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Masters Degrees (Soil Biology)

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Your programme of study. If you are interested in earth science, and environmental science but you want to specialise in the study of soil specifically the Aberdeen programme gives you in depth knowledge and a range of experts and alumni who consult at government level. Read more

Your programme of study

If you are interested in earth science, and environmental science but you want to specialise in the study of soil specifically the Aberdeen programme gives you in depth knowledge and a range of experts and alumni who consult at government level. Aberdeen is further supported by having the James Hutton Institute within the city limits, a notable institute specialising in soil science over the years known formerly the Macaulay Institute.

Soil Science is becoming increasingly important to our ability to sustain life on earth as we look at how to keep the soil clean from pollutants in water, air and polluting industries, pesticides and all sorts of changes to soil. There are also growing concerns that as the population increases and climate change also increases how do we farm in the future? The degree gives you all the skills and knowledge you need to work as a soil scientist either as a researcher, within government or regulation or as a consultant working with industry and other organisations devoted to soil science.

You learn about soil science, sustainability, land use planning, food security, GIS, and land use with intensive laboratory analysis from one of the top centres in the world for soil science. We also take you into the field to study specific situations and you are guided by our world renowned researchers in the environmental sciences. This is one of only a handful of Soil Science programmes with cutting edge technologies to help you analyse and study soil in depth. Soil science falls within agricultural sciences which were ranked No. 1 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014) and the highly acclaimed Environmental Science disciplines which Aberdeen has made a name for itself in over the years.

Courses listed for the programme

Semester 1

  • Core Skills in Environmental Science
  • Global Soil Geography
  • Soils for Food Security
  • Applications for GIS

Semester 2

  • Environmental Analysis
  • Land Use and the Changing Environment on Deesside

Optional

  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Remediation Technology
  • Catchment Management
  • Ecological and Environmental Modelling

Semester 3

  • Project in Soil Science

Find out more detail by visiting the programme web page

Why study at Aberdeen?

  • Research at Aberdeen within agricultural and earth sciences is ranked No.1 (REF)
  • You study all methods of analysis and field work to understand the full range of issues within soil and land use which affect the ability to grow crops
  • One of our team developed the award winning 'Cool Farm Tool.' Dr John Hillier developed this to calculate greenhouse gas. The tool is used by known brands such as Marks and Spencer, Costco and Heinz

Where you study

  • University of Aberdeen
  • 12 Months or 24 Months
  • Full Time or Part Time
  • September start

International Student Fees 2017/2018

Find out about international fees:

  • International
  • EU and Scotland
  • Other UK

Find out more about fees on the programme page

*Please be advised that some programmes also have additional costs.

Scholarships

View all funding options on our funding database via the programme page and the latest postgraduate opportunities

Living in Aberdeen

Find out more about:

  • Your Accommodation
  • Campus Facilities
  • Aberdeen City
  • Student Support
  • Clubs and Societies

Find out more about living in Aberdeen and living costs 



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A country's physical land resources are a fundamental pillar of support for human life and welfare. Read more
A country's physical land resources are a fundamental pillar of support for human life and welfare. Worldwide, population pressures and severe degradation, pollution and desertification problems are threatening this - for several countries relatively scarce - natural resource, and cause competition between agricultural or industrial purposes, urban planning and nature conservation. To guarantee a proper use and management of this for a nation basic commodity, well trained specialists with a thorough knowledge of the properties and characteristics of this natural resource, and a solid insight in factors and measures that may alter its actual state and value are warranted and call for a high standard scientific and practical education.

The main subject in Soil Science aims at training researchers, academics, government staff and expert consultants in the inventory and detailed characterization of land capacity, and of soils in particular. Graduates should be able to understand the development and evolution of soils under natural conditions or following human interference using field, map, laboratory and remote sensing data. They should have the scientific knowledge to use and manage soil and water in a sustainable way, and to optimize land use under different natural and environmental conditions.

Structure

The Master of Science degree programme in Physical Land Resources is a two year, full time course. The first year provides a fundamental basis in physical land resources, with a main subject in either Soil Science or Land Resources Engineering. The second year offers specialised courses in one of the two main subjects. The students have to prepare a master dissertation in the second year. Successful completion of the programme leads to the award of an Master of Science degree in Physical Land Resources. The course curriculum of the first year, and of the main subject in soil science of the second year is organised at the Ghent University, whereas all courses of the main subject in Land Resources Engineering of the second year are lectured at "Vrije Universiteit Brussel".

The academic year starts the last week of September. However students are advised to arrive in Ghent in the first week of September to follow the preparatory summer course.

Teaching methods
A wide variety of teaching methods are used in the PLR programme. All course units, except for “Internship” and “Master Dissertation” include lectures. Lectures are fundamental to provide students with the necessary basic knowledge in order to acquire the requested competences. Besides lectures the following teaching methods are very frequently used: practical classes, PC-room classes and coached exercises. Teaching methods like guided self-study, group work and microteaching are occasionally used. Field work and excursions are naturally an important component of the Physical Land Resources programme, especially in the first year.

