Profile Complex Systems

The world around us is becoming more and more complex. A small change in one variable can have a significant impact, resulting in e.g. traffic jams, a sudden epidemic or a financial crisis. Complex Systems are often the driving force behind these phenomena. As a whole they possess characteristics which cannot be deducted simply from its individual parts, but only from the way in which these are combined together. Predicting a traffic jam is e.g. hardly possible by only studying the behavior of individual drivers. The whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.

The profile Complex Systems is an interdisciplinary profile for ambitious students from different Master’s programmes, who want to work on modelling solutions within the field of Complex Systems. The profile gives you the opportunity to broaden your view and knowledge from an interdisciplinary angle and widens your opportunities for further development. It prepares you for a career in interdisciplinary fields at, for instance, financial companies
This profile can be fitted into your Master’s programme, 30 EC in total. You will receive a Complex Systems certificate.

In order to qualify for the annotation, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

Courses (15 EC)

Having passed the examinations of two (elective) courses:

  1. System thinking, scenario's & indicators for SD (GEO4-2331; 7,5 EC)
  2. a choice of one from the following courses:
  • Introduction to Complex Systems (WISM484)
  • Applying Mathematics in Finance (WISM410)
  • Seminar Modelling Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation (WISM409)
  • Understanding Complexity: Economy and the Planet (NS-MO450M)

Or a course from a Master’s programme, other than your own, that is labelled as a Complex Systems course

Research project on a Complex Systems topic  (15 EC)

Focus should be on interdisciplinary aspects and at least two supervisors from different departments/faculties should be involved. The topic should not correspond to the topic of the master thesis, however if the master research project deals with a complex system subject, only for Theoretical Physics, Experimental Physics and Climate Physics master programmes at Utrecht University it is permitted to combine the research project of the master’s profile Complex Systems (15 EC) with the master thesis project. Both parts must be separately assessed and a supervisor from a different department or faculty is involved in this part of the research project. The topic should be approved by the steering group member of the Foundations of Complex systems focus area who is involved and by the programme director of the master programme for which the student is admitted.

If you have questions about the profile, please ask your Master’s programme leader for more information. You can apply for this Master profile by sending an email to the coordinator Complex systems: prof. dr. ir. Max Rietkerk
More information about the research on Complex Systems.

Annotation Sustainable Entrepeneurship & Innovation

The Master Annotation Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation is a university wide Master track that aims to deliver world leading change agents in the area of sustainability. Students enrolled in the Master’s programme Sustainable Development can qualify themselves for the annotation Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation next to their Master’s degree SUSD and will obtain an additional certificate. In order to qualify for the annotation, the following three requirements must be fulfilled:

1) having passed the examinations of one of these two elective courses:
- Technology Related Venturing (GEO4-2268; 7,5 EC) with an assignment regarding a sustainability subject;
- Sustainable Entrepreneurship (ECMSE; 7,5 EC).

2) having passed the examinations of one of these elective courses, which may not be the same course as the course passed for fulfillment of requirement 1 mentioned above:
- GEO4-2521: Bio-based economy
- GEO4-2514: Energy in the Context of Sustainability
- GEO4-2312: Energy Supply Technologies
- GEO4-2604: Governance and Change Management for Sustainability
- GEO4-2268: Technology Related Venturing
- GEO4-5501: Techniques of Futuring
- ECMSE: Sustainable Entrepreneurship

3) having conducted a research project of 15 EC related to the subject of Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation. This can only be achieved with the Master’s Thesis (GEO4-2321; 30 EC) on a subject related to Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

The requirements for the research component are:

• It is about newly developed or to be developed sustainable production processes, products, and/or services created by firms (within established and/or new start-ups);
• These activities need to be new to the current business activities of these firms;
• It needs to include some form of data collection about these new business activities;
• This research component should be at least 15 EC of the Master’s programme.

In the research proposal students have to stipulate the fit of their research proposal to these 4 requirements in a separate section.

If you decide to undertake the annotation, please indicate this on the form for choosing elective courses

In order to qualify for the third requirement, you should indicate the choice for the annotation on the Master’s thesis research proposal information form. Once you have completed the Master’s thesis, it will be checked whether it meets the requirements. If you have met all requirements for the annotation, you will be awarded an annotation certificate together with your Master’s degree certificate.

Climate-KIC EIR Master Label

For a small number of selected excellent students, the Climate-KIC Scholar programme at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) offers a complementary Climate-KIC Scholar programme. For Utrecht University Master's students, this programme consists of:

  • the Contextual Learning Journey, a six-week summer school held at two European universities (University of Zürich, University of London, University of Paris, Berlin University of Technology, Wageningen University/Utrecht University/Delft University of Technology);
  • International mobility: Students must complete a period of geographical international mobility (min. 15 EC) at another university (academic semester/year, for instance) or by doing an internship abroad (applied research internship, industrial internship, for instance) 
  • Real-life work experience mobility. Students must complete a period of real-life work experience (min. 15 EC) outside their home university (applied research internship, industrial internship, development of their own start-up, for instance) 
  • 5 SPARK lectures; and
  • annotation Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
  • Master’s thesis on a topic related to climate innovation and/or sustainable entrepreneurship.

Students who complete the Climate-KIC Scholar programme will receive an EIT certificate. It is not possible to receive both the EIT certificate and the annotation certificate More about Climate-KIC website.

Young Innovators Programme

Utrecht University offers the Young Innovators Programme to high-achievers with leadership potential. Young Innovators Programme is a selective 15 EC honours course at graduate level, to be taken on top of any master's programme.

The Young Innovators programme embodies a community of learning, where the focus is on creating positive impact through social innovation and personal leadership. As such, the programme focuses on learning to research, design and deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to real-life societal challenges. Supported by leading researchers from the University's strategic theme Institutions for Open Societies, the programme allows you to immerse yourself in both theory and practice of innovation across corporate, public and community sectors.

During this program you will be stimulated to collaborate, produce and learn in multidisciplinary teams. In this, you are challenged to take ownership of both your own and collective learning processes and thereby invited to co-create the program design.

Young Innovators is an honours programme designed for students who have the will and ability to stretch themselves beyond the confines of their regular Master's programme. Young Innovators is about learning and working differently: experientially, through ownership, through challenging teamwork, on the borderlines of academia and practice, and at the interface of research and intervention.

Being part of this learning community, you:

  • are part of an inspiring and experiential learning environment that may further enhance the basis for your professional network;
  • work in an interdisciplinary team on a real-life societal challenge;
  • present your team’s work-in-progress at several plenary conferences;
  • attend supportive meetings to acquire the knowledge, skills and inspiration needed for social innovation;
  • learn to take ownership of your own learning processes and the program design.

More about Young Innovators Programme


Graduate Honours Interdisciplinary Seminars

Are you an ambitious Master’s student looking for an intellectual challenge? Then apply to join our Graduate Honours Interdisciplinary Seminars

This is a series of small-scale seminars, three to four meetings each, about the focus areas of research at Utrecht University. The topics will be diverse; ranging from global health issues and transition towards sustainability, to trends in youth culture and the philosophy of science. The seminars are hosted by distinguished researchers. Through close discussions with these researchers, you will get a better understanding of what it means to carry out interdisciplinary research, what obstacles researchers face, how to create a good research set-up and how to communicate about it with researchers from other disciplines as well as laymen.

The programme takes one year (7.5 ECTS). Would you like to know more about this programme? Read more about the Graduate Honours Interdisciplinary Seminars.