MSC AGRONOMY
Masters
2

REVISED REGULATIONS AND SYLLABUS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE IN AGRONOMY (MSc AGRONOMY)

 

1.0       INTRODUCTION

Agriculture plays a vital role in Kenya‘s national economic development as a source of livelihood, industrial raw materials and employment.  The Kenya government growth-oriented Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS), which is in line with Vision 2030, seeks to facilitate the sector’s transformation from the subsistence to an “innovative, commercially-oriented, and modern agriculture sector”. The strategy underpins the need to build capacity that will drive increased crop productivity while managing the resources and environment efficiently, effectively and sustainably.  Universities will contribute to the realization of the ASDS objectives by developing curricula that strengthen manpower capacity to meet the needs of the sector.The major challenge of increasing crop productivity to meet the needs of an increasing population is to do so efficiently while safeguarding the environment and crop quality and safety. Crop productivity is influenced by biotic (weeds, insect pests and diseases) and abiotic stresses (e.g. low soil fertility, drought and heat stress). This requires multiple skills that enable an agriculturist to integrate knowledge on crop-environment interaction and analytical and communication skills.

 

The revised MSc. Agronomy curriculum has introduced flexibility in the mode of delivery and incorporates new topics to address the changing job market requirements. Open, Distance and Electronic learning (ODEL) is preferred by employers and self employed people since it allows students to undertake training while still on the job.

The revised curriculum is, therefore, designed to offer client-friendly training aspects of crop production and environmental management to produce holistic graduates well prepared and equipped to meet the current job market requirements.

 

The overall objective of this programme is to equip studentswith knowledge and build their capacities and skills on agricultural production and research. This will contribute to increased agricultural productivityas a basis of sound research and advisory services for sustainable national and regional development. The specific objectives of the programme are:

(i)                 To train skilful agronomists qualified in scientific basis of sound environmental managerial skills for increased crop productivity, environmental and product safety

(ii)               Equip graduates with analytical and communication skills to enhance knowledge generation, dissemination and utilization.           

 

2.0       ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

The common regulations for the Master’s degree of the University of Nairobi and Faculty

of Agriculture shall apply. 

2.1              A holder of a degree with at least Upper Second Class Honours in Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Horticulture, Botany and Zoology, Environmental Sciences, Forestry, or related plant science degree or Bachelor of Education in Science with Botany and Zoology option and any other relevant subject from the University of Nairobi or any other institution recognized by Senate.

2.2              Holders of a degree with at least Lower Second Class Honours in any of the degrees specified in (2.1) above with  two years of relevant experience or a postgraduate diploma in (2.1) above or equivalent qualification from the University of Nairobi or any other institution recognised by Senate.

2.3              Holders of a pass Bachelor’s degree in disciplines specified in (2.1) above and a postgraduate diploma or its equivalent from the University of Nairobi or any other institution recognized by the senate.

2.4              A holder of a pass degree in the disciplines specified in (2.1) above with at least five years relevant work experience

 

3.0 CREDIT TRANSFER AND EXEMPTIONS

3.1 A candidate may be exempted from taking some course units and be allowed to transfer credits of the same up to a maximum of one third (⅓) of the taught units provided that these are from institutions recognized by the University of Nairobi Senate.

3.2 A candidate seeking transfer of credit shall send a formal application to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, through the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, justifying and supporting the request.

3.3 Transfer of credits shall be processed only after payment of the prescribed non-refundable fees.

 

4.0 COURSE STRUCTURE AND DURATION

The programme will be offered as full time, part time and through Open, Distance and Electronic Learning (ODEL) for students who cannot attend regular University programmes.

4.1  Full-Time

4.1.1        The degree program shall consist of coursework, examinations and thesis.

4.1.2        The course shall cover a minimum of 4 semesters and a maximum of 8 semesters and each semester will be 15 weeks.

