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    Taught postgraduate

    PgC / PgD / MSc / MRes Integrated Pest, Weed and Disease Management

    Key information

    Year of entry


    1 year (full-time)
    2 to 3 years (part-time)

    Start date

    September 2024

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    Course description

    Are you interested in crop protection and sustainable agriculture? Are you looking for a research career working in agriculture and related areas? Do you want to do something positive for the environment? Then this is the postgraduate course for you:

    The course

    The continuing production of an abundant supply of safe food produced in an environmentally sustainable manner is a major political issue for national governments and internationally within global commodity markets.  Our global population is predicted to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 (United Nations, 2015), which, together with the effects of climate change, will place pressure on the agri-food industry to provide higher yields whilst also minimising land and resource use with the aim of increasing sustainability. Although global estimates vary in magnitude, it is thought approximately 25% of crops are lost to pests and diseases, such as insects, fungi and other plant pathogens (Savary et al., 2019). 

    The UK imports a substantial proportion of its food and an international approach must be taken, that includes both temperate and tropical pest management issues. The Government Office for Science policy document The Future of Food and Farming (2011) emphasises the need for global sustainability, that many current systems of food production are unsustainable and that multi-disciplinary solutions are likely to be most appropriate. This approach is reflected in the imminent implementation of the EU Sustainable Use Directive (2009/128/EC).

    The course will offer students training in techniques to facilitate crop food production, covering a broad range of topics in applied entomology, plant pathology, weed science and nematology. All students receive training in fundamental skills that will enable them to enter either a pest/disease management work environment or a research career in applied entomology, plant pathology or pest management. There is, however, considerable flexibility within the course thus enabling each student to focus on specialist subjects consistent with their interests and future career intentions.

    Research projects are available in a wide range of subjects covered by the research groups within the Crop and Environment Sciences Department and choices are made in consultation with expert staff.  Projects at linked research institutes in the UK and overseas are also available. The course is underpinned by an extensive programme of research at Harper Adams and long-standing collaborations with research institutes and other organisations in the UK and overseas.

    A distinctive and integral feature of our MSc is the high degree of input from entomologists and plant pathologists in collaborating governmental organisations and commercial biological control companies. This participation takes a variety of forms, including guest lectures, field visits and specific training courses, but may also include providing research projects in their organisations. Examples of collaborating organisations include, CEH Wallingford, Forest Research, Horticultural Development Company, The International Pesticide Application Research Centre, The Natural History Museum London and Rothamsted Research.

    Examples of collaborating organizations include, CEH Wallingford, Forest Research, Horticultural Development Company, The International Pesticide Application Research Centre, The Natural History Museum London, Rothamsted Research, and Wye Bugs.

    How will it benefit me?

    Having completed the MSc you will be able to identify the underlying causes of major pest and disease problems and recognise economically important insects, plant diseases and weeds. You will also be able to apply integrated pest control methods and oversee their application.

    The course will focus on the ecological and management principles of pest control and you will learn to evaluate the consequences of pesticide use and application on the biological target.  You will also receive training in the evaluation of the economic and environmental costs of integrated approaches to pest control in relation to biological effectiveness. Ultimately, the course will enable students to produce integrated pest and disease management solutions that pay due regard to agricultural, horticultural, social and environmental requirements. In addition, there is considerable flexibility enabling each student to focus on specialist subjects consistent with their interests and future career intentions

    The research project for the MSc will allow you to test hypotheses relevant to pure and applied entomological research by designing, carrying out, analysing and interpreting experiments or surveys. You will also learn to evaluate and interpret data and draw relevant conclusions from existing pest and disease studies.

    Scholarships and funding

    The full-time and part-time (two year) courses are eligible for a postgraduate loan

    Block-based study

    Modules are delivered in one week (and in a select few modules two week) blocks on campus. You will know in advance which weeks require physical attendance as they’ll be scheduled on the timetable. In addition to this, you will be required to allocate time for self-study to complete the assignments associated with each of the modules. Some modules may also include research and/or exam elements, these are also highlighted on the timetable.

    Unfortunately, many universities have closed down or reduced their teaching and research in agriculture and crop science. There is a shortage of expertise in important topics, often in subjects that are closer to the farmer, where UK scientists and agronomists have traditionally played a leading role. Several key subjects are particularly vulnerable, including plant breeding, various aspects of pathology including mycology and virology, whole plant and crop physiology, agricultural entomology, nematology and soil science. There is a danger that valuable skills will be lost as researchers and teachers retire.

    (Reaping the benefits: Science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture - October 2009, Royal Society)

    Entry requirements for 2024

    A UK honours degree (minimum 2:2) or equivalent overseas qualification.  Applicants with a good FdSc/HND pass in a relevant subject area plus at least two years' relevant industrial or professional experience may also be considered.

    Previous experience, referees' reports and interviews will be used to determine the suitability of candidates for particular programmes.

    What will I study?

    Optional modules are indicative and may be subject to change.


    For course related enquiries please contact:


    Previous graduates from the course have mainly gone on to work for ADAS or commercial biological control companies, the agro-chemical industry or horticulture sector.  Others have joined Research Institutes such as Forest Research, FERA, or Rothamsted Research.  Typically 30% of MSc Integrated Pest & Disease Management graduates will go into research careers or onto PhD courses.

    98% Employability

    Harper Adams University has the best and most consistent long-term graduate employment performance in specialist agri-food higher education

    (HESA 2017)

    No. 1

    In the UK for graduate employment
    (Graduate Outcomes 2020)


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