Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2018/2019

BSc (Hons) AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies; Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); inputs from other UoE schools.
Programme accredited by: n/a
Final award: BSc (Hons)
Programme title: Agricultural Science; Agricultural Economics; Agricultural Science (Animal Science); Agricultural Science (Crop and Soil Science); Agricultural Science (Global Agriculture and Food Security)
UCAS code: TBC
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: TBC
Date of production/revision: 6 February 2017

External summary

Improving the effectiveness and sustainability of agri-food systems is vital to tackling the challenges of global population growth, rapid urbanization, food and environmental security, and diet and health. These challenges affect affluent as well as low and middle income countries. Addressing them is key to moving hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and central to many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and partners already make significant contributions to tackling these issues at national and global levels.

Via this suite of closely related programmes we aim to develop, inspire and empower graduates / future leaders with passion, ambition and critical thinking to address these complex global and national agri-food system challenges through innovative, research-led and sustainable approaches. Students will explore: global agri-food systems; international agricultural policy and trade; natural, physical and social sciences underpinning agri-food systems; modern livestock and crop production systems; global challenges, including population growth, food and environmental security, planetary health/one health; new agricultural technologies; research skills and leadership. This will provide a foundation for a career and leadership in research, policy, non-governmental organisations or the agri-food industry.

The programme will be led from the University’s Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security and SRUC. Our joint submission in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science ranked top in the UK for research power in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. Major contributions to all courses from research-active staff will ensure that students are aware of, and involved in, topical research themes throughout the programme.

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims to equip graduates with attributes that will prepare them for a leading role in agricultural science, and its application to agri-food-related global challenges – whether in research, policy, non-governmental organisations or the agri-food industry. These attributes include:

  • Understanding of agricultural science, the relevant underlying natural, physical and social sciences, and how these disciplines must be integrated to address the global challenges.
  • Awareness of emerging global agri-food system/planetary health challenges and opportunities, and potential solutions from science - from molecular to planetary scales.
  • Research skills (including experimental, data and literature-based approaches); quantitative, analytical and interpretative skills; research integrity.
  • Innovation, business, management, leadership, IT and communication skills.
  • Personal and intellectual skills that give an adaptable and effective approach to study, work and wider activities - in particular, the skills needed to lead trans-disciplinary teams that can take scientific innovation through to impact.

The development of students will be fostered through the provision of courses that develop understanding of agricultural science and underlying scientific principles; promotion of systems and interdisciplinary thinking; opportunities for student-led tailoring of their education; opportunities for engagement with leading industry and academic partners, nationally and globally.

 

Annex 2 shows the overall structure of the programmes. There is a common structure in the first 2 years. In years 3 and 4 there will be opportunities for students to continue to study a broad curriculum leading to a BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science, study a broad curriculum leading to a BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science, or to follow one of four more specialized programmes leading to a BSc (Hons) Agricultural Economics, BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Animal Science), BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Crop and Soil Science) or BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Global Agriculture and Food Security). These are 5 distinct Single Honours degree programmes (Type A), but they are described collectively here as they are closely interconnected.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

In years 1 and 2, courses introduce the key components of agricultural science, including relevant underlying natural, physical and social sciences, establishing a solid foundation for progressive specialisation in subsequent years. In each of these years, compulsory core courses facilitate the development of knowledge and understanding in a wide range of agricultural science disciplines, while access to courses outwith the lead school allow for student-led tailoring of learning e.g. allowing additional emphasis on economics, business studies, social or natural sciences, or on completely unrelated subjects that challenge accepted thinking, and/or develop complementary thought processes. Key aims of the programme will be to promote enquiry and understanding of contemporary issues, from molecular to planetary scales, and to promote an awareness of the societal context of the relevant global challenges.

In all four years of the programme, courses on Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists will inculcate global and interdisciplinary thinking, and provide core training in research, quantitative and interpretative skills, innovation, business, communications and career skills. This course will include a short work placement in year 3, and prepare students for the final year project.

In years 3 and 4 there will be opportunities for students to continue to study a broad curriculum leading to a BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science, or to follow one of four more specialized programmes leading to a BSc (Hons) Agricultural Economics, BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Animal Science), BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Crop and Soil Science) or BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Global Agriculture and Food Security).

Study Abroad options will be investigated for year 3.

Suitably qualified students may undertake a work placement of up to a year, at the end of year 3. This may be non-credit bearing, may include additional credits for Student-Led Individually Created Courses (SLICC), or may include preparatory work for the final year project.

