Course Overview

Climate change poses many threats to agriculture, including reduction of agricultural productivity, production stability and incomes in areas of the world that already have high levels of food insecurity and limited means of coping with adverse weather. The new MSc ACT is a two-year international programme which equips students with tools to transform agriculture to feed a growing population in the face of a changing climate without hindering the natural resource base

The Masters in Agriculture, Climate change, Transitions (ACT) is offered by a consortium of six European universities, in close partnership with a network of international groups, third country universities, research institutes and civil society organisations that share in common the aim to develop capacities on the long term to reduce impact of climate change on food security and, in return, to mitigate the change by sustainable agricultural practices.

The course develops the following Graduate Attributes: 

  • the capacity to identify agricultural and rural development issues;
  • ability to support processes of technical and organisational change in rural areas;
  • critically assess development actions.  

Ag development capacities

  • Assess agricultural development and food security options in a given environment : alternative technologies or genetic resources, land use options, cropping and animal rearing/pastoral systems, market based and non market oriented modes of organisation, value chains, financial options (including insurance);
  • Identify the critical aspects of professional situations within natural resource management in relation to agricultural activities;
  • Have a clear understanding of the relationships in the natural resources-plant-environment continuum (the climate, crop, livestock, and natural risk management);
  • Describe the patterns characterising these situations and analyse the social and economic challenges linked to them;
  • Support processes of technical and organisational change in rural areas and provide development support;
  • Evaluate development projects and programmes

Climate change capacities

  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of climate change and its linkage to the global environmental changes ;
  • Evaluate opportunities that may arise from environmental and climate changes, as well as assess risks of climatic changes and climate variability ;
  • Assess environmental impact (LCA, C sequestration…) for agricultural and development proposals or existing value chains.
  • Master the use of modelisation tools for a prospective vision of climate change modalities and impact and or the mitigation effect of diverse development scenarios.

Ethics, soft skills and communication

  • Work in multidisciplinary teams and communicate effectively using a wide range of materials.
  • Think, communicate, cooperate and solve problems from an interdisciplinary perspective;
  • Demonstrate capacity to innovate efficiently, manage change and work among communities;
  • Express and communicate scientific knowledge and concepts across a range of professions.


Applications and Selections

Who Teaches this Course

The NUI Galway component of the MSc.ACT is delivered by the research experts of the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre; a full list of PABC research groups and Principal Investigators can be found at:

It is delivered in conjunction with the Agrinatura programme (, the leading grouping of European universities and research organizations supporting agricultural development in order to improve people's lives.

Details of the wider consortium and its associated partners can be found at:

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Applicants should follow the procedures described on BEFORE beginning their PAC application.

Requirements for entry are:

  • Bachelor of Sciences (180 ECTS) or equivalent in Agricultural Sciences, or a BA in Social Sciences with a particular experience in agriculture.
  • Excellent academic background (1st class degree normally required).
  • IELTS 6.5 (non-native speakers of English). 
  • A cover letter and letters from at least two referees. 

Additional Requirements


1 year (NB 1 year is spent at NUI Galway during the ‘M1’ of the MSc; the MSc ACT is completed in a second year ‘M2’ at a partner European institution)

Next start date

September 2018

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

Deadlines roughly end-January & end-May, see 

Next start date

September 2018

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting

120 (of which 55 are delivered by NUI Galway during the M1).



PAC code


Course Outline

Carried by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, specialised trainers and professionals involved in agricultural development in developing countries, the MSc.ACT is a joint degree based on a robust and simple system of mobilities between EU partners.

Students study for their first year (two semesters) in NUI Galway, and for their second year in one of our partner organisations (a further two semesters): BOKU Vienna, Austria (in English); the University of Catania, Italy (in Italian); or SupAgro Montpellier, France (in French).

At NUI Galway, students will study 55 ECTS of taught material, including topics such as Climate Change, Agriculture & Global Food Security; Gender, Agriculture and Climate Change; Natural Resources & Livelihoods; AgriBiology; Soil Sciences; Plant & Agri-Biotechnologies; and Understanding AgriBusiness & AgriFood Market Trends.

Once based at the partner organisation in their second year, students will also perform a 30 ECTS research project.

Modules for 2016-17

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
A module you may choose to study.
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year.

Year 1 (55 Credits)

Required PAB5104: Gender, Agriculture & Climate Change

Required PAB5117: Understanding Ireland’s Agriculture & AgriFood Sector

Required PAB5115: AgriFood Sustainability & Agri-Resilience Challenges

Required PAB5116: Understanding AgriBusiness & AgriFood Market Trends

Required PAB5101: Climate Change, Agricultural & Global Food Security

Required PAB3101: Soil Science

Required PAB5111: PAB5111 CCAFS Perspectives

Required PAB5110: CCAFS Science Communication

Required PAB5109: PAB5109 AgriBiological Responses to Climate Change

Required PAB5108: Climate Change, Natural Resources & Livelihoods

Required PAB4104: Plant and Agri-Biotechnologies

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

More productive and resilient agriculture will need better management of natural resources, such as land, water and soil. Graduates of the MSc.ACT will not only be able to find work or future research working towards food security goals but also help mitigate the negative effects of climate change, in . They will also be able to pursue PhD studies, for example in the Plant & AgriBiosciences Structured Phd. 

The programme has been designed to develop graduates who are empowered to carry out research within agriculture-related activities in temperate, subtropical or tropical environments. The unique combination of field-and discipline-related activities within the same programme qualifies the graduate to carry out adviser- or policy-related activities within agricultural development. 

Potential professional activities include:

  • Agricultural Development project manager;
  • Environmental change lobbyists and activists;
  • Agriculture and climate change advisor;
  • Corporate Carbon market and accounting specialists for agriculture and forestry;
  • Extension, grassroots Education and Community change agents;
  • Agricultural and environmental policy analysts, advisors and programme officers.
  • Sectors of particular relevance are:
  • Funding and Development Agencies;
  • Consultancy companies on agriculture, natural resource management and the environment;
  • Non-governmental organisations;
  • Professional organisations.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€4,500 p.a. 2017/18

Fees: Tuition

€4,276 p.a. 2017/18

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2017/18

Fees: Non EU

€9,000 p.a. 2017/18
For more details please see

Find out More

Prof. Charles Spillane & Dr. Peter McKeown,
Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC),
Office ADB-2006,
Áras de Brún,
National University of Ireland Galway,
University Road, Galway
H91 REW4
E:  /
T: +353 86 796 3624