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MSc (Rural Development) – by Distance Education

NFQ Level 9, Major Award

The programme is a distance learning master’s level degree programme for development workers. The programme is a collaborative venture between University College Cork, Ireland and Mekelle University, Ethiopia. The aim of the programme is to develop advanced skills amongst practitioners in rural development who are working in this field in developing countries; specifically targeting rural development practitioners in Ethiopia.

Course Objectives

To enhance the skill levels of practitioners in rural development working in developing countries;
To support the expansion of supply of trained practioners in the area of rural development in developing countries;
To support the skill dveleopment in rural development in the context of a globalising market economy;

The Programme

The programme will be delivered over 2 years on a part time basis. The programme comprises a total of 90 credits. This will comprise 50 credits in the first year and 40 credits in the second year. The first year will comprise taught modules delivered through distance learning, face-to-face group tutorial sessions, and a fieldwork project. Intensive teaching/seminars/tutorials will be held during the summer months in year 1. The second year will comprise taught modules, delivered through distance learning and including face-to-face group tutorial sessions, and a dissertation.

The MSc in Rural Development is a blended learning programme running for 24 months from the date of first registration for the programme. It may be taken on a part-time or full-time basis.

Entry Requirements

In order to qualify for admission to the MSc in Rural Development students must:
Be at least 23 years at time of enrolment
Have ability to access and use the Internet (access can be through public facilities including the Mekelle University)
Possess a minimum of two years experience in a professional capacity in a rural development-related organisation in the public, non-Government or private sectors; and
Hold at least a 2nd Class, Grade II Honours primary degree or an equivalent academic qualification from a recognised university;
or
Hold a primary degree or an equivalent academic qualification from a recognised university and have achieved at least a 2nd Class Honours in the MSc in Rural Development Qualifying Examination;
or
Hold a Diploma qualification in a relevant subject (e.g. agricultural sciences) from a recognised third-level institution, have a minimum of 5 years’ extensive practical professional experience in a rural development-related organisation in the public, non-Government or private sectors, and have achieved at least a 2nd Class Honours in the MSc in Rural Development Qualifying Examination.

Programme Requirements

Students take 90 credits as follows:
Part 1, (Year 1, October 2009 – September 2010)*
The first year will comprise taught modules delivered through mixed-media/blended learning, face-to-face group tutorial sessions, and a fieldwork project. It will also include lab-based work to develop practical skills in Statistical Methods and GIS for Rural Development which, however, will not form part of the formal assessment scheme for the programme.

*Note: In the new cycle of the programme which began in February 2010, Part 1, Year 1 runs from February 2010 to January 2011

Students take 60 credits as follows:
Core Modules
Students take 40 credits as follows:
FE6802 Natural Resource Economics and Marketing (10 credits)
FE6804 Regeneration and Conservation of Natural Resources (10 credits)
FE6805 Project and Programme Planning and Management (5 credits)
FE6815 Micro-Finance and Entrepreneurship (5 credits)
FE6822 Rural Development: Policies and Institutions (5 credits)
FE6823 Rural Poverty, Food Security and Sustainable Livelihoods (5 credits)

Elective Modules
Students take 20 credits from the following:
FE6806 Extension Methods and Practices (5 credits)
FE6809 Sustainable Development Policies and Issues (10 credits)
FE6810 Social Development Policy (5 credits)
FE6812 Water Resources Management (5 credits)
FE6818 Crop, Livestock and Fisheries Production Systems (10 credits)
FE6819 Small-scale Post-Harvest and Food Processing Technology (5 credits)
FE6820 Co-operative Food Processing and Supply (5 credits)
FE6821 Livestock and Pastoral Development (5 credits)

Part 2 (Year 2, October 2010 – September 2011)*

*Note: In the new cycle of the programme which began in February 2010, Part 2, Year 2 will run from February 2011 to January 2012

Students take 30 credits as follows:

FE6824 Thesis (30 credits)

Module descriptions are contained in the Book of Modules 2011/2012

Examinations

Full details and regulations governing Examinations for each programme will be contained in the Marks and Standards 2012 Book and for each module in the Book of Modules 2011/2012.

Programme Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:
Recognise the multi-dimensional nature of many rural development problems and the core connection with poverty and food insecurity
Identify, use, evaluate and interpret information from various sources to support analysis of rural poverty, food insecurity and rural development problems
Identify and apply appropriate analytical methods and tools to address problems of natural resource degradation and low agricultural productivity
Conduct in-depth and appropriately designed research to identify key rural development issues and identify solutions
Identify and apply appropriate analytical techniques for effective design and implementation of projects, programmes and policies in rural development
Recognize the gender dimensions of rural development and explain how rural development projects and programmes can address gender issues effectively
Communicate effectively and confidently on subject-specific topics in the written and oral form
Communicate effectively with rural development policy-makers and with society at large
Work effectively as an individual, in teams, in multi-disciplinary settings and in development organisations.