Learning Outcomes

The Master of Science in Physical Land Resources is organized at both UGent and VUB and aims to contribute to an increased knowledge in Physical Land Resources both in terms of quantity (more experts with a broad knowledge) and of quality (knowledge and its use at an advanced scientific level). The incoming students have diverse backgrounds in geology-related sciences, civil engineering or agronomy and the large majority of students originate from developing countries.
-Possesses a broad knowledge at an advanced level in basic disciplines (soil physics, soil chemistry, soil mineralogy, meteorology and climatology) that provide a polyvalent scientific understandinga. needed to evaluate land potential for agricultural and environmental applications, understand the evolution of soils under natural and human-impacted conditions, and contribute to sustainable land use planning and integrated management of land and water (Soil Science); or in non-agricultural applications of land, such as geotechnical aspects, the role of soil and groundwater in water resources management and water supplies, and of land management in relation to other environmental and land use aspects (Land Resources Engineering).
-Possesses the basics to conduct field work (soil survey, soil profile description, soil sampling), interpret analytical data, classify the soil, and manage and interpret existing cartographic and remote sensing data using modern equipment, informatics and computer technology.
-Characterize soil physico-chemically and mineralogically with advanced techniques to understand soil processes, translate this to soil quality and assess the influences by and on natural and anthropogenic factors.
-Recognize interaction with other relevant science domains and identify the need to integrate them within the context of more advanced ideas and practical applications and problem solving.
-Demonstrate critical consideration of and reflection on known and new theories, models or interpretation within the specialty.
-Plan and execute target orientated experiments or simulations independently and critically evaluate the collected data.
-Develop and execute original scientific research and/or apply innovative ideas within research units.
-Formulate hypotheses, use or design experiments to test these hypotheses, report on the results, both written and orally, and communicate findings to experts and the general public.

Other admission requirements

The applicant must be proficient in the language of the course or training programme, i.e. English. The English language proficiency can be met by providing a certificate (validity of 5 years) of one of the following tests: (TOEFL/IELTS predictive tests and TOEIC will not be accepted)
-TOEFL IBT 80.
-TOEFL PBT 550.
-ACADEMIC IELTS 6,5 overall score with a min. of 6 for writing.
-CEFR B2 Issued by a European university language centre.
-ESOL CAMBRIDGE English CAE (Advanced).

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A country's physical land resources are a fundamental pillar of support for human life and welfare. Read more
A country's physical land resources are a fundamental pillar of support for human life and welfare. Worldwide, population pressures and severe degradation, pollution and desertification problems are threatening this - for several countries relatively scarce - natural resource, and cause competition between agricultural or industrial purposes, urban planning and nature conservation. To guarantee a proper use and management of this for a nation basic commodity, well trained specialists with a thorough knowledge of the properties and characteristics of this natural resource, and a solid insight in factors and measures that may alter its actual state and value are warranted and call for a high standard scientific and practical education.

The main subject in Land Resources Engineering offers training in non-agricultural use and application of soil, and includes geotechnical aspects (use of soil as a building material or for foundations, slope stability and stability of excavations), the role of soil- and groundwater for water management and supply, soil management in relation to environment and land use (erosion, sediment transport, coastal development and protection).

Structure

The Master of Science degree programme in Physical Land Resources is a two year, full time course. The first year provides a fundamental basis in physical land resources, with a main subject in either Soil Science or Land Resources Engineering. The second year offers specialised courses in one of the two main subjects. The students have to prepare a master dissertation in the second year. Successful completion of the programme leads to the award of an Master of Science degree in Physical Land Resources. The course curriculum of the first year, and of the main subject in soil science of the second year is organised at the Ghent University, whereas all courses of the main subject in Land Resources Engineering of the second year are lectured at "Vrije Universiteit Brussel".

The academic year starts the last week of September. However students are advised to arrive in Ghent in the first week of September to follow the preparatory summer course.

Teaching methods
A wide variety of teaching methods are used in the PLR programme. All course units, except for “Internship” and “Master Dissertation” include lectures. Lectures are fundamental to provide students with the necessary basic knowledge in order to acquire the requested competences. Besides lectures the following teaching methods are very frequently used: practical classes, PC-room classes and coached exercises. Teaching methods like guided self-study, group work and microteaching are occasionally used. Field work and excursions are naturally an important component of the Physical Land Resources programme, especially in the first year.

