The University of Groningen (the Netherlands), the University of the Aegean (Greece), the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) and the University of Iceland jointly announce the new Erasmus+ Mundus Joint Master Degree Programme in Islands and Sustainability (acronym: ISLANDS). Islands are special cases for Sustainable Development. Within the current global economic and social system islands in many cases face economic, social, political and cultural marginalization unless they cooperate. Cooperation is needed in research and education on the ways to manage islands and raise capacity building in island communities. Understanding the problems and finding effective ways to develop the potential of small islands requires international academic cooperation that looks beyond the specifics of individual islands. There is clearly a demand for a high quality Masters programme on sustainable development on islands that can enhance much required training and expertise in this field. This is why the University of Groningen, the University of the Aegean, the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Iceland have joined forces to launch a high-level integrated study programme on islands at Master level.


Programme Summary

The ISLANDS programme combines thorough training in scientific research with a thematic specialization on Islands and Sustainability. It also provides multi-faceted training of research skills for social science and environmental research, including Individual Research Training by senior staff and training to work in a multi- and interdisciplinary research group. It involves taking a series of qualitative, quantitative and multi-method courses, as well as, courses on Scientific Reading, Debating and Reflecting, Scientific English Writing and Research Process.

ISLANDS students will be required to study at the University of Groningen in the first semester of the first year of the programme. During the second semester of the first year they study at one of the island-based universities of the consortium where they undertake Research Training and a Research Internship Module. Then, they return to Groningen for the first semester of their second year before going again to the same island-based university to undertake their Master thesis project in the second semester of the second year.

ISLANDS graduates receive a double-degree from the University of Groningen (including an acknowledgement that this is an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master degree involving all partner universities) and the island-based University in which the graduate spends the second half of the second year of their studies and the second half of the second semester of the first year.

The ISLANDS programme is also supported by six associated partners comprising academic institutions, a research institute, an SME and NGOs (including Geoparks in Iceland and on Lesvos).


Students will be shortlisted and selected, based on the following criteria:

Assessment Interview

Generally, an interview with shortlisted applicants, in which attitude, motivation, orientation and competence for a career in (scientific) research are evaluated, forms part of the admission procedure. The interview is scheduled after the required documents have been received and evaluated by the Admissions Board.

Grade Average

Excellent study results and high grades at university level (A range, typically top 10%); Comparable to Dutch grading system: average grade of at least 7.0, for Bachelor thesis of at least 7.5.

Language Test

English on VWO level; Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (A, B or C) Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (A, B or C); Minimum of 6,5 for the International English Language Testing System (Academic version) (IELTS). With a minimum of 6.5 on listening, reading, writing and speaking; Minimum of 90 on the internet based version of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); Minimum of 580 on the written version of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); Minimum of 237 on the interactive version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); ; Exemptions: native speakers or students with education from the US, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, United Kingdom or Ireland

Previous Education

Academic bachelor degree in human geography and/or urban and regional planning or comparable qualifications, including at least 10 ECTS in statistics or equivalent statistical knowledge.

Professional Experience

Not required

Written Request

All applicants have to submit a detailed CV, list of grades, motivation letter and one or two reference letters to the Admissions Office.


EU-funded scholarships will be available for on average 15 students every year. The scholarship grant covers the tuition fee, and also provides a travel and living allowance. Admission to the degree programme and decisions on the award of scholarships will be determined by the Joint Admissions Board, which has one representative from each university, and has the Joint Programme Coordinator as its chairperson.

Please note that in line with the requirements for Erasmus Mundus joint Master programmes there is a residential eligibility criterion for scholarship applications according to which the study period should comprise at least 2 study periods in 2 countries, which must be different from your country of residence when you apply. This is particularly relevant to potential applicants who are currently resident in the Netherlands, Greece, Spain or Iceland.


Applicants can also apply for an Erasmus+ scholarship by indicating this in the application form (please note the deadline for scholarship applications is 15 January). An Erasmus+ scholarship has a value of EUR 1400 per month, for a total duration of 24 months. The scholarship will be a contribution to the costs incurred by the beneficiary students and shall cover travel, visa, accommodation installation and subsistence costs. In addition, the tuition fees for scholarship holders are waived.

Tuition fees

The tuition fees for non-scholarship holders are listed below. The payment of these fees includes enrollment and participation in all teaching activities as well as full insurance coverage for the enrolled students. It does not include any other costs such as accommodation, living and travel costs, and any additional insurance policies.

Self-funded students can apply to the programme in an extra application round until the end of April.

Programme country¬†‚ā¨ 4500 per year

Students originating from a programme country. Programme countries are Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, North Macedonia, Serbia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Turkey.

Non-programme country¬†‚ā¨ 9000 per year

Students originating from any other country not specified as a programme country.

The ISLANDS consortium may also offer a partial waiver to selected self-funding students, unless they receive another scholarship fully covering the tuition fees and living costs. The decision to grant a partial waiver to selected students will be based on the information entered in a waiver application form to be sent to individually selected students.

The application portal for scholarship applications is open from 1 November until the application deadline on 15 January for the forthcoming autumn semester. Interviews of shortlisted applicants are scheduled for February/March. Self-funded candidatescan apply in an extra application rounduntil 1 April each year for a start in the autumn semester with possible interviews in April/May.

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