4.1.3        Each candidate will be required to take and pass all courses.

4.1.4        Each candidate will be required to undertake a research project leading to an examinable thesis. The choice of the thesis research topic shall be made in consultation with the department and the academic supervisor.

4.1.5        Each course unit shall have 45 hours covered in one semester.

4.2. Part time

As in 4.1 above in addition to the following:

4.2.1        The course shall cover a minimum of 4 semesters and a maximum of 8 semesters and each semester will be 15 weeks.

4.2.2        A student shall be required to take a minimum of two and a maximum of four courses in one semester.

4.3. Open, Distance and e-Learning

The Open, Distance and e-Learning programme will run for a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 semesters of 15 weeks each. The minimum calendar years for completion of the programme shall be 2 years and a maximum of 4 years. The minimum course load per semester will be 2 course units.

 

The mode of delivery will be through open and distance learning modes involving largely home and/ or office-based media:

4.3.1        Written self instructional study modules issued at registration time

i.                    Study course materials like booklets

ii.                  Relevant literature

iii.                Interactive devices and self tests

4.3.2        Face to face introductory tutorials

4.3.3        Mediated technical learning materials for example:-

i.                    Audio visual

ii.                  e-learning materials

4.3.4        Limited face-to-face sessions to provide overview of the course at commencement of semester, mid semester and revision period before examinations.

4.3.5        Support study centers at the University of Nairobi

i.                    Access to information through computers at the University of Nairobi and other resource centers.

ii.                  Use of libraries at the University of Nairobi and other institutions.

4.3.6        Orientation (immediately after registration):

i.                    Orientation in ODL delivery.

ii.                  Study, reading and computer skills.

iii.                Time management and techniques of handling assignments.

iv.                Mentorship, guidance and counseling.

v.                  Emphasis is on satellite centers that serve as a link between the University and the student in the following manner: registration, collecting reading materials, collecting results and programmes, examination information, posting timetable and holding meetings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0 COURSE OUTLINE

 

Course code

Course title

Hours

Semester

ACA 601

Agrometeorology and Climate Change in Crop Production

45

2

ACA 602

Agroecosystem Analysis

45

2

ACA 603

Crop and Forage Production Systems 

45

2

ACA 604

Eco-Efficient Bio-resource Management

45

2

ACS 600

Biometrics for Agricultural Sciences

45

1

ACS 601

Advanced Plant Physiology and Metabolism

45

1

ACS 602

Crop Biotechnology and Improvement

45

1

ACS 603

Crop Pest Management

45

2

ACS 604

Seed Science and Technology

45

1

ACS 605

Plant Nutrition and Soil fertility

45

2

ACP 612

Research Methods and Scientific Communication

45

1

ALM 610

Remote Sensing and GIS 

45

1

ACA 605

Thesis

360

All

Total

 

900

 

 

 

 

 

6.0 EXAMINATION REGULATIONS

 

6.1. Written examinations

6.1.1        Each course shall be examined by a written paper lasting three hours at the end of each semester in which the course is given.

6.1.2        The coursework assessment shall account for 30% and written examinations for 70% of the final mark.

6.1.3        The pass mark for each course shall be 50 %.

6.1.4        The grading of the courses shall be as follows:

A = 70% and above;

B = 60 – 69%;

C = 50 -59%;

D = 0 – 49% (fail)

6.1.5        A candidate who fails in any paper may, on the recommendation of the Board of Examiners, and approval by the Senate be allowed to take up to two supplementaries in failed papers after paying the appropriate fees.

6.1.6        A candidate who fails in the second supplementary or fails to complete the programme in the prescribed maximum duration of 8 semesters shall, on the recommendation of the Board of Examiners and approval by the Senate, be discontinued.

6.1.7        The mark for a supplementary paper shall be recorded as 50% in the candidate’s academic record.

6.2. Thesis examination

6.2.1        Each student shall present a seminar on the thesis research proposal.

6.2.2        Each candidate shall submit for examination a thesis, with the approval of the academic supervisors, at the end of the final semester. The thesis shall be examined in accordance with the common regulations of the University of Nairobi.