Learning outcomes

The Master of Science in Physical Land Resources is organized at both UGent and VUB and aims to contribute to an increased knowledge in Physical Land Resources both in terms of quantity (more experts with a broad knowledge) and of quality (knowledge and its use at an advanced scientific level). The incoming students have diverse backgrounds in geology-related sciences, civil engineering or agronomy and the large majority of students originate from developing countries.
-Possesses a broad knowledge at an advanced level in basic disciplines (soil physics, soil chemistry, soil mineralogy, meteorology and climatology) that provide a polyvalent scientific understandinga. needed to evaluate land potential for agricultural and environmental applications, understand the evolution of soils under natural and human-impacted conditions, and contribute to sustainable land use planning and integrated management of land and water (Soil Science); or in non-agricultural applications of land, such as geotechnical aspects, the role of soil and groundwater in water resources management and water supplies, and of land management in relation to other environmental and land use aspects (Land Resources Engineering).
-Possesses the basics to conduct field work (soil survey, soil profile description, soil sampling), interpret analytical data, classify the soil, and manage and interpret existing cartographic and remote sensing data using modern equipment, informatics and computer technology.
-Characterize soil physico-chemically and mineralogically with advanced techniques to understand soil processes, translate this to soil quality and assess the influences by and on natural and anthropogenic factors.
-Recognize interaction with other relevant science domains and identify the need to integrate them within the context of more advanced ideas and practical applications and problem solving.
-Demonstrate critical consideration of and reflection on known and new theories, models or interpretation within the specialty.
-Plan and execute target orientated experiments or simulations independently and critically evaluate the collected data.
-Develop and execute original scientific research and/or apply innovative ideas within research units.
-Formulate hypotheses, use or design experiments to test these hypotheses, report on the results, both written and orally, and communicate findings to experts and the general public.

Other admission requirements

The applicant must be proficient in the language of the course or training programme, i.e. English. The English language proficiency can be met by providing a certificate (validity of 5 years) of one of the following tests: (TOEFL/IELTS predictive tests and TOEIC will not be accepted)
-TOEFL IBT 80.
-TOEFL PBT 550.
-ACADEMIC IELTS 6,5 overall score with a min. of 6 for writing.
-CEFR B2 Issued by a European university language centre.
-ESOL CAMBRIDGE English CAE (Advanced).

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The Master of Physical Land Resources has two specializations. Soil Science (organized by the Universiteit Gent) and Land Resources Engineering (organized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel). Read more
The Master of Physical Land Resources has two specializations: Soil Science (organized by the Universiteit Gent) and Land Resources Engineering (organized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel). During your training you acquire a profound knowledge of pedology, soil physics and chemistry, soil mineralogy, soil prospection and classification, statistics and computer science, climatology and meteorology. Depending on the chosen modules you can specialize in the fields of: land evaluation, soil fertility, soil-water management, etc.

This master offers

 Knowledge and skills which enable you to start and build a successfull career as scientist specialised in either Soil Science or Land Resources Engineering in a professional way.
 The ability to formulate hypotheses and design experiments to test them, report results and findings to both your peers and to a general public.
 You to learn to think analytically, synthetically, creatively and in a problem solving way
 The ability to work both autonomously and in a team.
 The ability to apply knowledge as required for the overall development policy of your country
 The skills to function in fundamental as well as in applied research at universities, research institutions and (other) government or private institutions and companies.

International Course Programme

This programme is one of the International Course Programmes supported by the Flemish Interuniversity Council - University Development Cooperation (VLIR-UOS). A limited number of scholarships is available for students coming from specific developing countries.

Structure

The Master of Science degree programme in Physical Land Resources is a two year, full time course.

The first year provides a fundamental basis in physical land resources, with a main subject in either Soil Science or Land Resources Engineering. The second year offers specialised courses in one of the two main subjects. The students have to prepare a dissertation. Successful completion of the programme leads to the award of an Master of Science degree in Physical Land Resources.
The course curriculum of the first year, and of the main subject in soil science of the second year is organised at the Ghent University, whereas all courses of the main subject in Land Resources Engineering of the second year are organised at the "Vrije Universiteit Brussel". Students in Land Resources Engineering have to reside in Brussels during the second year.

The academic year starts the last week of September. Students are expected to arrive in Gent ten days before the start of the programme. There are two examination periods, in January and in June respectively. For students who fail, there is a re-examination session in August-September.

Curriculum

For the specialization Land Resources Engineering the curriculum is available on http://www.vub.ac.be/en/study/physical-land-resources/programme

For the specialization Soil Science the curriculum is available on http://www.plr.ugent.be/main.htm#course

Student profile

You want to know what (a) soil is?
You want to know which factors and properties determine the soil suitability to be used for both agricultural and non-agricultural purposes and how this is established?
You want to know how the soil can be improved to suit specific applications?
You want to know how to address problems of degradation and desertification?
You want to know how to manage the land and how to protect it?
You want to know what the impact of the soil factor is in the dynamics of natural ecosystems and how this knowledge can be applied in the area of nature conservation?
You want to know what the soil teaches us about current environmental issues?
You want to know how soil and water management can be improved in the frame of sustainable agriculture?
You want to know how we can manage our scarce water supplies?

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Are you interested in working on solutions for environmental issues like water scarcity and quality, soil degradation, food supply, loss of biodiversity… Read more

Are you interested in working on solutions for environmental issues like water scarcity and quality, soil degradation, food supply, loss of biodiversity, vulnerability to severe weather and climate change? Join the master's Earth & Environment in Wageningen to help the next generations of scientists to find solutions for these issues confronting the way we look after our planet, now and in the future!

Study programme

During the two-year master programme, you become a well-rounded specialist in the fields of (a) hydrology and water resources; (b) meteorology and air quality; (c) biological and chemical aspects of soil and water; or (d) soil geography and earth surface dynamics. Furthermore, you also gain a broad view of the interactions in the critical zone where the different spheres meet. Subjects studied range from micro to global scale; they are closely related to the innovative research and applications of ten leading research groups. Read more about the Background of the programme.

