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The redeveloped LUMES Programme started 2013

To keep the LUMES programme as one of the world’s leading Master’s programme in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science we have been involved in redeveloping the LUMES programme over the last year.

The new programme was launched for students starting in August 2013. The programme maintains many of its strengths at the same time better adapting itself to the rapidly developing field of Sustainability Science.

New LUMES Programme Courses

LUMES Educational plan (in English, pdf) »
LUMES Utbildningsplan (in Swedish, pdf) »

Click on the different semesters or courses below for more information.


1st Semester

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Earth Systems Science (10 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The course covers the following key issues within Earth Systems Science:

  • Drivers and consequences of global environmental change
  • Ecosystem structure and function, including biodiversity
  • Land use change, including forests and agriculture
  • Global freshwater use, including the global water cycle
  • Nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorous) use and pollution
  • Earth’s physical climate system and anthropogenic climate change

The course offers training in the following skills:

  • Academic writing
  • Quantitative data analysis
  • Using academic libraries
  • Using data bases
  • Practice in oral presentations
  • Group work management

A pre-course assignment dealing with an important sustainability problem is presented both in a short paper and orally.


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Social Theory and Sustainability (10 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The course discusses different theories of modern society and relates them to different approaches to sustainability and environmental problems. The focus will be on:

  • Theories of modern society and economy (e.g. Rousseau, Adam Smith, Marx, Hayek, Keynes, Habermas, Foucault, Feminist theories)
  • The complex interactions between different spheres of economy, politics and civil society when dealing with environmental questions as a social problem;
  • The tensions and trade-offs in the interactions between e.g. individual/ society, economy/ politics, cultural values/ technical efficiency, environment/ economy.
  • An overview of different philosophies of scientific knowledge (ontology and epistemology), empiricism, positivism, constructivism, critical realism; and the ability to identify and compare the underlying theory of science in each perspective.


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Sustainability Science (10 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The course presents, discusses and critiques the main literature in the sustainability science field. Students are exposed to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary theoretical perspectives, approaches and tools commonly used or under development within the field, and how these are used to analyse and interpret complex sustainability challenges and societal transition processes. In addition, the course covers and scrutinizes a variety of mid-range theories and approaches used in sustainability science, e.g., resilience theory, transition theory/management, ecological economics, political ecology, system analysis, participatory methods. The course also offers methods training in system analysis with a focus on dynamic interactions and their quantitative modeling using computer software. The training will be group oriented with an emphasis on participatory training activities.


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2nd Semester

Governance of Sustainability (7.5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The course discusses different theoretical approaches to governance, different governance models in terms of scales and levels, and how successfully various governance regimes deal with concrete sustainability challenges. The focus will be on:

  • History of the development of the concept of governance and its discontents;
  • Basic approaches to governance and their theoretical foundation in social theory (market, collective action, state regulation, business initiatives, NGOs, social movements, etc.)
  • Various governance models currently practiced with regard to pressing sustainability challenges.

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Urban & Rural Systems and Sustainability (10 credits)

Syllabus (pdf)  »

The overall objective of this course is threefold. First, it aims to give the students an understanding of the distinctive features of urban and rural systems and the feedbacks between these systems (systems-thinking competence). Secondly, it shows the linkages between the identified urban/rural features and current sustainability challenges, such as increasing risk caused by climate change, disasters, diseases, and food or water insecurity (systems-thinking and anticipatory competence). Thirdly, it focuses on how the identified urban/rural features need to be considered in the design and implementation of activities for creating more sustainable and resilient communities (normative and strategic competence). Emphasis is on providing concrete planning tools, measures, and hands-on practice, which includes a study visit to relevant sites.

The course is divided into four building blocks. It first presents key issues and tendencies in urban and rural development on an international scale. Topics include global land use changes, agriculture, forestry, grazing, urbanisation trends, and the differences and linkages between urban and rural systems. The complex interconnections between built systems and environmental, socio-cultural, economic, and political factors are highlighted. On this basis, key sustainability challenges faced by urban and rural communities, and how they are linked to urban-rural differences, are discussed. Thirdly, the course covers space-related theories, concepts and tools relevant for the planning of (more) resilient communities. The focus here is on climate-resilient and disaster-proof adaptation planning for achieving sustainable urban/rural transformation. The students are also introduced to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Finally, concrete and hands-on planning practices are studied. Predominant approaches to adaptation planning in urban and rural contexts are discussed and their differences analysed. Related topics can, for instance, include top-down and bottom-up approaches, urban-rural networks, as well as differences in approaches coming from the so-called ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’.


