Sustainability Science: Governance and Law (M.A.)

Masters Programme

Political and legal governance is indispensable to achieve sustainability goals as well as a societal transformation towards sustainability, from the municipal to the international level. The interdisciplinary and research-oriented Masters programme is one of four transdisciplinary Masters programmes of Leuphana’s School of Sustainability. Basic principles of sustainability governance are taught in the context of concrete political-legal applications. Students are trained to become “change agents”, with a focus on the public sector, think tanks and related civil society organisations.

Do you want to load external content supplied by Youtube?
With your consent, further personal data will be transmitted to, among others, Google in the USA in order to show you Youtube videos. However, the European Court of Justice has deemed the level of data protection in the USA, measured against EU standards, to be insufficient. There is also the possibility that your data may then be processed by US authorities. If you click on “Yes“, the data will only be passed on for the display of this video. If you click on “Always“, the data is generally passed on when Youtube videos are displayed on our site. For more information, please refer to our Privacy policy.

Governance and Law – The Programme

  • Content
  • Structure

Governance and Law – The Programme


Transformations toward sustainability require well-defined legal and institutional structures and strategic political-administrative decision-making processes that empower, guide, steer, and continuously manage socio-technical and socio-ecological change, while remaining adaptable to swiftly evolving circumstances.

At the heart of this programme lies an understanding of governance as a complex process involving public, private, and civil society actors. Governance structures can take on various forms, including hierarchical, multi-level, or polycentric, leading to diverse decision-making processes, including public participation and multi-stakeholder dialogues.

Students will delve into the dynamics of democratic decision-making, institutionalization, and the development and application of laws and regulations across various levels, spanning from local to international. The programme's goal is to equip students with the knowledge and skills to critically evaluate existing regulatory frameworks and propose future governance structures that foster effective and just sustainability transitions.

Situated within an inter- and transdisciplinary Master's framework at Leuphana’s School of Sustainability, the programme promotes collaboration and knowledge exchange across disciplines, engaging practitioners from public administration, politics, and civil society. Specifically, we integrate insights from political science, law, and interdisciplinary governance research.

Recognizing the significance of cultural, legal-institutional, and biophysical contexts in which governance unfolds, we emphasize the absence of universal solutions. Public officials, as primary decision-makers, must design processes that function optimally in specific contexts. Our curriculum offers insights into concrete governance structures within the German, European, and international systems encompassing global environmental governance. Students will learn from concrete examples such as governing energy transition, ecosystem management, traffic planning, drought management, governing global value chains or land use planning in different parts of the world.

Acknowledging the imperative for rigorous theoretical foundations and empirical evidence to guide public decision-making, our curriculum maintains a strong research orientation. Students acquire vital skills in research methods, case study design, meta-analysis, evidence review, and comprehension of legal texts and systems.

Our vision is to mold students into adept leaders and change agents, capable of navigating conflicts and designing evidence-informed, innovative, and practicable solutions to address pressing sustainability challenges.


The Masters programme covers four semesters.

In the first semester, an introductory lecture on sustainability governance will kick-off the core curriculum.

In the second semester, two seminars will address the specific challenges of governance of sustainability transformations, including one from a legal perspective.

In the third semester, advanced courses will focus on national, European and international perspectives, namely environmental and sustainability law, sustainability state and global sustainability politics.

The fourth semester is devoted to developing, writing and defending the Master's thesis, based on exchange both with academic staff and with fellow students in a Master's forum.

The programme core is complemented with Leuphana’s complementary studies courses, organised in the three modules ‘Engaging with Knowledge and Sciences’, ‘Reflecting on Research Methods’ and ‘Connecting Science, Responsibility and Society’.

Here you can find further information on the course content of the Masters programme Sustainability Science: Governance and Law soon.

Study Regulations and Subject-Specific Schedule

The following link provides access to documents which set out the general conditions for examinations, an overview of the curriculum, as well as detailed and legally binding regulations.