Specialisations

Within the master's programme you can choose one of the following Specialisations to meet your personal interests.

Student experiences

The best way to get to know a place is by getting to know the people. Students share their experiences with you about the master's programme and student life in Wageningen on the page student experiences.

Future career

Graduates from this programme are well equipped with the knowledge and skills to continue their academic training as a PhD student, or to start a career as a scientific professional at universities, research institutes and consultancies. Depending on their specialization, graduates may take up positions as meteorologists, hydrologists, water quality scientists or soil scientists in the public or private sector. Read more about career perspectives and opportunities after finishing the programme.

Related programmes:

MSc Environmental Sciences

MSc Management, Economics and Consumer Studies

MSc Biology

MSc Climate Studies

MSc International Land and Water Management

MSc Plant Sciences.



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Are you up to the challenge of finding innovative methods and sustainable solutions to the threats facing the environment? The Environmental Sciences master's programme in Wageningen has its roots in the natural, technological and social sciences. Read more

Are you up to the challenge of finding innovative methods and sustainable solutions to the threats facing the environment? The Environmental Sciences master's programme in Wageningen has its roots in the natural, technological and social sciences. Students will gain insight into the socio-economic causes and the characteristics of pollution and degradation of the natural environment, including the effects on human beings, the atmosphere, ecosystems and other organisms. This two-year programme is based on an interdisciplinary approach. Students learn to develop analytical tools and models, as well as technologies, socio-political arrangements and economic instruments to prevent and control environmental and sustainability issues.

Study programme

The Environmental Sciences MSc programme of Wageningen University is an international programme containing one year of course work and and one year of research. It is thesis-oriented with the individual research project (major) as its core. Compulsory elements are kept at a minimum, thus enabling the coursework to be tailored to the wishes and needs of the individual student. Study adviser and thesis supervisor both assist the student in selecting the most relevant courses from what Wageningen University has to offer.  Read more about the background of the programme.

Thesis tracks

Within the master's programme you can choose from the following Thesis tracks to meet your personal interests:

Your future career

Graduates find jobs at many different organisations. Professional job possibilities can be found as:

  • A researcher at a university or a research institute
  • An adviser at governmental authorities (ministries, provinces and municipalities) or waterboards
  • An engineer or a consultant in the industry

Read more about the career perspectives and opportunities.

Related programmes:

MSc Climate Studies 

MSc Urban Environmental Management

MSc Earth and Environment 

MSc Forest and Nature Conservation

MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management.



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A collaboration between the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and Faculty of Forestry, the inter-faculty Soil Science Graduate Program offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to MSc and PhD degrees. Read more
A collaboration between the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and Faculty of Forestry, the inter-faculty Soil Science Graduate Program offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to MSc and PhD degrees. Students are registered in the Faculty of Graduate Studies through either the Faculty of Land and Food Systems or Faculty of Forestry, depending upon their research interests.

Areas of study include biometeorology, forest nutrition and nutrient cycling, mycorrhizal ecology, soil biology, soil quality and fertility, soil-plant interactions, ecosystem services, land an water systems.

Program Overview

Soil Science offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees in the areas of soil microbial ecology, organic matter, soil physics, irrigation and drainage, biometeorology, soil pollution, soil and water conservation, soil management, and land use, with application to forest, agricultural, urban, and range soils, as well as a professional Master of Land and Water Systems (M.L.W.S.) degree. The Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees include a combination of courses in both basic and applied sciences, with research leading to the completion of a thesis/dissertation. The M.L.W.S. degree is intended for students seeking a post-baccalaureate degree for professional practice in the land and water resources management realm. The program is designed to be completed in one calendar year.

Soil Sciences programs are enriched through collaboration with: colleagues in other graduate programs, such as Forestry, Geography, Plant Science, Institute for Resources and Environment, Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems, and Landscape Architecture; and agencies such as Environment Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Forests and Range, and other provincial, municipal, and regional government agencies.

Research facilities are housed both within the MacMillan and Forest Sciences Buildings and, on a shared basis, in other buildings on campus. Research facilities within the MacMillan Building include modern analytical laboratories and other equipment for conducting chemical and biometeorological research, while excellent facilities for soil biological research are located in the Forest Sciences Centre.

Quick Facts

- Degree: Master of Science
- Specialization: Soil Science
- Subject: Agriculture and Forestry
- Mode of delivery: On campus
- Program components: Coursework + Thesis required
- Faculty: Faculty of Land and Food Systems

Career Prospects

Graduates of the soil science degree program often obtain positions with government or the private sector. Some graduates decide to continue in the area of research and academia with various universities and colleges. Examples of where some graduates are employed:
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- BC Ministry of Forests
- Canadian Forest Service
- Consultant
- Associate Professor, University of Guelph
- Associate Professor, Yale University
- Associate Professor, University of Northern BC
- Environment Canada
- Assistant Professor, University of Bengukulu, Indonesia
- Assistant Professor, University of Venda for Science and Technology, South Africa

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MPhil supervision covers a number of research topics supported by research active academic staff. Our range of research areas relate to crop science, soil science, ecological (organic) agriculture, and agricultural water management. Read more
MPhil supervision covers a number of research topics supported by research active academic staff. Our range of research areas relate to crop science, soil science, ecological (organic) agriculture, and agricultural water management.

