STARTING DATE: 2022•10•01

Call for Applications 2021/2022

The main purpose of the two-year Master of Science programme is to provide postgraduate students with detailed knowledge, critical understanding, strategies and the tools required to take an interdisciplinary approach towards environmental risks and human security. The Master’s programme addresses theoretical and methodological debates in geography to better understand the complex emergence of environmental risks and natural hazards, their implications for human-nature relations (vulnerability, resilience, adaptation) and how to deal with them in practice.

As a joint programme offered by the Department of Geography at the University of Bonn and the United Nations University in Bonn, the course provides a unique combination of advanced conceptual and applied engagements within the field of environmental risks and human security in an international context.



Fields of expertise include Vulnerability Assessment, Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Development, Disaster Management, Climate Change Adaptation, Human-Nature Relationships, Science & Technology Studies, Development Geography, Geomorphology, Socio-Hydrology, Future Studies, GIS and Remote Sensing.

The Programme consists of 12 modules, of which ten are taught in the first three semesters followed by a compulsory internship and the independent work on the Master’s thesis. An internship of at least eight weeks is a compulsory part of the programme.

Since its launch in October 2013, a total of 187 students from 45 different countries have been studying within the programme.

The programme’s primary goals are:

  • Theoretical and methodological expertise in the field of environmental risks and human security combined with practical experiences
  • Strong focus on developing countries/ the “Global South”
  • Intercultural and interdisciplinary learning environment
  • Possibility to engage in ongoing research projects at both institutions
  • Close cooperation with the UN system & international organizations

The Master’s programme offers great visibility and exposure to international organizations, federal agencies, academic and non-academic research organizations, as well as private companies and corporations involved in disaster risk reduction and preparedness, humanitarian aid, international relations, research on climate change, food security, spatial planning, and policy. Career opportunities may be pursued in all of these areas depending on individual interest and professional goals.

Applicants must possess a first higher education qualification (Bachelor’s degree or equivalent) in Geography or a related/relevant academic field. Out of all achieved academic performances (Bachelor’s, Master’s, additional coursework, etc.) the majority of attended courses (as reflected in your transcripts) must be related to the three following areas:

  1. Human Geography and Social Sciences with a focus on spatial patterns, society, development;
  2. Science methodology and empirical research methods;
  3. Physical Geography, Geosciences and Environmental Sciences with a focus on Earth System Science.

A strong motivation to contribute to the area of human security and management of risks related to environmental change is a prerequisite to study in this Master’s Programme. Applicants should be highly motivated to learn in a multicultural and interdisciplinary environment.

All applicants need to provide proof of their English language proficiency, except for native speakers from countries specified hereafter: Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States.

For further details on the application requirements, please consult the FAQs.

UNU-EHS and the Department of Geography at the University of Bonn welcome applicants who possess a first academic degree (Bachelor’s or equivalent) in Geography or a related relevant discipline. The ideal candidate has strong interest or experience in working in the field of human-nature relations and risk governance in the Global South. Women and applicants from developing countries are strongly encouraged to apply.

COVID-19 notice: Due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, both the application process as well as the conduct of the 2022 intake may be subject to adaptation as necessary.

The Joint Master’s Programme has one intake every year. The next intake will start in October 2022. Applications are accepted during the application period from 15 September 2021 to 15 December 2021.

To apply, please

  1. read the information below as well as the FAQ thoroughly,
  2. submit the online application form,
  3. gather the required documents (including the academic writing sample) precisely as explained below,
  4. rename the merged application documents’ file as [your last name.your first name].pdf,
  5. and send your application documents via e-mail to

The following documents need to be submitted via email as one PDF package, not exceeding 8MB in size, and in this exact order. The sample of academic work must be attached as a separate file. Incomplete documents, late, as well as paper applications sent via post will not be considered.

For additional questions not covered below or in the FAQ, please contact:

Note: All documents need to be submitted as scans in PDF format. Smartphone pictures in PDF format will not be accepted. To combine, arrange and compress your PDF application package, kindly use freely available software.