General Assessment Regulations and the Subject-Specific Schedules

Overview of Modules Sustainability Science: Governance and Law (M.A.) ©Leuphana
Overview of Modules Sustainability Science: Governance and Law (M.A.)

Teaching Personnel

Programme Director

  • Prof. Dr. Jens Newig

Deputy Programm Director

  • Prof. Dr. Valentin Schatz

Studying Abroad

Students of this Masters programme have the opportunity to spend a semester of their studies abroad. For that, we recommend the third semester. For any questions or to apply, please contact the International Center. The International Center will provide all further information on Erasmus+ funding, and on preparing for and organising your semester abroad.

Career Prospects

Graduates are positioned at the forefront of a rapidly evolving job market that increasingly values expertise in sustainability and governance. The skills and knowledge acquired through this programme pave the way for exciting and impactful job prospects in various sectors.

  1. Public Sector and Government Agencies: Graduates can step into roles within environmental departments, policy-making bodies, and sustainability offices at local, national, European or international levels. They can contribute to policy development, regulatory compliance, and sustainable governance initiatives.
  2. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs): NGOs focusing on sustainability, climate change, and environmental conservation seek professionals with expertise in sustainability governance. Graduates can work in roles related to policy advocacy, programme management, and partnership development.
  3. International Organisations and Agencies: Organisations like the United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union and other international bodies are increasingly prioritizing sustainability efforts. Our graduates are well-suited for roles involving policy analysis, project management, and implementation of sustainability initiatives across borders.
  4. Research and Academia: Many graduates choose to pursue further research or academic careers. They can work as research analysts, professors, or researchers in universities, think tanks, or research institutions.
  5. Consulting Firms: Sustainability consulting firms are in high demand to guide businesses and governments toward sustainable practices. Our graduates can work as consultants, offering expertise in policy analysis, sustainability strategy development, and implementation frameworks.
  6. Environmental Law Firms: Graduates with a legal background can join law firms specializing in environmental and sustainability law. They can provide legal counsel on compliance, policy adherence, and sustainable business practices.
  7. Urban Planning and Development: Sustainable urban development is a growing field. Graduates can work in city planning departments, real estate firms, or urban development organisations, contributing to sustainable infrastructure and community planning.

Graduates who would like to continue their academic career are welcome to apply for our doctoral research group on Sustainability Science.

As a student of our Master's programme, you also have the opportunity to start your doctorate at an early stage via the Doctoral Track.

The job prospects for our graduates are manifold for addressing pressing global challenges. Their ability to navigate complex governance structures and find innovative solutions across sectors positions them as change-agents in the journey towards a sustainable future.

As a student in our programme, you have the opportunity to start your doctorate early via the Doctoral Track. Thus, you to become part of the scientific community of our doctoral research groups at an early stage, giving you the unique opportunity to combine your Master's and doctoral studies and, with your doctorate in sight, to obtain your Master's degree en-route.

Admission Requirements and Application

You can find all information about the admission requirements, the application and the selection procedure on our "Apply" page.

International Students

The study programme matches your interests? Then you will find further information for prospective international students on residence and social matters, such as visa, residence permit, health insurance or finding accommodation, on the following pages. Please note that the information for incoming exchange students and international degree-seeking students differs slightly.

Information for incoming exchange students

Information for international degree-seeking students

At a Glance

Degree awarded: Master of Arts (M.A.)
Application deadline: EU degrees: 1 June / Non-EU degrees: 1 May
Type of programme: consecutive, restricted admission
Study places: 25
Start date: October 1
Extent: 120 CP according to ECTS
Duration: 4 semesters
Language: English
Semester contribution: ca. 320 EUR

Contact and Counselling

First contact point

The Information Office (Infoportal) is your contact point for

Information Office

Building 8, Ground Level
Fon +49.4131.677-2277

Campus opening hours
Mon - Thu 9.00 am - 4:00 pm
Fr 9.00 am - 12 noon

Student Counselling

To make an appointment with our Student Counselling Service, please use our booking tool on our website.