6.2.3        A candidate who fails in the thesis examination may on the recommendation of the Faculty Board of examiners be allowed to resubmit the thesis within six months up to a maximum of two times.

6.2.4        A candidate who fails after the second resubmission or fails to complete the course in the prescribed period shall, on the recommendation of the Faculty Board and approval by Senate, be discontinued.

 

7.0 AWARD OF DEGREE

Candidates who satisfy the examiners in all written and thesis examinations shall be awarded a Master of Science degree inAgronomy.

 

 

 

 

8.0 COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

ACA 601: AGROMETEOROLOGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE IN CROP PRODUCTION

Measurement of meteorological elements. Spatial and temporal characteristics of weather elements; their variability and effects on crop production. Causes, trends and impacts of climate change and variability and effects in crop production; variability in meteorological factors and their influence on infestation of pests/diseases. Major fluxes; CO2, water vapour, energy and wind transfer processes within plant environment and their effects of crops. Factors that determine evaporative demand of the atmosphere; Penman-Monteith Equation; evapotranspiration and implications on crop water management. Occurrences and frequencies of meteorological hazards and their mitigation strategies. Crop adaptation to climatic stresses (drought, temperature, flooding, wind, salinity). Application of indigenous weather knowledge on climate variability and adaptation/coping strategies. Mitigation strategies and modification of microclimate in agriculture (irrigation, windbreaks, tillage, mulching, precision farming). Climatic risk assessment tools applicable in agriculture - stochastic weather generators; crop-weather models. Application of meteorological forecasts in evaluating expected crop yields. Interpretation and application of meteorological data, forecasts and information in agricultural planning and strategic management (agricultural calendars, response farming, insurance, marketing). Policy issues on climate change – national, regional and global, carbon trade. Important treaties and conventions; Implementation of treaties/conventions and main challenges.

 

ACA 602: AGROECOSYSTEM ANALYSIS

 Ecosystem approach to food and forage production:  concepts of biome, ecosystem, habitat, and plant community, population and species; crop physiological and genetic composition, abiotic (climate and soil), biotic (pests and diseases) and human (social, cultural and economic) factors; management practices. Analytical tools – models their importance; types of models (empirical, stochastic, mechanistic and process based); application as decision support tools- benefits and challenges (data collection, quality, testing and validation; scale), early warning systems. Application of models in precision agriculture; Examples of application of analytical tools in yield gap analysis – level of production, techniques of production; human factors (social, cultural, economic factors);  weather and yield forecasting; Modeling climate change under different scenarios, mitigation strategies, application at local, regional and global levels.

 

ACA 603:  CROP AND FORAGE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS

National, regional and global crop production trends, challenges and opportunities. Factors influencing crop production systems; Energy flow efficiencies in crop production systems. Crop production systems: types and characteristics of crop production systems; subsistence and market oriented: shifting cultivation, plantation, mixed cropping, agroforestry, precision farming, protected farming, hydroponics, dryland and irrigated; field, horticultural (fruits, vegetables, ornamentals), beverage, fibre and biofuel production systems.

Global food crisis; effects of improved livelihoods and demand for animal products; global and regional contribution of livestock to food security and livelihoods; forage production constraints and opportunities solved by both forage quantity and quality, land, soil and water improvement interventions; production and management of feed resources under different livestock production systems (range-based, intensive, small livestock production systems with sheep, goats, pig and poultry). Forage science in the realm of environmental agronomy; ecological ‘conditioners’ of primary production as a support system for secondary production; Improving the ecology of pastureland production. Seed for forage and range pastures.

