Agro- and Ecosystems Engineering is about ensuring the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations in both the global North and global South. Agro- and ecosystems provide a wide range of essential goods and services such as food, water, energy, and biodiversity. Yet, the contemporary context of population growth, rapid urbanization, economic globalization, climate change, deforestation, soil pollution and degradation challenges the future provisioning of a sufficient quantity and quality of these goods and services.
What is the Master of Agro- and Ecosystems Engineering all about?
The Master of Agro- and Ecosystems Engineering (ACE) provides in-depth knowledge of the functioning and management of natural and production-oriented ecosystems. You can choose to focus on either temperate or (sub)tropical settings, or a combination of both. You compliment the interdisciplinary core programme with a major specialization in one out of four different domains: biological production, abiotic and biotic environment, bioeconomics, and bio-geo information.
The production major focuses on agro-ecosystems and includes specialization tracks in crop production, production forestry systems (achieved through a semester in Chile) and hortology (achieved through a semester in South Africa).
The environment major provides an in-depth understanding of the biophysical functioning of both natural and agro-ecosystems with the aim of improving the management of these ecosystems' biodiversity, soil and water resources. The major includes specialization tracks in soil and water systems, forest and nature systems, and landscape systems.
The economics major focuses on the economic and policy-related aspects of agro- and ecosystems, with in-depth courses in the field of agricultural, food and natural resources economics.
The information major addresses earth observation and geo-data management technology, with in-depth courses covering both the technological aspects of this area and their applications in the field of terrestrial resources.
Are you looking to broaden your horizons? There are ample opportunities to conduct part of your master's thesis research at various partner institutions abroad. In addition, European residents can undertake their master's thesis research at a European or another partner university within the framework of the Erasmus+ program. The Faculty also welcomes initiatives of students who want to do a work placement in a company or organization abroad, as well as exchange programmes with partner universities.
Two optional specialization packages require one semester to be spent at a partner institution: the Production Forestry package is organized at the University of Temuco (Chile), while the specialization in Hortology takes you to the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa).
More information: www.biw.kuleuven.be/english/index
Application deadline for 2021-2022
1 March 2021 (for non-EEA citizens)
1 June 2021 (for EEA citizens)
KU Leuven uses an online application system. You can download and submit your application form via www.kuleuven.be/application. Students with a Flemish degree can consult www.kuleuven.be/studentenadministratie.
The tuition fee for 2020-2021 is € 947for EEA citizens and € 6,600 for non-EEA citizens – with an exception for citizens from the first two columns of OECD/DAC recognized developing countries for whom the tuition fee is € 947.
Please consult the website for the most recent information: www.kuleuven.be/tuitionfees.
This is an initial master's programme and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.
Is this the right programme for me?
This MSc is designed for highly motivated students with a solid background in exact sciences and a keen interest in the functioning and sustainable management, design, and engineering of agro- and natural ecosystems.
ACE is open to any applicant holding an academic bachelor's degree in engineering (bioscience engineering, agricultural engineering, environmental engineering, or any equivalent engineering degree), and to applicants holding other bachelor's or master's degrees encompassing thorough coursework in at least two of the following three domains (i) mathematics and statistics, (ii) Earth and environmental sciences, and (iii) biology and ecology. Students may be required to take strengthening elective courses to fill any gaps in educational background.
The interdisciplinary nature of ACE ensures that graduates are sought after by various professional fields related to biological production systems and ecosystem management, with particular emphasis on plant production, natural resource economics and policy, sustainable environmental management, and applications of earth observation and geomatics.
Abundant employment opportunities exist in public sector organizations, both nationally and internationally, NGOs and private companies, and can be both technical in nature, research-oriented, or at the policy/management level. Finally, ACE provides excellent preparation for undertaking Ph.D. research.
In Belgium, graduates of the ACE program are entitled to use the professional title of 'Bio-Ingenieur' ('Bioscience Engineer').
Have a broad, engineering-oriented knowledge of the biotic and abiotic components of agro- and ecosystems, of their functions, services, and values, and of their interrelationships across a large range of spatial and temporal scales;
Have profound scientific knowledge in at least one of the following domains: (i) land-based biological production systems (agri- and silviculture); (ii) systems for the conservation and management of the natural environment in relation to the biological production (soil, water, climate, biodiversity); (iii) agricultural and environmental economics, (iv) data acquisition and information processing related to the three previously mentioned domains;
Be capable of analyzing, using a systems approach, the interactions between and within agrosystems, ecosystems and the socio-economic context from at least one of the following perspectives: (i) production systems; (ii) environmental management; (iii) economics and (iv) data requirements and information processing. Dependent upon the application perspective, being capable of understanding, formulating, parameterizing, validating and implementing models of the biophysical, ecological, bio-economical, statistical, spatiotemporal and/or combined types. Being capable of optimizing decisions regarding land use taking account all ecological, agronomical, engineering and socio-economical constraints;
Be capable of integrating knowledge about agro- and ecosystems and related engineering technologies in geographically targeted projects and interventions at local to regional scales, as well as in policy preparation and evaluation at regional to global scales;
Be capable of positioning agro- and ecosystems in various societal, cultural, economic and policy contexts and in interdiciplinary work and research frameworks. Be aware of the research, societal and corporate challenges regarding agro- and ecosystems and their management;
Be capable of functioning in interdisciplinary teams and of taking up starter leadership. Be capable of comparing the domain- or discipline-specific approach with the approaches of other domains and disciplines. Be aware of the values but also of the limitations of the disciplines for contributing to the sustainable management of agro- and ecosystems.
Problem-oriented formulation and analysis of complex problems within the expertise domain, by dividing these into manageable subproblems and designing solutions for specific cases with attention to the application possibilities and broader conceptual impact.
Independently conceive, plan and execute an engineering project at the level of a starting investigating professional. Conduct and critically interpret a literature search according to scientific standards, with attention to the conceptual context and the application potential.
Use intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary insights to select, adapt or eventually develop advanced research, design and solution methods, and adequately apply these and scientifically process the obtained results; motivate the choices made based on the foundations of the discipline and the requirements of the application and business context.
Act from a research attitude: creativity, accuracy, critical reflection, a motivation of choices on scientific grounds.
Groundbreaking, innovative and application-oriented development of systems, products, services, and processes; extrapolation with attention for the business context. Extract new research questions from design problems.
Control system complexity using quantitative methods. Have sufficient knowledge, insight, and experience in scientific research to critically evaluate the results.
Act from an engineering attitude within a generic and discipline-specific context: result-oriented attitude, attention for planning and technical, economic and societal boundary conditions like sustainability, risk and feasibility assessment of the proposed approach or solution, focus on results and achievement of effective solutions, innovative and transdisciplinary thinking.
Work using a project-based approach from a generic and disciplinary context: formulate goals, keep a focus on specific objectives and development route, operate as a member of an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary team, develop leadership, operate in an international or intercultural environment, and report effectively.
Have the economic and business insight to place the contribution to a processor of the solution of a problem in a wider context.
Weigh specifications and boundary conditions and transform them into a high-quality system, product or process. Extract useful information from incomplete, conflicting or redundant data.
Communicate written and verbally about the own field in the language of instruction and in the languages that are relevant for the specialism.
Communicate and present subject matters in fluent language and graphically to colleagues and laypersons.