who are interested to develop careers within international organizations, such as the UN. As part of the curriculum students are required to complete a minimum of 8 weeks internship, and write a Master Thesis in collaboration with partner institutions. This affords students the opportunity to participate in research projects and apply the knowledge they have obtained. Over the past year our students have participated in research or project work in a number of organisations, as well as, being located in more than 20 countries worldwide.

    Typically, graduates of this programme are expected to serve in government departments /agencies, international institutions, (e.g. those dealing with disaster risk management, environment and governance, sustainability and sustainable spatial planning), projects and research at national and international institutions, research institutions, and doctoral research programmes.

    What we offer

    1. Joint Master of Science Degree from the United Nations University and University of Bonn;
    2. Problem-oriented and in-depth learning combined with practical case studies;
    3. Intercultural and interdisciplinary learning environment;
    4. Strong focus on developing countries;
    5. Possibility to engage in ongoing research projects at both institutions;
    6. Possibility to incorporate current development issues and real world problems into the academic work;
    7. Close cooperation with the United Nations and other international organizations.

    Discover Opportunities


  • Application package

    Candidates must submit a completed application packet consisting of the following documents:

    1. Completed and signed application form (REQUIRED)

    2. Résumé/CV (REQUIRED)

    • A current résumé 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 language other than English or German, a certified translation of the transcript into English is required. Translated versions can be certified either by the originating university or an official national or international institution.

    4. A letter of motivation (REQUIRED)

    • A written statement, one to two pages in length, describing the motivation, area of proposed research, background, past work in the intended field of study, plans for further postgraduate study and any other information the applicant feels 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, English language proficiency certificate. (REQUIRED)

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

    • Further certificates on professional expertise
    • Additional Certified Transcripts in cases where additional academic credits were earned outside of Degrees awarded
    • Letters of recommendation

    For more information about if this MSc Programme is right for you, as well as information on the admission process, please consult the FAQ.

    The Joint Master Programme has one intake per year starting with the Winter Semester – the next programme start will be in October 2017.

    Candidates are notified about their application status by mid May 2017.

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

  • Admissions

    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 three of the following four study areas:

    1. Physical Geography, Geosciences and Environmental Sciences with a focus on Earth System Science;
    2. Human Geography and Social Sciences with a focus on space, society and development;
    3. Science methodology and empirical research methods;
    4. Spatial planning and policy.

    Applicants must provide proof of having earned at least 10 ECTS per study area. Study areas listed above in which a candidate received fewer than 10 ECTS will not be considered.

    Further requirements:

    • A strong motivation to contribute to the area of human security and management of risks related to environmental change is a pre-requisite to study in this Master’s Programme;
    • Professional experience of at least 2 years, gained through internships or employment in related fields is highly desirable and an asset when considering a candidate’s application;
    • Non-native English speaking applicants must prove sufficient proficiency in the English language and be highly motivated to learn in a multicultural and interdisciplinary environment.

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

  • Courses

    Course structure

    The course structure and content address innovative issues and new concepts to better understand the complexity of physical changes in the earth system (e.g. climate change, hazards) and its interactions with societal processes (vulnerability, resilience) producing risks.

    Over the span of four semesters, students attend 11 modules (120 ECTS), including introduction seminars, research methods, an internship as well as a master thesis. The language of instruction is English.

    Fields of study include:

    • Social ecological systems;
    • Earth system science;
    • Risk management and governance;
    • Disaster management and disaster risk reduction (DRR);
    • Geospatial technology (GIS/RS) for DRR and emergency response preparedness;
    • Coordination within the United Nations System and the European Union.

    A document with further details on the curriculum is currently under review and will be made available shortly.

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

  • 2014 Examination Regulations University of Bonn

    (452.0 KB PDF) (1.1 MB PDF)

    F A Q Application 2016

    (35.6 KB DOCX)

    Joint MSc GEO RISK application form

    (147.2 KB DOCX) (164.0 KB PDF)

    Course Description

    (1.1 MB PDF)


    (897.9 KB PDF)