Crop science

Genes and physiological traits, such as:
-Resistance to crop pests and diseases
-Molecular-assisted selection and breeding methods
-Plant environment interactions and their relationships to stress biology
-Physiological basis of crop yield and quality
-Biotransformation of synthetic compounds and natural products in plants
-Herbicide selectivity in cereals and competing weeds

Soil science

-Soil ecology and the contribution of soil biodiversity to soil quality
-Soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics
-Interpretation of soil and landscape processes to improve understanding of recent and historical environmental change
-Land degradation processes and their control

Ecological (organic) agriculture

-Functional biodiversity for control of pest, disease and weed pressure
-Long term factorial systems comparison experiments for in depth study of different aspects of conventional and organic farming systems

Agricultural water management

-Irrigated agriculture
-Interactions between land-use and hydrological response in a semi-arid environment
-Soil hydrological processes affecting management of salinity in irrigated land

Delivery

We offer a number of different routes to a research degree qualification, including full-time and part-time supervised research projects. We attract postgraduates via non-traditional routes, including mature students and part-time postgraduates undertaking study as part of their continuing professional development. Off-campus (split) research is also offered, which enables you to conduct trials in conditions appropriate to your research programme.

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Goal of the pro­gramme. Read more

Goal of the pro­gramme

Would you like to be involved in finding solutions to future challenges of food and energy production, such as climate change, population growth and limited energy resources? Are you interested in animal welfare, clean soil, environmental issues or the newest methods in biological and genetic engineering? Would you like to learn about automation and robotics in agriculture?

Join the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences on the Viikki Campus to find solutions for the challenges of today and tomorrow. The University of Helsinki is the only university in Finland to offer academic education in this field.

In the Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences, you can pursue studies in plant production sciences, animal science, agrotechnology, or environmental soil science, depending on your interests and previous studies. For further information about the study tracks, see Programme contents.

Upon completing a Master’s degree, you will:

  • Be an expert in plant production science, animal science, agrotechnology, or environmental soil science.
  • Be able to assess the sustainability and environmental impact of food and energy production.
  • Be able to apply biosciences, ecology, chemistry, physics or statistics, depending on your study track, to the future needs of agriculture.
  • Have mastered the key issues and future development trends of your field.
  • Have mastered state-of-the-art research and analysis methods and techniques.
  • Be able to engage in international activities, project work and communication.
  • Be able to acquire and interpret scientific research information in your field and present it orally and in writing.
  • Have the qualifications to pursue postgraduate studies in a doctoral programme or a career as an expert or entrepreneur.

Further information about the studies on the Master's programme website.

Pro­gramme con­tents

The Master’s Programme in Agricultural Sciences comprises four study tracks:

Plant production sciences – plants as sources of food, feed, energy, beauty and wellbeing

During your studies, you will have the opportunity to apply biology to the breeding, cultivation, protection and production ecology of crop or horticultural plants. Producing sufficient food is one of the great challenges facing humanity. Plant production sciences have an important mission in finding solutions to this challenge. Plants are cultivated not only for food and feed, but also for bioenergy, green landscapes and ornamental purposes; plant production sciences seek new, improved solutions for all these purposes.

Animal science – animal health and wellbeing

During your studies, you will become familiar with issues pertaining to the wellbeing, nutrition and breeding of production and hobby animals as well as with the relevant biotechnology. In this study track you will apply biochemistry, animal physiology, genetics and molecular biology for the benefit of sustainable animal production. The Viikki Research Farm, in urban Helsinki, provides plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning!

Agrotechnology – technology with consideration for the environment

This study track provides you with the opportunity to study technologies that are key to agricultural production and the environment, from the basics to the latest innovations. Advances in technology and automation offer new horizons to fearless inventors interested in developing machinery and engineering for the reorganisation, implementation and adjustment of production in accordance with the needs of plants and animals.

Environmental soil science – dig below the surface

These studies allow you to literally dig beneath the surface. The soil is a central factor for the production of renewable natural resources, the diversity of nature, and the quality of water systems. As an expert in environmental soil science you will know how the soil serves as a substrate for plants and affects the quality of food, and how it can be improved.

For further information about study contents, visit the programme home page.



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This course will provide you with an in-depth specialisation in organic farming and food production systems and it is currently the only specialised MSc in organic and ecological farming in England. Read more

This course will provide you with an in-depth specialisation in organic farming and food production systems and it is currently the only specialised MSc in organic and ecological farming in England. You will learn and test the latest approaches in the integrated delivery of soil, crop and livestock, and food supply chain management.

