The Masters in Agricultural Extension and Innovation, aimed at graduates or those working in the agri-food sector, is now available to the thousands of people employed to work directly with farmers and farm families.

Players in the sector may see this as an ideal opportunity for one of their employees and, likewise, employees themselves who may wish to add to their skillset.

Current participants on the course are in farm advisory, feed sales, agri retail, policy development and veterinary.

These roles are centered around building a really strong, lasting relationship with the farmer, to ensure the chosen message reaches the target audience. These may be roles in technical sales, advisory, safety or inspection, accountancy or business planning.

The agri food industry is developing and competing more everyday so having support teams of highly skilled people, both technically and personally, is vital to progress innovation and behaviour change on farms and in farm families.

This initiative of Macra Agricultural Skillnet and UCD is now in its second year, with the masters oversubscribed in year one.

Many agricultural science and other technical graduates could, up to last year, not avail of a masters in this field, but with thousands working in these roles.

This programme is the first aimed at graduates building a career in sales, advisory or education. It aims to hugely improve the outcomes for the employee and the business they work for. Participants will be in employment where they are directly working with farmers.

The programme is designed as a part-time masters over a two-year period, with both online and face-to face learning. Contact days total only eight per annum.

‘Diverse and interactive modules’

Pamela McCormack, feed operations manager, Kehoe Farming Ltd, said: “I decided to study a MAgrSc in Agricultural Extension and Innovation at UCD to enhance both my technical and interpersonal competencies when facilitating farmers and business clients.

“Working with others in the course, from a variety of areas within the agricultural sector, develops your knowledge in new areas and exposes you to different perspectives. The modules are very diverse and interactive, along with being related to your professional work.”

Speaking on how this can benefit both personally and professionally, she said: “Completing assignments, individually and in groups, based on your daily work routine helps you to become more competent when carrying out work practices.

“It most certainly has enhanced my ability to effectively assist and advise customers of Kehoe Farming Ltd.

This two-year, part-time, distance learning taught masters programme equips graduates with the skills and knowledge to become more effective at supporting farmers in developing their farm business, changing behaviour and incorporating innovation at farm level.

“The programme will be delivered through a blended format [online and classroom based] and will allow students to build their skills for working autonomously, for independent research and in-depth analysis of information.

“Assignments will be based on real-life case studies relating to your professional work environment, reflecting the norms of practice in agricultural consultancy, support, sales and education services,” she concluded.

Assignments will be both online group work and individual based.

Modules include:

  • Agricultural Extension and Innovation;
  • The Reflective Agricultural Consultant;
  • Agricultural Education;
  • Programme and Project Management;
  • Client/Customer Relationships in Agricultural Work;
  • Group Approaches in Agriculture;
  • Understanding the Family Farm;
  • Business;
  • Research Methods 1 & 2;
  • Creative Thinking;
  • Thesis.

Further information

The Marca Agricultural Skillnet brochure and application form are available for download from: Or simply click here

The cost of masters are part-funded by Macra Agricultural Skillnet. Applications received after May 12 cannot be guaranteed entry. Interviews will be held in the first week of June.