The PABC MSc (AgriBiosciences) program provides relevant, hands-on training to graduates who wish to specialise in agri-related research. The MSc (AgriBiosciences) programme provides graduates with a broad theoretical understanding of the agricultural sector in its broader scientific, economic and environmental context, on which key research skills and practical experiences will be built.
Integral to the Level 9 MSc (AgriBiosciences) is development of the student’s ability to work within a research setting by performing a research project based in one of the research groups or partner organisations in the PABC. The taught component involves 20 ECTS of specially-tailored modules developed within the PABC. Specific aims of the MSc (AgriBiosciences) programme are:
- To provide 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 4 years.
- To equip students for entry into the workplace, especially in the growing agribiosciences or agrifood sectors.
The MSc (AgriBiosciences) is a modular course and is 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 time for students to gain in-depth research exposure. It will run from September 2016 on a September-August (12 month) timescale.
Taught component (30 ECTS): The core modules of the MSc (AgriBiosciences) are all weighted at 5 ECTS and consist of:
- Understanding Ireland’s Agriculture & AgriFood Sector
- AgriFood Sustainability & Agri-Resilience Challenges
- Understanding AgriBusiness & AgriFood Market Trends
- 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 trains students to perform independent research which can be placed in the broader context of its scientific, environmental and economic impacts.
Site visits form an important element of the training (see module descriptor forms). The 20 ECTS of PABC-specific modules are supplemented by a further 10 ECTS of modules currently available, chosen in consultation with the programme coordinators.
Research component (60 ECTS): The research project will be performed in a research group/lab of a PABC member or partner institution (e.g. Teagasc or a company partner). Each Research Masters thesis will be examined by an internal and external examiner, as per the University Guidelines for Research Degree Programmes. It will provide research skills ranging from state-of-the-art technologies through data interpretation to experimental design and data presentation. Available research project titles in participating laboratories and field-sites of the PABC member groups, Teagasc and other programme-associated Institutes will be provided to students from which they choose their project options. Opportunities for multi-disciplinary projects with co-supervision, including with industry, will be encouraged. An assessment of the progress of each student will be performed by the their respective GRC at the end of Semester 2. Progression to Semester 3 will depend upon satisfactory completion of this assessment although we emphasise that students wishes 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 experiments) the students will 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 evaluated by the research project-leading PI and a second PABC academic. An external examiner from a leading international agribiosciences institution will be responsible for oversight and guidance of the MSc (AgriBiosciences).