Introduction: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Sustainable Development

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The main aim of this course is to develop broad knowledge of the context, core concepts and processes in sustainable development across disciplines. The course will familiarise the student with the historical context of sustainable development and encourage critical reflection on how the interaction of the SDGs can create both benefits and trade-offs. The course will deepen understanding of the role of institutions and how governance structures shape outcomes at local, regional and global levels. The course will give the student broad knowledge of core concepts related to global societal challenges; climate change and energy transition; and marine resources and protection. Knowledge and understanding of the processes of sustainable development will be gained through interdisciplinary engagement with concrete problems.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course the students should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • can explain and analyze sustainable development and the path to the SDGs
  • can identify and compare relevant legal and governance frameworks at local, regional and global scale
  • can interpret rights, social justice and equity issues
  • can plan and prepare interdisciplinary processes in the promotion of sustainable development such as partnerships, social movements, etc.
  • can engage in interaction between the environment and society and the co-production of outcomes
  • can compare and debate core concepts of global societal challenges
  • can compare and debate core concepts of climate change and energy transition
  • can compare and debate core concepts of marine life


The student:

  • can deal critically with various sources of information on sustainable development issues and apply them to structure and formulate independent scholarly arguments
  • can collaborate in interdisciplinary groups to solve complex sustainable development challenges
  • can analyse challenging sustainable development issues through applying interdisciplinary perspectives
  • can analyse the synergy and trade-offs between SDGs using "sustainability thinking"
  • can critically analyse and extract the essence of written texts

General competence

The student:

  • can coherently communicate ideas concerning sustainable development both in written work and in oral presentations
  • can critically assess theories and methods from different disciplines, and select and apply those which are appropriate for responses to global challenges

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Bachelor's degree or similar, with special competence equalling one and a half years of study (80 ECTS) in a field or specialisation relevant for the programme.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
The course is open to students enrolled in the Master's programme in sustainability at the University of Bergen
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods will comprise lectures, seminars, workshops, student-led learning and a problem based learning component, as well as individual feedback.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
  • Short individual oral presentation of selected literature
  • Participation in the student-active learning groups and in the presentation of problem-based task.
  • Participation in student-led workshops
  • All activities and assignments must be completed with minimum 80 % attendance in seminars, learning groups and workshops, and approved before the student's portfolio will be assessed.

    Forms of Assessment

    Portfolio assessment and take-home exam

    • Portfolio assessment of portfolio consisting of two products:

    1) Reflection note with analysis of a particular sustainable development issue on up to 3000 words. (Weight approx. 60 % on the portfolio grade)

    2) Reflection note on the work in the student active group, focused on the challenges with working in interdisciplinary groups, up to 2000 words. (Weight approx. 40 % of the portfolio grade)

    • 7-day take-home exam

    The grade on the portfolio and the grade of the take-home exam will each count 50% of the final grade.

    If a student fails the take-home exam or is prevented to complete the take-home exam because of legitimate absence, it will be possible to re-take the take-home exam in the next semester.

    Grading Scale
    Assessment Semester
    Autumn. There is also an early assessment in the spring semester of students with valid compulsory assignments and attendance.
    Reading List
    Will be available July 1st.
    Course Evaluation
    The course will be evaluated in accordance with the quality assurance system of the University of Bergen.
    Programme Committee
    The Program Board is responsible for the academic content and structure of the study program, and for the quality of all the subjects therein.
    Course Coordinator
    Programme board for the Master's Programme in Sustainability
    Course Administrator
    The Center for the study of the sciences and humanities (Senter for vitskapstori, SVT) is administratively responsible for emne