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Economy and Sustainability (7.5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The course reviews briefly the historical experience of modern economic growth and its consequences of environmental degradation, e.g., resource depletion, climate change. Departing from the mainstream theories of economic growth, the course also addresses the problems of developing countries and the significance of economic growth and development for alleviating poverty and promoting human well-being. The course, furthermore, introduces a number of different perspectives on Sustainable Development (SD), mainly Weak Sustainability, Strong Sustainability, and the Human Development approach. SD is NOT assumed as the prescription for a problem-free model of economy; rather, it is taken as a formulation of the problematic clash of economic growth and environmental concerns. Accordingly, the course concentrates on how, in each of the aforementioned SD perspectives, the tension between the imperative of economic growth and environmental and social sustainability is handled.

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Knowledge to Action (5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

This course gives deeper knowledge of sustainability science and the role of trans-disciplinarity in understanding and leading to sustainable societal transitions. The course concentrates on learning opportunities that exposes students to real-world settings with societal actors such as municipalities, organizations, companies and/or communities where students actively partake in the design, implementation and evaluation of a project. The course also places a strong emphasis on improving student communication with stakeholders outside academia. 


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3rd Semester (Electives)

The third semester is made up of two blocks of elective courses totaling 30 credits (2*15 credits).
The student select two 7,5 credit courses from each block.

Block 1, courses offered Fall 2014:

Block 2, courses offered Fall 2014:

Please note that as the courses offered during the third term are closely connected to the research conducted by the staff at LUCSUS. The courses offered in Fall 2015 may be different than listed below


Water and Sustainability (7.5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The overall themes of the course are water in society and water as an ecosystem.  The themes are covered significantly through a variety of scientific readings and reflection that exemplify different approaches and perspectives for analysing and interpreting present and future water resource availability, the political ecology of water resource challenges, water-related vulnerability and adaptation measures, and uncertainties in climate modelling coupled to freshwater resources.

Other aspects covered in the course include the multitude of approaches of how water is perceived, e.g., water as a human right, water as an economic good, and the implications of these approaches on management and use practices. Furthermore, the course presents and discusses the on-going reformations of water resource planning, policies and laws focusing on principles of integrated water resources management (IWRM), and associated techniques in, for example, the EU and the Global South. Several concepts highlighted recently that address the interdisciplinary nature of freshwater including green-blue water; virtual water and water footprint assessment are further discussed. Course excursions emphasise regional and local water use and management perspectives in practice.


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Health Systems, Community Resilience and Sustainability

Syllabus (pdf) »

This course provides breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding of health systems as the foundations of social and environmental/ecological sustainability. Human lives and livelihoods depend on the biosphere; and sustained health and well-being are necessary for responsible and sustainable use and stewardship of natural resources on planet earth.

Contemporary scientific discourse on sustainability continues to emphasize the inter-connectedness of human, animal, plant, and ecosystem health, “One Health”; while policy debates highlight the need for inter-sectoral collaborations and partnerships to solve complex and inter-connected problems. This course will guide participants through the main schools of thought in public health, One Health, and community resilience to extreme events. Ongoing interdisciplinary investigations of community resilience that offer methodological training will be accessible to interested participants who choose to engage in research projects that offer experiential learning opportunities over the duration of their Master’s studies.


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Gender and Sustainability in Theory and Everyday Life (7.5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The course discusses a variety of theories, conceptual frameworks and approaches for analysing and understanding relations and interactions between gender and sustainability. In the course we will discuss the broad field of gender studies and to the central issues, key concepts and analytical tools in the current debates regarding inequalities, diversities and social change relevant for sustainability.

