Programme Outline - Animal Sciences

The MSc programme Animal Sciences is a two year programme, comprising 120 credits (ECTS). The general elements of the programme are courses, academic skills training, a major thesis and a minor thesis or internship. The first year mostly consists out of courses which fill gaps in knowledge and prepare for the theses/internship in the second year. The Animal Sciences programme is tailor made to the interests and knowledge of the student. Together with your study advisor, you design your own programme.


The Animal Sciences programme, like all MSc programmes at Wageningen University & Research, is taught in English. In this way you are well prepared for a career within a global setting and for maintaining contacts with foreign colleagues.

Layout of the programme

The first year consists mostly of courses. General courses are courses within the domain of Animal Sciences. It depends on your former education which courses are obligatory for you. Specialisation courses are courses that prepare for your major thesis within the specialisation of your choice. Optional courses are courses that are not required for a specific specialisation, but fit with your interest. You can use optional courses in combination with a research practice or second thesis to school yourself in a specific professional direction. During the second year you have to do a major thesis in combination with a research practice or an internship. Whether you will do a research practice or an internship depends on your previous education. Within the Animal Sciences programme, you can choose one of six specialisations, and/or do a professional track or participate in an international programme.


There are six specialisations you can choose from within the MSc Animal Sciences:

A. Genetics and Biodiversity

B. Nutrition and Metabolism

C. Global and Sustainable production

D. Adaptation, Health and Behaviour

E. Molecule, Cell and Organ Functioning

F. Animal Ecology

Each of the specialisations trains you to become an expert in that field. Within your specialisation you will choose a specific track, which is offered by one of the chair groups from this specialisation. The two major parts of your specialisation are the (thesis-preparing) courses and a major thesis. You can extend your specialisation with an internship or a research practice. It is also possible to do a research practice at another study track or specialisation.

Courses (60 credits)

About half of your MSc programme will be allocated to courses. Which courses you will take, depends on several factors: your previously acquired competences, your basic knowledge, and your choice of specialisation. Courses can be compulsory (CS) or restricted optional (RO). The exact course programme of the MSc Animal Sciences depends therefore for the majority on the individual student. Compulsory courses can be advanced statistics or bachelor courses in a specific field, in case you lack the necessary basic knowledge. Compulsory courses also include various academic skills courses ranging from scientific skills to consultancy skills. Compulsory courses also include thesis-preparing courses linked to the specialisation of your choice.

Information on the courses within the Animal Sciences programme and their planning can be found on the website of the study handbook.

Go to Study Handbook

Major Thesis (36 credits)

In a major thesis, you will perform a scientific research project, usually at one of the chair groups of the Animal Sciences department. The major thesis consists at least of a literature study, writing a research proposal, performing scientific experiments, data analysis, writing a scientific report, and presenting results orally. Your own interest is very important in choosing a research topic for your major thesis. The study advisors and the websites of the Animal Sciences chair groups provide a lot of information on possible thesis subjects. There are a lot of collaborations between research institutes within Wageningen University & Research, as well as with national and international universities and companies active in the field of Animal Sciences.

Find out more about the chair groups of the Animal Sciences department via the link below.

Go to chair groups Animal Sciences

Research practice (24 credits)

A research practice is comparable to a major thesis with respect to the learning goals and composition. It is also a research project, but of a shorter duration. In addition students also reflect on their career perspective. A research practice can be used to deepen and extend your knowledge on the topic of your specialisation. In that case it is usually performed at or via the chair group from your specialisation. A research practice can also be used to broaden your expertise, for instance by choosing a thesis subject in a specific professional direction. Then it is performed at a chair group outside the Animal Sciences department. For students who obtained their BSc degree at a University of Applied Sciences, the research practice is compulsory

The Animal Sciences programme offers different professional tracks that include a research practice in that field. Find out about them via the link below.

Go to Professional Tracks

Internship (24 credits)

The aim of academic internships is that students assimilate the institutional, entrepreneurial, and labour reality of their social setting of future academic positions. Proper internships require that students apply their scientific knowledge, exercise their professional skills, learn to work independently with a sense of responsibility for the organisation and can expand their personal network. Many students conduct their internship at a university or a research institution abroad, but an internship can also be conducted at a company in The Netherlands. The choice of an internship location is based on the interests and wishes of the student and the (worldwide) contacts of the staff of the chair group.

Back to MSc Animal Sciences