Master in Human and Natural Resources Studies

Master in Human and Natural Resources Studies

The graduate program in Human and Natural Resources Studies (HNRS) at Kathmandu University (KU) currently offers Master’s and PhD degrees. These are research-oriented professional degrees that seek to impart research and analytical abilities necessary to understand the structure and functioning of rural society and their natural resource base.

This interdisciplinary program is comprised of both academic courses and action research, with the goal to provide the students with substantial interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding in the field of human and natural resources management.

The major objective of the program is to produce a cadre of professionals capable of coordinating, guiding, evaluating, improving and propagating efforts aimed at identifying people’s problems of multi-faceted nature, and arousing and assisting the communities in resolving those problems through the application of appropriate integrated approaches to exploring, enriching and utilizing the multifarious human and natural resources. Specifically, the program aims at assisting students to:

  • Acquire knowledge and skills concerning natural resources and community linkage, information gathering and analyses, indigenous community-based knowledge systems and institutions.
  • Develop capability and confidence to contribute nationally and internationally towards managing the human and natural resources fruitfully.
  • Be able to effectively conduct basic and applied research, work in a team and individually, prepare and present (communicate) findings in the field of human and natural resources management.
  • Prepare for the pursuance of further studies in related areas.


To achieve the above objectives the program emphasizes on:

  • Social dimension to natural resource management
  • Research of action- and people-oriented nature
  • Attention to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized groups of people
  • Analyzing and addressing the real-life situation in Nepal
  • Utilization of past studies and research outputs



The curriculum of Master in HNRS aims at imparting both theoretical knowledge in and practical exposure to various issues relating to the management of human and natural resources, with greater emphasis given to the latter mode. The major methods used will comprise classroom lectures, case study analyses, field surveys, seminars, community internships, results discussions and presentations. The program emphasizes students’ active participation and involvement in the learning process wherein the instructors (faculty members) will mainly be playing the role of a facilitator.

Semester-wise Course Offering

S.N. HNRS Subject and Code Number Credit hour
1 HNRS 510: Development Concepts 3
2 HNRS 511: Human Dimensions of Development 3
3 HNRS 512: Sociology of Conflict and Resource Management 3
4 HNRS 513: Environmental Economics 3
5 HNRS 514: Project Management 3
6 HNRS 515: Gender, Inclusion and Ethnicity 3
7 HNRS 519: Development Communication 3
8 HNRS 521: Natural Resource Systems Management 3
9 HNRS 522: Population, Development and Natural Resource Linkages 3
10 HNRS 524: Forestry and Wildlife Management 3
11 HNRS 525: Evaluation Methods 3
12 HNRS 529: Entrepreneurship and Development 3
13 HNRS 530: Nepal’s Plans and Policies 3
14 HNRS 531: Public Policy Issues in Resource Management 3
15 HNRS 532: Rural-Urban and Highland-Lowland Relations 3
16 HNRS 533: Environment, Health and Development 3
17 HNRS 535: Climate Change and Development 3
18 HNRS 536: Ecosystem Analysis 3
19 HNRS 539: Management of Development Induced Displacement and its Impacts 3
20 HNRS 541: Data Analysis 3
21 HNRS 542: Research Methodology 3
22 HNRS 545: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 3
23 HNRS 549: Rural Development and Alternative Energy 3
Option A:
HNRS 601: Dissertation 9
Option B:
HNRS 602: Internship 6
HNRS 534: Independent Study

Description of the Courses

HNRS 511: Human Dimensions of Development, 3

Major objective: To substantially familiarize the students with the changing overall concept and meaning, theories and practices of development.

Broad outline: Concepts, Meaning, and Definitions of Development; Theories of development; Development indicators (with special emphasis on human development indicators); Poverty and Measurement; Empowerment and Social Inclusion; Social Mobilization; Other Human Development Strategies.

HNRS 512: Sociology of Conflict and Resource Management, 3
Major objectives: To introduce and understanding of human and social aspects of conflict in resource management.

Broad outline: The students would learn major sociological theories related to conflict management and resolution, social and cultural aspects of resource management, and human relationship with the environment.

HNRS 513: Environmental Economics, 3
Major objective: The objective of this course is to raise the students’ knowledge and understanding of the crucial interrelationship between economic activities and natural resource management and help them become effective contributors towards achieving the goals of sustainable natural resource management and human development.

Broad outline: Concept of Resources, Environmental Issues and Resources, Economic Theories, Static and Inter-temporal Efficiency of Resource Use, Sources of Inefficiency, Externalities, Valuation of Non-marketable Goods and Services, Income and its Efficient Distribution, Economic Policies, State and the Natural Resources, Property Right, Development and Conservation of Scarce Resources, Decision Making and Efficient Use of Natural Resources, Political Economy of Natural Resource Use, Impact Assessment Process.

