Leisure, Tourism and Environment (MTO) / MSc


Increasing numbers of people around the world are spending a growing proportion of their leisure time and money on tourism related activities. It is widely acknowledged that tourism is a constitutive force assembling economic, cultural, social, political, technological, environmental and spatial processes, but also an entry point to improve our understanding of the social world and how it is transforming. The economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism services have grown dramatically in recent years, and these impacts are expected to become even more profound in the next decades.

The two-year MSc program Leisure, Tourism and Environment at Wageningen University & Research is a social-science programme with a strong research focus. Students examine the rationale behind the transformation of certain locations into tourism destinations. The core of this program enables students to obtain in-depth knowledge and critical awareness of the role tourism plays in contemporary society, to understand the workings of different scientific paradigms and to appraise the relevance of a range of academic disciplines, to demonstrate the ability to complete a scientific research project independently, and to translate related outcomes into innovative approaches and tangible solutions for sustainable tourism development.

Connected to the core of this program, students can choose between four thematic trajectories that each focus on a specific research domain, related societal questions and optional courses. The four themes are:

Tourism & Development:
This trajectory discusses a number of fundamental issues related to tourism's potential for socio-economic, socio- cultural and environmental development and provide a conceptual foundation by examining theoretical frameworks from tourism studies and beyond for the study of these issues.

Tourism & Natural Resources:
This trajectory discusses the dynamic interplay between tourism and natural resources, on related processes of environmental governance, and the contemporary theoretical and methodological approaches that assist in understanding and analysing these dynamics.

Tourism & Global Change:
This trajectory discusses travel and tourism mobilities alongside questions of immobility and exclusion, migration, transportation, mobility rights, crises and risks as well as virtual connectivity.

Tourism & Experiences:
This trajectory discusses the complex and dynamic interplay of various place-making practices, related motivations for travel, and complex place-based experiences in tourism.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this MSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- analyse tourism practices and their relations with society and environment;
- appraise the relevance of concepts, theories and approaches from sociology, social psychology, human geography, anthropology, political science and philosophy for a multidisciplinary analysis of tourism, society and environment ;
- identify a scientific problem relative to tourism, society and environment and compose and reflect on a theoretical framework for research on it;
- assess social science research methods for data collection and analysis and independently construct an appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative design for advanced empirical research;
- assess needs and opportunities for different (policy) interventions, translate own research outcomes into advice and suggest new and more effective and sustainable solutions in the field of tourism, society and environment;
- collaborate in international and socio-culturally diverse groups in assessing issues regarding tourism, society and environment, taking into account diverse social and cultural perspectives;
- independently acquire new knowledge and skills in order to analyse complex issues and reflect on own academic and professional development;
- clearly, argumentatively and unambiguously communicate research results and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these in a way that reflects the needs and interests of specific audiences;
- integrate ethical responsibility in own academic and professional practice;
- demonstrate a scientific (research) attitude of life-long learning as well as an open mind and a critical and (self-)reflective working style.
Thematic trajectory 1: Tourism & Development
- analyse theoretical and practical perspectives on how tourism impacts development at different scales and in different parts of the globe, and related processes of social, cultural, economic, political and environmental change;
- evaluate various governance arrangements relating to tourism and development at different scales;
Thematic trajectory 2: Tourism & Natural Resources
- analyse theoretical and practical perspectives on tourism’s relation with a wide range of environmental settings, resources and sinks, as well as the ways in which these relations are governed;
- evaluate the implications of various contemporary governance arrangements focusing on tourism and natural resource relations;
Thematic trajectory 3: Tourism & Global Change
- analyse the movement of people, materials, capital and information as well as the broader implications of these movements;
- evaluate how tourism is both impacting and impacted by processes of social, cultural, economic, technological and environmental change;
Thematic trajectory 4: Tourism & Experiences
- analyse the production of tourist experiences from different disciplinary perspectives
- evaluate knowledge and theories on tourist experience in the context of policy arrangements and management interventions


- Tourism & Development;
- Tourism & Natural Resources;
- Tourism & Global Change;
- Tourism & Experiences.

Programme Director

Drs. J.F.B. Philipsen
Phone: 0317-(4)82771
Email: jan.philipsen@wur.nl

Study Adviser(s)

L.S. van der Zouwen MSc
Phone: 0317-(4)84384
Email: mle.msc@wur.nl
Consultation hours: weekly based on reservation at http://appointments.owi.wur.nl/mle. For urgent questions, please send an email

Programme Committee

Chair: Dr. M. Ormond
Secretary: M. Holleman



Study Association

PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen
Facebook : @licerewageningen