Over the past two decades, the horticultural industry in Kenya has expanded tremendously becoming a major contributor to the country’s economy and the leading foreign exchange earner and a major employer. However, stiff competition in regional and global markets and the problems encountered in production, processing, financing, and environmental management pose a serious challenge. There is therefore need to build capacity in aspects that increase productivity while managing resources and environment efficiently, effectively and sustainably. The Master of Science (MSc) programme in horticulture is designed with a view of training high quality graduates with requisite professional and technical skills to effectively handle issues of crop productivity, quality, postharvest handling and value addition. The trainees will be equipped with knowledge and skills on global issues including good agricultural practices, climate change, biodiversity, biotechnology, environmental management and market access. In addition, the trainees will be taught research and communication skills to enable them develop strategies that will enhance the growth of the horticulture sub-sector.


The revised MSc Horticulture curriculum has introduced flexibility in the mode of delivery and incorporates new topics such as entrepreneurship, phytosanitary standards, crop biotechnology and improvement, and scientific communication in order to address the changing market demands. Open, Distance and Electronic Learning (ODEL) has been in-built into the mode of delivery to meet the needs of students who might prefer the alternative. The flexible ODEL is preferred by employers and self employed people since it allows employed students to undertake training while still on the job. The revised curriculum is designed to offer client-friendly training to produce holistic graduates well prepared and equipped to handle challenges and exploit opportunities within the horticultural product value chain.


The objectives of this programme are:

(i)                 To enable graduates to acquire in depth theoretical knowledge and practical skills in horticultural crop production

(ii)               To build the capacity of graduates to formulate a research problem, design and execute scientific research project and reporting and communication in horticulture to stakeholders

(iii)             To enable graduates to acquire entrepreneurial skills for use in creating employment opportunities



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



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.



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 (ODEL)

The Open, Distance and e-Learning programme will run for a minimum of 4 semesters of 15 weeks each 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 centres at the University of Nairobi

i.                    Access to information through computers at the University of Nairobi.

ii.                  Use of libraries at the University of Nairobi.

4.3.6        Orientation (immediately after registration):

i.                    Orientation in ODEL delivery.

ii.                  Study, reading and computer skills.

iii.                Time management and techniques of handling assignments.

iv.                Mentorship, guidance and counselling.

v.                  Emphasis is on satellite centres 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.










Course code

Course title



ACS 600

Biometrics for Agricultural Sciences



ACS 601

Advanced Plant Physiology and Metabolism



ACS 602

Crop Biotechnology and Improvement



ACS 603

Crop Pest Management



ACS 604

Seed Science and Technology



ACS 605

Plant Nutrition and Soil fertility



ACP 610

Agricultural Entrepreneurship



ACP 612

Research Methods and Scientific Communication



ACH 603




ACH 604

Advanced Vegetable Production



ACH 605

Advanced Fruit Production and Beverage Crops



ACH 606

Post-Harvest Physiology and Phytosanitary Standards



ACH 609












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.



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







ACS 600: Biometrics for Agricultural Sciences

Review of descriptive statistics and basic inference.  Overview of sampling concepts: simple random sampling and proportional sampling. The concept of power and sample size determination.  Principles of experimental design: randomisation, replication, error control. Modelling: 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 cell.  Photosynthesis. Respiration: function, conversion efficiency, alternative pathways, important factors. Lipid and protein metabolism. Plant water relations. Transpiration and implications in crop production. Translocation. Stress physiology (drought, heat, flooding, salinity, acidity). Plant development and regulation. Plant nutrients. Nitrogen metabolism. Secondary metabolites their nature, structure and function in key East African crops. Research methods in plant physiology for crop productivity. 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. 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. 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 in breeding major field and horticultural crops.



Crop seed as a basis of crop production; Types of seed, asexual and sexual. Seed biology, morphology, anatomy, physiology, seed dormancy, Crop seed environment: Micro- and macro aspects of water, air/wind temperature, radiation, and relative humidity on crop seed yield in relation to seed quality. Above and below ground management of controllable and natural factors in seed production. Husbandry and harvesting of seed crops.  Processing practices, harvesting, cleaning, drying, conditioning, storage and seed testing protocols. Variety development and release. Formal and informal seed production and delivery systems. Seed health and quality standards. Seed packaging, labelling and marketing. Legislative control of seed industry including registration, inspection and certification. Role of private and public agencies in seed industry. Plant breeders rights and intellectual property rights and benefit sharing. Synthetic seed, transgenic seed and biosafety protocols.