 

ACA 604: ECO-EFFICIENT BIORESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Ecological principles in resource use relationship:competition, complementarity; above (light) and below ground competition (nutrients, water); plant population effects; resource partitioning; resource availability – spatial (micro and macro scale) and temporal distribution and adaptation strategies to optimize capture and utilization; designing and resource use studies.

Biodiversity basis of ecological bio-resource management-relevance to food and forage crop genetic diversity, use and conservation; controllable and uncontrollable factors in food and forage production, forage plants, food and feed crops, inputs in smallholder production systems; food and fodder preservation methods, value chain context of agricultural production; food, feed and pasture safety issues.

ALM 610: REMOTE SENSING AND GIS 

Principles of remote sensing; visual image interpretation; digital image processing; image enhancement and correction techniques; image classification; general sensor technology; principles of Geographical Information Systems (GIS); data input systems; data management procedures; spatial data output/display; spatial queries and simple analysis; attribute data analysis and special application areas; remote sensing and GIS applications in agriculture; crop type classification, soil and crop condition assessment, crop yield estimation, soil moisture assessment, mapping of soil characteristics and management practices, and other environmental aspects.

 

ACS 600: BIOMETRICS FOR AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES

Review of descriptive statistics and basic inference.  Overview of sampling concepts: simple random sampling and proportional sampling and sample size determination.  Principles of experimental design: randomization, replication, error control. Modeling: translating study designs into statistical models considering both treatment and blocking structure; assumptions underlying a model; approaches to model fitting; correct handling of continuous and factor explanatory variables; data analysis, presentation and interpretation of coefficients and model output; Techniques for generalized linear models. Principles of survey and questionnaire design.

 

ACS 601: ADVANCED PLANT PHYSIOLOGY AND METABOLISM

Structure and function of plant cellular membranes.  Photosynthesis: light capture, carbon dioxide fixation, photorespiration, and factors affecting photosynthetic efficiency in plants.  Respiration: function, conversion efficiency, alternative pathways, important factors. Lipid and protein metabolism. Plant water relations: properties of water, water potential components, transpiration and implications in crop production. Translocation. Stress physiology and plant adaptations (e.g. drought, heat, flooding, salinity, acidity). Plant development and regulation. Plant nutrient: Nutrient uptake mechanisms Nitrogen metabolism. Secondary metabolites: their nature, structure and function in key East African crops. Use of transgenic plants and metabolic engineering to analyse plant metabolism. Techniques in modern crop physiology.

 

ACS 602: CROP BIOTECHNOLOGY AND IMPROVEMENT

Applications of biotechnology in agriculture: bioremediation, crop stress tolerance to biotic and abiotic factors, crop quality and nutrition; gene revolution and crop production; industrial and pharmaceutical products (biofuels, rubber). Deoxyribonucleic acid ( DNA) structure and function (gene expression, translation, transcription). Ribonucleic acid (RNA) structure, synthesis and processing; Recombinant DNA technology; Molecular techniques for gene cloning (enzymes used in gene cloning and characterization); cell and tissue culture; genetic engineering (transformation overview); Social and ethical issues in biotechnology, biotechnology policies (rules and regulation). Mating systems and breeding methods of field and horticultural crops; male sterility; incompatibility, clones; marker assisted breeding and genetic modification; breeding for disease and pest resistance; tissue culture and polyploidization; breeding major field and horticultural crops; multi-location testing and variety release; breeding rights and their regulations.

 

ACS 603: CROP PEST MANAGEMENT

Overview of weed science and management; Weed management - crop (field and horticultural) quality and environmental implications; Invasive weed species, origin, spread and their management; Climatic change and weed species dynamics; Biotechnology issues in weed science (GMOs, resistance, genetic pollution), Research methods. Diseases – economic importance and losses caused by plant diseases; characteristics of causal agents of plant diseases: bacteria, fungi, nematodes, viruses; disease recognition; sources of disease inoculum; spread of plant diseases; disease and pest epidemiology; management of pests and disease; effects of climate change; safety and food quality issues; climate change ; principles of plant disease and pest management (disease, pests, and weeds); Environmental considerations in crop protection. Insect classification and identification, damage on crops and their management. Environmental considerations in crop protection.