Through a combination of lectures, field trips, seminars, practical classes and research projects you will develop advanced knowledge and skills in:

-Managing organic farming and food production units or businesses in different macroclimatic, agronomic and market contexts

-Agronomic approaches used in organic/biological/ecological/sustainable food production systems

-Underlying principles and standards of organic/biological/ecological/sustainable food production, processing and retailing/marketing systems

-Applied and strategic research underpinning the development of organic and other sustainable farming and food production systems

-A wide range of analytical laboratory methods

You will have the opportunity to attend a 10-day field trip as part of the module on Mediterranean perennial crop production systems in Crete, Greece. The trip is organised in collaboration with ecological farming experts from the Greek National Science Foundation (NAGREF).

As part of your studies you will also undertake a major project, similar to one you might experience in the workplace. You will be supported through training in designing and delivering a laboratory project or field-based investigation. You will collect, analyse and interpret data to produce a thesis reporting your investigation and results in a critical manner.

This research project and thesis may be undertaken at the University, in industry, in Crete as part of existing Nafferton Ecological Farming Group research and development projects, or in another country.

Our staff

You will benefit from being taught by lecturers who are industry experienced and research active. Our research in integrated agricultural production focuses on soil science, plant science and ecology, spanning a range of scales from: pot – plot – farm – landscape.

Strategic research embraces work on:

-Soil quality

-Rhizosphere function

-Plant-soil feedback

-Soil-carbon dynamics

-Nutrient cycling

Applied research addresses issues of:

-Climate change mitigation (including biofuels)

-Ecological (organic) farming systems

-Low-input crop systems

-Agriculture-environment interactions

Professor Carlo Leifert is the Degree Programme Director for MSc in Organic Farming and Food Production Systems. Carlo is a member of the Food Security Network in the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS) and is part of the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group (NEFG). He currently manages EU and DEFRA funded projects focused on improving resource efficiency, productivity and food quality and safety in organic and 'low input' crop and livestock production systems.

Delivery

The course is taught in a block format with a six-week block and then two-week teaching blocks.

You will be taught through:

-Lectures

-Seminars

-Practical and field classes

-Tutorials

-Case studies

-Small group discussions

You will be expected to undertake independent study outside of these structured sessions. Your knowledge and understanding will be assessed through written examinations, coursework, presentations and your final major project.

You can also study through the Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme (CATS). This allows us to award postgraduate level qualifications using credit-bearing stand-alone modules as 'building blocks' towards a qualification. This means that the credits from modules undertaken within a five-year period can be 'banked' towards the award of a qualification.

Facilities

Farms

Our multi-purpose farms provide demonstration facilities for teaching purposes and land-based research facilities (especially in the area of organic production). They are both viable farming businesses.

Cockle Park Farm

Cockle Park Farm is a 262ha mixed farm facility that includes the Palace Leas Plots hay meadow experiment and a new anaerobic digestion plant that will generate heat, electricity and digestate - an organic fertiliser - from pig and cattle manure.

Nafferton Farm

Nafferton Farm is a 300ha farm with two main farm units covering conventional and organic farming systems. The two systems are primarily focussed upon dairying and arable cropping.

Both also operate beef production enterprises as a by-product of their dairy enterprises, although the organic system is unique in maintaining a small-scale potato and vegetable production enterprise.

Laboratories

Our modern laboratories provide important teaching and research environments and are equipped with analytical equipment such as High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLCs), GCs, CNS analyser (Carbon and Nitrogen analysis), centrifuges, spectrophotometers and molecular biology equipment. Our specialist research facilities include:

  • tissue culture laboratory
  • plant growth rooms
  • class II laboratory for safe handling of human biological samples
  • taste panel facilities and test kitchen
  • thin section facility for soils analysis

We operate closely with other schools, institutes and the University's central scientific facilities for access to more specialist analytical services.

For work with human subjects we use a purpose built Clinical Research Facility which is situated in the Royal Victoria Infirmary teaching hospital and is managed jointly by us and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

nu-food Food and Consumer Research Facility

The NU-Food Food and Consumer Research Facility has undergone a £700,000 refurbishment and now boasts a culinary training suite, a sensory laboratory and food handling facility, all supported by multi-functional rooms and a reception.



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Our MSc in Applied Ecology provides you with the advanced knowledge and skills required for employment in field biology, ecology and related areas.You will follow a curriculum with a highly practical emphasis, undertaking hands-on exercises in field and laboratory settings. Read more
Our MSc in Applied Ecology provides you with the advanced knowledge and skills required for employment in field biology, ecology and related areas.You will follow a curriculum with a highly practical emphasis, undertaking hands-on exercises in field and laboratory settings. In the field, you will learn identification skills for a wide range of species in several key taxonomic groups. You will also learn industry-standard survey techniques such as Phase One Habitat Surveying, Habitat Condition Assessments, National Vegetation Classification and Bird Territory Mapping. Laboratory sessions will include use of microscopes in taxonomy and analysis of environmental parameters, such as water oxygen levels and soil nutrient status, to enable better understanding of species-environment interactions.


There will be numerous opportunities to work on on-going projects with linked organisations including wildlife trusts, zoos and wildlife parks, charities and public authorities. It is an expectation that assignments, and especially dissertation work, will have direct impact on understanding and management of species and their environments.

