Sustainability sciences

Sciences pour un monde durable
Program type Initial Training
Degree Bachelor's
Domain(s) Humanities & social sciences, Engineering, Fundamental Sciences
Discipline(s) Anthropology, Chemistry, Sustainable development, Economics, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, Earth sciences, Life Sciences, Social Science
Teaching language(s) French, English
Place Paris

PSL host school

Other PSL school(s) contributing to the curriculum

Description
Program
Admissions
Opportunities
FAQ
Student Story

PSL is introducing an innovative new interdisciplinary program for future high school graduates: a three-year undergraduate curriculum based on the challenges of sustainability.

PSL’s new undergraduate degree in sustainability sciences is designed to produce students who can examine the challenges posed by sustainable development in all their complexity, from the various scientific problems they raise to their political, social and cultural implications and potential technological solutions. The aim is not to produce experts in sustainable development at the undergraduate level, but rather students who have acquired the necessary mindset to tackle those challenges and who will pursue graduate-level studies at top universities in France or abroad, while maintaining the intellectual habits they acquired as undergraduates. 

Learning outcome

Designed in close connection with research under way at PSL laboratories, this unique undergraduate program is based on a comprehensive approach that necessarily encompasses a wide range of disciplines, with the aim of training future generations in the sustainability challenges. It is modeled on the PSL undergraduate curriculum: educational excellence and gradual specialization over three years, with a solid multidisciplinary foundation.

Offering veritable training for the mind, the program is structured around six principal areas:

  • Scientific teaching based on current PSL research and organized around a multidisciplinary core curriculum and two majors: Environmental Sciences and Economics and Social Sciences.
  • Project-mode teaching that is interdisciplinary and team-based, along with internships and practical case studies presented in part by public and private organizations, to give students an interdisciplinary perspective on the broad issues related to sustainability. 
  • Development of behavioral skills (creativity, adaptability, community-mindedness, motivation, communication, reasoning, etc.).
  • Development of professional know-how (project management, impact analysis, digital skills, linguistic and intercultural skills, etc.).
  • An annual series of lectures presented by researchers and others who are actively involved in sustainable development issues and open to a broader student body.
  • Student participation in projects connected with sustainability challenges in the form of mandatory projects or internships.

The share of the teaching given in English will increase over the course of the three-year curriculum.

Diploma issued: bachelor's degree delivered by Université PSL.

Tuition: Enrollment fees are aligned with France’s national tuition for Bachelor’s-degree programs (€170 in 2023-2024). Students receiving need-based scholarships are exempted.

  • A top-tier interdisciplinary curriculum based on the challenges of sustainability
  • Innovative project-based learning
  • Collaboration among various PSL institutions covering every area of study: science, humanities, the arts, etc.
  • Sustainable development ecosystem: a curriculum very close to cutting-edge international research and scientific innovation, close interaction with the associative sector, and an openness to the business world
  • Varied teaching formats: small class sizes, practicums, lectures, seminars, group work.
  • A unique curriculum that is fully committed to equal opportunity and attracts a diverse student body from complementary backgrounds within each academic class (with need-based scholarships available).
  • An international study environment, with an increasing share of the teaching given in English over the course of the three-year program.
  • Joining PSL as an undergraduate gives you access to many services
  • An unequaled campus life in the very heart of Paris, benefiting from the opportunities available at Université PSL to meet students from several institutions and move among a variety of campuses.

Learning outcomes

  • Understanding the complexity of interactions between humans and natural systems
  • Measuring and analyzing the impact of actions
  • Promoting sustainable development

Detailed curriculum (Year 1)

First year

At the end of the 3 years of training, students will have acquired the following knowledge and skills, enabling them to understand the diversity and scientific complexity of sustainable development issues:

1.    A solid pluridisciplinary core curriculum

The program will give students all the scientific knowledge necessary to understand and master major issues of sustainable development. The disciplines taught are the following :

  • Natural and environmental sciences: Earth system sciences, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering
  • Economics and social sciences: major economic principles, micro and macroeconomics, economics of sustainable development and natural resources, anthropology, psychology, governance of the commons and environmental law.
  • Mathematics and data sciences: mathematical tools, statistics and programming.

2.    An interdisciplinary view :
The strength of this program is that it considers the challenges of sustainable development at the crossroads of different disciplines. Specific modules have been built around this guiding idea of the program:

  • In the first year, a module will be dedicated to the major challenges of Sustainable Development. Its objective is to analyze a certain number of issues from an interdisciplinary perspective: climate change, human health, national and global inequalities, poverty and migratory flows, ecosystems and biodiversity, depletion of natural resources, etc.
  • A series of conferences will be proposed with speakers from the scientific, economic and institutional worlds related to positive impact, at the international level.