The final year project may be (i) a research-based project, or be literature-based and include either (ii) a research project outline; (iii) a policy brief or (iv) a business plan in support of a new agri-food business, innovation or product, or similar projects approved by the Programme Director.

Major contributions to all courses from research-active staff will ensure that students are aware of, and involved in, topical research themes throughout the programme.

Programme-level learning outcomes Graduates will be able to:

  • Describe and analyse the main challenges and opportunities in global agri-food systems and…
  • Critically evaluate potential solutions from science - from molecular to planetary scales.
  • Evaluate inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to meeting global agri-food-related challenges.
  • Explore the societal context of contemporary agri-food and related challenges
  • Demonstrate research, quantitative, interpretative, innovation, business and communication skills in the context of global agri-food systems.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

Skills in research and enquiry will be developed both through the Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists course - which are compulsory in each year of the programmes - and through the discipline-based courses. The global challenges of population growth, rapid urbanization, food and environmental security, diet and health, provide a contemporary, strongly relevant and important context for developing students’ skills of problem solving, analytical and critical thinking, independent research, knowledge integration and application, handling complexity and ambiguity, digital literacy and numeracy. The programmes are designed to emphasise the complexity and inter-related nature of these challenges, and the need for global, creative and interdisciplinary thinking to identify solutions. Lectures will set the scene in key areas relevant to the programme, while students’ skills will be developed through more interactive learning modes, including tutorials, journal club-style critical evaluation of published work, problem-based learning, web-based learning resources, laboratory and farm-based practicals. Competency in these skills will be assessed via examinations, essays assignments, student seminars, reports (including on the short work placement) and the final year project.

Many predict that the next (currently unfolding) agricultural revolution will be data-driven, so the need for digital literacy and numeracy in graduates is vital. The presence on the Easter Bush campus of three AgriFoodTech Innovation Centres generating and using ‘big data’ provides a rich resource in terms of guest lectures on cutting-edge technologies and material for tutorials, projects and assignments, and the opportunity for placements.

Further details on the contribution of individual courses to specific Graduate Attributes are shown in the course descriptors in Annex 3.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

These graduate attributes are critical to the aim of producing future leaders in the agri-food sector. As outlined above, the global challenges provide a rich resource for developing students’ skills in personal and intellectual autonomy. There are few bigger ethical challenges than ensuring global food security. Some of the techniques advocated for addressing these challenges – such as genetic modification of crops and animals, or indeed the use of animals at all in food systems – are controversial, and will be used to develop attributes in relation to ethical dilemmas and social responsibility, self-awareness and reflection. This programme puts much emphasis on innovation. Creative and inventive thinking skills will be developed across most courses with reference to the grand challenges, and the potential solutions that research and innovation can offer. Governments, inter-governmental organisations, NGOs and industry often aspire to evidence-based decision and policy making. We will explore the value and complexity of this aspiration, both in core courses and in more depth in optional ‘Industrial Management’ and ‘Science and Society’ courses. The opportunity for students to identify their own short work placement in year 3, the option (TBC) for students to Study Abroad in year 3, or to undertake a year-long work placement at the end of year 3, and the range of options for the final year project, all promote personal and intellectual autonomy.

As above, lectures will set the scene in key areas relevant to the programme, while students’ skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy will be developed especially through tutorials, journal club-style critical evaluation of published work and the ability to demonstrate these attributes in written or oral communication. Competency in these skills will be assessed via examinations, essays assignments, student seminars, reports (including on the short work placement) and the final year project.

Further details on the contribution of individual courses to specific Graduate Attributes are shown in the course descriptors in Annex 3.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

Strong communication skills are important in all disciplines, but none more so than in programmes where graduates can have an impact on some of the most pressing global challenges, where no one specialism or science-based innovation is sufficient, and so team working is essential. Skills and abilities in communication encompass interpersonal skills, oral and written communication and presentation, cross-cultural communication, influencing and negotiating skills and appropriate use of social media. Courses on Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists, in particular, aim to develop core communication skills and attributes. These will be augmented by tutorials, student seminars, exercises and written assignments in discipline-orientated courses. Cross-cultural communication will be a particular focus in the international development course. The high volume of world-leading agri-food research and translation undertaken by the University and SRUC, and the associated strong science communication teams, provides a rich resource to help students to develop their communication skills.

