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This module will develop the learner's ability to access relevant scientific information from primary literature, collate the information, and write an overview of a chosen research topic. Participants will learn modern techniques of data analysis in the context of analytical method development and how to apply statistical analysis processes to data sets and interpret the results in order to quantify data quality and compare data sets. Projects undertaken will be linked to a relevant sectoral issue, be it agricultural production, crop and livestock management practices, new technologies, food processing, marketing produce or direct consumer retail. Projects related to this research topic will be carried out under the supervision of individual members of the academic staff and, where relevant, a co-supervisor from organic or biological agriculture.

The module will be delivered from January in the second semester of each academic year with online lecture sessions each week. Course days and group practicals will be held during the semester for research design and data analysis. 

On successful completion of this module, a student will be able to:

  1. Locate and review information from the primary literature relating to a given research topic and determine its relative importance.
  2. Construct and develop a cohesive and fully referenced literature review report on a given research topic that conforms to a high standard of technical writing.
  3. Analyse the parameters and components of an area of study, presenting these in the form of a hypothesis or problem statement and describing a methodology for investigation.
  4. Assess and interpret data sets based on applied inter-comparison significance tests.
  5. Synthesise and prepare analytical data using statistical software packages for scientific papers and reports.
  6. Develop and demonstrate powers of analysis in the exploration and resolution of research problems.
  7. Critique, evaluate and summarize key findings generated on research problems.

Applicants for the Level 9 Certificate in Research Methods in Organic and Biological Agriculture should hold a National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) Level 8 honours degree in Agri-business or Rural Enterprise, Agriculture, Environmental and Land Science, or another Science-related discipline. Where the demand exceeds the places available, offers will be made in rank order based on applicant's Grade Point Average (GPA) in their primary qualification.

Applicants who do not hold a degree in the cognate areas specified but who have relevant industry or practical experience in agriculture or biological systems, or same in conjunction with a Level 8 degree in a non-cognate area may be considered for entry under SETU Waterford’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) mechanism. In the case of candidates with qualifications in non-cognate disciplines, equal weighting will be given for GPA qualifications (50%) and a selection interview (50%) to assess prospective candidate’s aptitude and experience relevant to the certificate programme.

Graduates with the Level 9 Certificate in Research Methods in Biological Agriculture may wish to apply techniques, practices, and skills learned in agricultural production systems, or provide support and technical advice to growers and farmers, or they may opt to remain in industry or a research, development and innovation environment. They may also use their applied knowledge and skills in public service for the development of supportive agroforestry, biodiversity and environmental policy.

Upon successful completion of other Level 9 Certificates the learner can graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma in Organic and Biological Agriculture (60 credits), plus a dissertation for a MSc in Organic and Biological Agriculture (90 credits)


Course Leaders

Mr John Geraghty

Lecturer in Land Sciences -

Call: +35351302264

Email: [email protected]


Dr Ultan McCarthy

Lecturer -

Email: [email protected]