HNRS 514: Project Management, 3

Major objective: The aim of this course is to make the students understand the concept of a project cycle and its management, by taking account of essential issues and framework conditions in both designing and implementing development projects and programs.

Broad outline: Concept of project and project cycle; situation analysis, application of tools (SWOT, PRA, stakeholder analysis; problems, objectives and alternative analysis); tools of planning (LFA, strategic planning); management task in implementation process (planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation), planning methods and recent developments and trends; PCM application in national planning; monitoring and evolution.

HNRS 519: Development Communication, 3
Major objective: This course addresses the importance of proper communication in development and discusses the current problems facing development communicators in developing countries issues.

Broad outline: 
Evolution of major theories of development; role of media in development communication; communication problems in development; strategies and action plans in development communication, development communication policies, and the role of communication in democratic decentralization.

HNRS 521: Natural Resource Systems Management, 3
Major Objective: This course focuses on the importance and types of natural resources and their uses by human beings; consequences of their over-exploitation and management practices.

Broad Outline: Natural resources and their categories, importance, significance and use pattern of resources; renewable and Non-renewable Resources, Allocation of Exhaustive and Biological Resources, natural resource policies, Pollution and its Control, Environmental Issues and management of Resources, threats and consequences of over-exploitation and degradation, approaches and options of conservation.

HNRS 522: Population, Development and Natural Resource Linkages, 3
Major objective: To enhance knowledge and understanding about the importance of proper relationships between population, development and natural resources.

Broad outline: The course emphasizes on both global and national trends on population change and its effects on development and natural resource outcomes. This course also deals with how changes on social, economic and natural resources influence fertility, mortality and migration of human populations and how changes in fertility, mortality and migration influence social, economic and natural resources.
HNRS 524: Forestry and Wildlife Management, 3
Major objective: To make the students aware of the importance and values of forestry and wildlife conservation, major groups and their management prospects; impacts of forest on the environment; values and types of forest.

Broad outline: Major wildlife and their distribution, importance and values, conservation and management options; environments of forests, influence of forest on their environments, forest succession and regeneration, non-timber forest products, agroforestry and community forestry.

HNRS 525: Project Evaluation, 3 
Major objective: This course aims to enable the students to conduct an in-depth evaluation of development projects based on social science research methods.

Broad outline:
Project Evaluation is a step-by-step process of collecting, recording and organizing information about project results, including short-term outputs (immediate results of activities, or project deliverables), and immediate and longer-term project outcomes (changes in behavior, practice or policy resulting from the project). This course covers the process of using social science research methods needed for project evaluation.

HNRS 531: Public Policy Issues in Resource Management, 3
Major objective: To acquaint students with the nature of public policy, making of public policy, the players and the policy game. In this course, the students will be required to present issues derived from their experiences and observation from the Nepalese scene and relate them with theories of public policy.

Broad outline: Contemporary language of public policy, its frames, relevance and usefulness in everyday life of citizens; how public policy is made, issues and agendas and its implementations, evaluation and analysis; the role of institutional and non-institutional actions; rules, strategies, culture and resources in the policy game.

HNRS 532: Rural-Urban and Highland-Lowland Relations, 3
Major objective: The purpose of the course is to explore the dimensions of fairness and welfare in rural – urban and highland-lowland relations from ecological, economic and social points of view and to identify actions capable of promoting a better-balanced rural – urban future.

Broad outline:  This course focuses on the various conditions, forms and consequences of economic diversification in rural areas of Nepal. Special attention is paid to the role of government policies and increasing rural-urban interactions (including mobility) in shaping the process of rural diversification under various local or regional conditions. The course will analyze the impacts of rural diversification on the local/regional employment, income and living conditions and on the sustainability of local/regional resource use.

HNRS 533: Environment, Health and Development, 3

Major objective: This course aims to cover the multi-dimensional issues related to environment and health and their impacts on development.

Broad outline: The course will address the interlocking nature of environment, health and development.  Broadly, the course covers pertinent issues in: health, environment and sustainable development; environmental quality and differential impact on different sub-groups of population global issues; technical/political management, actions and interventions; current interdisciplinary research focus and identification of knowledge gaps in national context.

HNRS 541:  Data Analysis, 3
Major objective: This course will provide comprehensive knowledge and skills on univariate to multivariate techniques for analyzing the data collected for social science research.

Broad outline: The course will deal with probability distributions, sampling distribution, variables and their measurements, hypothesis testing and level of significance; descriptive and inferential statistical methods including univariate, bivariate and multivariate technique such as, t-test, z-test, chi-square test, analysis of variance, correlation, bivariate and multiple regression, linear regression model using plural independent variables, interaction terms, dummy variables, curvilinear methods and logistic regression.

HNRS 542: Research Methods
Major objective: To provide knowledge and skills on the logic and process of social science research methods.

