Unlike years ago when options were limited, there is now a choice of agricultural science degrees in colleges across the country. But it is not just a choice of colleges, students can choose from, there is also a huge choice of majors within the degree programmes on offer to students.
University College Dublin (UCD) offers 14 undergraduate degree programmes with the newest offering Crop Science added for 2021.
This new degree will give students with an interest in agronomy a focused route to develop a career in this area.
In UCD, the most popular courses year on year have been Animal Science, Animal and Crop production and Food and Agri-Business Management it is important to remember the other courses out there. And choosing a major “outside the box” may benefit students through smaller class sizes and specialisation right out of college if you are sure that is the route you want to work in.
Agricultural Systems Technology (AST)
Students with a keen interest in technology may be interested in the Agricultural Systems Technology major. This course (previously known as Eng Tech) focuses on the design, numeracy and technologic tools used to engage with farming and food production. Graduates will have the skills to work in areas enhancing food production efficiency, sustainability and reliability; key players in the future of global agriculture.
Irish Country Living spoke to current AST student Mark O’Dowd: “Originally, I was looking at ag engineering in Harper Adams or else ag engineering in Tralee, but I didn’t really want to go fully into engineering with it being more on the maths side. I still wanted the agricultural side of things that those courses offered. I saw the course in UCD and thought it combined the best of the two, more science based and to do with the technology end of agriculture.”
Mark also saw how the course was based on bio-systems engineering which gave him that option also after college.
“Careers in companies such as Lely require this aspect from your degree programme. I saw this as a good stepping stone, even if I did want to go down the engineering route. It is also a good intermediate between engineering and pure agricultural technology – not just tractors and engines but also robotic systems and computers,” he said.
Forestry is not a new programme and qualified graduates from the course will be in ever greater demand as forestry will play a key role in Ireland’s climate policy.
Aside from offering students the opportunity to learn and understand the science and practice of managing forests, the knowledge gained extends into forestry adaptions to cope with climate change, wildlife management, remote sensing and renewable energy.
UCD graduate student Patrick Flynn selected this course as he knew it would offer him the opportunity to work outdoors.
“I really enjoyed the forestry undergrad. The course offers a wide selection of science based modules. Then we were taught how to apply it to the sector.”
Patrick is now doing a master’s degree in NUI Galway in environmental sustainability with the hope of going into an environmental role within the forestry sector.
If deciding on agriculture as a career choice, when you are filling out your CAO, look beyond just the college and look at the options within the courses. You might be surprised by what you find.