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Governance of Risks and Resources

Degree: Master of Science
Application required: access-restricted and admission-restricted
Course start: summer semester only
Course duration: 3 semesters
Form of course: full-time only
Language requirements: none
Language of instruction: Spanish and English
Other: postgraduate course (continuing education)


Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Course outline

The Heidelberg Center for Latin America (HCLA) in Santiago de Chile offers a Master of Science degree course in Governance of Risk and Resources. This cooperative venture between the Geography institutes of Heidelberg University, the Universidad Catolica de Chile and the Universidad de Chile focuses on the (political and economic) controllability of problem-driven interaction between humans and the environment. It is interdisciplinary in that it brings together scientific, economic and sociological issues.

Course structure

The course takes three semesters and is divided into a compulsory part and a part with compulsory electives. It concludes with a Master’s thesis.

Part 1: Compulsory classes

The classes in the first semester are compulsory for all students and are intended to lay the foundations for the course. The modules on Environmental Theory and Policy, Governance of Natural Risks, and Governance of Natural Resources are designed to acquaint students with the central theoretical issues in these three areas. The modules consist of a lecture and a seminar and conclude with a class test on the lecture and the submission of a written seminar paper after oral presentation in the seminar itself.
In the compulsory module “Research Methods”, the students also learn the basic essentials of academic work and are provided with an introduction to qualitative research methods and the methodical toolbox of Geomatics and Statistics.

Part 2: Compulsory electives

In the second semester, students can choose between different elective topics. The classes here give greater depth to the knowledge and skills acquired during the first semester. Through confrontation with specific problem-based questions, students are provided with material enabling them to elaborate independent, academic and application-related solutions to problems. The topics of the electives are

  • sustainable handling of natural resources
  • environment and society
  • energy and water resources
  • climatic and seismatic risks

The classes on these topics are offered by the Universidad de Chile and the Universidad Catolica. They are integrated into the modules of the M.Sc. courses in Geography. Each module consists of a lecture with a final class test and other graded papers.

In the second semester students also take the module “Research Seminar” offered by the HCLA. This class enhances the methodological foundations required for such tasks as planning and writing up a research project. On field excursions students are expected to come up with issues worthy of scientific investigation and then do their own fieldwork on those topics. This will give them practice and relevant experience in planning and writing their thesis, with which they complete the course in their third semester.

Further information on the course is available here.

Research interests

The main research interest is the governance of risks and resources.

Governance relates to regulation and control in political systems, markets or organisations (including companies). The relevance of an interdisciplinary perspective on governance can be demonstrated with reference to the challenging new dimension represented by natural risks arising from climate change. For example, climate change exerts strong pressure on the economic use of water, and not just in arid areas. Although Chile has for years had a progressive water market, conflicts over water usage are widespread, generating in their turn (new) risks such as an overuse or contamination of water. The water example also shows that both natural and anthropogenic risks can lead to social disasters.
One major challenge for the governing of natural risks and resources is the fact that environmental conditions are subject to change. This calls for constant adaptation and sometimes even new forms of governance. Human-environment systems are changeable because they intensify interaction (see climate change). Another reason is that the governance of risks and resources generates risks of its own. Consequently, using technology to control risks itself entails new risks.


Formal requirements

Application and admission

The course is access-restricted and admission-restricted. Please consult the admission regulations.

Closing date for applications

Mid-January for the summer semester, which in Chile begins in March

Application procedure

Current information on procedure

Further information

Website of the Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Examination regulations

Examination regulations

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the respective examinations board or office. Further details are available from the academic advisor.

Tuition fees

The M.Sc. course on Governance of Risks and Resources is a postgraduate continuing education programme for which EUR 2,000 is charged per semester. Here is the list of fees.

Furthermore, a contribution must be paid to the student services organisation and there is an administrative charge.

Academic advisor

Dr. Michael Handke
Berliner Straße 48, Office 114
Office hours by appointment
phone: +49 (0)6221-54-5540



Institute of Geography
Im Neuenheimer Feld 348 and Berliner Str. 48
D-69120 Heidelberg

Secretarie's office
Berliner Straße 48
phone: +49 (0)6221 544570 / 544571
Fax: +49 (0)6221 544996

Student representative body
Berliner Straße 48, Office102
Phone: +49 (0)6221 545564


Editor: e-mail
Latest Revision: 2017-10-27
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