 

ACS 604: SEED SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Seed as basis of crop production. Types of seed (asexual and sexual). Seed biology: morphology, anatomy, physiology, dormancy. Growth and development: pre-germination, seedling Understanding seed biology including morphology, anatomy, physiology, seed dormancy, requirement at pre-germination, growth and maturation (seedling and vegetative growth, flowering, pollination and syngamy, fruiting, seed-set and ripening). Crop seed environment; micro-and macro aspects of water, air/wind, temperature, radiation and relative humidity on quality.  Above-and below ground management of controllable and natural factors in seed production. Husbandry and harvesting of seed crops. Processing practices. Post harvest technology and handling practices; harvesting, cleaning, drying, conditioning, storage and seed testing protocols. Seed health and quality standards.  Seed packaging, labelling  and marketing. Legislative controls of a seed industry including registration, inspection and certification.  Role of private and public agencies in seed industry. Plant breeders rights, intellectual property rights and benefits sharing. Synthetic seed biotechnology; transgenic seed and biosafety protocols.

 

ACS 605: PLANT NUTRITION AND SOIL FERTILITY

Plant nutrition and implication in crop productivity; Soil fertility and fertilizer use trends and effects on crop productivity; Mechanism of nutrient uptake, metabolism and utilization. Major nutrient cycles (C, N, P, S). Crop fertilizer requirements: diagnosis, fertilizer use efficiency, fertilizer choice, methods of application, cost implications; crop response to fertilizer application; soil pH and liming; integrated nutrient management: organic and inorganic fertilizers, bio-fertilizers; symbiotic associations; soil conditioners, rhizosphere associations; Estimating crop nutrient requirements, methods of soil and plant nutrient analysis; matching crop nutrient demand and supply; nutrient management in hydroponic systems; nutrients and environmental pollution. Technological advances that increase fertilizer use efficiency.

 

 ACP 612:  RESEARCH METHODS AND SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION

Research process: problem analysis, literature review, developing the research question, hypotheses and objectives; understanding outputs/outcomes/impact; log frames and budget planning; research quality control including protocol development and critical review of research instruments such as questionnaires, field manuals, and debriefing documents. Data management: disciplined use of spreadsheets for data entry, data validation, audit trails and archiving.  Scientific communication: thesis, scientific papers, power point slides, technical reports, posters, brochures, videos, policy briefs and press releases.

 

ACA 606: THESIS

Each candidate, in consultation with the supervisors, will choose a topic in agronomy for their research. Before embarking on research, the students will be required to prepare a proposal which will be approved by the department. The thesis will be equivalent to eight course units and will be undertaken in all the semesters. At the end of the research, the candidate will write and submit a thesis for examination according to the current University of Nairobi regulations for a Master of Science thesis.

Documents

 

Courses

Title Course Code Course Hours Semester Year
Agrometeorology and Modelling Crop Production ACA 601 90
Fundamentals of Crop Improvement ACA 602 45
Soil Fertility and Fertilizer Use ACA 603 45
Agronomy of Annual Field and Vegetable Crops ACA 604 45
Agronomy of Perennial Crops ACA 605 45
Forage Agronomy and Range Pastures ACA 606 45
Remote Sensing and GIS in Environmental Agronomy ACA 607 90
Biometry and Computing ACS 600 90
Advanced Plant Physiology ACS 601 60
Biodiversity & Agro-forestry Resources in Agricultural Production ACS 602 45
Biotechnology ACS 603 45
Seed Science and Technology ACS 604 60
Pest and disease management ACS 605 45
Post Harvest Physiology, Handling and Crop Quality ACS 606 45
Research Methods and Graduate Seminars ACS 607 45
Research Project ACS 609 450