UNU Intensive Core Courses


    Every year UNU-IAS organizes the regular session of its five-week UNU Intensive Core Courses (UNU-IC) at UNU Centre in Tokyo, Japan. The courses are designed to provide analyses of global issues from both theoretical and empirical perspectives. Although advanced in nature, they are open to postgraduate students and professionals in various occupations who are not necessarily specialists in the field. The courses also draw on the research projects undertaken at UNU-IAS in Tokyo and at various other UNU institute located around the world. Since September 2010, the International Courses (IC) programme has been incorporated into the core courses of the UNU-IAS Master of Science in Sustainability programme.

    The Autumn 2015 session of the UNU Intensive Core Courses will run from 7 September to 9 October 2015.

    Faculty and Learning Environment

    The IC Courses are taught in a cooperative fashion by a team of scholars and practitioners comprising both in-house and outside experts. One of the unique features of the IC is that many of the practitioners come from United Nations organizations. Another important characteristic is the direct access to teaching faculty and the support provided to course participants by the UNU-IAS in-house academic staff who serve as academic counsellors. Because it shares a building with many UN agencies, UNU-IAS offers a unique learning environment.

    UNU Library

    The UNU Library offers access to a wide range of academic books, over 20,000 electronic journals, official UN documents, and publications in the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development e-libraries. All students will receive a comprehensive library orientation session at the beginning of the course.

    Student Support and Accommodation

    UNU-IAS assists students throughout the courses, acknowledging that students may experience difficulties in adjusting to a new country and culture. Students can stay in low-cost accommodation arranged by UNU-IAS at a nearby hotel. Further information on payment and hotel reservations will be provided to successful applicants.

  • Target Applicants

    These courses are designed for:

    • students who are currently enrolled in a master’s or PhD programme in any discipline;
    • young professionals (with a college or university degree) in various occupations in Japan and abroad; and
    • those who wish to pursue careers in international fields in public service or private organizations, including the United Nations, multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations as well as national foreign service organizations.

    Tuition Fees

    USD 2,000 (or JPY200,000) per course

    English Language Requirements

    Excellent written and verbal English language skills are required. Applicants whose first language is not English and whose bachelor’s degree is not from an institution at which English is the language of instruction must submit proof of English language proficiency within the past two years. The minimum score requirements for TOEFL or IELTS are:

    • TOEFL scores (minimum: paper-based 600/Internet-based 100) or
    • IELTS (7.0) or
    • equivalent proof of English-language proficiency for non-native speakers.


    The following applicants are exempt from submitting a score sheet:

    1. Applicants whose first language is English.
    2. Those who graduated from a university or a graduate school located in a country where English is the first language.
    3. Those who completed an undergraduate or graduate degree programme taught in English. In this case, please submit a certificate showing that the programme you attended was taught in English.
    4. Applicants who submit proof by any other means that have proficiency in English equivalent to that described in points (2) and (3) above.
  • Application Deadline

    The application deadline has been extended to 31 July 2015.

    How to Apply

    Interested applicants should register for an account and apply through the UNU-IAS online application form.

    Application Documents

    Applicants for the IC Courses should submit their application dossier, consisting of:

    1. a completed Application Form with photo and signature;
    2. original transcripts of academic records at the college or university level, or certified copies of original transcripts (these will not be returned to the applicant; please do not include original certificates of diplomas or degrees);
    3. evidence of English language skills;
    4. three confidential letters of reference on official letterheads or using the Recommendation Form (these will not be returned to the applicant), or a minimum of two references (one from the student’s supervisor and one from another faculty member); and
    5. a mandatory Medical Form (Applicants are required to download the form and have it certified by a registered medical practitioner).

    All of the above-mentioned documents should be in English. Please attach official/certified translations where necessary.

  • The four IC courses provide students with a solid grounding in the essential theories and multilateral approaches to issues of sustainability and development, while emphasizing interdisciplinary perspectives.

    Selection of Courses

    Students are allowed to choose two courses maximum. There will be eighteen 120 minute sessions per course — i.e., three sessions per week over the five week course period. The courses will involve considerable reading and study, but will be scheduled to allow students to have sufficient preparatory and review time for each session.

    Completion of Courses and Credit Transfer

    Students who successfully complete the course will be awarded a certificate of completion and a transcript from UNU-IAS. Each course is designed to be worth 2 credits and comprises of over 36 hours of teaching time. While a number of universities have negotiated credit transfer agreements with UNU-IAS, ultimately the decision on whether credits are transferrable will be made by the student’s university.

    Course Details

    • UN System and Global Challenges: this course presents the institutional background and policy tasks of the UN system, and provides an analytical framework to study complex problems on the UN agenda.
    • Global Change and Resilience: this course explores sustainable development and the interaction among its constituent components (environment, society, and economy) in four key areas: Water, Energy, Agriculture, and Bio-diversity.
    • Human Development and Global Sustainability: this course surveys the most pressing issues in development by focusing on the linkages between international cooperation and development outcomes.
    • Natural Capital and Biodiversity: this course provides students with an understanding and a multidisciplinary perspective on natural capital, biodiversity, human well-being and their interactions.

    Daily Schedule

    There are sixteen 90-minute sessions per course — i.e., three sessions of courses each day (10:00–12:00, 13:00–15:00 and 16:00–18:00), though no single course will take the entire three sessions of one day.

    Mandatory Course Requirements

    For each course, students must complete the following requirements:

    • Mandatory reading of ca. 150 pages is required per course per week, i.e. a total of 900 pages of substantive mandatory reading per course in total. In addition, students are provided with lists of further recommended readings in the range of 150 pages per course per week/900 pages in total.
    • Regular class attendance and active participation in class discussions.
    • Short weekly written assignments.
    • Group or individual presentation.
    • Final course exam.
    • Extended essay (of about 2,500 to 3,000 words), to be submitted towards the end of the programme.
    • Course Evaluation form

    Those who fail to complete the above requirements will only be awarded a “Certification of Participation”.

  • IC Secretariat (icsec@unu.edu)