Agriculture plays a critical role in poverty reduction by providing food, raw materials, employment, and ecosystem services. However, its ability to do this is threatened by demands from rising populations, stagnant yields, and increasing pressures on natural resources. Improving sustainable agricultural productivity and secure and equitable access to food has become a major global challenge.
This course provides students with the essential tools required for theoretical and empirical economic analysis, particularly in relation to the renewable natural resources sector. It aims to equip students with the rigorous technical skills that are generic to the field of agricultural economics, while maintaining a focus on applications rather than abstract analysis. Students are able to take modules orientated towards development, production, marketing, policy, and economic transition. The course is designed for those who wish to pursue a career as an agricultural economist or to undertake higher studies within this area.
* including one free choice from across all programmes (subject to approval on the Programme Convenor)
- either Economic Principles or Economics and Institutions for Development [the chosen module must be taken in the first year] - Agricultural Policy and Trade - Food Security and Social Protection - Political Economy of Public Policy
- Applied Econometrics - Climate Change and Development - Natural Resource Economics - Project Planning and Management - Rural Development - Rural Finance - Sustainable Land Management - Understanding Poverty (subject to approval by the Programme Convenor) - Water Resources Management - One module selected from another programme, with the approval of the Programme Convenor
- Dissertation - Research Methods
Strengthening quantitative skills: It is recommended that students whose basic quantitative analysis skills are weak should also take a non-examined module:Quantitative methods (CF04) at or near the start of their studies. Study materials may be obtained from CeDEP’s online learning environment.
Teaching & Learning
1. Academic level
All CeDEP programmes are taught to Master’s (Second Cycle) level, which involves building upon existing knowledge and understanding typically associated with the Bachelor’s (First Cycle) level or its equivalent. Study at Master’s level requires:
- originality in developing and/or applying ideas, and extending or enhancing previous learning
- application of knowledge and understanding, including problem solving in new or unfamiliar environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts
- integration of knowledge and handling of complexity
- formulating judgements with incomplete or limited information, including reflection on social and ethical responsibilities
- clear and unambiguous communication of conclusions, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences
- learning skills to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed or autonomous
Prospective students should note that distance education of this kind demands a high degree of commitment, determination and self-discipline. Whilst CeDEP provides significant support through the tutorial system and by other means, students taking on programmes of this nature should possess a strong measure of self-reliance.
2. Study Expectations
- How long will it take?: For students in full time employment, the MSc and Postgraduate Diploma, usually take three or four years to complete and the Certificate 2 years.
- When can I study? You can begin your studies in either February or June. The examinations for all students are in October. The study periods are 30 weeks for students starting in February and 15 weeks for those starting in June.
- How many hours a week? For the 30 week study period starting in February, you will need to allocate 5–6 hours of study time per module, per week. For students starting their studies in June with the shorter 15 week session, 10–12 hours per module, per week is recommended.
- How many modules can I take per study year? We strongly recommend that students should take only one or two modules in their first year, so that they can adjust to studying at a distance, whilst combining this with work and family life.
Students wishing to complete an MSc in two years they will need to enrol/pay for four core modules and both Research Methods and the Dissertation in the first year although the Dissertation is written and submitted in the second year. Please contact your programme convenor by email.
- How you will be assessed For each module you will sit a two-hour unseen examination held on a specific date in October, worth 80% of your total module mark. There is also an Examined Assignment (worth 20% of the total module mark) which is submitted during the study year and marked by your tutor.
- Examination arrangements Examinations are held in students’ countries of residence, using the University of London’s network of approved Overseas Examination Authorities. Fees for taking examinations at all examination centres other than London are the responsibility of the student.
Assignments are submitted to CeDEP electronically via the online learning environment.
- Assessment of the Research Component The Research Methods module (P506) and the Dissertation (P541) are not assessed through final written examinations. These two modules constitute the Research Component of an MSc and are assessed entirely by submitted coursework.
4. Research Component
In order to qualify for an MSc, it is mandatory for CeDEP students to pass the Research Component.
The Research Component comprises two of the nine modules necessary for completion of an MSc. These are a Research Methods module (P506) and the Dissertation (P541). The modules are assessed as follows:
- P506 through two examined assignments submitted during the study year - P541 through a 10,000 word dissertation
The Research Component is studied over two consecutive years. The Research Methods module (P506) must be studied and successfully passed before the Dissertation module (P541). This is because it provides skills and techniques which will assist with the subsequent development and conduct of your research and preparation of your dissertation. Students are required to enrol and pay for P506 and P541 at the same time.
The dissertation is usually carried out during the final year of registration with CeDEP. Students conduct desk- or field-based research in a relevant topic of their choice. All research topics are subject to approval and each student is assigned a personal supervisor. Background reading and preparation of the proposal take place between the October exams and commencement of the final study year in February.
Typically, graduates of this programme will find work as applied economists in the following fields:
- government ministries undertaking work in agricultural policy analysis - public and private sector companies involved in upstream and downstream agricultural industries - international and non-governmental organisations concerned with the economic analysis of agricultural sector issues - applied research and teaching in institutions of research and higher education