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Masters in Environment and Resource Management

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
1 year
Full time
Master's degree
On campus
September 2020
Application deadline: Deadline: June 1st for Dutch students & also students from EU/EEA countries
2,143 EUR excl. VAT

Program description

The Master Environment and Resource Management (ERM) is designed to train the next generation of environmental decision-makers to work on the sustainability challenges of our time. Students learn to work towards finding solutions for societal problems related to natural resource depletion and environmental change.

The programme is highly international in character and is open for students from all disciplinary backgrounds, training them to bring in their disciplinary knowledge while co-operating in multidisciplinary teams. Students will become familiar with several key disciplines and learn to integrate different bodies of knowledge in a problem-oriented manner. Students can determine their own focus by choosing a specialization and further establish their own niche through the Master’s thesis. The specializations have been selected to cover some of the most fundamental environmental problems of our time, notably the provision of sustainable energy and the sustainable governance of water, climate, and ecosystems.

The programme is hosted by the Institute for Environmental Studies, which was evaluated in 2014 as “one of the trend-setting, internationally recognized sustainability-directed research and education centers in the world”.

Are you interested in a research-orientated, two-year master programme?
Consider the Earth Sciences Masters specialisation, Global Environmental Change and Policy. This specialization is for students who want to go beyond understanding the earth systems, for those aiming to contribute to sustainable solutions by analyzing the broader social, political and economic aspects of global environmental change. Our students are highly motivated, interested in interdisciplinary, focused on solutions rather than limitations, and equipped with a critical and analytical mind. Have a look on the website of Earth Sciences.

Admission requirements

Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application.

In order to gain admission to our Master’s programme, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent. Students from all disciplinary backgrounds will be considered, but the following subjects provide a particularly relevant basis for participating in the ERM programme: Environmental studies, Economics, Political Science, Social Science, Law, Natural Sciences.

Specific admission requirements for the MSc Environment and Resource Management:

• For HBO bachelor degree holders, Average grade for the bachelor should be at least a 7 or equivalent (A bachelor thesis or writing sample can be requested if necessary to confirm quality); Or, for WO-bachelor degree holders, average grade for the bachelor is equal to or higher than 6 but lower than 7;
• Affinity with environmental sciences or sustainability, proven by previous study program, courses, thesis or relevant (volunteer) work experience, expressed in a motivation statement or curriculum vitae;
• ERM requirements for English language proficiency, including sufficient scores for each test component;
• Strong motivation statement addressing:     
    - Interest for environmental and sustainability issues
    - Specific interest for ERM     
    - Future ambitions after graduation

Language Requirements 
The ERM programme requires international students and HBO degree students to take an English test. You can, however, begin your application without having the test results. Please be aware of the fact that it can take a long time to receive the results of English proficiency tests, so plan your test on time!  In case you haven’t taken a test yet, we advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible.

Below you will find the minimum English test scores for the ERM programme. 
IELTS (academic): 
Minimum Overall Band Score     6.5 
• Minimum Sub-scores              6.0 

• Paper-based test 580 
• Internet-based test 92 
        -Minimum Sub-score Reading         18 
        -Minimum Sub-score Listening        19 
        -Minimum Sub-score Speaking       19 
        -Minimum Sub-score Writing           23 

Cambridge English:
• Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C 
• Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C  

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Program content

The one-year Master programme Environment and Resource Management aims to ensure that students acquire theoretical concepts, academic skills and operational techniques that allow them to find solutions for societal problems related to natural resources and the environment. 

Components of the programme: 

You can find more information about the layout of the course in theStudy guide.

Theoretical foundation (18 EC)
The program starts with Causes and Consequences of Environmental Change, a course in which students are presented with the breadth of environmental problems, using different disciplines to examine causes and effects. 

In the 2 parallel courses that follow,Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy, students learn about economic policy instruments for managing environmental problems and delve into the theory and practice of environmental governance and the role of different political actors.

