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 management of animals that are an integral part of our society, economy and culture. Animal systems and their development are very diverse, and constrained by technical factors (e.g. food supply, animal health, level of management and genetic diversity) and infrastructural, ecological and socio-economic factors. Upon graduation, the animal sciences specialists have received a fundamental scientific training combined with a critical attitude towards all aspects determining sustainable development of animal systems.
The study programme is an individual 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 disciplines, distinguished in specializations. Within specializations students can choose a study track at a specific chair group, that matches their interest in terms of level of study, animal species or topic.
- Genetics and Biodiversity focuses on the genetic improvement of animals in relation to their environment, by integrating quantitative, biological and molecular approaches. Focus can be on genetic management of domestic or wildlife populations to ensure optimal health and performance, or on the genetic basis of specific behaviours or characteristics in various animal species.
- Nutrition and Metabolism aims to understand the relation between nutritional demands, diet formulation, digestion and metabolism in animals, and their responses in terms of growth, production, well-being and waste. The aim is to optimize nutrition for the production of safe and healthy foods for human consumption, to safeguard the animal's own health and welfare and to prevent negative effects of nutrition on the emission of waste to the environment.
- Global and Sustainable Production combines knowledge from different disciplines (such as animal sciences, economics and social sciences) to study the development of sustainable animal systems across the world. The aim is to guarantee sufficient food supply for mankind in a responsible way, without compromising culture and the environment.
- Adaptation, Health and Welfare studies the effects of the immediate environment on physiological responses of individual or groups of animals, and what these responses mean for animal health and welfare. Immunological status, energy metabolism, thermoregulation, reproduction and behaviour are major responses of animals being studied in this specialization.
- Molecule, Cell and Organ Functioning is a fundamental specialization looking into mechanisms and processes at all levels of physiology: from molecules to organs to whole animals. In this specialization the functioning of animals is studied to acquire animal or computer models for health, disease resistance, growth and aging.
- Animal Ecology focuses on the interaction between animal populations and their wider environment, the ecosystem. The environment can be semi-natural and/or affected by human intervention, i.e. an agro-ecosystem. Mechanisms that underlie the impact of animals on their environment, by food intake behaviour, by interaction with other animals, are studied to understand animal and aquatic ecological systems.
All specializations are based on a certain area of study in animal sciences, and all address national and global issues. It should be underpinned that in all specializations students may focus on an animal species of their interest. This MSc-programme highlights studying all types of animals in relation to their function for mankind.
Students in this MSc programme have the possibility to join one of our International Masters. These programmes offer the possibility of graduating at two universities (double degree). 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.
These International Masters have a focus on different aspects of Animal Sciences, such as:
- Animal Breeding and Genetics. This programme concentrates on the use of quantitative and molecular genetics for animal breeding purposes;
- Animal Management. This programme concentrates on the intersection where animal sciences meet animal policies, economics and agri-business, with a focus on chain management and food quality and safety;
- Animal Nutrition and Feeding. This programme concentrates on the feeding and nutrition of food producing animals with a multidisciplinary approach towards productivity, animal health and welfare and environmental aspects.
Research Master Track
Students with a strong interest in research can, in consultation with and after approval of their study adviser, choose for a research oriented track of the MSc. Within this track, 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 must be executed abroad and 4. instead of the academic master cluster (YMC-60303+YMC-60809), the student participates in the course Research Master Cluster for Animal Sciences (RMC: YAS-60312). The student is only allowed to include two courses at BSc level in the optional part of the programme.
Students with an interest in a professional (job) orientation may choose -next to their specialization and instead of an internship- a set of courses and minor thesis in a specific field, that helps them to focus towards a specific future career. In consultation with the study adviser, students can choose one of three tracks: 1. the Education Track, if you prefer a professional career in (higher) education; you will do a thesis at Education and Competence Studies (ECS); 2. the Communication and Policy Track, if you prefer a professional career in (semi-) governmental organizations or NGO's; you will do a thesis at Communication Philosophy and Technology (CPT) or Public Administration and Policy (PAP); 3. the Business and Management Track, 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 Behaviour (MCB). Students are free to follow individual courses from these tracks to complete the optional part of the MSc-programme.
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 using adequate materials and methods to collect and interpret data;
- apply advanced laboratory and modelling 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 a continuous reflection upon the acquisition of new knowledge in the field of their own specialization, and the improvement of their skills and attitudes and performance.
- Genetics and Biodiversity;
- Nutrition and Metabolism;
- Global and Sustainable Production;
- Adaptation, Health and Welfare;
- Molecule, Cell and Organ Functioning;
- Animal Ecology.
Dr. ir. R.P. Kwakkel
Phone: 0317-(4)82468/ (4)83147 (secretary: Francine Wartena)
- Dr. ir. S. Kranenbarg (student name A - K)
- ir. D.E. Lont (student name L - Z)
Chair: prof. dr.ir. J. Keijer
Secretary: dr. ir. S. Kranenbarg