Thematic Areas and Courses


Photo: Max Mitenkov

The second and third semesters are flexible and allow students a more in-depth study of areas of interest that they discover during the first semester, while preparing a background for their thesis work. NMBU is fortunate to have many contacts and network cooperations worldwide. NMBU students have access to not only the courses offered at NMBU, but also the opportunity to travel to different universities to meet their learning needs.


Although flexibility and self-directed learning are important aspects of the MSc Agroecology, we have drawn a road map for students. But remember roadmaps rarely include all possible paths, and the terrain always contains something remaining to be explained.

The following thematic areas in agroecology represent profiles that students can build up over the two-year programme. These profiles do not need to fill the second and third semesters completely. Space can be left open for elective courses that may be needed for thesis work.

Sustainability & Rural Development
Students entering into this area will learn about the challenges facing sustainable and rural development. In many countries rural development is of key importance in an effort to stop the depopulation of rural areas. This path will lead you into exciting and rewarding work opportunities, which revolve around the challenge of making our society more sustainable in the long run.

Organic Agriculture
Interest in ecological agriculture is on the rise in Europe, and many governments have set goals to substantially increase the area of land in ecological production. Therefore opportunities exist to aid in this development after completing an education that can contain coursework and research into field, farm and landscape level organic farming.

Development Studies & Tropical Agriculture
For students who wish to study Agroecology yet concentrate on agriculture and societal issues in developing countries, this thematic area can be very suitable. The study combines systems thinking and an agroecological background, while also studying material and methods that are very relevant to sustainable development in developing countries.

Agroecology & the Environment
Traditionally conservation has only been focused on undisturbed areas. However, we are starting to realize that there is also value in considering agricultural land as a habitat for many species. Through proper management, the agricultural ecosystem can become very complex. Both conservational value and the stability of the agricultural system can be improved through the added complexity, when the proper combinations of species and management are found. As well, the effects of agricultural systems on recipient ecosystems and atmosphere are studied and explored.

Human Nutrition & Food Systems
The right to food and proper nutrition is an important issue for agricultural and food systems throughout the world. Whether the focus stems from a lack of nutritious food or overconsumption, there are many sustainability issues in this area related to nutrition, human rights and the overall effects of a global food system which can be explored.

Agroecology & Economics
Economics play a vital and powerful role in agricultural systems. This area allows students the opportunity to focus on economics while maintaining a more interdisciplinary approach, with environmental and social perspectives balancing their profile.

Agroecology & Crop Production/Agroecology in the Mediterranean

Crop production world-wide is currently facing much criticism regarding environmental, economic and social issues. Using agroecological and systems approaches, innovative and exciting solutions can be developed to improve the current situation. This study gives a deeper understanding of crop production, as well as other important influencing factors, with emphasis on Mediterranean conditions.

Ecological Engineering

After the first semester students may wish to focus on the flow of energy and nutrients in the food systems, particularly the missing link from consumer back to the farm. Issues such as energy, nutrient cycling, waste treatment and composting can be studied, using systems thinking and agroecological approaches.

Systems analysis & Action-based research
In the study of Agroecology, systems analysis and action-based research are emphasised. Within this direction, students can concentrate on developing the communication, facilitation, decision-making and conflict resolution skills that they will require in their future careers. Many students incorporate systems theory aspects into their thesis in order to include the process of improving an agroecological problem into their research.

Published 11. November 2013 - 11:13 - Updated 24. February 2022 - 13:28