The course draws on global, regional and local empirical examples to illustrate issues of how gender and sustainability interact. We will analyse similarities, differences and interactions between g gender studies, feminism (from liberal to radical to postmodern feminism) and sustainability, in terms of their theoretical foundations. Moreover, we will analyse different approaches (such as intersectionality) that help identify and locate gender and make gender dimensions visible in sustainability policies, initiatives and interventions and how they relate to wider social processes and sustainability challenges. Finally, we will analyse how methods (such as standpoint and mainstreaming), methodology and epistemology can be used to problematise and critically review everyday examples of the interaction between gender and sustainability.
In the seminars we will practice peer teaching. The students will analyse and present literature themselves and lead the discussions.

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Societal Resilience (7,5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

Our world is complex and dynamic and it is increasingly acknowledged that society has to be resilient to be safe and sustainable. The course discusses the main challenges to the safety and sustainability of society, as well as the importance and utility of concepts of resilience in this context. It also operationalizes the concept of societal resilience in order to be used as a tool for guiding analysis and practical interventions for a more resilient society. This approach to societal resilience conceptualizes the concept as an emergent property based on society’s ability to anticipate, recognise, adapt to and learn from variations, changes, disturbances, disruptions and disasters that may cause harm to what human beings value. The course elaborates on these four overall functions and connects them to each other and to frameworks of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation for sustainable development.

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Social Movements and Sustainability (7.5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

Social movements for sustainability are one type of agency striving towards sustainability. The main aim of the course is to provide conceptual frameworks for studying and evaluating the impact the social movements for sustainability can have on the public agenda and decision-making.
This is basically a seminar course, although it starts with a few lectures on the history and different theoretical perspectives on social movements, introducing the students to the relevant literature. Then all students choose a real-life case of a social movement for a sustainability issue and, adopting a theoretical perspective from the literature, present the analysis of the case in a seminar for class discussion. (Depending on the number of enrolled students, seminars will be either by individuals or small group of students.) The course ends by students writing an individual term-paper on one of the outstanding themes that emerge during class discussions in seminars.


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Energy and Sustainability (7.5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The course discusses fundamental energy concepts covering the physical, scientific, technological properties and societal priorities of energy systems. The major challenges in the areas of the environment, society development, security and the economy are also covered largely through the assessment of one or more of these domains. Opportunities in energy demand, energy efficiency and materials efficiency, energy end-use technology status and potential, economic viability and energy scenarios for example are examined and scrutinized.

The course also addresses generation supply and demand options with focus on energy technologies (e.g. wind, solar, biofuel, CCS) and other strategies (e.g. energy efficiency) to decrease the environmental and social impacts of generation systems in both industrialized countries and the Global South. Finally, the course covers a variety of (governance) strategies for the intervention and transformation of energy systems down more sustainable pathways.  


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Capacity Development (7,5 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

Capacity development has been identified as the tool and process to substantially reduce disaster losses and creating sustainable development. Capacity development is defined as the process through which individuals, organizations and societies obtain, strengthen and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time.

The course discusses different theoretical approaches, frameworks and challenges to capacity development, different models how to develop, analyse and assess capacity at various levels, and how to design capacity development projects for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation i.e. project management. The course is to a large extent based on real capacity development projects mainly from the international context, but the approaches to capacity development are also applicable in a national or local level working for governmental agencies, consultancy firms, the municipality, fire & rescue services, and international humanitarian and development organizations.

In brief:
•  What is: capacity, capacity development, capacity building and disaster risk reduction?
    Why is capacity development for disaster risk reduction important?
•  Historical background and evolution of capacity development for disaster risk reduction with a focus
    on policies and guidelines.
•  How to design, assess and review capacity development projects for disaster risk management
   – project management.
•  Introduce Result Based Management (RBM) and Logical Framework Approach (LFA) as a tool for planning.
•  Discuss different tools and models how to assess capacity at various levels.
•  Discuss different frameworks, approaches and challenges to capacity development, change management,
   being a change agent, and conditions for engaging.

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4th Semester

Master’s Thesis (30 credits)

Syllabus (pdf) »

The Master’s Thesis is a mandatory degree project to develop and display the skills and abilities of the student to carry out individual, independent, scientific work on a specific topic, exploring it in a trans-disciplinary manner, and assessing solutions and conclusions with respect to the different dimensions of sustainability.


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Visiting Address:

Josephson, Biskopsgatan 5, LUND

Postal Address: 

Box 170, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden




+46(0)46 222 04 70

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