3.    Know-how
During the previous projects and modules, emphasis will be placed on professional know-how.

4.    Soft skills
The acquisition of behavioral skills will be developed within the framework of projects and courses. Support will be offered in the construction of personal, academic and professional projects.
The program aims to provide students with the following skills: teamwork, oral and written communication, creativity, rhetoric, argumentation, negotiation, emotional intelligence, adaptability, motivation.

The teaching will be bilingual (English/French) with a progressive part over the 3 years of teaching in English (recommended English level B2 & French level C1).

Application process

Application dates for 2024/25 academic year are as follows (please have a look to this page for more information): 

Students are admitted to this program on the basis of an application and interview, using criteria such as academic performance, level of commitment and motivation.
Our admissions process prioritizes diverse student backgrounds and experience, directly in line with Université PSL’s proactive equal opportunity policy.
Backed by the quality of the student advisory services and the efficacy of the support services offered (scholarships, housing, etc.), the curriculum will give students the opportunity to discover and capitalize on their specific abilities – a primary condition for academic and professional success.
Thirty candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds will be selected to comprise the inaugural class.

Who should apply?

To apply for the first year of a Bachelor’s degree program, you must have completed (or be in the process of obtaining):

  • a general secondary education French baccalauréat diploma (obtained in France or abroad)
  • or a secondary education diploma obtained abroad that is recognized as equivalent to the baccalauréat.  

The following criteria will be particularly important in evaluating the applications:

  • A high degree of intellectual curiosity and a passion for hybrid disciplines.
  • Strong interest in science
  • An inclination toward reflection (analysis) as well as action (entrepreneurialism).
  • An interest in every aspect of sustainable development issues (economic, social, cultural, environmental) and significant underlying topics (energy transition, inclusion, etc.).
  • The desire and ability to work as part of a team, interpersonal skills. 
  • Adaptability in an uncertain environment that offers contact with people who range widely in their backgrounds and expertise.
  • A critical mindset along with reasoning skills and the ability to express yourself (orally and in writing).
  • Excellent command of languages: English (B2) and French (C1).

Each candidate’s involvement in organizations and motivation will also be among the criteria assessed by the admissions panel.

Housing & PSL Housing Grant

PSL has a housing service to help students find accommodation. The different housing options are described on the website. Students having indicated “oui définitif” (“definitive yes”) on the Parcoursup online application system, can apply for housing. 
Students receiving CROUS grants and newly-arrived international students have priority.
Students who are receiving a CROUS grant, levels 1 to 7, are guaranteed housing for their 3 years of study. A supplement to the APL/ALS is given to all these students by PSL. Together with the APL, this supplemental grant allows to compensate for almost all the rent at the CROUS of Paris for 3 years (L1 to L3).
Grant-holders at level 0 bis and international students can be allocated housing, subject to availability. For international students, parents’ resources are taken into account by the PSL housing allocation committee.

Thanks to its multidisciplinary nature and gradual specialization, the three-year program will enable students to develop the expertise sought by top-level universities and the professional world.
This program, like all of PSL’s undergraduate offerings, is designed to be the foundation for further study to at least the Master’s level. At the end of three years, students may continue their studies at PSL (e.g, a graduate degree in one or multiple disciplines, study at the major engineering schools, etc.) or at another selective, top-ranked university in France or worldwide.

Examples of opportunities at PSL:

- In the sciences: 
• Master’s degree in Life Sciences, particularly the “ Biodiversity and environment” and "Integrative pathophysiology" tracks.
• Master’s degree in Earth and Planetary Science, Environment
• Master’s degree in Energy (the challenges posed by carbon-free energy)
• Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering, particularly the “Materials, Design and Innovation” program, which relates to housing and energy storage
• Master’s degree in Chemistry
• Diploma from the civil engineering program at MINES Paris-PSL
• Diploma from the engineering program at ESPCI Paris-PSL
• Diploma from the engineering program at École nationale supérieure de Chimie de Paris-PSL

- In the humanities and economic and social sciences: 
• Master’s degree in International Affairs and Development, particularly the “Peace Studies” and “Sustainable Development and Responsibilities of Organizations” programs 
• Master’s degree in Public Policy
• Master’s degree in Applied Economics
• Master’s degree in Social Sciences
• Master's degree in Quantitative economics
• Masters' degree in Economic and social sciences
• Master’s degree in Innovation Management
• Master’s degree in Management & Organizations

Discover PSL Master's degrees

Which PSL Schools contribute to this program?

Several PSL Schools contribute to the curriculum, covering a wide range of disciplines - Sciences, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences. For example: MINES Paris - PSL, the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) - PSL, Chimie Paris - PSL, Dauphine-PSL, the École normale supérieure (ENS) - PSL, the Observatoire de Paris - PSL, ESPCI Paris - PSL.