Further details on the contribution of individual courses to specific Graduate Attributes are shown in the course descriptors in Annex 3.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Personal effectiveness encompasses leadership, planning, organising and time management, commercial / professional / situational awareness, team working, assertiveness and confidence, change management, enterprise and entrepreneurship. As we aspire to develop future leaders in the agri-food sector from this programme, these are vital graduate attributes. We have specifically created a course on Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists which runs in each year of the programme, and aims to develop these attributes. Students will hone these skills through managing their own learning, in their interactions with other students and staff, including group activities, and with the hosts of work placements. Employers consistently identify a need for greater emphasis on producing ‘business-savvy’ graduates. This programme will emphasise innovation, enterprise, inter-personal skills and entrepreneurship, with particular opportunities to develop these attributes through the choice of appropriate mini or full-year work placements, and final year projects. We have specifically included the option for final year projects to produce a business plan for a new product or process, as an alternative to a research report, to develop these attributes among business-orientated students. The growing culture of innovation and commercialisation of research on the Easter Bush campus, including the creation of several new innovation/incubation centres, will provide a strong platform and resource for growing these graduate attributes.

As above, lectures will set the scene in key areas relevant to the programme, while students’ skills and abilities in personal effectiveness will be developed especially through tutorials, placements and projects, and through mentoring in support of student-led and peer-to-peer learning. Competency in these skills will be assessed via assignments, student seminars, reports (including on the short work placement) and the final year project.

Further details on the contribution of individual courses to specific Graduate Attributes are shown in the course descriptors in Annex 3.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

In all years, compulsory courses on Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists will provide core training in research, quantitative and interpretative skills, innovation, business, communications and other career skills. In addition, all courses will include a student-, problem- or research-centred approach that will draw on and re-inforce these skills, motivate students and encourage search for, and understanding of, the core scientific principles that underpin the programme. The traditional approach of providing pre-selected core knowledge in the early years to underpin didactic study later will be minimised.

A broad range of technical / practical skills are acquired in all years of the programme through laboratory or farm-based practicals, and agri-food sector industry visits, within individual courses.

Work placements in the third year are likely to augment these skills, depending on the specific placement selected. The final year project will further augment technical, practical, research, quantitative, interpretative skills, and communication skills. Optional work placements of up to a year at the end of year 3, or Study Abroad options in year 3, will augment technical and practical skills further, in students selecting these options.

Programme structure and features

Structure of the programme

Annex 2 shows the overall structure of the programme. SQCF credit points and levels for each core course in each year are shown in the course descriptors in Annex 3.

Progression requirements

To gain a specific degree award, students must achieve the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) credit point and level requirements. In order to progress a full-time student must attain the following minimum number of credits (pro-rata for a part-time student):

  • 80 credit points by the end of Year 1
  • 200 credit points by the end of Year 2
  • 360 credit points by the end of Year 3
  • 480 credit points by the end of year 4

Any student who has not attained the required credit points for their year of study (e.g. 120 credits for full-time students) may be required to take resit exams, supplementary or alternative assessments, or additional courses to make good the deficit where permitted.

Progression to Honours requires students to obtain 240 credit points (or 220 credit points with the permission of the Progression Board) by the end of the August examination diet in Year 2. In addition, students must obtain at least 50% at the first sitting in at least two of the three compulsory courses. By the end of the August examination diet students must have passed three Year Two compulsory courses with an overall mean of 50%.

In order to proceed to Senior Honours students must have obtained at least 360 credit points and met the requirements set out in the DPT for their selected programme of study. Student must have: - passes in all core 1st, 2nd and 3rd year courses. - at least 80 credit points by passing level 9 or level 10 courses in the Junior Honours year at first attempt; and - an overall aggregate mark of at least 40% in Level 9/10 courses taken in Junior Honours

Articulation of learning outcomes and assessment practices

The articulation of learning outcomes and assessment practices is being developed though programme- and course level Edinburgh Learning Design roadmap (ELDeR) workshops, and is described in the course descriptors in Annex 2.

Modes of study

The programme may be studied either full or part time.

Exit awards

Students normally exit with a BSc (Hons) degree at the end of Year 4, but may exit at the end of year 3 with a BSc degree.

