Animal Sciences (MAS) / MSc

Profile

The MSc programme Animal Sciences is a logical continuation of a BSc in Animal Sciences or an equivalent BSc programme such as Veterinary Sciences or Animal Biology. The focus of this MSc-programme is to deliver skilled professional animal scientists, well equipped to tackle problems related to sustainable livestock development as well as to the management of companion animals. The emphasis is on acquiring in-depth knowledge and integrating this knowledge to solve dilemmas in animal husbandry practices world-wide. Animal systems are highly diversified in which the animal-human interaction plays an integral role. Animal husbandry and livestock development are constrained both by technical factors (such as food supply, animal health, level of management and genetic diversity) and by infrastructural, ecological and socio-economic factors.
The study programme is an individually tailor-made thesis oriented programme. Students follow advanced courses in their first year to prepare themselves for the thesis in the second year. The thesis can be chosen from different important disciplines, distinguished in specializations. Students can choose from one out of six specializations:
- Animal Breeding and Genetics focuses on the genetic improvement of farm and companion animals by integrating quantitative, biological and molecular approaches. DNA techniques are increasingly being used to determine genetic (bio)diversity and to optimise breeding programmes to improve health and performance.
- Animal Nutrition addresses the understanding of the conversion of feed biomass in animals (e.g. in terms of nutrient flows). The aim is to optimize nutrition for the production of safe and healthy foods for human consumption, to safeguard the (companion) animals own health and welfare and to prevent negative effects of nutrition on the emission of waste to the environment.
- Animal Production Systems combines knowledge from different disciplines (as nutrition, reproduction and health) into an integrated approach. Approaches to animal production that go beyond the individual animal level are becoming increasingly important. Students explore sustainable development options for the complex, society driven problems of a wide range of animal systems. Animal-human interactions are a key topic in this specialization.
- Animal Health and Behaviour has a multidisciplinary approach focusing on the effects of housing and management on physiological responses of individual animals in terms of immune status, energy metabolism, thermoregulation, reproduction and behaviour. Students can do a major in fields such as adaptation physiology and behavioral ecology.
- Animal Health Management mainly focuses on health at the population level. Various (zootechnical) factors are relevant in maintaining animal health. Adequate analysis and quantification of those factors, e.g. through field studies, experiments or transmission modelling are the key areas in this specialization.
- Applied Zoology is meant for students with a strong interest in the biological relationship between structure and function of organ systems in animals, endocrine control of physiological processes and the relationship between cell biology and health.
All specializations are based on a certain area of study in animal sciences; they all focus on national and global (including tropical areas) issues. It should be underpinned that in all specializations students may either focus on farm animals and/or companion animals. This MSc-programme highlights studying all types of domesticated animals in relation to their function for mankind.
Upon graduation, livestock and companion animal specialists received a fundamental scientific training combined with a critical attitude towards all aspects constraining sustainable development of animal systems.

International partners
Students in this MSc programme have the possibility to join one of our European Masters. These programmes offer the possibility of graduating at two universities ('double degree'):
- The European Master in Animal Breeding and Genetics (EM-ABG) is a joint initiative of six European universities. This Erasmus Mundus programme concentrates on the use of quantitative and molecular genetics for animal breeding purposes. The approach is based on mobility of students and staff, thereby exchanging experiences in different disciplines and establishing a common high quality standard in education and training in this field (www.emabg.eu);
- The European Masters in Animal Management (EURAMA) is a joint initiative of three European universities, where animal sciences meet animal policies, economics and agri-business, with a focus on chain management and food quality and safety (www.eurama.org).

Research Master Variant
Students with a strong interest in research can, in consultation with and after approval of their study adviser, choose for a research oriented variant of the MSc. Within this variant, the focus will be on a future career in science. It implies that the student has to meet the following criteria: (1) at least four advanced specialization courses should be taken, (2) a second thesis should be undertaken instead of an internship, (3) at least one of both theses has to be partly executed abroad and (4) instead of the academic master cluster (YMC-60303 + YMC-60809), the student should participate in the course Research Master Cluster (RMC: YAS-60312). The student is only allowed to include two courses at BSc level in the optional part of the programme.

Professionally oriented Variants
Students with an interest in a professional (job) orientation may opt for choosing a set of courses and minor thesis (instead of doing an internship) in a specific field, that helps them to focus towards a specific future career; in addition to their choice of one out of the six MAS-specializations.
You can, in consultation with your study adviser, choose one of three Variants: (1) the Education Variant, if you prefer a professional career in a teaching institution of higher education; you will do a thesis at Education and Competence Studies (ECS); (2) the Communication and Policy Variant, if you prefer a professional career in (semi-) governmental organizations or NGO's; you will do a thesis at Communication Science (COM) or Public Administration and Policy (PAP); (3) the Business and Management Variant, if you prefer a professional career in the (agro-) industry; you will do a thesis at Business Economics (BEC), Management Studies (MST) or Marketing and Consumer Behavior (MCB).
Each student may choose one of the Variants, but is equally free to take advantage of following individual courses to complete the optional part of the MSc-programme.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this MSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- apply in-depth knowledge in at least one specialization on the biological functioning of animals in relation to their environment, both at a fundamental level and in the various purposes of animals for human use and well-being;
- distinguish different advanced and complex concepts, approaches and methods in a certain domain within animal sciences, reflect upon the scientific literature (text books, readers and papers) and make a critical judgment towards its applicability to solve dilemmas in animal husbandry practices world-wide;
- criticize the sustainable development of animal systems at various integration levels and in an ecological, ethical and socio-economic context, based on their fundamental and applied knowledge of a chosen specialization;
- analyse the side effects of animal husbandry upon man, animal and environment; signal problems and initiate multidisciplinary solutions by use of novel research concepts and methodologies;
- design a research plan (e.g., an animal experiment or literature review) in a domain within animal sciences and critically reflect (under supervision) on the phases of a scientific research;
- conduct a research plan in a domain within animal sciences under supervised responsibility by using adequate materials and methods to collect and interpret data; - apply advanced laboratory and modeling techniques, mathematical and statistical methods for the collection and analyses of experimental data from a literature review or animal trial, and to evaluate their suitability for addressing the specific research questions and hypotheses;
- communicate orally and in writing in a convincing way on the results of a learning activity, conducted research and/or a project work in English, considering the nature of the audience;
- work on a project-oriented basis as a specialist and collaborate in multidisciplinary and/or multicultural teams, having the ability to make a planning and distribution of tasks;
- design and plan their own learning processes based on continuous reflection upon on the acquisition of new knowledge in the field of their own specialization, and the improvement of their skills and attitudes and performance.

Specializations

- Animal Breeding and Genetics;
- Animal Nutrition;
- Animal Production Systems;
- Animal Health and Behaviour;
- Animal Health Management;
- Applied Zoology.

Programme Director

Dr ir R.P. Kwakkel
Phone: 0317-(4)82468/ (4)83147
Email: rene.kwakkel@wur.nl

Study Adviser(s)

- Dr ir C.H.A.M. Eilers (B, C, F)
Phone: 0317-(4)84611/-(4)83959
Email: karen.eilers@wur.nl
- Dr W. Hazeleger (A, D, E)
Phone: 0317-(4)83661/-(4)83120
Email: wouter.hazeleger@wur.nl

Programme Committee

Chair: Prof. dr ir M.C.M. de Jong
Secretary: Dr W. Hazeleger

Internet

http://www.mas.wur.nl/uk/

Study Association

'De Veetelers'
Internet: http://www.veetelers.nl