Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

SENSE MSc Honours Programme for excellent MSc students

The SENSE Research School offers a maximum of 15 excellent MSc students of SENSE related MSc programmes the opportunity to participate in the ‘SENSE Honours Programme’. This programme prepares highly motivated MSc students for an academic research career by writing a full PhD research proposal on a self-selected subject within the field of ‘Environmental and Sustainability Sciences’. At the conclusion of the SENSE Honours Programme the participating MSc students will be in an excellent position to pursue a career as PhD candidate in one of the participating SENSE research groups (or anywhere else in the world). The SENSE research groups will support the MSc students to find funding for their PhD proposal or to find a position as PhD candidate. In previous years, more than 75% of the SENSE MSc Honours students obtained a PhD position. Succeeding this programme will give you an excellent preparation for a career in science!

The flyer for the MSc Honours Programme 2017-2018

For whom?

  • Are you an excellent MSc student who dreams of an academic research career started at a worldwide renowned SENSE research group?
  • Do you want to elaborate your own original PhD research proposal in the field of 'Sustainability Sciences'?
  • Do you prefer to choose your own supervisor at one of our eleven excellent SENSE groups? 

Then contact Monique Gulickx for more information:

Target Group and selection criteria

The SENSE Honours Programme is intended for top class MSc students, who are highly motivated to prepare for a scientific career. The selection of the MSc students will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Your exam results (distinguishing the top 5 - 10%)
  2. Letter of recommendation from the MSc programme coordinator / director or your MSc thesis supervisor, also confirming that the MSc student can follow the SENSE Honours Programme as part of the second year of the regular MSc programme
  3. Letter of motivation for a research career and participation in the SENSE Honours Programme, written by the MSc student
  4. Your CV
  5. An oral presentation of your personal motivation to the SENSE Honours Programme Committee 23 June 2017


Nomination of excellent MSc students

The coordinator, director or teacher of the participating MSc programmes can nominate MSc students for the ‘SENSE MSc Honours Programme’.

To nominate an excellent MSc student, please send the documents (mentioned above) to the coordinator of the SENSE Honours Programme: Monique Gulickx (

MSc students who believe they are realising excellent results and who are highly motivated to join the SENSE Honours Programme, can inform the coordinator or director of their MSc programme about their willingness to apply. Do you consider yourself a potential candidate? Then please send your motivation letter to the coordinator or director on 19 May 2017 the latest. Your coordinator or director will assess your application if it meets the requirements. When it is approved, they can nominate you for the programme. Hence, it is important to give them enough time to assess and submit your application.

Selection of MSc students

The SENSE Honours Programme Committee will select a maximum of 20 MSc students on 15 June 2017, who will be invited to give an oral presentation on Friday 23 June 2017. A maximum of 15 excellent MSc students will be admitted to the SENSE Honours Programme in the academic year 2017/2018. The decision of acceptance will be announced in the week of 26 June 2017.


Application deadline for the
MSc Honours Programme of 2017-2018:

1 June 2017


Participating MSc programmes

The SENSE Research School is a joint venture of environmental research groups of ten Dutch universities and institutes. The participating MSc programmes of the SENSE partner universities are:

University  Participating MSc programmes 
 WU  Environmental Sciences (MES)
   Climate Studies (MCL)
   Forest and Nature Conservation (MFN)
   Earth can Environment (MEE)
   Urban Environmental Management (MUE)
 UT  Civil Engineering and Management, specialisation Water Engineering and Management (WEM)
 RUG  Energy and Environmental Sciences (EES)
 UU  Energy Science (ES)
   Sustainable Development (SD)
 VU  Environment and Resource Management (ERM) *
   Political Science; specialisation Global Environmental Governance (GEG) *
 -  OTHER SENSE related MSc programmes **

For details * and ** see flyer, page 2.


Content of the SENSE Honours Programme

The SENSE Honours Programme is embedded in the second year of your MSc programme and consists of the following three course elements:

  1. Orientation and Rotation project: Join high-profile research groups of your own choice, meet profound professors, senior and junior research fellows, learn about their methods, strategies, life as researcher in environmental and sustainability sciences, and much more. (September-January 2017-2018; part-time; 4 EC*)
  2. Master Class ‘Grasping Sustainability’: During this PhD-level course, you will join PhD candidates to explore and understand sustainability, its history, the different concepts, objectives and methodologies, applied for your own prospected research (March 2018; full time; 2 EC) 
  3. Research Master Cluster – Proposal writing: Professional training sessions, including scientific writing, argumentation, presentation, review of proposals and writing a rebuttal, are strategically alternated with writing your PhD research grant proposal under supervision of a personal coach (March - May 2018; full time; 12 EC)

 * EC = European Credits, conforming the European Credits Transfer System (ECTS)

In the other months you follow the regular courses of your MSc programme, including your major MSc thesis, and an internship (for WUR students compulsory), which can be conducted abroad. Please note, that it is strongly recommendable to have successfully completed your (major) MSc thesis before you start with the SENSE Research Master Cluster in March. Non-Wageningen University students need to register as student at Wageningen University, known as “bijvakstudent”, in order to follow the three courses of the SENSE Honours Programme. There are no extra costs for registering as “bijvakstudent”.



If you have any questions around this programme, please do not hesitate to contact the coordinator of the SENSE Honours Programme: Dr. Monique Gulickx -