ACS 603: CROP pest Management

Overview of weed science and management; Weed management and crop quality and environmental implications; Invasive weed species, origin, spread and their management; Climatic change and weed species dynamics; Biotechnology issues in weed science genetically modified organisms (GMOs), resistance, genetic pollution, Weed-crop interference, competition and allelopahty, Research methods. Economic importance and losses caused by plant diseases and insect pests. Disease causing pathogens and other agents; isolation and identification techniques; symptoms and effects on plants and produce; disease epidemiology. Principles of disease management. Insect classification and identification; crop pests and their management. Environmental considerations in crop protection.


ACP 610: Agricultural Entrepreneurship

The entrepreneurial perspective: nature and importance of entrepreneurs; entrepreneurial opportunities; creating and starting a venture: creativity and business idea, legal issues for entrepreneurs, the business plan; financing the new venture: sources of capital, informal risk capital and venture capital; managing, growing and ending the new venture: new venture expansion strategies and issues, going public, ending the venture; records in business management.


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, 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.



Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of the floriculture industry in Kenya and global market. Effects and control of environmental, cultural and physiological factors for optimum production; Green/protected environment and Outdoor production; Hormonal plant growth regulation; Postharvest physiology, handling and technology of flower crops; Global trends in market access and barriers to floriculture trade; Phytosanitary and Quality Standards; Case studies, Recent advances in Research and Development



Overview of global and local trends in production and marketing of vegetable crops.  Environmental and physiological influences on growth, development, yield and quality of vegetable crops and their products; Vegetable cropping systems; Crop establishment, Controlled environment and outdoor production; Soil and soil-less cultures; Nutrient requirements and fertility management; irrigation and water management; Integrated Pest Management; Postharvest handling practices and technology and emerging issues on market access, food/carbon miles, global good agricultural practices (GLOBALGAP); Case studies of important local, indigenous and export vegetables; review of recent advances in research and development in vegetable production




Overview of tropical, subtropical and temperate fruits. Important considerations in fruit crops establishment. Preharvest production and management practices and their effect on yield, quality and postharvest characteristics of fruits. Plant growth regulators and their commercial application in fruit production. Fruit maturity and harvesting. Postharvest physiology, handling practices and technology of fruits; Marketing; global trends in market quality requirements and access, phytosanitary and quality standards, regulation and certification. Recent advances in research and development in fruit science. Environmental and nutritional factors affecting genetic and physiological processes influencing growth, yield and quality of coffee, tea, and other beverage crops. Processing and quality control of products of beverage crops. Marketing; global trends in market access and market quality requirements.



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 carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur (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.



Postharvest and plant physiology, Crop quality; nature and structure of perishable products, growth and development; metabolism (primary metabolism – respiration and secondary metabolism. Growth regulation; ethylene biosynthesis perception and action, Gibberillic acid, auxins, ABA and cytokinins. Water relations and control; Biotic and abiotic stress. Principles and practices of harvesting and handling, grading, packaging, storage, processing, transportation and marketing of horticultural produce and food crops; preservation methods, pre-cooling, controlled and modified atmosphere storage, mechanical refrigeration, construction of cold rooms. Phytosanitary considerations in agricultural trade; technical trade barriers; World Trade Organization (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement; National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs); International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs); Codex standards; regional standards; industry standards (EurepGap, KEBS, KenyaGAP).



Each candidate, in consultation with their supervisors, will choose a topic in horticulture 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.






Title Course Code Course Hours Semester Year
Floriculture ACH 603 45 1
Advanced Vegetable Production ACH 604 45 1
Advanced Fruit Production and Beverage Crops ACH 605 45 2
Post-Harvest Physiology and Phytosanitary Standards ACH 606 45 2
Thesis ACH 609 360
Agricultural Entrepreneurship ACP 610 45 2
Research Methods and Scientific Communication ACP 612 45 1
Biometrics for Agricultural Sciences ACS 600 45 1
Advanced Plant Physiology and Metabolism ACS 601 45 1
Crop Biotechnology and Improvement ACS 602 45 1
Crop Pest Management ACS 603 45 1
Seed Science and Technology ACS 604 45 1
Plant Nutrition and Soil fertility ACS 605 45 2