Master of Science in Nutrition and Rural Development
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. The MSc Nutrition and Rural Development trains a workforce that can think critically and develop programs to improve diet and 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.
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 can think critically and develop programs to improve diet and 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 programme 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- and middle 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 from community to national and international 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 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 programme fosters knowledge, skills 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. As determinants of nutrition are often rooted in other domains such as agriculture, sociology and economic development, nutrition experts should be able to collaborate with other stakeholders to improve diet 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.
The admission requirements vary. Depending on your preliminary training, you are either able to enrol directly, or there are additional requirements.
This MSc Nutrition and Rural Development offers two majors: Public Health Nutrition or Nutrition Security and Management. While the first mainly deals with the public health aspects of nutrition, the second deals,more 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. 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.
- 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);
- Food and nutrition policy development, implementation and evaluation;
- Administration of rural and urban projects to improve diet, nutrition or food security;
- Industrial sector i.e. improvement of nutritional contribution of foods or nutritional services; consultancy services
- PhD programmes;
- Overseas project collaborators for local governmental and non-governmental development organisations;
- Involved in Europe in some international organisations, active in the development cooperation field;
- In administration as policy preparatory jobs;
At Ghent University, we strive to educate people who dare to think about the challenges of tomorrow. For that purpose, we provide education that is embedded in six strategic objectives: Think Broadly, Keep Researching, Cultivate Talent, Contribute, Extend Horizons, Opt for Quality.
Ghent University continuously focuses on quality assurance and quality culture. The Ghent University's quality assurance system offers information on each study programme’s unique selling points, and on its strengths and weaknesses with regard to quality assurance.
Ghent University's Education Objectives
Unique Selling Points
- The programme builds knowledge on nutrition and rural development: We focus on quantitative as well as qualitative aspects, with a particular emphasis on evidence-based approaches and critical appraisal of research to guide and evaluate population nutrition and develop interventions. As such, the programme fosters lifelong learning and consideration of knowledge and education for development.
- Our programme puts a strong emphasis on hands-on competencies and skills: In various course units, students work in teams and carry out joint planning of proposals and discuss evaluations of interventions. Group composition takes into account the students’ various nationalities and technical backgrounds. Students learn how to defend group work in interactive sessions with peer assessment.
- Multiperspectivistic focus: Our programme has a comprehensive focus on nutrition in populations and in the context of food security and sustainable development.
- Applicability: Guest lecturers are invited to discuss experiences and practical challenges of programmes and interventions. In addition, by means of the Master’s dissertation, our students learn how to define a problem, collect data and develop research-informed interventions. Also, students can choose to embark on a work placement, in which they are exposed to practical challenges when developing programmes. As a consequence, alumni are found at different organizations, e.g. national governments, United Nations specialized agencies, local and international NGOs and research institutions across the globe. A considerable number of our students also pursues a PhD.
- Education based on research: Lecturers are actively involved in research on food, nutrition and development. This research is conducted in the context of national, European as well as global partnerships. Ongoing research findings feed into the course units and ensure that lectures are in tune with the most recent findings and innovations.
- Our lecturers are approachable. This includes the tenured academic staff as well as the teaching assistants who take care of the practical course units. Students interact with the staff in both a formal and informal way to discuss research, as well as academic and practical matters related to studying in Belgium.
- Students and lecturing staff collaborate to ensure quality. Our Programme Committee meets on a monthly basis to discuss matters related to the quality and organization of the programme. Student representatives make up at least 1/3 of the total members and have voting rights.
- Education-related matters and quality assurance are reviewed and supervised by an international advisory board. This board contains alumni and representatives from NGOs, UN agencies as well as academic staff of universities in Europe and in the global south.
- A committee at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering supports the Programme Committee to ensure premium-quality education. Transparent procedures are in place, and regular workshops on the topic of quality assurance in education and the exchange of good practices between lecturers are organized.
- Our programme boasts a dedicated team of lecturers, all of them international leading experts lecturers from a wide variety of disciplines. They combine their passion for research in the field of nutrition and rural development with education.
- The programme considers the work placement to be an integral part of the Master’s curriculum. Albeit not mandatory, students will be even more encouraged to take up a work placement in their curriculum. Supported by the staff of the course unit, students are stimulated to pursue work placement options and empowered to develop personal collaborations and networks.
- Exchange with other Master’s programmes in Europe. We have identified various linkages with other Master’s programmes at Ghent University and in Europe. Students will be even more encouraged to take on course units from other programmes and gain additional international experiences.
- To ensure further integration with other (international and national) Master's programmes at the faculty, our Programme Committee will promote the involvement of more lecturers in the Programme Committee and in daily management of the programme.
This study programme is accredited by the Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (Dutch: NVAO). Accreditation was extended following the positive outcome of the institutional review in 2022. Programme quality was validated by a quality review, i.e. a screening of the Education Monitor by the Education Quality Board. The Quality Assurance Resolution (in Dutch) can be found here.
This information was last updated on 01/02/2023.
In case of questions or suggestions with regard to the publicly available information, please contact the study programme.