Master of Science in Nutrition and Rural Development

Course content

Healthy and sustainable diets are a global challenge. While large populations face hunger and undernutrition, overweight and diet-related chronic diseases have taken on pandemic proportions. In addition, changes in nutrition and diets have a significant impact on natural resources and climate change. Improving nutrition is therefore key to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. To solve the existing nutrition (security) problems worldwide, specialists with an integrated and multidimensional view on development problems are urgently required. The MSc Nutrition and Rural Development trains a workforce that think critically and develop programs to improve nutrition of populations. Using better nutrition and food security as a starting point, students will contribute to sustainable development at household, national and international level. The program has an international focus with specific attention to the international dimension of nutrient and food security and challenges faced in high as well as low-income countries. Students come from a diverse background of cultures, technical background and nationalities. During the courses, students collaborate closely to critically assess available evidence, share lessons learned and develop innovative solutions to prevailing problems at grassroots level.

The general objectives are:

  • Obtain the necessary basic knowledge, insight and practical experience in the area of food production, post-harvest handling, transformation, storage, marketing and consumption of food;
  • Familiarise with qualitative and quantitative methods and analysis of nutrition research. Specific attention is given to evidence-based approach and the critical analysis of nutrition research findings;
  • Ability to identify problems, define the underlying causes and prioritise them to develop, manage and evaluate relevant interventions;
  • Acquire the necessary written and oral communication skills to interact with technical experts and others, and to be able to develop and critically evaluate scientific research independently.

The program fosters knowledge, insight and competencies with regard to nutrition and food security of populations. Courses such as food chemistry, human nutrition, nutrition disorders, food safety, nutritional epidemiology and interventions and dealt with extensively. Nutrition is considered in a multi-disciplinary perspective. Determinants of nutrition are often rooted in other domains such as agriculture, sociology and economic development. Nutrition experts, should hence be able to collaborate with other stakeholders to improve nutrition and food security. 

The programme specifically aims to:

  • Foster multi-disciplinary skills and knowledge via a number of general and specific courses that integrate new research and experiences from the field;
  • Make students familiar with various international nutrition and food challenges. The program provides the necessary tools to deal with these challenges effectively: A broad and in-depth know-how to analyse nutrition and food security problems in the context of rural development;
  • Understanding of recent developments in the area of research and policy with regard to nutrition and food security;
  • Offer various means of communication (discussions, policy briefs, presentations...) so students can interact with scientists, policy makers and the society at large;
  • Stimulate students towards a life-long learning attitude after graduation;
  • Bring students into contact with existing networks and national, international organisation that work in the area of nutrition and food security.

Course structure

This master of nutrition and Rural Development offers two majors: Public Health Nutrition or Nutrition Security and Management. While the first deals with the public health aspects of nutrition, the second deals with the developmental and economic aspects.

The first semester of the first year gives in-depth knowledge in general courses related to nutrition and rural development. This approach aims to establish a common ground between all students of different backgrounds. The standard courses in the second semester allow some specificity. To tailor the course programme to the individual needs and interests, students can already take one elective course during the first master year. The second year of this programme provides a more in-depth understanding of the specific problems and their solutions for the major they chose. The second year therefore consists of specific courses, a limited list of standard courses per major chosen, another elective course and master’s dissertation research. For the elective courses (including possibilities for an internship) the students may choose other courses offered in programmes at master’s level, at UGent or at an institute cooperating with UGent as long as they enable the student to compile a tailor-made study curriculum enhancing their individual needs or interests.

Career perspectives

  • Research and education at universities, private or governmental institutions;
  • Research in research institutions, private or governmental;
  • Development project collaborators (governmental, national or international NGOs, private);
  • Policy development, implementation and evaluation;
  • Administration of rural and urban projects;
  • Industrial sector; PhD programs;
  • Overseas project collaborators for local governmental and non-governmental development organisations;
  • Consultancy after some years of experience;
  • Involved in Europe in some international organisations, active in the development cooperation field;
  • In administration as policy preparatory jobs;
  • ...