UNU Intensive Core Courses


    Every year UNU-IAS organises the regular session of its four-week UNU Intensive Core (UNU-IC) Courses 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 institutes located around the world.

    The Autumn 2023 session of the UNU-IC Courses will run from 1–29 September 2023.


    The application deadline is 7 July 2023.
    ※ Applications may close before this date if the number of applicants reaches capacity.

    For more information, please see the Applications tab.

    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 library functions to support the research programmes, teaching, and other activities of UNU-IAS. The collection contains over 27,000 books and a range of electronic resources including ebooks,ejournals, and UN related materials.  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. Detailed information 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 organisations, including the United Nations, multinational corporations, and non-governmental organisations, as well as national foreign service organisations.

    Tuition Fees

    JPY 200,000 per course

    English Language Requirements

    The courses will be conducted in English. Excellent written and verbal English language skills are required. The expected language test scores are:

    • TOEFL: minimum of 600 on paper-based test / minimum of 100 on online test
    • IELTS: 7.0
  • Application

    The application deadline is 7 July 2023.

    How to Apply

    1. Review the Application Checklist and prepare your application materials.
    2. Register to apply online.
    3. Receive an email within 24 hours from UNU-IAS IC Secretariat with a link to the Application Form.
    4. Submit your Application Form by 7 July 2023.
    5. Receive a confirmation email (applicant), and a request for references to be submitted by 14 July 2023 (referee).

    The application must be done in one sitting – you cannot save your application and continue it later. Before you start your Application Form, please gather all necessary materials listed in the checklist and make sure to have all of them ready to fill in the Form.

    Modality of the Programme

    Lectures will be delivered both online and on-site at the UNU Headquarters Building in Tokyo, Japan. The on-site lectures will be live-streamed from Japan (UTC+9).

    If you would like to participate remotely, please be mindful of any issues with the time difference in your location. Please also ensure the following before applying.

    • You will need to have regular access to a computer with a reliable high-speed internet connection for the optimal learning experience on Zoom.
    • Basic equipment such as a speaker, microphone, and webcam will be necessary to maximise your learning from the courses.


  • The three IC Courses provide students with a solid grounding in the essential theories and multilateral approaches to issues of sustainability and development while emphasising interdisciplinary perspectives.

    Selection of Courses

    Students are allowed to choose two courses maximum. There will be fifteen 100-minute sessions per course — i.e., three to four sessions per week over the four-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 over 30 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 Sustainable Development: This course presents the institutional background and policy tasks of the UN system, and provides an analytical framework to study complex issues ranging from reducing direct threats to peace, to strengthening sustainable development as an indispensable condition for peace. For further details, please click here.
    • Global Change and Planetary Boundaries: This course will cover the concepts related to global environmental changes, such as urbanization, climate change and social transformations; their implications on food, water and health; and various solutions including climate change adaptation and mitigation measures; and initiatives such as Future Earth and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For further details, please click here.
    • Principles of International Development Project: This course has two sections: lectures and group work. In the lecture series, you can learn about the core issues of developing countries, project evaluation methods, relationships between engineering and international development, applications of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to preserve world heritage sites, natural disasters, and education in the context of international development, and the case of an international plant construction project. The group work session aims to develop a proposal for an international development project. Suppose you are an expert consultant on a project, and it has been requested that you recommend development policies and projects to politicians and/or economic leaders in a developing country. For further details, please click here.

    Daily Schedule

    There are approximately fifteen 100-minute sessions per course — i.e., three sessions of courses each day (10:00–11:40, 12:30–14:10 and 14:30–16:10), 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 written assignments
    • Group or individual presentation
    • Extended essay (of about 2,500 to 3,000 words) or any other assignments instructed by the course coordinator(s), to be submitted towards the end of the course
    • Course Evaluation form
  • IC Secretariat (icsec@unu.edu)