UNU Intensive Core Courses


    Every year UNU-IAS organizes 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 2019 session of the UNU-IC Courses will run from 2 September to 27 September 2019.

    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

    The application deadline is 5 July 2019.

    How to Apply

    Your official application must be submitted through the online application form. You will need to create a user account to submit your applications. The online form can be saved and returned to at any time before submitting.

    Application Documents

    Applicants to 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. one confidential letter of reference on official letterhead, or using the Recommendation Form (this will not be returned to the applicant), from a faculty member at school or a supervisor from work

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

  • The three 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 fifteen 120-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.
    • 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. For further details, please click here.

    Daily Schedule

    There are approximately fifteen 120-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 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 course
    • Course Evaluation form

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

  • IC Secretariat (icsec@unu.edu)