How many students are accepted into Year 1 (L1)?

As Sustainability Sciences offers close supervision with teaching : the intake for Year 1 is only 30 students.

Where are the courses taught?

Teaching takes place in the 5th arrondissement, Paris in our premises on Rue Amyot and on the Jourdan campus (48 Boulevard Jourdan, 75014 Paris) where CPES - PSL students also have classes.

Proposez-vous des aides au logement pour les étudiants ?

Tout à fait. PSL permet à tous les étudiants boursiers du CROUS de niveau 1 à 7 admis à la licence Sciences pour un monde durable de bénéficier d'un logement garanti et à coût nul ou quasi-nul (après perception des aides de PSL et de la CAF) pendant leurs 3 années d'études, dans l'une des résidences CROUS partenaires de l'Université. Consultez l'onglet "Admission" pour plus de détails.

ADMISSIONS

How do I apply for 1st year? Is it only possible via Parcoursup?

International students can find out whether the Campus France (Studying in France) procedure applies to them by going to this page, which lists the procedure for each student profile according to their country, type of diploma they are preparing in high school, etc.

For applicants preparing a diploma equivalent to the Baccalaureate in a foreign institution: you must provide a certified translation of your academic transcripts in French in addition to a certificate showing your level of French if it is not the official language of your country (B2 level required, C1 recommended).

How do I prepare for the interview? What criteria will the panel assess?

Students are selected on the basis of academic performance, level of commitment and motivation.
For eligible applicants, the purpose of the interview stage is to gain a better assessment of the     last two aspects. Therefore, the following criteria will  be assessed at the interview:

  • General understanding of the curriculum and motivation behind applying for this course

The aim is to ensure that the course is a suitable match for the applicants’ study profile, aspirations and future projects. They will be invited to ask the jury any questions they may have in order to clarify their thinking and boost their motivation.

  • Interest in sustainable development issues and all types of student commitment

Undergraduate students are expected to show a great intellectual curiosity for the issues surrounding sustainable development. Applicants will therefore be invited to demonstrate this interest by one or two specific examples drawn from their own background: choice of options / majors in high school, projects carried out in an academic or personal capacity, reading, interest in topics in the news, etc.

Please note that the term sustainable development covers a very wide range of topics and can be approached at different levels and in different forms. It is not limited to environmental issues alone; notions of social equity, economic viability and political action are also key structural features. The common denominator is investment in the common good and the life of the city. For some of you, for example, this may mean giving lessons to students from your neighborhood. The context of the current health crisis may already have given you some ideas for solidarity initiatives. Don’t hesitate to share them with us!

  • Ability to work in a team and flourish in the innovative undergraduate teaching environment (active teaching via projects and case studies)

Almost a quarter of teaching in Year 1 will be spent on experimentation. This implementation of concepts will mainly involve working on group projects. The admission interview could be your chance to back up this point with a few examples of your ability to work on collective initiatives (in a context of sports, associations, personal life, etc.).  

 

When and how will the interviews take place?

All eligible candidates will receive an invitation with the practical details of how the interview will be organized. They will be invited to choose a time slot on the platform from the available time slots and days within 48 hours of receiving their invitation.
Interviews will take place between early May 2023. Each interview will last 20 minutes. The juries will consist of a two-person team.
Interviews will be held online via the Teams application (no installation required).

What advice would you give candidates for dealing with these interviews?

Be yourself! The admissions interview is an exchange with the jury which takes place in a friendly atmosphere. You should take the opportunity to reveal your personality and check that this is the course for you.
If you have got through to the interview stage, then your academic path and your profile have already caught the attention of the jury.

Note:

  • This interview is not intended to assess your academic background, and no “technical” questions will be asked. This is a motivational interview that will enable you to give further details about your background, your achievements and possible commitments, and of course your reasons for choosing this program.
  • The jury is of course aware of the difficulties and anxiety that a remote interview can cause. Please don’t worry about any technical problems, these things can happen. All details for the connection will be sent to candidates by email.
  • Please try to be by yourself in a quiet place so that the interview can be conducted under the best possible conditions.

Good luck to all our eligible candidates!

What is the general average grade required for admission?

Admission is not based on an average grade as this can vary significantly from one school to another. The first assessment takes into account several criteria: grades as a whole, looking for solid results in all subjects (given that the program is multidisciplinary), rank in class in these subjects, motivation (motivation letter posted on Parcoursup), student’s level of commitment (also a dedicated section on Parcoursup – areas of interest, etc.).

Is it necessary to attach a cover letter to the application file?

When applying for Year 1, you should provide your motivational project (Projet de formation motivé) via Parcoursup. This section on the platform is the equivalent of a cover letter. No further documents are required in terms of motivation.

Is the French Baccalaureate the only diploma that is accepted when applying?

