International Master of Science in Rural Development
 Course Structure

IMRD COURSE STRUCTURE

 
The IMRD academic programme runs over 2 years (22-24 months), consisting of 5 obligatory modules during which a participants needs to obtain a minimum of 120 ECTS credits:
 

  1. General Entrance Module (= Semester 1)
  2. Advanced Module I (= Semester 2)
  3. Case Study (= Summer Course in-between Semesters 2 & 3)                                         
  4. Advanced Module II (= Semester 3)
  5. Master Dissertation (= Semester 4).
    (6. Internship (possbility))

 

The General Entrance Module

This entrance module is offered by Ghent University, Belgium, for all IMRD students (IMRD-ATLANTIS-EKAFREE) and consists of a combination of obligatory and optional courses representing major disciplines regarded as essential for an integrated rural development approach. It last from September year n until the first week of February year n+1.

As incoming students have different backgrounds, it is very important to create a common knowledge base, and a solid network between the students. Therefore this module is a study period with theoretical formation in basic agricultural economics and development theories and methodologies. Its courses represent a general training into the basic competence domains (Applied Rural Economic Research Methods, Rural Development and Agriculture, Agricultural and rural Policy, Development Economics, Micro-economic Theory and Farm management, Food Marketing and consumer behaviour).

The common start at one university creates a group feeling and stimulates exchange between students during the remaining period of their study in Europe. Students can also be assisted more effectively upon their arrival in Europe (logistics, facilities, cultural adaptation), and in their curriculum (mobility) development.

This module involves also some teaching by visiting scholars from the other Consortium partners and from Non-European countries. The visiting scholars provide the opportunity to present the specialties of the different partner universities, enabling the students to define their mobility path based upon their interests. Additionally, videoconferences are organized to present all partner universities to the students.

During this module, students should take min. 20 and max. 35 ECTS (of which 20 are fixed and obligatory). For the instructed classes in this module, please consult the Course Catalogue.
 

Advanced Module I

This specialized module offers students the possibility to specialise in one of the competence domains. It consists of a range of obligatory and optional courses, which can be complemented with elective courses. The optional and elective courses can be used to broaden specific knowledge or to improve language and cultural knowledge and skills. The combination of obligatory and optional courses ensure a minimum of “basic” knowledge (quality of the joint degree), but at the same time provides sufficient flexibility for the students to specialize in his/her particular field of interest.


Students should take no less than 15, and no more than 35 ECTS during this module. For the instructed classes in this module, please consult these pages: Course Catalogue.

Advanced Module I is offered by all IMRD consortium partners. Students are free to choose the partner at which they will follow the module, though should guide their decision based on their foreseen learning path, as well as on the specialty disciplines of each partner university. The chosen partner must be different than the partner chosen for Advanced Module II, and ideally is not the partner where the student will conduct and defend the Master Dissertation.

 

The Case Study

The objective of the case study is for students to undertake a practical experience in a commonly organised study, where students and scholars from different institutions and backgrounds share visions and approaches; and are confronted with the reality of rural development in rural areas through a more active learning method.

Students learn to apply the basic knowledge and appraisal methods in new circumstances and need to work in groups. They are also confronted with practical rural work realities, have many field vists and working meeting with local farmers and Local Action Groups and (international) (N)GO's of the area.

The case studies are organised in the summer period in between the two academic years in two different European countries, allowing students to study more in depth about local realities.The case studies are offered by Pisa University (Italy) and the Slovak University of Agriculture (Slovakia) and last 1 month.

This case study represents 10 ECTS or credits. For the case study, students can indicate their preferred location, but in case of an imbalance, the IMRD Management Board ensures that the group of students is divided among the partners offering the case study according to previously set quota, guaranteeing an equal distribution at both Case studies.

For more information on the Case Study, please consult the Course Catalogue.
 

Advanced Module II

This specialized module offers students the possibility to specialise in one of the competence domains. It consists of a range of obligatory and optional courses, which can be complemented with elective courses. The optional and elective courses can be used to broaden specific knowledge or to improve language and cultural knowledge and skills. The combination of obligatory and optional courses ensure a minimum of “basic” knowledge (quality of the joint degree), but at the same time provides sufficient flexibility for the students to specialize in his/her particular field of interest.

Students should take no less than 15, and no more than 35 ECTS during this module. For the instructed classes in this module, please consult these pages Course Catalogue.

Advanced Module II is offered by all IMRD consortium partners. Students are free to choose the partners at which they will follow the module, though should guide their decision based on their foreseen learning path, as well as on the specialty disciplines of each partner university. The chosen partner must be different than the partner chosen for Advanced Module I, and ideally is the partner where the student will conduct and defend the Master Dissertation. If the latter is not the case, then Advanced Module I should be taken at the Thesis Partner University, as at least one advanced module should be taken at the Thesis Partner University; consequently, the decision on where a student will follow both advanced modules needs to be taken in close consultation with the Thesis Partner University.

For the instructed classes in this module, please consult the Course Catalogue.


        The Master Dissertation

The Master Dissertation (or thesis) is written on a topic related to the disciplines of rural development, rural economics or policies. It represents 30 ECTS.

By developing the master dissertation, students show they are able to individually analyze a rural development or related problem in a scientifically correct manner. So different to, for example, an internship, students also have to conceptualize a problem and search for data, analytical methods and develop a research methodology.


Already at application time students have the opportunity to express their research interests. During the first semester the students are guided to develop a mobility track responding to their research interests. As the ideas for their thesis become more concrete, they are directed towards the most qualified staff (institution) to assist them in their research.
Students are encouraged to come up with their own thesis subject, preferably relevant to their home country, but they can also select a topic presented to them by their professors. In most of the cases, data collection and other field work are elaborated in the home country or a third country, in cooperation with one of the consortium partners or other academically affiliated partners or one of the associated partner organizations. External scholars and outstanding professionals working in the field of rural development and rural economics also assist in supervising the students or in providing specific assistance.

Students spend this study period at the defending Thesis Partner University (TPU). This partner should be one where the student has spent at least one of both advanced modules; preferably the third (the second is possible, though only after prior approval by the TPU).
In light of the latter, students are requested to indicate their TPU already during the application process. For students awarded with any of the IMRD administrated scholarships, this decision will be final as the chosen TPU will be a condition for receiving the scholarship. For self-funding students this indication is pre-final; but in case of change this has to be done before December of the first year of their participation in the IMRD programme in order to be able to monitor the progress of the student.

For more information on the master dissertation, please consult the Course Catalogue.
 

(Internship)

Within the IMRD programme, students may opt to do an internship as part of their academic curriculum. The internship will then be considered as an extra course of 6 or 12 ECTS (= on top of the obligatory, elective and optional ECTS), depending on the content and length of the internship.
The internship may be conducted at any moment, as long as it does not prevent the student from attending the classes enrolled for and the course work.

For more information on the internship, please consult the Course Catalogue
 



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Last update on 05/05/2017 -
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