Nutrition and Metabolism

Worldwide agricultural land use and feed production must become more efficient. An important way to achieve this aim, is to optimise the use of feed resources, for example in terms of nutrient flows. The discipline of Nutrition and Metabolism investigates the interaction between animals and their nutrition.

Specialisation in a nutshell

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 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.

This specialisation has five thesis tracks:

- Adaptation Physiology (ADP)

- Aquaculture and Fisheries (AFI)

- Animal Nutrition (ANU)

- Cell Biology and Immunology (CBI)

- Human and Animal Physiology (HAP)

Below you can read more about the courses provided in the specialisation Nutrition and Metabolism. The online study handbook provides detailed information.

Courses ADP

Health, Welfare and Management (ADP30306)

This course deals with multidisciplinary aspects of the functioning of animals, focusing on a selected number of themes.

Adaptation Physiology (ADP30806)

This course goes more in depth into specific mechanisms of adaptation physiology (e.g. immunology, behaviour, reproduction or energy metabolism, including social and ethical aspects). Students will define a proper scientific work plan, based on a hypothesis gained from a literature review.

Sensor data in Animal Sciences (ADP301306)

Sensor data is increasingly used by commercial livestock farmers, feeding companies, breeding companies, and the scientific community. In this course, sensors in animal production systems will be discussed, including their use in science and for commercial purposes, their constraints, and future potential. This course prepares students in animal science for sensor data analysis and interpretation in their future career.

Courses AFI

Aquaculture Production Systems (AFI31806)

This course deals with the relation between aquatic organisms (algae, fish, crustaceans, molluscs) and their environment, the latter comprising the direct production space and the wider environment in which farms operate.

Nutrition and Health in Aquaculture (AFI32306)

This course deals with general aspects and current issues in the domain of (shell)fish nutrition and health. Key subjects are: metabolic aspects of fish nutrition, nutrient requirements, impact of diet on gut health/physiology, feed intake regulation mechanisms, prevention of fish diseases, healthy fish feeds as drivers of innate immunity and general disease resistance, stress physiology and behaviour in relation to fish welfare.

Courses ANU

Animal Nutrition and Physiology is compulsory for this study track. You should choose at least one of the other two courses.

Animal Nutrition and Physiology (ANU30806)

This MSc-course uses three (practical) modules to provide you with basic knowledge on nutrient analysis, digestion physiology and the physiology of nutrient utilisation in animals.

Nutrient Dynamics (ANU30306)

In this course, knowledge in the area of digestion and utilization of nutrients is addressed more in depth and quantified.

Feed Technology (ANU31306)

The Feed Technology course provides insight into the preconditions for producing feeds. It integrates the knowledge that makes it possible to increase the nutritional and physical quality of animal feeds by using technology.

Courses CBI

Human and Veterinary Immunology (CBI30306)

The aim of this course is to implement knowledge of the functioning of the immune system at both cellular and organ level and its evolutionary development.

Development and Healthy Aging (HAP31306)

This course highlights three related areas of science relevant to development and healthy aging, namely muscle origin and function, energy homeostasis and immunology. 

Courses HAP

Development and Healthy Aging (HAP31306)

This course highlights three related areas of science relevant to development and healthy aging, namely 1) embryonic development and early life programming, 2) mitochondrial muscle function and metabolic health, and 3) immunology and immunomodulation.

Integrated Neuroendocrinology (HAP30806)

Physiology of the brain, aging, neurodegenerative diseases and brain-peripheral organ communication are highlighted in this course. A thesis-preparing research linked to these topics will be executed using brain, muscle or intestinal cells.

Thesis and Internship

A thesis or internship project for the specialisation Nutrition and Metabolism is conducted at the ADP, AFI, ANU, CBI or HAP chair group and results in a scientific report and a presentation. A thesis project usually links up with ongoing research at one of these research groups or is conducted in cooperation with commercial or (non-)governmental organisations. At the websites of the different chair groups, you can find more information about research topics.

ADP chair group

AFI chair group

ANU chair group

CBI chair group

HAP chair group


If you have any questions about the specialisation Nutrition and Metabolism, you can contact the programme director dr. René Kwakkel at