The curriculum was carefully designed in 2009 so that this Program could achieve all the proposed initial goals while being sufficiently flexible for students contributing to shape their learning and research paths. Subsequently improvements have been made following students’ evaluation and responsive discussion by the Scientific Committee, along with commentary from the external advisory board .
The current curricular structure is composed of 2 semesters, usually considered the first year of the program. Each semester corresponds to 30 European Credit Transfer and accumulation System (ECTS) and one year to 60 ECTS. One (1) ECTS corresponds to 28 hours of student work. Thus one work year (60 credit units) corresponds to 1680 work hours. Generally, each semester is composed by four compulsory curricular lectures (courses) that are plus one additional seminar and one optional course, with 4, 5 and 6 ECTS, respectively.
The Doctoral program totals 180 to 240 credits, spread over 6 to 10 semesters: 60 ECTS through advanced courses in the first two semesters, and 120 to 180 ETCs by means of research leading to a doctoral dissertation, over the subsequent 4 to 6 semesters.
Mandatory courses and seminars:
First semester:1- Science of climate change, 2- Economy, regulation and market, 3- Sociology of environment and communication, 4- Terrestrial and oceanic systems, 5- Seminar on sustainability science and climate change.
Second semester: 1- Climate change adaptation and mitigation, 2- Climate change and land management, 3- Ethics,public policies and sustainable development, 4- Theories and Practices of Sustainable Development, 5- Seminar on energy and climate change.
Both Seminars are designed to allow students to use the knowledge being provided (and co-created) through all other mandatory and optional disciplines and promoted via in depth discussion on topics that are of interest for the students and where they can express their view or many aspects and positions of the several issues being covered. This encourages students to develop disciplinary independence and several required skills (oral presentation, reporting, articles writing, organization, ability to defend his (her) view and position on a given issue and to integrate different views and positions).
Many courses include a self-evaluation (with a justification) encouraging students to adopt a practice of a continuous healthy self-evaluation in their future activities.
Both semesters include at least one optional course to accommodate specific interests and individual needs of the students. The Program has established a set of linkages with other PhD programs, benefiting from optional courses on specific areas, allowing the each student to pursue their special interests, such as the MIT – Portugal (e.g, course on Sustainable Energy and economy); Landscape, Biodiversity and Society (e.g, course on Economic Valuation of the Environment, ISA-UTL); Environmental Engineering (e.g, course on Sustainability, Hydrology, Sanitation Systems, IST-UTL); Sociology (e.g, course on Practices in Transition, ICS-ULisboa); Geography and Territorial Planning (e.g, course on Problematic and Methodologies in Geography and Territorial Planning, UNL-FCSH). In the academic year of 2013/2014 the Scientific Committee (SC) created a course “Research Methods and Project Design” (at FCUL). This enables students to plan their thesis, including debate on scientific questions that may define a thesis, methodologies, data analysis and thesis format and structure. A new discipline for the next academic year of 2014-2015 is being also designed for this program on the topic of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (FCUL). The optional courses vary from year to year according to faculty and student’s interests (most courses require a minimum number of enrolled students to function).
After completing the curricular year students can attend other optional courses to support their academic and thesis progress.