Industrial Ecology

120 credits (MSc, 2 years )

Society faces immense challenges arising from pressure on the environment and natural resources such as climate change, chemical risks and resource constraints on land, materials, and energy. The complexities of these issues including technology development, social change, economic growth, and environmental policy have created an increasing demand for knowledge and skills in the field of Industrial Ecology. Engineers from the industrial ecology programme analyze and contribute to sustainable technical solutions in the industry, consultancy, governmental agencies, and research

Programme aim

The programme aims to equip students with the competencies, knowledge and tools needed to analyze environmental impacts and resource constraints, to suggest and develop measures and to plan, lead, evaluate and follow up the effects of measures related to for example product development, land and resource use, energy systems, and large-scale urban planning processes. Industrial Ecology provides a solution-oriented engineering approach to environmental and sustainability problems. Hence, while it is important for graduates of the programme to have gained a broad understanding of environmental problems in nature, they should become experts in analytical tools that facilitate the suggestion of relevant measures or policies.
Location: Campus Johanneberg

Who should apply

Students who wish to develop analytical skills and learn tools that enable a professional career in a field where they can make a difference for sustainable development, including environmental strategy, research, and assessment at more than one level in society, from more traditional engineering problems to changing industrial practice or international negotiations and policymaking. The programme welcomes students from all fields of engineering as well as other relevant backgrounds including architecture, environmental science, physics, and chemistry.

Other Programmes that might interest you

Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering
Innovative and Sustainable Chemical Engineering
Management and Economics of Innovation
Quality and Operations Management
Sustainable Energy Systems​​​​

Please note that the above schematic view corresponds to the academic year starting in autumn 2019. Minor changes may occur.

The first semester consists of 30 cr. of compulsory courses including Sustainable Development, Science of Environmental Change, Environmental Systems Analysis and Technical Change and the Environment. In the second and third semesters students choose at least 4 out of 10 semi-compulsory courses. These courses are broadly divided into two different tracks depending on interest:
  • Company level courses (e.g. Environmental Management and Life Cycle Analysis).
  • Society level courses (e.g. Environmental Policy Instruments and Sustainable Energy Futures).
It is also possible to combine courses from both tracks. The programme also gives room for up to 30 cr. of elective courses. These courses can be used to create an individual package of courses that combines Industrial Ecology with a strength in each student's original engineering track. 
The programme ends with a master thesis of 30 cr. or 60 cr. either in industry or in a research department. Several students from the programme have also conducted master thesis in the form of Minor Field Studies (MFS) in developing countries.

Programme content in detail, incl. syllabus and description of the courses

Career opportunities

Engineers from the Industrial Ecology programme have interesting and broad career opportunities. Previous students from the programme have continued to jobs in industry, environmental consultancy firms, governmental agencies and research.

  • Industry: graduates from the programme work for example as environmental strategy analyst, project leaders at environmental divisions and in technology development. Examples of industrial sectors include energy, automobile, furniture, green buildings and process industry.
  • Environmental consultancy firms: e.g. life cycle analysis, systems analyses of energy resources and waste.
  • Governmental agencies: e.g. Swedish Energy Agency, Swedish Environmental Technology Council.
  • Research: Several students have also continued within academia both at Chalmers (Physical Resource Theory, Environmental Systems Analysis, Energy Technology, Logistics and Transportation, Shipping and Marine Technology) and other internationally known institutions.

Research and industry connections 

The programme was developed by leading professionals at the Department of Energy and Environment who have a close contact with industry and authorities to ensure an educational profile that meets the needs of the target groups. The core courses of the programme are closely connected to ongoing research at the Divisions of Environmental Systems Analysis and Physical Resource Theory. Both of these divisions have expanded over several years with research groups that cover a wide range of topics and have connections to international research networks, several different industrial sectors and policy processes. In addition, the Environment Economics Unit at the University of Gothenburg gives one of the courses at the programme.

Chalmers' research and education in the field of environment and sustainability is very strong in general. In a recent ranking, Chalmers ended up as the number one Swedish university in the environmental field, based on the connection between research and education and the popularity among students and employers. Chalmers' strength in this area is currently further developed by increased funding to strategically important research including, for example, Chalmers Energy Initiative, the Sustainable Transport Initiative and the Sustainable Production Initiative.

Department of Energy and Environment

Our professors are working on these issues in real life”
Amanda, USA, Industrial Ecology

Chat with Amanda  

Why did you choose this programme?
–Near the end of getting my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, I knew that I wanted to be able to work more directly with the environment. When I found the Industrial Ecology master’s program, the classes sounded exactly like what I wished I could work on. We get to learn to use analytical tools to work on environmental and sustainability challenges and hear from professors and guest lecturers working on these issues in real life.

What have you been working on?
– In my first semester, we worked on a project where we had to pick a product to compare with its “eco-friendly” version. My group used the procedures for Material Flow Analysis and Life Cycle Assessment to look at where the greatest environmental impact occurs in the production of plastic and bamboo toothbrushes. It was really interesting to see that the calculated impact of a product can change drastically depending on the information included and to understand the importance of being clear and transparent when completing studies like this.

What do you like the most about your programme?
– I love that I can combine my previous engineering knowledge with the environmental tools I’m learning about in Industrial Ecology on such a wide range of challenges. My classmates come from many different backgrounds, so we see diverse perspectives in a discussion.

What do you want to do in the future?
– I would love to work in environmental consulting or the sustainability department of a company here in Sweden, and directly use the tools that I’ve been learning about in order to contribute to creating sustainable processes.

Published: Thu 23 Apr 2020.