Required Documents
Must be submitted in this exact order:
Formal Requirements
All documents must be submitted in English unless indicated otherwise.
1) Online Application Confirmation – will be sent via email after completing the online application
– sign and date as explained, attach to application as scan
2) Motivation Letter – see the additional information below
– min. 1 – max. 2 pages, signed and dated
– for EPOS applicants: must explain preferences if applying for more than one EPOS-funded programme
3) Recent CV in EUROPASS format – in reverse chronological order, dates must correspond to attached references precisely
– max. 3 pages, signed and dated
4a) Academic Degree Certificate(s)*
[Bachelor’s or equivalent & Master’s if available]
– in German or English, otherwise add certified translation
– for EPOS applicants: must be stamped and/or signed by issuing university on original document.
4b) Transcript(s) of Records*
[Bachelor’s or equivalent & Master’s if available]
* if not graduated yet, please see the FAQ
– in German or English, otherwise add certified translation
– must include overview of applicable grading system (except for applicants from the German education system)
– include other academic credit such as exchange semesters, summer schools, etc.
 for EPOS applicants: must be stamped by issuing university on original document or sent directly from Registrar’s Office to
5) English Language Proficiency – see additional information below
6) Academic Reference(s)
– At maximum two references by former university lecturers
– in German or English, otherwise add certified translation
– recent, dated, stamped, signed & must contain a letterhead
7) Copy of Passport – page displaying your name and personal information
8) Other Relevant References
– e.g. internships, previous employments, trainings, volunteering; at maximum three references (for EPOS applicants, see below)
– as stated in online application, do not include school certificates
Additionally, if applying for a DAAD EPOS scholarship:
9) DAAD Application Form – must state all EPOS programmes applied for (page 2)
– must be filled in typed, not by hand, signed and dated
10) Scholarship Motivation Letter – min. 1 – max. 2 pages, signed and dated
– may build on the above 2) Motivation Letter, however
– must additionally include all aspects indicated in the additional information below.
11) Professional Reference(s) – recent, dated, stamped, signed & must contain a letterhead
– issued by employer / supervisor / HR department
– in German or English, otherwise add certified translation
– may substitute work certificate if fulfilling criteria (see below)
12) Work Certificate(s) – only relevant, postgraduate work experience accepted
– must state duration to the day, i.e.
– must be issued by person authorized to do so
– must in total amount to at least two years of documented experience by time of application. Work experience gathered after the application deadline cannot be counted.
– also: dated, stamped, signed & must contain a letterhead
Additionally, to be submitted as a separate PDF within the same email:
+ Sample of Academic Work – in English, see the additional information below
– must include a declaration of authenticity


Additional Information

2) Motivation Letter

  • A written statement illustrating the individual suitability for the Joint Master’s programme in a specific and convincing manner. Should refer to own academic and professional qualification, display knowledge of the curriculum, indicate specific scientific interest & future career aspiration, and outline how the applicant expects to benefit from the programme in this regard. Applicants currently registered in another postgraduate degree should explain why they wish to change programmes.
  • for EPOS applicants: Describe how your motivation for this programme is development-related, and explain how you intend to benefit your home country upon graduation. Kindly also be aware that the EPOS programme focuses on future practitioners in the field.

5) English Language Proficiency

  • All applicants need to provide proof of their English language proficiency as outlined in our FAQ, except for native speakers from countries specified hereafter: Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States. Having studied in an English-taught programme is not enough per se.
  • In case English is recognized as an official language in your country of origin, an according letter from your past university as is required as proof.

10) Scholarship Motivation Letter

  • In addition to the above, EPOS applicants’ scholarship motivation letter must —
    • illlustrate why you apply for a scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in particular and why you wish to study in Germany (see also here).
    • describe how your motivation for this programme is development-related.
    • outline how your scholarship award would help you achieve your ambitions and benefit your future career as a practitioner.
    • explain your preferences if applying for more than one EPOS-funded programme.

Sample of Academic Work

  • A sample of academic writing written as part of the fulfilment of the first degree (in English or German), e.g. an essay written as part of the fulfilment of your university studies, published research paper, Bachelor’s thesis or an extract thereof.
  • The submitted academic writing sample must be your work solely. Co-authored samples of academic writing cannot be accepted.
  • If not available otherwise, samples of academic writing in German may be submitted along with an appropriate summary in English.
  • All submitted academic writing samples will be checked for plagiarism.


This Joint Master’s is part of a selected group of international postgraduate degrees that benefits from the EPOS funding scheme offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). A number of fully-funded scholarships can be offered to students from developing countries for through this scheme.

Eligible candidates should fulfil the following requirements in addition to the general eligibility criteria for the Master’s programme:

  • Being a candidate from an eligible developing country (check the list on DAAD website);
  • Having accumulated at least two years of relevant work experience since graduation from the Bachelor’s by the time of application (e.g. with an NGO, GO, or the private sector);
  • Having graduated from last academic degree no longer than 6 years ago by the time of application;
  • Having completed no other Master’s degree in a similar field of studies;
  • Aiming to pursue a career as a practitioner in the field of development following graduation from the Master’s programme (not in an academic area/not aiming to pursue a PhD);
  • Being ready to commit fully to the Joint Master’s degree in case accepted for the programme and a DAAD EPOS scholarship.

Students wishing to be considered for these scholarships need to attach the additionally required documents (DAAD application form, professional references, work certificates) (see Applications section) to their application package. Programme admission does not guarantee being awarded a DAAD EPOS scholarship.

The selection process for the EPOS funding among shortlisted candidates will happen between February and April each year.

Candidates that do not fulfil the EPOS requirements but wish to benefit from financial support during their studies are invited to apply individually and early to other available funding programmes in Germany. A list of available programmes can be found here.

For more information please open this link
Apply Here

International Joint MSc Programme: Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security

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