The course is underpinned by the applied research expertise of the teaching team in applied ecology, including conservation of species in the wild and in captivity, biotic responses to climate change, avian and mammal biology, insect behaviour and evolution, non-native species introductions, population and community ecology, and environmental biology. An additional theme of citizen science develops awareness of the role of public engagement in surveying and conserving species in their environment.

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You study biodiversity conservation as applied ecology in the context of land use - agriculture, forestry and amenity. Focusing on wildlife conservation in the UK and Europe, you develop practical skills in plant identification and habitat assessment from a wide range of upland and lowland areas. Read more
You study biodiversity conservation as applied ecology in the context of land use - agriculture, forestry and amenity. Focusing on wildlife conservation in the UK and Europe, you develop practical skills in plant identification and habitat assessment from a wide range of upland and lowland areas.

Your studies focus on wildlife conservation with a particular emphasis on agriculture, forestry and amenity. Elements of the course have strong links with national, statutory and non-governmental conservation organisations. Practical management skills are gained through involvement in management problems on nature reserves and field courses that provide experience in species identification.

The course has compulsory and optional modules, giving you the opportunity to tailor your studies to your personal interests. Through the compulsory modules you will develop knowledge and skills in core concepts such as:
-Understanding the range of temperate zone ecosystems and wildlife species
-Developing a critical awareness of contemporary conservation issues and research insights
-Understanding scientific survey, habitat assessment and experimental techniques and the ability to identify common species from selected habitats
-The development of effective management plans for species and ecosystems
-Understanding complex biodiversity and ecosystem management issues
-Advanced knowledge and understanding of the influence of environmental, management and land-use factors on ecosystems and wildlife species

You also undertake a major conservation project and are supported through training in designing and delivering a project based on a laboratory or field-based investigation. After choosing your topic you collect, analyse and interpret data to produce a thesis.

Our staff

You benefit from being taught by lecturers who are industry experienced and research active. Our research in integrated agricultural production focuses on soil science, plant science and ecology, spanning a range of scales from: pot – plot – farm – landscape.
Strategic research embraces work on:
-Soil quality
-Rhizosphere function
-Plant-soil feedback
-Soil-carbon dynamics
-Nutrient cycling

Applied research addresses issues of:
-Climate change mitigation (including biofuels)
-Ecological (organic) farming systems
-Low-input crop systems
-Agriculture-environment interactions

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The current environmental changes affect both natural ecosystems and civil societies. Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems, which are affected by climatic and non-climatic drivers (e.g., changes in human society). Read more
The current environmental changes affect both natural ecosystems and civil societies. Global change refers to planetary-scale changes occurring in complex socio-ecological systems, which are affected by climatic and non-climatic drivers (e.g., changes in human society). Understanding the intricate, medium- to long-term changes in our land, air and water requires advanced scientific knowledge in measurement, modelling and prediction.

This joint international MSc course between the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and Justus-Liebig University (JLU) Giessen, Germany is the response to these global change challenges and will suit skilled motivated science graduates wishing to develop a scientific career in ecosystem research as well as those aiming to contribute to evidence-based environmental policy.

You will be involved in active research groups in both countries, contributing to their ongoing ecosystem studies in order to experience the process of creating scientific knowledge in ecosystem science. In addition to acquiring skills in measuring, analysing and understanding what is behind scientific data you will have the opportunity to develop your analytical, presentation and communication skills to enable you to participate in the policy making process.

Key Fact

Graduates will receive a joint international degree from two well-established universities combining their complementary and multidisciplinary research profiles and cutting-edge expertise. Through the 6-8 weeks work placement in in a company or institution of your choice, you will acquire transferable skills which will make you a sought after and effective employee.

Course Content and Structure

This is a 120 CP programme comprising 70 CP of taught modules, 20CP of work placement and 20 CP of independent research project. The first semester is based at UCD, Dublin, followed by a 6-8 week work placement in a company or institution of your choice. We have established links with organisations such as FAO, UNFCCC, ISEO, EFI, ICLEI and NOAA as well as European and national EPA agencies and many research institutes.
The second taught semester is based in JLU, Giessen between March and August and the third semester (Sept-Dec) is devoted entirely to the individual research project, which can be undertaken in either UCD, JLU or another approved research institute.
Samples of topics include:

• Global change (soil, air, water): modelling and advanced techniques
• Science and policy
• Research in ecology
• Environmental law and policy
• Man in past climates
• Policy consultancy
• Plant-soil-atmosphere interactions
• Biodiversity informatics
• Data analysis and interpretation
• Economics and environmental management
• Environmental impact assessment


For more information on module description and available scholarships, visit http://globalchange.ucd.ie/

Career Opportunities

Graduates may pursue roles as policy advisers, scientific analysts or researchers in government, international organisations, NGOs, research institutes or consulting companies. There are also many opportunities for further studies. The skills you acquire, particularly through the completion of the minor thesis within a 4 month period, provide a strong foundation for PhD research.