No, the course is open to everyone and is therefore also open to students preparing a diploma equivalent to the Baccalaureate in a foreign institution. Applicants will then be asked to provide, in addition to  their application file, a certified translation of their academic transcripts in French and a certificate showing their level in French if it  is not the official language of their country.

What level of French do I need in order to apply?

B2/C1. In Year 1, most courses are taught in French. Non-French-speaking students requiring a refresher course will be able to access an online language learning app, for French in particular. In Year 2 and Year 3, teaching will be mainly in English.

Is it necessary to attach a letter of recommendation to the application file?

Your teachers will fill out an individual educational form for you via Parcoursup. You do not have to upload any letters onto the platform.

What level of English do I need in order to apply?

The required level of English is B2.

Can I apply directly to Year 2 or Year 3 of the Bachelor’s degree?

Only applications for Year 1 of the Bachelor’s degree will be open.

I am in a preparatory class for Grandes Écoles or I am already a university student and I wish to change direction. Can I apply for this Bachelor’s degree?

Yes, students who wish to change their career path after completing and validating 1 or 2 years of study in higher education or in a preparatory class can apply via Parcoursup.

How much are the tuition fees for French students, international students and scholarship students?

Tuition fees are aligned with national tuition fees for a bachelor’s degree (€170 approx). In addition to these fees students must pay the Student Life and Campus Contribution (CVEC) which is €100 per year. Students in receipt of a scholarship based on social criteria will be exempted.

Baccalaureate | What majors would you recommend for anyone applying for this undergraduate program?

The recommended majors are:

  • Mathematics + Physics-Chemistry
  • OR Mathematics + Earth and life sciences
  • OR Mathematics + Economics and Social science
  • OR Mathematics + History-geography, geopolitics and political science
  • OR Mathematics + Engineering science

COURSE ORGANIZATION

What is the weekly volume of hours in the first year?

There are about 27 hours of courses each week.

 

In the second and third year, is a major offered?

Students specialize gradually from Year 2, choosing one major out of 2 that are offered: Sciences of the Environment or Economics & Social Sciences.

  • The same Mathematics courses are taught in both majors
  • Research internships in Year 3

CONTINUING STUDIES AND OPPORTUNITIES

What degree is awarded at the end of the course?

Just like PSL’s CPES Multidisciplinary Undergraduate degree, the degree delivered at the end of the 3-year program is a Bachelor’s degree, an official undergraduate diploma, recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

This accreditation of course entitles students to continue their studies at the Master’s level or on an equivalent training program (Grandes Écoles – engineering cycles, Écoles Normales Supérieures degree, IEP etc.) in France or abroad.

 

Does the program lead only to professions in sustainable development or CSR?

No, it opens doors to a very wide range of professional opportunities. The aim of the program is to produce responsible and enlightened citizens, to enable students to take on the challenges of sustainable development in their entirety, and not simply to train sustainable development specialists. Students will be able to go on to a wide variety of Master’s degrees and studies at Grandes Écoles (see Opportunities tab). Depending on their postgraduate specialization, students will then be able to aspire to a range of careers – engineers, economists, etc. in the private sector, administration, international organizations, civil society, or research.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS    

Is there a PSL welcome service for international students?

The PSL Welcome Desk provides support for students with all their administrative procedures (before and after their arrival) and offers a series of cultural activities throughout the year: Renewal of residence permits, Accommodation and insurance, Health, Transport, Student Jobs, Museum visits, language exchange, etc.

Should I apply via Campus France or only Parcoursup?

The procedure differs between countries and can depend on the diploma being prepared at high school. Go to this page

Note: For applicants preparing a diploma equivalent to the Baccalaureate in a foreign institution, you must  provide a certified translation  of your academic transcripts in French in addition to    a certificate showing your level of French if it  is not the official language of your country (C1 level required).

Head of Sustainable sciences

Thomas Thiebault

Contact

Admissions-SPI@psl.eu


Further information

 

Find your course

By education level
  • By degree
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • PhD
  • Other
By discipline
  • By discipline
  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Archives – Documentation
  • Plastic Arts
  • Astrophysics
  • Banking - Finance - Insurance
  • Chemistry
  • Communications - Journalism
  • Sustainable development
  • Law
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Géographie
  • Géographie politique
  • Géosciences
  • Geosciences
  • Business Administration - Management
  • History
  • Art History
  • Digital Humanities
  • Computer Science
  • Languages
  • Literature
  • Marketing
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanics and Materials
  • Médecine
  • Fashion and design
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Human Resources
  • Health - Medecine
  • Political Science
  • Cognitive science
  • Space Science
  • Earth sciences
  • Engineering Science
  • Data Science
  • Sciences du climat
  • Life Sciences
  • Religious sciences
  • Social Science
  • Sociology
  • Drama
  • Quantum engineering