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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Studying an agri degree at UCD: What you need to know

That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, spoke to a representative for UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science. We discuss studying ag science, progression routes and opportunities for graduates.  

UCD, Ireland’s largest university, is ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide and is also the number one university in Ireland for employability from 2018 -2022.

Ucd Campus

UCD, Ireland’s global university, was founded in 1854, and today approximately 38,000 students are studying at UCD in Ireland or via overseas campuses.

It is a modern, research-intensive university on a stunning 133-hectare campus comprised of state-of-the-art facilities with approximately 100 societies and 60 sports clubs.


UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science:

The UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science is one of UCD’s top performing schools, offering 14 honours degree programme entry routes spanning the entire agriculture, forestry, horticulture, environmental, food and health chain.

The school is ranked number one in Ireland, 5th in Europe and 20th globally based on the latest US News and World Report Subject Rankings.

UCD has a proud tradition in agricultural sciences and can be traced back to 1838 with the establishment of the Glasnevin Institute (Albert College).

There has always been a very strong focus on research excellence and the application of research to create new knowledge and opportunities for the agri-food and related sectors.

This commitment to research excellence and strong industry linkages remain evident today, supported by excellent facilities and institutes such as UCD Lyons Farm, UCD Rosemount and Environmental Research Station and the UCD Institute of Food and Health.

Agricultural science omnibus:

UCD Agricultural Science provides students with the most comprehensive range of options available in Ireland for students interested in undertaking a programme in animal and crop sciences, agribusiness, environmental sciences, agtech, horticulture, forestry or equine sciences.

Here is a list of the full range of options:

  • Agricultural Systems Technology;
  • Agri-Environmental Sciences;
  • Animal and Crop Production;
  • Animal Science;
  • Animal Science – Equine;
  • Crop Science;
  • Dairy Business;
  • Food and Agribusiness Management;
  • Food Business with Chinese Studies;
  • Forestry;
  • Horticulture.

The UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science also offer additional honours degree programmes in Food Science (DN261) and Human Nutrition (Dn262), which attract many student applications.

How to apply:

There are several entry pathways via the CAO on the basis of Leaving Certificate points but also via the HEAR route (for students from low-income backgrounds) or DARE route (for students whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their education).

It is also possible to apply via approved QQI-FET programmes (typically one-year post Leaving Certificate programmes offered at many different locations around Ireland).

You can find additional information on QQI-FET-approved programmes for agricultural science at UCD via this link.

There are also additional opportunities, including mature student entry (over 23 years of age), via the university access to science, engineering, agricultural science and medicine programme and via open learning.

Admissions pathways are constantly evolving, and you can access more information on alternative entry routes at the UCD Access and Lifelong Learning Centre website.

Ucd Student Centre (1)

What happens in year one of agricultural science:

Students receiving a place at UCD will be welcomed and supported on their journey to UCD as part of a dedicated orientation programme which this year takes place from 20th to 23rd September.

As part of the orientation programme, there will be an opportunity to meet with staff and students, to receive a tour of the facilities, support with registration, as well as getting to know your classmates.

In stage one of the agricultural science omnibus programme, students typically take 12 subjects (6 subjects per semester usually), providing a solid foundation in the core sciences while also providing an opportunity to select certain modules in advance of choosing which of the 11 individual degree options available to pursue towards the end of stage one.

UCD states that places are guaranteed on each of the options available, but students interested in pursuing food business with Chinese studies, for example, will be required to select certain subjects during semester one if they would like to pursue this option.

While the requirements of each individual subject may differ, there is a requirement to attend some subjects in-person, although some modules or components of modules are likely to also be available online.

Studying abroad

There are opportunities for students enrolled on programmes at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science to take a semester abroad.

As Ireland’s global university, international mobility is encouraged where possible, and there are also a limited number of scholarships available to support some of the costs associated with studying abroad.

The school currently have 25 international study abroad partners around the world.  In 2022, a total of fifty third-year students took a semester abroad, with the USA the most popular destination of choice.

There are also opportunities to take a semester abroad in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and other locations too.


Career opportunities available to graduates:

UCD states that “graduates of the school are in great demand and occupy leading positions in Ireland and around the world”.

Roles vary depending on what individual programme students select, and the school is one of the only schools at UCD where a dedicated Careers Fair takes place (UCD Agriculture, Food Science and Human Nutrition Careers Day), which attracts lots of high-profile speakers, alumni and employers each year.

Approximately 50 exhibitors have attended this event annually in recent years.

You can view a short video from this year’s Careers Day and also watch some recent alumni galleries developed via this link and this one to see where some recent graduates have found employment.

Careers Day

Further study:

The programmes offered at UCD also provide an excellent platform for students interested in progressing to further study at UCD or elsewhere.

UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science offer 15 postgraduate taught programmes (full-time, part-time, offline and online options) on topics such as environmental sciences, wildlife conservation and management, animal science, sustainable agriculture, food, nutrition and health, humanitarian action, food safety, horticulture and agricultural extension and innovation.

There is also a range of micro-credentials options available – you can view the listing of options on offer by the school via this link.

Transfer opportunities

Applications are welcome from students interested in transferring to agricultural science at UCD from another course or higher institution.

However, it is best for applicants to contact the school directly regarding possible transfer and progression routes which are constantly evolving.

Additional information on transferring to UCD is available via this link.

International applications:

As Ireland’s global university, applications from international students are very much encouraged.

UCD’s commitment is to “bring the best of the world to Ireland and the best of Ireland, including its distinctive cultures, to the world”.

Given how highly regarded Ireland’s agri-food sector is globally, the quality of the Irish education system and UCD’s comprehensive offering and expertise in agriculture and food sciences, UCD is an attractive destination for students interested in studying agricultural sciences overseas.

Before studying at university

UCD encourages students to thoroughly research its programmes in advance of making an application.

It is important students enrol on the correct programme that aligns with their interests and passion, the spokesperson added.

There is lots of information available online about its programmes, in its undergraduate prospectus, and it is also possible to book a campus tour, attend the university open day (Saturday, November 12th, 2022 ) or speak with a member of staff at one of the many events the school will organise or attend throughout the year.

For more information, please visit this link.

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