Prospective employers include the national Environmental Protection Agency, governmental departments, European Commission as well as policy consultancy firms such as European Environment Agency and also international organisations (e.g. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; United Nations Environment Programme; Food and Agriculture Organisation; International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

Facilities and Resources

• A climate change station at JLU hosts one of the world longest-running Free Air Carbon dioxide (FACE) experiments.
• The Program for Experimental Atmospheres and Climate (PEAC) at UCD is a state-of-the art plant growth room facility to investigate past and future climatic scenarios.
• The UCD Earth Institute is a centre for resource and environment research aimed at leading Ireland’s response to climate change and the global energy crisis.

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The need for sustainable development is a global concern. This flexible Masters degree prepares you to address the challenges faced in safeguarding the planet’s ecosystems in a fast developing world. Read more

The need for sustainable development is a global concern. This flexible Masters degree prepares you to address the challenges faced in safeguarding the planet’s ecosystems in a fast developing world.

This programme is ideal if you want a career in the environmental field, in the private, public, or not-for-profit sectors. It can be taken as an MA or MSc depending on your dissertation topic.

You will be based within one of the largest groups of environmental scientists in the UK and will be taught by world-leading researchers from our three internationally-renowned partner organisations: Lancaster Environment Centre, Rothamsted Research and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, which has a government laboratory at Lancaster. Their expertise spans a wide range of disciplines in the natural and social sciences including the sustainable use of resources, food security, energy, water and soil science, political ecology and environmental pollution.

You will complete six taught modules and a dissertation research project, with individual supervision from a research active expert. We offer great flexibility with over 40 modules to choose from, spanning the natural and social sciences from sustainable soil management and conservation biology to environmental law and globalisation. This enables you to construct a degree that fits your interests and career ambitions and to put your learning in a wider cultural context.

You will gain a solid foundation in the key theoretical issues around environment and development. You will apply this learning to real-world problems and gain the practical problem solving skills valued by employers. Hands-on experience in the laboratory is complemented by field work opportunities in the beautiful and topographically varied countryside around Lancaster and internationally. There are also opportunities to gain work experience through one of our many business and research partners.

Your dissertation forms a substantial part of your Masters degree and will enhance your practical and analytical skills and give you the opportunity to apply your learning to a rea- world challenge. Our many research projects and partners across the globe provide exciting fieldwork opportunities when you are choosing your dissertation subject.

Examples of previous dissertation topics are:

  • Quantifying Biological Control in Arable Crops
  • Amending DECC 2050 Pathways to Include Hydrogen for Energy Storage in Suitable Applications
  • Solar Parks to Double Crop Food and Energy from the Same Land?
  • The Role of Ecosystem Service Concepts in Reconnecting or Disconnecting People from Nature
  • Spatial Heterogeneity in the Size-Structure of the Zooplankton Community of a Eutrophic Lake
  • Waste Water Treatment in Vegetable Processing - New Technologies in Reducing Chemical Demands Used in Treating Portable Water
  • Spent Coffee Grounds as an Alternative Energy Feedstock for Biodiesel Production
  • Urban Poverty and Climate Change


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Several agencies at a national and international level are required to manage our environment sustainably by implementing policy and legislation. Read more
Several agencies at a national and international level are required to manage our environment sustainably by implementing policy and legislation. The study of Applied Environmental Science is critical for establishing policies in environmental assessment, evaluating potential change in environmental quality in response to various land use and other activities, and in the development of management and conservation strategies, as well as contributing to policy formulation.

This programme provides graduates with a thorough knowledge of Environmental Science and there is a heavy emphasis on practical training in fieldwork, laboratory analyses, information sourcing, data analysis,planning, reporting and communication. You will work with an interdisciplinary team of experts covering the key aspects of Environmental Science, encompassing marine, freshwater and terrestrial systems, to make this an exceptionally practical multidisciplinary programme.

Key Fact

This Applied Environmental Science course has been running for over 20 years, it’s the only such MSc in Ireland to include a major input from civil engineering, relating particularly to water quality, hydrology and waste treatment processes. This MSc also offers a 2 month work placement in the environmental sector providing relevant work experience.

Core Modules

Samples of modules include:
• Water Resources Engineering
• Vegetation Ecology
• Environmental Impact Assessment
• Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Data Analyses
• Freshwater Resources Assessment
• Remote Sensing
• Global Change Ecology
• Ecological Modelling
• Wildlife & Resources Management
• Integrated Municipal Solid Waste
• Marine/Coastal Ecology
• Soil Ecology
• Water, Waste & Environment Modelling
• Environmental Geology
• Ecotoxicology & Air Quality Monitoring


The course gives due consideration to key legislative requirements and policy developments. Modules and topics shown are subject to change and are not guaranteed by UCD.

Career Opportunities

Our graduates are building successful varied careers in environmental resources assessment, management and protection. A considerable number have been employed in consultancy positions and some are also with the Inland Fisheries Ireland, the Department of the Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some graduates have also continued their studies at PhD level in the areas of fisheries, biomass fuels, soil, water engineering and invertebrate ecology.

Facilities and Resources

The School of Biology and Environmental Science has 14 state-of the-art research laboratories that are equipped to support a very wide range of research activities at the cellular or whole organism level. The UCD Rosemount Environmental Research Station can also support glasshouse or field-based experiments.

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