Course Overview

The Structured MSc by Research (AgriBiosciences) program associated with the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) at NUI Galway will provide relevant, hands-on training to graduates who wish to specialise in agri- and agrifood related research and innovation. The purpose of the programme is to provide these graduates with a broad inter-disciplinary understanding of the agricultural and agri-food sector from which key research skills and practical experiences tailored to each student will be built. 

Integral to this 1 year structured MSc programme is a seven-month research internship placement in Teagasc, in NUI Galway, or in a cutting edge agri-business. The program endeavours to lever paid internships for each student.

The placements offer students the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to work within a research and innovation setting aligned to their interests and expertise, to develop a research project of relevance to the host entity, and to draft an associated MSc (AgriBiosciences) thesis, whilst simultaneously positioning the student for excellent employment opportunities in industry and research. 

The taught component of the MscAgriBiosciences consists of 20 ECTS of core cutting-edge modules relating to the agriculture and agrifood sector which have been developed by the multi-disciplinary experts in the PABC and its associated partners (e.g., Teagasc). In addition, the student can take an additional 10ECTS of optional Graduate studies modules according to their interests. 

The MSc (AgriBiosciences) is structured in a manner that can allow for those already employed in companies in the agri or agri-food sector to engage in the MSc program, while conducting their MSc(AgriBiosciences) research and innovation project in their company. 

Integral to the Level 9 MSc (AgriBiosciences) is development of the student’s ability to work professionally within a research and innovation setting by performing a research project based in one of the research groups or partner organisations in the PABC.               

Specific aims of the MSc (AgriBiosciences) programme are:

  • To provide Level 8 students from different backgrounds with a broad and in-depth understanding of agribiosciences innovation relevant to agrifood systems and challenges.                      
  • To provide multi-disciplinary knowledge in classical and state-of-the-art research technologies and techniques applied in the agri-biosciences areas.
  • To provide multi-disciplinary training in research skills at basic and advanced levels by introducing students to a research environment. 
  • To foster technical competencies and critical thinking abilities, and the ability to work towards research outputs. 
  • To prepare graduates for more effective implementation of subsequent PhD research programmes leading to completion times less than four years. 
  • To equip students for entry into the workplace, especially in the growing agribiosciences and agrifood sectors in Ireland and internationally. 

This is a modular course with a blend of 30 ECTS taught elements that provides a broad foundation of advanced knowledge of AgriBiosciences (Semester 1) and a 60 ECTS research project (Semester 2 & 3) to allow sufficient time for students to gain in-depth exposure to research and innovation. 

Taught component (30 ECTS): The four core modules of the MSc (AgriBiosciences) are weighted at 5 ECTS and consist of:

 (1) Understanding Ireland’s Agriculture & AgriFood Sector 

 (2) AgriFood Sustainability & Agri-Resilience Challenges 

 (3) Understanding AgriBusiness & AgriFood Market Trends 

 (4) AgriFood Career, Communication & Impact Pathway Skills 

The MSc (AgriBiosciences) course material is delivered using a blended learning format (combination of face-to-face/traditional-format lectures, tutorials, self-directed learning and assignments) that not only delivers the information the students have to master, but also train students in how to perform independent research which can be placed in the broader context agri-and agri-food sector impacts.

Site visits to agri research and innovation enterprises and institutions form an important element of the Msc (AgriBiosciences) training.

Research component (60 ECTS): The research project is tailored to the students educational background and interests, and is performed in one of the research group of the multi-disciplinary PABC or partner institution Teagasc, or a host commercial enterprise. Each MScAgriBiosciences Research Masters thesis is examined by an Internal and External examiner, as per the University Guidelines for Research Degree Programmes. The research project will provide research skills ranging from state-of-the-art technologies through data interpretation to experimental design and data presentation. Opportunities for multi-disciplinary projects with co-supervision, including with industry, are encouraged. 

An assessment of the progress of each student will be performed by the their respective Graduate Research Committee at the end of Semester 2. Progression to Semester 3 will depend upon satisfactory completion of this assessment although students wishing to exit after partial completion of the course (e.g., as a Diploma) will be facilitated to do so.  

