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Agriculture and Development - MSc

Course Description

This course critically examines the role of agriculture (including horticulture) and agricultural research in addressing the major challenges and opportunities related to agricultural intensification and environmental sustainability in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the developing world. A flexible course is offered, including a horticulture pathway. The course explains the roles of agriculture and horticulture in development and the different biophysical, economic and social environments in which they are practised.

Recent research developments and innovative practices in response to challenges such as poverty, climate change and environmental sustainability are elaborated upon and supported by field visits. The factors that influence and enhance the relevance, quality and impact of research and farmer innovation processes are described.

Graduates are well suited to working along the research to-development continuum – whether in research, extension or development, within international and national institutions.


Sample modules:
-Rethinking agricultural development (including horticulture): implementing solutions
-Agriculture in the tropics
-Experimental agriculture/horticulture
Please note that all modules are subject to change.


Our programmes are excellent preparation for careers in international and rural development, agricultural economics, and marketing within the food chain and policy. Some 96% of our graduates are in work or further study six months after graduating.
Engagement with a wide variety of visiting speakers and field trips provides many opportunities for networking. In addition, competitive internships and placements, and research dissertations are an opportunity to showcase your skills, undertake overseas field research or link with organisations in the development sector. For examples of organisations our graduates go on to, please visit: http://www.reading.ac.uk/giidae

Visit the Agriculture and Development - MSc page on the University of Reading website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Claire Hancock

My year at the University of Reading studying Agriculture and Development was invaluable in helping me develop my career in the development sector. The module options enabled a flexibility of combinations and allowed one to pursue their own individual interests within a well-structured framework which included essential core development topics. The dissertation option was an important 'taster' in agricultural research under the guidance of experienced staff.

The international, multi-aged community of staff and students in the Graduate Institute facilitated the informal sharing of knowledge, experience and brought much of the course material to life. Now being based in Africa in the agriculture department of an international NGO I am able to use the knowledge and expertise learnt at Reading to work in a more practical way with local farmers and grassroots organisations.

Claire is currently working in Tanzania for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) .

(Student Profile)

George Ameyaw

When I started work as a Research Scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, I began to search for the best way to develop my agricultural research career. I thus started to search for a University with a good track record on tropical crops with good emphasis on agricultural research relevant to development. I found the modules of the MSc programme in Agriculture and Development run by the University of Reading as the most suitable to my needs and aspirations.

I thus applied and was offered a place on the programme with sponsorship from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and my employers. The programme really offered me the opportunity to have a thorough understating of agricultural production and provided me an insight into some crop protection techniques and methodologies. The programme also broadened my thinking on economics of agricultural production and the role of agricultural research in national development. I also had the opportunity to meet and learn from other students with diverse nationalities and cultures who were in the Graduate Institute.

George is studying for a PhD on cocoa at the University of Reading.

(Student Profile)

Amin Abdulkadir

I had a little knowledge in Agriculture and Development prior to visiting Reading as a student. However, the diversity and international mix of courses I studied upgraded my knowledge and skill in tropical agriculture and made me think afresh about agricultural development. Above all, I gained critical understanding on different perspectives of development which are pertinent and are really helping me in my current post. The life and academic experience I acquired from the variety of students at Reading made me judge Reading as a window to look to the outside world, and that is a treasured feature I still value. When I think about Reading, I just think about the friendly students and staff. All these and other facts about Reading keep me being an ambassador of the University.

Amin is Deputy Head in Afar Regional Government Agricultural and Pastoral Development Bureau in Ethiopia.

(Student Profile)

Stephen Waldron

After 25 years practicing as an architect and project manager, and after an in- country contract managing the rebuilding of Bam, Iran after the 26/12/03 earthquake, I wanted to combine design and agriculture in a new career in overseas development. Various people from around the world recommended the University of Reading and I completed an MSc in Agriculture and Development in 2005.

It was the best year of my life; the campus was beautiful and relaxing, the University well-managed, the Faculty building new, attractive and well equipped. The range of nationalities of students was extraordinary and the quality of visiting speakers through the year provoked real debate. Most importantly the tutors were all practitioners with a wealth of knowledge in their field, and involved in ongoing overseas projects.

The course structure, with a huge variety of modules, enabled me to mix a cocktail that was perfect for me, and I was given personal introductions by staff which enabled me to carry out my dissertation in a 'cutting-edge' development project in India.

On the back of the qualification I was asked to head up the development of the first HIV+ orphan 'village' in Uganda ('Cherish Uganda': www.cherishuganda.org) where I and my wife now live and work.This involves developing an organic, sustainable demonstration farm providing excellent nutrition for the children, generating a project cross-subsidy through commercial sales and simple food-processing, and training and upskilling Ugandans in low-input farming. The project is poised to be the leading pig-production training base in the local area. At the same time I am designing and constructing sustainable, eco-friendly housing, school, farm, and admin facilities, working closely with over 40 people in a local-labour initiative I have set up, and establishing a village-based co-operative focussed on farming initiatives.

It is due in no small measure to the encouragement and envisioning I obtained in the TAD course at Reading that I felt confident and able to take on so much and to have accomplished so much in one year from a standing start. I have never felt so fulfilled in my life.

(Student Profile)

Rosa Palli

'Studying at GIIDAE is a unique experience to thrive in a completely mulitcultural environment and an extremely enriching opportunity to learn from people all from all over the world.'


Entry Requirements

You are normally required to have a good first or second class honours degree (or equivalent from a university outside the UK). An intermediate knowledge of microeconomics and quantitative methods is generally required, but strong applicants with little or no prior training in economics may be admitted provided they attend a pre-sessional course. IELTS: 6.5 overall with no element less than 5.5 (or equivalent).

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