Study programme - BSc Animal Sciences

The bachelor's Animal Sciences is a three-year full-time programme. In the first year you follow a basic programme which gives you an orientation in the domain of Animal Sciences. In the second year, you choose one of two specialisations: 'Animal Management and Care' or 'Biological Functioning of Animals'. In the third year a large part is free choice as well as writing your BSc thesis.

Outline of the programme

Year 1

In the first year you will be introduced to the field of animal sciences. In addition, basic knowledge on biology, chemistry, mathematics and statistics is refreshed and further expanded.

Year 2

In the first half of the second year, this basic knowledge is integrated into discipline courses within animal sciences; think of genetics, nutrition, epidemiology, housing, immunology, reproduction, ecology and sustainability. For details on course content, visit the online course catalogue.

The second half of the second year you will choose one of the two specialisations: 'Animal Management and Care' or 'Biological Functioning of Animals'.

The specialisation 'Animal Management and Care' concentrates on how to manage the animals we care for in terms of nutrition, housing and the impact the (human) environment has on animal behaviour, growth and well-being. The focus is from animal to its environment and society.

The specialisation 'Biological Functioning of Animals' concentrates on the biological/physiological processes within animals and how these contribute to the way animals react and interact with their environment. The focus is from gene to animal.

Outline of the programme
Outline of the programme

Year 3

Free choice

For the most part, you decide your course programme in the third year. Essentially, you can fill in this free choice with any given course at the university. You could deepen your knowledge in animal sciences principles, but you could also take courses in communication, education, economics or plant sciences, to name a few. As a matter of fact, it is recommended to take a ‘side step’ from animal sciences to broaden your horizon. With this elective freedom you determine yourself how broad or specialised your programme will be. The courses can be taken at Wageningen University or at another university in the Netherlands or abroad. See the online course catalogue for more information.


The elective freedom can be filled with individual courses, but you can also choose a package of courses in a theme: a BSc minor. A BSc minor usually covers 24-30 credits and are usually taught in English. Wageningen University & Research offers around 50 minors on various themes: infectious diseases, marine biology, climate change, communication, food safety, economics or water management, to name a few examples. A minor can also be taken at another university in the Netherlands or even in another country. Read more about this option under ‘Studying abroad’. Read more about minors.


In the middle of the year you will continue with your specialisation.

BSc thesis

In the third year, you complete your bachelor's degree with the BSc thesis. You write the BSc thesis on the basis of an individual small research project, such as assisting with an experimental doctoral research, writing a literature review, working on a laboratory analysis and/or data analysis, or working on your own project. During your BSc thesis, the following skills are also covered: scientific writing, interpreting and discussing of scientific literature, and presenting scientific research. The subject of your thesis fit one of the specialisations and within the discipline of Animal Sciences.

Teaching methods

Courses are taught by members of the academic staff, who also form the research groups that produce the scientific content and maintain quality within the programme. Teaching is organised in various ways, and most subjects are trained through lectures, tutorials (group work through assignments), practicals, problem-based learnings (groups work through cases) or excursions.


English is the language of international cooperation and science. That is why it is important that you learn to read, write, listen and speak about animal sciences in English. The programme is entirely in English. Both literature and lectures are provided in English by teachers of different nationalities.


The base of the programme is applied animal biology: biological knowledge about the functioning of domesticated animals in relation to their immediate environment and society. The focus of theory lies on livestock, as most research is done, and thereby knowledge identified, for this type of animal species. Companion animals and fish are discussed as well. The acquired concepts and scientific knowledge on those animals and their management can be applied to the sector / animal species you are interested in. With the biological knowledge as your base, you will learn all kinds of aspects on animal-human interactions through 6 disciplines (figure below). These aspects all relate to sustainable development of animal husbandry, for example in means of nutrition, housing management or design of breeding strategies. Different aspects in animal sciences can overlap, as researchers from different discipline groups work together on the same question.

Specialisations Animal Sciences + domain.PNG

The various aspects are taught in specific courses, which are prepared and taught by teacher-researchers. In this way, the content of courses is closely related to recent research results. In the courses different perspectives on domesticated animals are discussed. This ranges from the functioning of the animal in the different environments in which it can be kept, to the understanding of animal diseases and the measures you can take to prevent them from spreading. It is also possible to get to know the entire animal husbandry chain, and to study all aspects from the economy to society, and from animal welfare to animal nutrition.

The bachelor's Animal Sciences provides a broad basis and introduction to the entire domain of animal sciences. From this basis, you can discover where your passion lies and thus make the right choice for your (specialisation in the) master.

Studying abroad

The programme encourages you to broaden your horizon, also abroad. In the third year you can chose your elective subjects at a university outside the Netherlands. We maintain ties with various partner universities, in that various courses with animal sciences related subjects can be offered.

The purpose of an exchange is to enable students to take interesting courses that are complementary to our own programme, and to make students aware of the global issues concerning animal sciences. In addition, you obtain an international mindset and approach. Countries that are currently participating in such exchange programmes include Canada, the United States, Sweden and Switzerland.

Student experience

The option to study abroad is subject to exchange agreements between partner universities and admission requirements set by these universities. To be eligible for a BSc exchange minor, students must therefore satisfy some prerequisites.

More information on exchanges in general and Wageningen’s partner universities is available from the Wageningen Exchange Office website.

Wageningen Exchange Office

Student Counselling

The Animal Sciences programme has an education team consisting of a programme director, three bachelor study advisers (one especially for international students), two master study advisers and a study recruiter.

For a conversation or counselling you can always contact our study advisers. They can help you plan your study, with choosing specialisations and subjects, study problems or private matters that affect your study.

Study Load and the Academic Year

The programme is a three-year bachelor in which 60 credits (ECTS) can be obtained per year. The total study load is therefore 180 ECTS. One ECTS corresponds to 28 study load hours and one academic year includes 40 teaching weeks. This means students are expected to devote an average of 42 hours per week to their studies, making the programme genuinely full-time.

The academic year in Wageningen is divided into 6 teaching period. Periods last 8 weeks (period 1, 2, 5 and 6) or 4 weeks (period 3 and 4). Each eight-week teaching periods is worth 12 ECTS, usually including two courses. Each four-week teaching period is worth 6 ECTS, usually including one course.

Calendar Academic Year

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