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Transition towards a sustainable society, 15 Credits

The course is discontinued from 2021-06-28

Swedish name: Omställning till ett hållbart samhälle

This syllabus is valid: 2020-09-07 and until further notice

Course code: 5MH135

Credit points: 15

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Environmental Health: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
Environmental Science: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: VG Pass with distinction, G Pass, U Fail

Responsible department: Department of Ecology and Environmental Science

Revised by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2021-06-28


The course focuses on the challenges that our society faces when transitioning to a more sustainable society. The course is based on the principals of "challenge-based learning", where theoretical and project based elements are combined to give in-depth knowledge regarding different aspects of sustainable development from both scientific, social and ethic perspectives. The course consists of three modules:

Module 1 Sustainable development: from an individual to a societal perspective, 3.0 hp
During this module the student will define sustainable development, both from different perspectives, from individual to the societies perspective. . As an important component, the student should determine their own level of knowledge - and fill any eventual knowledge gaps - within subjects related to sustainable development

Module 2, Sustainable development in theory, 6.0 hp
Through literature studies and literature seminars the student should become well acquainted with existing scientific theories related to sustainable development.
Module 3, Project work in sustainable development, 6.0 hp.
Within a project the students apply their theoretical knowledge regarding sustainable development on a real case. The project includes discussions with different stake-holders, on their views on the transition to a sustainable society.

Expected learning outcomes

After completing the course, for the grade Pass, the student should be able to
Module 1 
1. Analyze and define sustainable development from an individual to a societal perspective 
Module 2
2. Individually search for and identify relevant scientific literature within different topics related to sustainable development
3. Analyze scientific theories related to sustainable development
Module 3
4. Identify challenges and needed transitions towards a sustainable development
5. Apply scientific theory on the practical aspects of working with the transition towards a more sustainable society
6. Present and discuss solutions that will help stimulate the transition towards a sustainable society 
After completing the course, for the grade Pass with distinction, the student should be able to
Module 2
7. Critically evaluate and problematize scientific theories related to sustainable development

Required Knowledge

Univ: Degree at the undergraduate level comprising at least 180 ECTS credits or equivalent foreign degree. Special prerequisites are: 90 ECTS credits, including a bachelor thesis in environmental science, environmental and health protection, earth science / physical geography or biology. English B / 6.

Form of instruction

The teaching includes lectures, seminars and student projects. The course is based on the principals of "challenge-based learning".

Examination modes

Examination is made through seminars, written assignments and oral presentations. Module 1 is examined through seminars and written assignment/assignments. Module 2 is examined through seminars. Module 3 is examined through a written report and an oral presentation of the results of the student project. For module 1 and 3 the student can be awarded the grades Fail (U) or Pass (G). For module 2 the student can be awarded the grades Fail (U), Pass (G) or Pass with distinction (VG). For the entire course the student can be awarded either of the following grades; Fail (U), Pass (G) or Pass with distinction (VG). For the grade Pass, the student must fulfill all expected study outcomes for the grade Pass. For the grade Pass with Distinction, the student must also fulfill all expected study outcome for the grade Pass with Distinction. The course grade is based on the grades of all three modules and cannot be awarded prior to the student having completed all mandatory modules with at least the grade Pass (G). Students that have been awarded the grade Pass (G) on an examination cannot re-take the exam in order to achieve a higher grade. A student that has failed an exam at least two times can ask to have the examiner replaced, unless special circumstances apply (HF 6 kap. 22§ ). The request for a new examiner should be made to the head of the department at the department of Ecology and Environmental Science. 

Students have the right to have their previous education or equivalent knowledge and skills acquired in the profession tested whether it can be credited for the corresponding course at Umeå University. Application for credit is submitted to the Student Centre / Examinations. For more information on credit transfer available on Umeå University's student web,, and the Higher Education Ordinance (Chapter 6). A refusal of accreditation may be appealed against (Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 12) to the University Appeals Board. This applies to the whole as well as part of the application if accreditation is refused.

Other regulations

In the event that the course plan ceases to apply or undergoes major changes, students are guaranteed at least three exam opportunities (including regular examinations) according to the rules in the syllabus that the student was originally registered for, for a maximum of two years from the date of expiry of the previous course plan or the course ceased being offered.


The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.