Towards the end of Semester 3 (after concluding their research project) the students write their MSc (AgriBiosciences) thesis. In total, across Semesters 2 and 3 students will carry out a full time research project over 2x15 weeks (2x30 ECTS). The thesis will be guided and marked by the research project-leading PI  from NUI Galway and a second PABC staff member. An external examiner from a leading international agribiosciences institution is responsible for examination, oversight and guidance of the MSc (AgriBiosciences), as per the University Guidelines for Research Degree Programmes.

Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Programmes Available

Structured Masters by Research (full-time: 1 year duration; part-time: 2 years duration)
Applications are made online via the NUI Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Associated

Learning Outcomes

Entry Requirements

Important Note: Applicants should follow the procedures described on master-act.eu before beginning their application.

Requirements for entry are:

  • Bachelor of Sciences or equivalent in agri-related sciences, or a BA in Social Sciences with a particular experience in agriculture;
  • Excellent academic background (first class or 2.1 honours degree required);
  • IELTS 6.5 (non-native speakers of English);
  • A cover letter and letters from at least two referees.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Current research projects

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Current funded research opportunity

Work Placement

Related Student Organisations

Career Opportunities

Find a Supervisor / PhD Project

If you are still looking for a potential supervisor or PhD project or would like to identify the key research interests of our academic staff and researchers, you can use our online portal to help in that search

Course Outline

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

Credits
You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
Module
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Optional
A module you may choose to study.
Required
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Semester
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year.

Year 1 (90 Credits)

Required PAB5118: PAB5118 - AgriBiosciences Research Project


12 months long | Credits: 60

The Research Thesis in AgriBiosciences is undertaken under the supervision of a member of PABC, or any partner institute. The student implements, writes up and presents a Masters Thesis of publication quality in an area relevant to the AgriBiosciences.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. To complete a major research Thesis in an area of interest for the AgriBiosciences to publication standard.
  2. To make a presentation of the findings of the research Thesis.
Assessments
  • Oral, Audio Visual or Practical Assessment (10%)
  • Research (90%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module PAB5118: "PAB5118 - AgriBiosciences Research Project" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required PAB5114: AgriFood Career, Communication & Impact Pathway Skills


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 5

This module will allow students to understand, develop and more effectively communicate impact pathways from agrifood research and innovation activities. Students will be trained in agrifood career development skills including CV development, effective networking and science communication strategies to improve career prospects. Students will be provided with the skills to analyse and determine skillgaps and emerging employment opportunities in the agrifood sector, and will have opportunity to engage with agrifood employers across the private, public and NGO sectors so that they can better match skills and capabilities to emergent career opportunities and trends. In addition, students will be provided with both business and social entrepreneurship perspectives relating to both agriculture and agrifood systems. Students will be trained in identifying how they can gain critical research skills including the need for statistical and programming expertise (e.g. R programming) across multiple discplines. Finally, students will be provided with training in evidence-based agrifood science communication via different communication (including IT-based) channels and how to develop scientific publication quality Figures and Tables for agrifood scientific publishing. For their assessment, the students will produce either i) a literature review related to their subject area, in a topic developed in conjunction with their PhD supervisor, to form the basis of a review publication in a specified journal; or ii) a detailed plan for communicating the relevance of their research to a specified group of the non-academic public (e.g. policy makers, farmers, food retailers, journalists). Students will be provided with training: how to write an academic conference abstract; how to draft a press release; how to identify suitable literature and resources for enhancing their own academic and career performance; how to prepare figures and present data (including the use of statistical and graphical packages); and how to develop a public engagement plan in an agricultural or agribiosciences area (5x each of 2 hours duration). Training will be delivered by members of the PABC, Teagasc scientists, PABC partner organisation representatives.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Develop an impact pathway for their agri-related research project activity
  2. Develop a 5 year career plan with milestones
  3. Articulate a communication strategy and plan for their research
  4. Produce a correctly referenced work which will enable them to communicate the importance of their research to a specified audience
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module PAB5114: "AgriFood Career, Communication & Impact Pathway Skills" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required PAB5115: AgriFood Sustainability & Agri-Resilience Challenges