Social responsibility, sustainability, equality and diversity

Social responsibility, sustainability, and equality and diversity are key issues in the study of agricultural science, and are embedded within the curriculum. In particular, sustainability is a core theme in economics, animal and crop and soil science and global agriculture courses; social responsibility and ethical considerations are included as part of the evaluation of new technologies in animal and crop science courses, and in the optional science and society course; each of these themes is included in the international development course.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning Methods and Strategies are shown in the course descriptors in Annex 3.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 135650
Year 235650
Year 335650
Year 435650

Assessment methods and strategies

Assessment Methods and Strategies are shown in the course descriptors in Annex 3.

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 170030
Year 270030
Year 370030
Year 470030

Career opportunities

The programme aims to equip graduates for a career in agri-food research (e.g. PhD and ultimately postdoctoral positions), national or international policy roles (e.g. as researchers, research project commissioners/managers, or science advisers in government or inter-governmental departments or agencies), non-governmental organisations (e.g. as science advisers or research managers for agri-food/planetary health/international development/aid-related charities) or the agri-food industry (e.g. as farming or agri-food industry consultants; as technical experts, researchers, research project commissioners/managers for multinational agri-food companies; as food product supply chain managers for retailers).

Other items

Annex 2: Overview of Programmes

 

Year 1

 

Common structure across all programmes

 

Agricultural Economics
 
 
 
(Compulsory)
 
 
Andrew Barnes

Agri-food Systems Science

 

 

 

(Compulsory)

 

 

Ian Bingham, Alistair Lawrence, Alastair Macrae

 

Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists 1

 

(Compulsory)

 

 

Susan Jarvis, Alistair Stott

Optional Courses outwith lead school (with recommendations e.g. for those with specific, later specializations in mind)

20 credits

40 credits

20 credits

40 credits

 

Year 2

 

Common structure across all programmes

 

Agricultural Economics
 
 
 
(Compulsory)
 
Andrew Barnes
 

Animal Systems

 

 

 

(Compulsory)

 

Tom McEvoy, Alastair Macrae

Crop & Soil Systems

 

 

 

(Compulsory)

 

Fiona Burnett, Ian Bingham

Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists 2

 

(Compulsory)

 

Susan Jarvis, Alistair Stott

 

Optional Courses outwith lead school (with recommendations e.g. for those with specific, later specializations in mind)

20 credits

20 credits

20 credits

20 credits

40 credits

 

Year 3

 

Students continue to study a broad curriculum leading to a BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science, with courses selected from across 4 more specialized areas below, or they pursue BSc (Hons) degree programmes in these specialized areas: Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Science (Animal Science), Agricultural Science (Crop and Soil Science) or Agricultural Science (Global Agriculture and Food Security).

 

 

Agricultural Economics

 

 

Andrew Barnes

Animal Science

 

 

 

Alistair Lawrence, Tom McEvoy, Bill Dingwall

Crop & Soil Science

 

 

 

Ian Bingham, Fiona Burnett, Liz Baggs

Global Agriculture and Food Security

 

 

Geoff Simm, Ann Bruce

Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists 3

including short placement 

 

(Compulsory)

 

Susan Jarvis, Alistair Stott

 

Inc. possible Study Abroad (TBC)

80 credits

80 credits

80 credits

80 credits

40 credits

 

Details of Year 3 courses within each of the 4 specialized programmes are shown in Annex 3.

 

 

Year 4

 

Students continue to study a broad curriculum leading to a BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science, with courses selected from across 4 more specialized areas below, or they pursue BSc (Hons) degree programmes in these specialized areas: Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Science (Animal Science), Agricultural Science (Crop and Soil Science) or Agricultural Science (Global Agriculture and Food Security).

 

 

Agricultural Economics

 

 

Andrew Barnes

Animal Science

 

 

 

Alistair Lawrence, Tom McEvoy, Bill Dingwall

Crop & Soil Science

 

 

 

Ian Bingham, Fiona Burnett, Liz Baggs

Global Agriculture and Food Security

 

 

Geoff Simm, Ann Bruce

Professional Skills for Global Agri-Food Scientists 4

including prep for project 

 

(Compulsory)

 

Susan Jarvis, Alistair Stott

 

Student project

 

(Compulsory)

 

 

60 credits

60 credits

60 credits

60 credits

20 credits

40 credits

 

Details of Year 4 courses within each of the 4 specialized programmes are shown in Annex 3.

 

Annex 3: Course Descriptors can be found: http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk/

Course Descriptors: BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science Programme BSc (Hons) Agricultural Economics Programme BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Animal Science) Programme BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Crop and Soil Science) Programme BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science (Global Agriculture and Food Security) Programme

See Annex 2 for Overview