Specialization (12 EC)

Students can determine their own focus within the programme by choosing one of the pre-designed specialization tracks: Water and Society, Energy and Climate, or Ecosystem services and biodiversity. Students can also opt for the specialization ‘environmental studies’ providing them the option to select their own combination of specialization courses. 

Skills (12 EC)

In the second semester the attention shifts to the development of specific skills such as research methods, research design, academic writing, and employability skills. In the research methods and research design courses students get acquainted with the relevant methods and techniques for assessing sustainability challenges and environmental problems. 

Research Project (18 EC)

The programme ends with the ‘Research Project’, integrating all previous course work in one condense activity in which the specialization knowledge, theoretical foundation and research skills are combined.  This is the moment to demonstrate that you can link theory to practice and use proper academic methods and tools. In preparation of the Research Project the programme organizes the ERM thesis/internship market in December. During this market, students are presented with the thesis positions that are available at IVM and at a large number of external organizations in the Netherlands and abroad. Students are invited to choose a research topic and a supervisor of their choice. Students also have the freedom to develop their own project instead of applying for one of the presented projects.

Tuition fees

The cost of this program for students of EU/EEA countries is €2,143

Scholarships & funding

With our own scholarship, the VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP), we offer highly motivated students with excellent study results the unique opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree with financial support provided by the university. The VUFP scholarship is a tuition fee waiver. The Holland Scholarship Programme (HSP) is meant for students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who want to follow a Master’s programme in the Netherlands. VU Amsterdam embraces diversity as an enrichment to our teaching, research and our contribution to society. This scholarship is specifically intended for excellent students who contribute to the diversity at our campus. As an international student planning to study at VU Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries.


MSc in Environment and Resource Management

Career opportunities

There is a growing need for versatile, all-round environmental experts who can analyze and develop solutions for local national and global sustainability challenges. By now, more than 1,000 students have received their Master’s degree in Environment and Resource Management from VU Amsterdam. Many of our alumni have embarked on exciting sustainability careers as consultants, NGO leaders, entrepreneurs, ministry officials or international civil servants. Some of our students continue in academia by starting a PhD. 

Graduates may expect to find employment in organizations such as:

(Environmental) consultancy: KPMG, Arcadis, Royal Haskoning, ETC International, Ecofys, 

NGO: World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 

Private sector: TATA Steel, Philips, Unilever, Sungevity, Engie, Nuon, Ahold Delhaize

Public sector: European Parlement; Ministry of Economic Affairs, United Nations Environmental Program, World Health Organisation, Ministry of Forreign Affairs, Local water authority

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About this institute

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Welcome to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (‘VU Amsterdam’) is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 170 English-taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to more than 24,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff...

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Why study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

With more than 24,000 students, of which 4,088 are international, VU Amsterdam conducts cutting-edge research into problems of societal and scientific importance.

They distinguish themselves in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes:

  • Human Health and Life Sciences
  • Science for Sustainability
  • Connected World
  • Governance for Society

As a student this will help you to look beyond the boundaries of scientific disciplines, and to seek for tangible solutions for a better world.

In addition, VU Amsterdam regards diversity, whether in culture, conviction, nationality or prior education, as source of innovation and progress, and hence as special strength.

The Dutch higher education system has been ranked in the top 10 by Universitas 21. In the first Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking, VU Amsterdam is ranked 16th worldwide. In this ranking, universities are assessed based on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to measure the impact of the universities on society. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018 (Shanghai Ranking) VU Amsterdam holds the 104th position. The international QS World University ranking 2021 places the Vrije Universiteit at number 236 in the world, which means the Vrije Universiteit belongs to the top 20% of the world.

At VU Amsterdam, the teaching style can be described as student-centred: they encourage students to develop their own opinions through independent and creative thinking. This means that teaching is mainly conducted in small tutorials, where interactivity is the norm rather than the exception. At every opportunity, students are encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue with their professors.

Contact info

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands, the

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