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 5

The module will provide researchers with an understanding of the major sustainability and resilience challenges facing agriculture and agrifood systems in Ireland and internationally (including in developing and rapidly growing economies). The module will provide students with a cutting-edge understanding of major planetary boundaries relating to agriculture, and their inter-relationships with agriculture, diets, public health, food systems, markets and value chains. In the context of the development of future agricultural and agrifood systems in Ireland, students will gain an understanding of different scenarios and trajectories for agriculture and agrifood systems. Students will be required to identify emerging areas for disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research that can improve prospects for addressing sustainability and resilience challenges facing agriculture and agrifood systems in Ireland and internationally.The module will be taught in conjunction with experts from Teagasc and other partner organisations of the PABC, and will include lectures/seminars from leading international experts. The module will include field course visits to agricultural sustainability initiatives, including value chain and business models that have a substantial agrifood sustainability component. This course is examined by the production of (i) an interactive learning journal, hosted via Blackboard, in which students will reflect upon each of the taught sessions and assigned elements of the literature; (ii) participation in a Class Excite “Elevator Pitch” workshop in which each student will present a case-study of an environmental mitigation strategy.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Describe the major sustainability and resilience challenges facing the agriculture and agrifood sector globally
  2. Describe the major sustainability and resilience challenges facing the agriculture and agrifood sector in Ireland
  3. Identify research priorities and opportunities for improving sustainability and resilience of agriculture and agrifood systems
  4. Have an improved understanding how different research skills and inter-disciplinary approaches can develop and deliver agri-sustainability innovations
  5. Suggest strategies for improving the sustainability and resilience potential of agricultural and agri-food activities related to their own research area/topic
  6. Communicate in an Elevator Pitch format how their research topic can be relevant to agriculture and agrifood sustainability
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (50%)
  • Oral, Audio Visual or Practical Assessment (50%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module PAB5115: "AgriFood Sustainability & Agri-Resilience Challenges" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required PAB5116: Understanding AgriBusiness & AgriFood Market Trends


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 5

This module will provide research students with an improved understanding of agribusiness structures and dynamics, in Ireland and internationally. The student will gain insights into agri-economics, agri-business, and agri-market trends. Particular focus will be placed on understanding value chains and the role of research and innovations in driving change, economic and commercial benefits for value-chain stakeholders. Students be provided with insights into food systems and geospatial, material and environmental footprint dimensions of agrifood systems. The module will also provide insights into social, demographic, behavioural and gender dimensions of agriculture and agrifood systems, particular in relation to agrifood systems generating both social and economic impacts in Ireland and internationally. The module will be taught by NUI Galway PABC members in conjunction with experts from Teagasc and other partner organisations of the PABC, and will include lectures/seminars from leading international experts. The module will involve a field study visit to the Teagasc Rural and Economy Centre in Athenry. During the course, students will maintain a Blackboard journal in which they record their experiences and are encourage to reflect on how the topics relate to the future impacts of their own research; an overview of this process will be included in the first taught session. The final assessment of the course is via a ‘business elevator pitch’ to a judging jury in which the student presents how an idea developed during a research program (related to their own project, where applicable) could be used to develop a new product, service or market opportunity.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Summarise the dynamics of national and international agrifood markets and trends
  2. Understand the basic components for developing an agri-business plan
  3. Identify new export markets for agricultural and food products or services
  4. Develop and present a business plan for exploitation of an international market
  5. Appreciate the contribution of different disciplines and research approaches for developing and implementing a business plan for an agrifood product or service
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (50%)
  • Oral, Audio Visual or Practical Assessment (50%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module PAB5116: "Understanding AgriBusiness & AgriFood Market Trends" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Required PAB5117: Understanding Ireland’s Agriculture & AgriFood Sector


