Communication, Health and Life Sciences (MCH) / MSc


The MSc programme Communication, Health and Life Sciences trains academics who are able to understand, facilitate and drive societal change in complex societal settings related to life science or health issues. In this programme, students learn to understand the role of communication in addressing complex social challenges and opportunities regarding life science issues from various perspectives. They learn to translate those issues for diverse audiences and to build bridges between science and society, science and health professionals, experts and citizens, different professions, or established and emerging interests. The Master programme focuses on training students to develop and apply integrated approaches across and beyond scientific disciplines. Several life science courses are an integral part of the programme, enabling students to develop an understanding of a life science issue of their choice, and an appreciation of life science approaches.
The programme embraces a systems approach that focuses on relations developing within complex social systems and stresses the importance of communication and collaboration in the contemporary network society. During their studies students explore processes of communication, interaction, change and innovation in the life-science domains with a view to the interplay of planned and unplanned change; behaviour change; intervention, contestation, conflict and collaboration in pluralist societies; and the role of 'experts' and 'expertise' in society.

Specialisation A - Communication and Innovation
The specialisation understands communication as the creation of meaning in interaction. This enables the application of communication concepts to innovation processes in a broad sense that includes social innovation, but also technological innovation in society. Change-oriented communication is essential in tackling some of the big challenges of our times, such as the transition to sustainable patterns of consumption and production, pro-active approaches to health and well-being, and equality in health, food and environmental quality. At the same time, effective change processes require a deep understanding of the embeddedness of interaction in social and material structures.

Specialisation B - Health and Society
The specialisation provides students the opportunity to understand health, food and environmental issues from different perspectives. It conceives of health as a resource that enables people to lead an individually, socially and economically satisfying and productive life. Students can explore food, environmental and health (care) issues as a function of the reciprocal interaction between people and their socio-ecological context, both with respect to risks and resources for health and sustainability. Students can explore complex innovation processes in the life-sciences with a focus on the role of collaboration and interaction.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this MSc programme graduates are expected to be able to:
- describe, critically assess and apply social science principles, concepts, theories and methodologies relevant to understanding communication and change in the context of life science- and health-related issues;
- describe how complex societal issues and scientific perspectives (and their diverse meanings) are constructed and inform each other;
- analyse the interplay between agency and structure in processes of change for a range of actors embedded in diverse organisations, networks and social systems;
- evaluate advanced and complex concepts, approaches and methods from communication science and other relevant disciplines, with special reference to inter- and transdisciplinary problems and approaches identified in scientific literature;
- assess social, scientific and ethical issues that are encountered in the application of methods and concepts in research and intervention strategies, and critically reflect on the various roles in responding to these issues;
- construct and apply appropriate design for quantitative and qualitative empirical research by selecting suitable research methods for data collection and analysis, and demonstrate ability to identify need for new theoretical, methodological and practical approaches;
- operate, communicate and cooperate as a context-sensitive expert amidst professionals, scientists, policymakers and the wider public, and perform oral and written project-based work in an inter-disciplinary team;
- initiate constructive inter- and transdisciplinary conversation and collaboration within and between diverse social and scientific organisations and professions;
- design and plan personal learning processes based on continuous reflection upon one's own knowledge, skills, attitudes and performance.

and, in addition
for specialisation A:
- design, and critically reflect on, communication strategies to address life science-related societal challenges (e.g., climate change, environment, water, food production, biotechnology or health and nutrition);
- effectively link theories and themes from innovation science with communication science, and apply these in processes of social and technical change in a domain of choice in the life sciences.

for specialisation B:
- critically analyse the way in which diverse knowledges, communication and practices of health, well-being and healthcare are used to shape and organise the lives of individuals, groups and populations from a comparative historical and demographic perspective;
- assess instruments used in scientific and societal approaches to understanding, governing, mediating, advocating for and acting upon health and well-being and design innovative pathways to bridge such approaches.


- Communication and Innovation;
- Health and Society.

Programme Director

G.C. van Nieuwenhoven, MSc
Phone: 0317-(4)82500

Study Adviser(s)

- Ir G.C. van Nieuwenhoven, MSc
Phone: 0317-(4)82500
- L. Debets
- C. Cruijsen
Phone: 0317-(4)89329

Programme Committee

Chair: dr. H.M. van der Horst
Secretary: G.C. van Nieuwenhoven, MSc


Study Association

Apollo Wageningen, Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN Wageningen