Institution code: H12
4 years (full-time) including a one-year work placement
Harper Adams University campus (and location of work placement)
The agricultural industry is changing rapidly and in recent years advances in technology have led to an abundance of food production in the western world. This, together with changes in the support mechanisms for agriculture, has affected farm incomes, the countryside, rural communities and the public purse.
Increasingly farmers are looking to diversify their businesses and find alternative uses for rural land. There is an increasing demand for highly skilled practitioners with an understanding of the options available and the business management skills to lead on these developments.
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You will undertake placement in your third year. Placement may be undertaken in a large integrated farm business or with a farm business consultancy company. For example, placements have included work as a trainee accountant specializing in agricultural businesses with a chartered accountancy practice, and a placement with the farm business consultancy division of Bidwells. Harper Adams’ excellent graduate employment record shows how employers value the skills, contacts, knowledge and confidence students develop during placement.
All agriculture students share a common first year, studying the same modules; this allows students to change course during the first year. The first year of the course provides a general introduction to agriculture in terms of animal and crop production, underpinning biological and environmental science, an introduction to farm business management and marketing, and agricultural mechanisation. In the second year of the course you start to specialise in the area of farm business management, studying areas such as farm business management and economics, farm business operation and planning, and market and supply chain considerations, whilst continuing to study more general aspects of agriculture such as animal and crop production science, grass and forage production, and waste management. In the final year of the course the specialisation in farm business management continues, studying areas such as farm business planning and strategy, business diversification, people management and a research project focused on farm business management. In the final year you continue to study crop and animal production alongside farm business modules.
The course involves 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.
This course provides consultants and business managers of the future with the diverse skills required for a career in farm business management. It is likely to be particularly attractive to students who wish to pursue a career in agricultural consultancy work (e.g. with Wilson Wraight, The Farm Consultancy Group or Harvey Hughes) where an appreciation of business management techniques and the wider rural environment is important. It will also be of value to those who wish to manage farm businesses or estates.