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 5

The module is designed to allow postgraduate students working on an agri or agrifood related topics to contextualise their research within the broader context of agriculture and the agrifood sector in Ireland. Students will be enabled to understand the origins of the Irish agriculture and agrifood sectors, current status, challenges and opportunities of national and international relevance. The module will be of particular relevance to PhD and Masters degree students within the Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Centre, Teagasc Walsh Fellows in NUI Galway and other universities, and in general any research students seeking to contextualise their research through improved understanding of Ireland agriculture and agrifood systems. The module will be taught in conjunction with experts from Teagasc and other partner organisations of the PABC, and will include lectures/seminars from leading international experts. The course will provide an overview of the origins of Irish agriculture, its place in local, national and European context, the policy which regulates it and how research in related areas contributes to its continued sustainable development. Students will augment their learning experience with a visit to a local farming enterprise and interaction with the agricultural community. Students will conclude the module by making a presentation of a topic of relevance to Irish agriculture; and by writing a report that describes how their own area of Thesis research relates to the wider context of the field. This report will be of written following the guidelines for Thesis preparation (including referencing), to ensure that it can be adapted as a component of the introductory chapter of the student’s Thesis. Successful completion of the module will depend upon satisfactory performance in both elements of the assessment.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Summarise the main factors which have affected the development of agriculture in Ireland
  2. Explain the linkages between agri-related research across different research areas;
  3. Identify priority and opportunity areas in which research can assist the development of Irish agriculture and agrifood systems;
  4. Write a report placing their own research topic in the broader context of Irish agriculture and agrifood systems;
  5. Demonstrate an improved ability to make oral and written communications of their research topic in context of Irish agriculture and agrifood systems;
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module PAB5117: "Understanding Ireland’s Agriculture & AgriFood Sector" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional GS509: Participation in Workshops/Courses


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 5

The student should only register for this module in the academic year that they intend to complete the module. Students may have the opportunity to attend workshops or courses, provided by this university or externally, during their research programme. This module aims to give students the opportunity to further their learning on specific research skills/methodologies or in specific research areas by participating in such workshops or courses. Students are expected to prepare in advance of attending the workshop or course by, for example, reading the prescribed reading material. It is expected that students will attend and actively participate in the workshop/course. On completion of the workshop/course the student will be required to demonstrate their new research skills. Students should write a report on the workshop/course. Specifically the relevance of the new research skills or further research knowledge acquired to the student’s research project should be included in this report. The supervisor will review this report and provide feedback to the student. It is expected that students will discuss with their supervisor (and other research team members) what they learned on the workshop/course. A reflective journal should also be maintained by the student to record the student’s learning experience on this module.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Be proficient in a research skill or describe further research knowledge.
  2. Apply workshop-acquired research skills or course-acquired further knowledge to their own research.
  3. Write a comprehensive report on the workshop/course.
Assessments
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module GS509: "Participation in Workshops/Courses" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional GS505: Graduate Research Skills


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 5

The student should only register for this module in the academic year that they intend to complete the module. This module aims to enable students to develop and acquire a range of generic and discipline specific research skills and methodological expertise and to gain an understanding of their practical application to the research process in order to successfully complete postgraduate research. Students are required to attend a ‘Getting Started on Your PhD’ workshop - this half-day workshop to be provided by the student’s School. Students are expected to undertake independent research activities and to develop their research skills, aided by their research supervisor and other research team members. Students may avail of a suite of online training materials to augment this research skills training (detailed in Resources section). Student’s research activities must be recorded in a properly notarised notebook and reported on regularly to their supervisor and Graduate Research Committee. Reports should also include future research strategies and refer to the further research expertise to be developed. Students are also required to present their research (by oral and/or poster presentation) to a peer audience in their discipline, School or College.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate the ability to identify, critically evaluate and access the requisite specialised skills, technical training, and specialised diagnostic or other equipment required to carry out their research project.
  2. Maintain a notarised notebook as a record of their original contributions to research.
  3. Write regular comprehensive reports of their research activities.
  4. Plan detailed strategies for the succeeding phases of the research.
  5. Communicate their research findings to a local audience by oral or poster presentation.
Assessments
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module GS505: "Graduate Research Skills" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional GS530: Graduate Research Information Skills


