Study programme - MSc Development and Rural Innovation

This master's programme trains professionals to integrate social, environmental, and technological aspects of innovation and transformation processes. You'll have the opportunity to tailor your profile to societal challenges, using your unique background to approach global issues creatively. Beyond academic growth, this journey fosters personal development, preparing you for new career opportunities by understanding innovation and social processes in relation to your interests.

Flowchart - Year 1
Flowchart - Year 1
Figure 1: Overview of involved chairgroups MDR
Figure 1: Overview of involved chairgroups MDR

Programme structure

The academic year at Wageningen University is divided into six periods – in each you follow either compulsory and/or optional courses. The total master's programme contains 120 ECTS (2 years) and consists of:

Year 1: Starts with an introduction to the social sciences and the programme's core chair groups through two foundational introduction courses. These courses not only inform your choices for the upcoming periods but also equip you with crucial theoretical frameworks. This year includes research courses, electives, and a chosen thesis track. Highlight will be a field excursion at the end of year one, where you can practice your knowledge and conduct real field research with your fellow classmates – a great way to end the academic year and set off for the summer break.

Year 2: Now you can demonstrate that you are capable of delivering a solid piece of scientific research through your thesis within one of the chair groups. The second year also challenges you to work within an organisation, company, or institue during your internship.

Throughout your programme, we offer guidance in the special ribbon course Thesis & Professional Path, to help you navigate the world of social science.

A detailed description of all the courses can be found in the study handbook.

Thesis Tracks

Advised by your study advisor, you will choose one of the following thesis tracks.

  • Communication and Innovation Studies, focuses in the understanding of the politics of communication and participation for social-environmental transformations - and the role of knowledge therein.
  • Technology and Development Studies focuses on the understanding how technical innovations are shaped by different societal actors and groups, and design of responsible innovation & transformation processes.
  • Sociology of Development focuses on the understanding of worldwide development and environmental problems from sociological and anthropological perspectives, with an emphasis on social inequality and political power.
  • Rural Sociology focuses on understanding the social-spatial implications of agrarian change, food system transformations and place-based development from a comparative perspective.

The choice of the thesis track determines your thesis preparatory course and the chair group you will do your thesis with.


The programme of Development and Rural Innovation is highly thesis oriented. The subject matter, methodology and design courses serve primarily as preparation for an empirical research project of your choice in the chair group from your thesis track. In consultation with your supervisor, you will write a research proposal, conduct research, analyse data, and write your thesis report.

Review the MDR theses in the WUR Library for an impression of the thesis subjects previous students worked on.


The second pillar of year two is the internship. You will join an organization, programme or company for 4 months and experience the potential professional environment in which you could work after graduation.

WASS Graduate Programme

Are you enthusiastic about doing research and interested in doing a PhD in the future? The Wageningen School of Social Sciences offers motivated students a special track which prepares students for a PhD position. Learn more about the WASS Graduate Programme or talk to your study advisor.