Institution code: H12
3 years (full-time) including a one-year work placement
Harper Adams University campus (and location of work placement)
With around 70 per cent of land in the UK devoted to primary food production, agriculture continues to be the mainstay of the rural economy. However, in addition to the science and technology associated with animal and crop production, the modern farm manager must manage an increasingly diversified business and embrace a range of responsibilities for enhancing the environment, integrating production within the food chain and maintaining rural communities. Our agriculture courses give students a thorough understanding of modern agricultural production systems and the underlying scientific and technological principles. They will equip you to manage a sustainable agricultural business in the complex and dynamic rural economy. This is a very broad and challenging remit, and consequently the course is designed to develop a breadth of expertise across a range of sectors. All agriculture students share a common first year, studying the same modules, before continuing with agriculture or focusing on a specialism; this allows students to change course during the first year.
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FdSc students undertake placement in their second year. You will usually undertake paid employment for at least 12 months on modern progressive farms or in the agricultural support industries. Recent placement jobs have included Assistant Herds Person, Harvest Team Manager and General Machinery Operator on a range of arable and mixed farms. Examples of employers include Velcourt, MH Poskitt and Faccenda. Students may undertake their industrial placement overseas in the USA, France, Australia or New Zealand, for example. Several commercial scholarship opportunities, linked to placement, are available to apply for, with sponsoring companies paying a significant amount towards the tuition fees of successful applicants.
Students studying general Agriculture study a broad range of livestock, crop production and science, and business management, together with some marketing and mechanisation. In the first part of the course the focus is on practice i.e. what goes on on-farm, and underpinning science and business principles. Areas of study include animal and crop production systems, agricultural science, an introduction to farm business management and marketing, and agricultural mechanisation.
The later parts of the course focus on the applied scientific and business principles that underpin farm practice, and the application of practice and principles to case studies to solve real problems. Areas of study include farm animal and crop production science, farm business management and people management, plus a choice of one of four optional modules in a specific area. In addition, all students undertake a professional project in their final year in a subject area of interest to them.
The Agriculture courses at Harper Adams involve a combination of lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions, together with practical classes on the University farm designed to demonstrate principles in practice and the application of scientific, technological and business principles to commercial agricultural and food production. In addition, the University has extensive links with other agricultural and food related businesses, and external visits and outside speakers are integrated into the programme. Throughout the course students are expected to apply the skills acquired to solve real-life problems, such that on completion they are able to demonstrate both academic ability and commercial application, which is a combination highly valued by employers. The proportion of independent study increases as the course progresses, particularly in the final year where students have the opportunity to undertake a dissertation in a subject area of their choice.
Assessment is via a balance of course work and examination. Weighting varies depending on course and year of study, but weighting is typically around 65 per cent on course work and 35 per cent on examination; this allows individuals to play to their strengths if they are better at course work than examinations or vice versa. Types of assignment include appraising production systems on the University farm, whole farm case studies, laboratory based analyses and literature based reviews. Format of assignments varies and includes written reports, essays, technical notes, presentations and oral examinations. Students receive written feedback on all course work to help them improve. In addition, first year students undertake examinations in two subjects at the end of the first term to enable them to gauge how they are progressing and feedback is provided on these exams. Staff are able to provide advice and guidance on revision, and many modules include revision sessions.
Employability of agriculture graduates is excellent, and there are many diverse career opportunities in all sectors of the food chain. The applied nature of our courses, teaching methods and close links with industry give you the academic, technical and employment skills which are highly sought after by employers.
As an agriculture graduate you may go on to manage farms either at home or elsewhere (e.g. Co-operative Farms, Velcourt, Sentry Farming, Beeswax Farming, Intercrop). Alternatively, you may opt for a career in the support industries (e.g. Frontier Agriculture, NFU) or advisory services (e.g. Defra, DARDNI, ADAS). Studying agriculture also develops the skills needed for other graduate careers such as accountancy, teaching, journalism and the civil service.