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 5

This module aims to enable students to develop and acquire a range of generic research skills and gain an understanding of their practical application to the research process, in order to help them successfully complete fourth level research. The module will be delivered in the 1st semester and delivery will incorporate a blended learning approach including participant attendance at face-to-face workshops and the use of supporting online courseware available via Blackboard.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Reflect on how to identify, access and critically evaluate appropriate information resources relevant to their discipline
  2. Demonstrate the use of practical skills in the effective management of their research information
  3. Reflect on ways to keep up-to-date with new information quickly and conveniently
  4. Understand the scholarly communications and publications processes with a view to informing their publication strategy
Assessments
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module GS530: "Graduate Research Information Skills" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional GS508: Formulating a Research Project Proposal


Semester 1 and Semester 2 | Credits: 5

The student should only register for this module in the academic year that they intend to complete the module. In this module students will develop and present a detailed research project proposal which may form the basis, in whole or in part, for their PhD research project or for a postdoctoral fellowship application. The student will read and critically analyse the relevant literature thoroughly to acquire a detailed knowledge of the state of the art. The student will identify a significant research question. The proposal will include the research question to be addressed and explain why it is important, the methodological approach and the expected findings. A research project plan should form part of the proposal. The expected impact must also be included. Students will be expected to consult with others, including their supervisor, and seek feedback on how to improve the research proposal. The research proposal will be presented in written format. Students will also be expected to present the research proposal orally and to make a convincing case for the research to be undertaken.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Read and critically evaluate relevant literature.
  2. Identify a significant research question.
  3. Research and formulate a detailed research proposal and plan.
  4. Improve a research proposal in response to feedback received.
  5. Present a research proposal in writing.
  6. Convince an audience of the merits of a proposed research project.
Assessments
  • Department-based Assessment (100%)
Teachers
The above information outlines module GS508: "Formulating a Research Project Proposal" and is valid from 2016 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Optional PAB5112: CCAFS Research Skills & Techniques


Semester 2 | Credits: 5

This module aims to formally introduce MSc CCAFS trainees to the research process regarding CCAFS, including theory, critical thinking and provide an overview of methodologies and methods associated with carrying out independent research or research within a team. This module is designed to provide a basic understanding of the scientific research process and how to identify quality research that is robust and reliable.
(Language of instruction: English)

Learning Outcomes
  1. Provide an overview of the research process in relation to climate change, agriculture and food security
  2. State clearly their research problem and associated research questions arising, including both descriptive and either explanatory or exploratory questions
  3. Conduct a preliminary literature review of the concepts comprising the research questions
  4. Set out clearly a series of theoretical propositions for testing and demonstrate clearly how they arise from the literature review
  5. Set out the main elements of a potential research instrument for testing the hypotheses
  6. Develop skills for how to classify, analyse, interpret and present quantitative and qualitative data
Assessments
  • Continuous Assessment (100%)
Teachers
Reading List
  1. "Research methods for Science" by Marder, M.
    Publisher: Cambridge Press.
  2. "Research Methodology-An Introduction." by Goddard, W., and Melville, S.,
    Publisher: Juta & Co. Ltd.
  3. "Media and Communication Research Methods." by Berger,A.
The above information outlines module PAB5112: "CCAFS Research Skills & Techniques" and is valid from 2018 onwards.
Note: Module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Research Areas

The Plant and Agricultural Biosciences Centre comprises a range of inter-linked and synergistic research themes, where research projects and initiatives are currently underway. Students taking the Structured PhD in Plant & AgriBiosciences will be able to conduct their research with research groups of PABC and collaborating institutions. 

Researcher Profiles

The MSc AgriBiosciences program is taught by research specialists from the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre, Teagasc and affiliated partner organisayions . A full list can be found at:  http://www.plantagbiosciences.org/content/principal-investigators-research-groups.

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,815 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Non EU

€14,750 p.a. 2018/19

Contact Us

Prof. Charles Spillane & Dr. Galina Brychkova
Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC)
Áras de Brún,
National University of Ireland Galway,
University Road, 
Galway H91 REW4,
Ireland.
www.plantagbiosciences.org 
E: charles.spillane@nuigalway.ie | galina.brychkova@nuigalway.ie
T: +353 91 493 655

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