Broad outline: science and scientific methods, nature of social science as science, problem formulation and research design, experimental and non-experimental designs, measurement issues including validity and reliability, index and scale construction, survey research, sampling issues, method of data collection (questionnaire and interview technique); how to develop and write a research proposal, logic of data analysis and writing research reports.

HNRS 545: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), 3 

Major objective: To develop a sound understanding of the national and international EIA guidelines focusing on the sectoral aspects; to develop an appreciation of the strategic EIA with focus on social aspects incorporating scientific, legal, and administrative context within which EIA occurs; and to develop a high level of critical and creative thinking, and research, problem solving team work.

Broad outline: This course includes precisely introduction to the unit, evolution of EIA, definitions and meaning of EIA, criteria and standards for assessing significant impacts, the nature and type of impacts, EIA study process and consideration of alternatives, EIA at the international level, sectoral application of EIA in water projects, energy projects, and waste management projects, EIA follow-up, strategic environmental assessment- principles and potentials, EIA effectiveness and view to the future.

HNRS 602: Community Internship
Major objective: HNRS Internship is a structured supervised educational course that provides students a practical experience working in selected development settings. This course is designed to enable students both to demonstrate and to enhance their development knowledge and skills through placement experience and project work.

Broad outline: Students have to find a suitable community and undertake a specific approved project. Students are also required to attend a number of workshops, and at least one workshop during the course of the internship in which they will discuss their experiences with relevant teaching faculties and fellow students and outline their reports. An internship coordinator will be assigned to the students. Students will be informed about their responsibilities before the start of the internship and given necessary orientation.


Fee Structure for Master’s Program [2023]

The total amount of fees per student, excluding the costs of books, stationery, accommodation, and individual thesis research, for the entire duration of two years is NRs. 400,000. This amount is payable in five instalments. Students from SAARC (excluding Nepal) and outside SAARC countries have to pay 1.5 and 2 times the above amount of charges respectively. The various charges set by the program are subject to change according to KU rules.


Duration and Credit Hours

The Master in Human and Natural Resources Studies (MHNRS) is a two-year program of four semesters. Students will have to complete altogether 48 credit hours of courses to successfully graduate from the program. A three-credit hour course requires 48 contact hours.

In the fourth semester, the students will have the following two options:

Option A: The first option is to write a dissertation of 9 credit hours under the regular supervision of an assigned supervisor. Each student will be assigned a supervisor only after the successful defense of her/his dissertation proposal. The students will have to submit the final dissertation to the department at the end of the two-year program.

Option B: The students who choose this option will have to take courses of 6 credit hours that include Community internship (3 credit hours) and independent study (3 credit hours).

If a student is not able to complete the program during the two- year period, he/she will have to pay additional fees as per the KU rules.

All students must complete the entire requirement for graduation within five academic years from the date of enrollment into the program.


Student Entry Criteria

Completion of minimum of 3 or 4-year Bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree, with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2 out of 4.0, or an equivalent, or 45 per cent marks in general will be the criteria followed to evaluate the applicants. In addition, securing an acceptable level of ranking in the entrance test administered to measure required competencies including language proficiency and analytical ability will be essential. Only the candidates who pass the written exam will be selected for the interview, on the basis of which final selection will be made.

Intake Capacity
The maximum intake capacity for HNRS is 24 students per semester.

Admission Announcement 
Usually the announcement for admissions for HNRS will be made in December every year.

How to Apply 
Applications should be made on an official application form which is available from the office of School of Arts, Kathmandu University. Applicants should submit all relevant documents along with their application. Any enquiry regarding the course should be made at the concerned departments of School of Arts, Kathmandu University.


Grades and Grading Systems

Grades shall be assigned to individual students on the basis of instructor’s judgment of the student’s scholastic achievement as set forth in Section ii below.

  1. Grading System

Grades for students shall be reported by the following letters: A, A-, B, B+, B-, C+, C, C-, D, or F. The faculty member (instructor) will determine and execute the specific grading method, including the allocation of suitable weights to the methods. The instructor will explain the overall evaluation system to the students at the beginning of the course.

  1. Definition of Grades

The grades of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, and F indicate a graduation in quality from Excellent to Failure and are assigned the following grade-point equivalents:

All grading system is based on following rules:

Marks Grade Grade Points
85 and Above A 4.00
80 – 84.9 A- 3.70
75 – 79.9 B+ 3.33
70 – 74.9 B 3.00
65 – 69.9 B- 2.67
60 – 64.9 C+ 2.33
55 – 59.9 C 2.00
50 – 54.9 C- 1.67
45 – 49.9 D 1.00
< 45 F Fail

The student must maintain an aggregate CGPA of 3.00 or above after completing the required 48 credit hours. If the aggregate CGPA is less than 3.00, the student will have to repeat certain courses until he/she maintains the required CGPA.