Research Master Programme 2016

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Interested in pursuing a career in scientific research?

PE&RC Research Master Programme

Agricultural Systems Resilience:
The road to sustainable production

Intended for MSc students who started their MSc in 2014 or 2015

Background Information

The Graduate School Production Ecology and Resource Conservation (PE&RC) of Wageningen University has set up a Research Master Programme in Agricultural Systems Resilience together with the MSc programmes Biology, Plant Sciences, Organic Agriculture, Earth and Environment and Forest and Nature Conservation. The programme is meant for students interested in pursuing a career in scientific research. Besides the MSc Degree the outcome of the programme will be a PhD project proposal for the NWO Graduate Programme call 2017 as well as a separate Research Master certificate awarded by PE&RC.

The Research Master Programme is part of the current 2-year science-oriented MSc programmes within Wageningen University that encompass 120 ECTS. It is an optional choice within the regular MSc programmes Biology, Plant Sciences, Organic Agriculture, Earth and Environment and Forest and Nature Conservation, but also inflow from other study programmes is possible.

Although the name of the Research Master Programme suggests that the focus will be entirely on agricultural systems, this is not necessarily true. The focus will be on resilience in natural and managed systems, and can relate to agricultural fields, but also to natural or managed forest ecosystems, for instance. The focus can be on soils, it can be on nutrients, can be on health, etc. The great thing about this Research Master Programme is that the MSc students that take part in the programme, will actively discuss the real-life issues with local and international stakeholders, and that, based on this, they will write their own research proposal focusing on the problem that interests them most and that they feel is most acute. As a participant in this programme you can thus steer the direction of the research topic for a large part, based on your personal interests!

The PE&RC Research Master Programme in Agricultural Systems Resilience to a large degree overlaps with the MSc programmes but focus lies on knowledge, insight, skills and competences a scientist should have. To this end, three elements of the Master programme are more tailor-made:

  1. Internship
    The internship involves an analysis of the issues at stake in greenhouse and arable farming to accordingly translate these issues into fundamental (biological) research questions which will be the basis of the research question to be elaborated on in the research proposal which will be written in the Research Master Cluster. This will be done via a participatory, co-learning approach where stakeholders are involved in the process.
  2. Research Master Cluster (RMC) Proposal Writing (12 ECTS)
    A Research Master Cluster (RMC) is a specific option of the Academic Master Cluster (AMC) of 12 ECTS (integrated with the 3 ECTS modular skills training). Within this element participants will write their own PhD research proposal where the central research question has been derived from the activities performed in the Internship. More details about the set-up of this RMC can be found here.
  3. Skills and Competences development with a focus on:
    1. Project proposal (scientific) writing and presentation
    2. Communication skills
    3. Interdisciplinary skills, stakeholder involvement and participatory research
    4. Research methodology
    5. Time planning and project management
    6. Effective leadership
    7. Literature search and review / Information literacy

    These will be taught during the Internship, RMC and extra-curricular elements (e.g. capita selecta). Moreover, research master students will be able to participate in capacity and skills development training organised by the Graduate School.

Evaluation and crediting

Based on the Research Master curriculum (a total of 120 EC), students will receive a regular MSc Degree with an additional PE&RC certificate indicating the specific skills, competences and insight as obtained from the activities specific for the Research Master Programme (as listed above).
The formal responsibility for the Research Master Programme lies with the MSc programmes (in Wageningen governed by Education Institute (OWI)). PE&RC therefore will discuss all suggested options as explained above with the relevant MSc programme directors.

To download the full description of the 2016 PE&RC Research Master Programme, please click here. To view a presentation about the 2016 Research Master Programme, click here.


The research proposal that candidates will write during the Research Master Programme can be submitted in response to the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) Graduate Master call 2017. Given the closing dates of project proposal submission to the NWO Graduate Programme call 2017, this research master is intended for MSc students who plan to obtain their MSc degree before 1 October 2017. Note, however, that the Research Master Programme is highly flexible and can be shaped into something entirely tailor-made. For instance, most ideally, MSc students taking part in this programme have taken all the necessary MSc courses at this stage, except for the Academic Consultancy Training (ACT) modules. Ideally, they have started or will start their MSc thesis work now, and are planning to do an internship as the final element of their MSc. They can most easily incorporate the Research Master Programme in their MSc, as they can just finish their MSc thesis first, then enrol into the Research Master Programme, where they first will do the internship, and then conclude their MSc programme (ánd the Research Master Programme) with the Research Master Cluster (12 ECTS) during the last period of the coming academic year (2016-2017). The Research Master Cluster then replaces the ACT modules.
If, however, you have already finished all courses, including the ACT modules at this stage, and you only need to still do a MSc thesis and internship, you can still fit it into your programme, and we will together evaluate which elements of the Research Master Cluster have already been tackled in the ACT modules, and which elements you would still need to work on. Most ideally, we would then try to schedule these elements in such a way, that you can take them during your internship, so you do not actually postpone the end date of your MSc.
If you would like more information about the possibilities in your specific situation, please contact Claudius van de Vijver (, tel: 0317-485116) or Lennart Suselbeek (, tel: 0317-485426).

Application and Admission to the Research Master Programme

To participate in this research master programme, the candidate must submit:

  1. A one page letter of motivation (max 400 words)
  2. A one page CV
  3. Letter of recommendation written by a supervisor or study advisor

These will be evaluated by an admission committee, composed of members of the Graduate School PE&RC who are involved in the topic of the programme. We aim at approximately 15 participants.

If you are interested in the PE&RC Research Master Programme, and you would like to apply for it, or at least receive more information about it, please enter your details below, and please attach the necessary document(s) when submitting your application. You do not need to hand in the letter of recommendation yet. This can be done at a later stage. We will contact you soon after you have submitted your application to discuss the further details and specific procedures.