Programme Bachelor Animal Sciences

The bachelor's programme in Animal Sciences is a three-year full-time programme. In the first year orientation in the domain of Animal Sciences and basic knowledge courses are key. In the second year, students choose one of two majors. A large part of the third year consists of elective subjects, as well as an individual research project.

Programme structure

The structure of the bachelor's programme Animal Sciences shows the diversity and possibilities within this scientific field. Foundation courses focusing on orientation on Animal Sciences, biological principles and the supporting areas of chemistry, mathematics and statistics are followed by (and integrated into) more specialistic disciplines within animal sciences, such as genetics, nutrition, epidemiology, immunology, reproduction, ecology and sustainability. This compulsory core curriculum is taught in the first one-and-a-half years.

In the second half of the second year, students choose between the two majors on offer. The major Animal Management and Care focuses 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 major Biological Functioning of Animals focuses on the biological processes within animals and how they contribute to the way animals respond to and interact with their environment. The third year offers the greatest freedom: over half of this year is made up of elective courses with the possibility to combine these electives into a minor that suits the students’ priorities and interests. Elective courses or a minor can be taken at WUR, another university in the Netherlands or abroad. Students complete their programme with a BSc thesis with a topic of their interest. Create the programme that is just right for you!

Core curriculum

Students in their first year are introduced to the field of Animal Sciences, while also consolidating and expanding on their knowledge of biology, chemistry, mathematics and statistics. In the second year, this core knowledge is integrated into specialist subjects, and students choose a major (Animal Management and Care or Biological Functioning of Animals). The compulsory subjects for each major and year of study are given below (and in the accompanying table). For details on subject content, visit the online study guide.

First year

  • Introduction Animal Sciences
  • Bio-organic Chemistry for Life Sciences
  • General Chemistry for Life Sciences
  • Cell Biology
  • Mathematics 1 OR Statistics 1
  • Mathematics 2
  • Fundamentals of Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Biology of Domestic Animals
  • Statistics 2
  • Animal Science in Society
  • Human and Animal Biology 1
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Mathematics 3
  • Internship

Second year

  • Animal Breeding and Genetics
  • Human and Animal Biology 2
  • Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics
  • Immunology and Thermoregulation
  • Principles of Animal Nutrition
  • Systems Approach in Animal Sciences
  • Introduction in Animal Ecology

Major Animal Management and Care:

  • Aquaculture and Fisheries
  • Reproduction and Fertility
  • Infections and Disorders

Students also choose ONE of the following:

  • Quality of Animal Products
  • Introduction to Business Economics, Management and Marketing

Major Biological Functioning of Animals:

  • Microbiomes and Health
  • Practical Biological Chemistry
  • Behavioural Endocrinology

Third year

  • Advanced Statistics
  • BSc thesis and skills
  • Electives (e.g. BSc minor)

Major in Animal Management and Care (choose 1 of 3):

  • The Role of Livestock in Future Food Systems
  • Sustainability in Fish and Seafood Production
  • Companion Animals

Major in Biological Functioning of Animals:

  • Cell Biology and Health

Electives and BSc minors

Students choose most of their third-year subjects themselves. Essentially, all subjects are available: students can concentrate on Animal Sciences, or take subjects in areas such as communication, teaching, economics or plant sciences. As a matter of fact it is advised to take a ‘side step’ from animal sciences to broaden your scope. This elective freedom allows students to determine exactly how general or specialised their programme will be. The subjects can be taken at Wageningen University, at another university in the Netherlands, or abroad.

Study guide

The elective credits can be filled by individual subjects, or as a cluster of subjects on one given topic, i.e. a BSc minor. Minors are usually worth 24 credits and are usually taught in English. Wageningen University & Research offers various BSc minors on a wide range of topics that are scheduled in either the first semester (teaching periods 1-3) or the second semester (teaching periods 4-6). Minor topics include infectious diseases, marine biology, climate change, communication, food safety, economics or water management, to name some examples. A minor can also be taken at another university in the Netherlands or in another country – read more about this option under ‘Studying Abroad’.

BSc Minors

    Studying abroad

    The programme encourages students to take their third-year elective subjects at a university abroad. We maintain ties with various universities abroad, with which we examine a range of subject options for students. Conversely, we also offer international students of Agriculture and Animal Sciences (and other programmes) subject clusters from our own programme.

    The purpose of going on exchange is to allow students to take interesting subjects that are complementary to the Dutch Animal Sciences programme, as well as for students to create awareness of the global issues relating animal sciences. They will broaden their horizon by coming into contact with international mindsets and approaches. Countries currently participating in exchange programmes like this include Sweden, the United States and Canada.

    Student experience

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

    The programme office collaborates with our University Exchange Office to ensure that exchanges are properly organised. Animal Sciences students who are interested in a third-year exchange programme should contact the coordinator (Francine Wartena, during their first year.

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

    Wageningen Exchange Office

    BSc Thesis

    The BSc thesis is scheduled for the third year of study and is based on an individual research project, such as experimental research, a literature study, laboratory analysis and/or data analysis. The subject also covers academic writing skills, interpretation and discussion of scientific literature and how to present a research study. The topic of the thesis must fall within one of the majors and within the domains of Animal Sciences.

    Study Load and the Academic Year

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

    The Wageningen academic year is divided into six teaching periods, each lasting either eight weeks (periods 1, 2, 5 and 6) or four weeks (periods 3 and 4). Each eight-week teaching periods is worth 12 ECs, usually spread across two to three subjects. Each four-week teaching period is worth 6 ECs, usually including one subject.

    Calendar Academic Year

    Teaching methods

    Subjects 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 in a variety of teaching methods.

    Lectures usually involve sitting in a large room with lots of other students, and listening to the lecturer. The lecturer will discuss the material, give the broad outline and sometimes explain more difficult concepts in greater detail. Lecturers will often hand out copies of their presentation beforehand, or post them digitally on the subject’s Blackboard site.

    During tutorials, groups of 20-40 students work actively on equations, tasks or assignments, either independently or in groups. A supervisor is present to assist and aid discussion afterwards. The first-year mathematics subjects are given primarily as tutorials; however, Behavioural Endocrinology also involves a lot of tutorials.

    In practical classes, students get to work themselves. Practical classes vary greatly depending on the subject’s learning objectives. Examples include conducting biochemical experiments or analyses using laboratory microscopes (e.g. Chemistry or Human and Animal Sciences), or conducting a nutrition or behavioural study at the research facility (e.g. Introduction to Animal Nutrition or Biology of Domestic Animals). The aim of practical subjects is to acquaint students with a variety of research and measurement methods, to teach about the limitations of these methods and how to interpret the results. Practical classes also serve to illustrate theory.

    PBL stands for Problem-Based Learning (also sometimes called Inquiry-Based Learning). In PBL, groups of four to twelve students take classes with a supervisor, who presents a problem or case study requiring a solution. Students gain knowledge by solving the problem and learn skills by going through the problem-solving process (e.g. allocating tasks, meeting and discussion skills). The group assignments are sometimes followed by presentations, in which each group presents their results.

    Back to bachelor Animal Sciences