The Biosciences and Global Food Security
How can you use science to help improve global food security? This module introduces you to the issues of global food security and the complexity existing in different parts of our food generation system. Looking across the food supply chain, you’ll cover the evolution of crops, crop and animal production, and the food industry. Importantly, you’ll also look at sustainable nutrition because food security isn’t just about supply – it’s important that people are getting the right kind of food. You’ll learn about these issues through a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions. You’ll also develop professional skills to work safely in laboratory situations.
Biochemistry – The Building Blocks of Life
Have you ever wondered how some crops can resist diseases? This module provides you with the fundamentals for understanding biochemical processes in living organisms. You’ll be introduced to the basic structure, properties and functions of the four key biological macromolecules: nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. You’ll also look at the metabolic pathways occurring in cells, such as respiration, photosynthesis and the biosynthetic pathways for the key macromolecules. In addition to lectures, you’ll have practical laboratory sessions to learn how to use key biochemical techniques for the separation and analysis of macromolecules and measurement of the metabolic process.
Genes and Cells: 1
The basic functional units of life are cells. In this module you’ll learn about the growth and development of cells, focusing on mitosis, meiosis, cell division and differentiation. You’ll get to explore the ultrastructure – the structure of a cell too small to be seen with an ordinary microscope – of animal, plant and bacterial cells and even viruses. Once you have this foundation understanding, the second part of the module covers fundamental genetic principles and you’ll be able to answer the questions: What are the Mendelian laws of inheritance? How are genes expressed? You’ll have lectures from current researchers in the field and the opportunity to apply your learning in the laboratory and in workshops.
Introduction to Nutrition
Nutrients are vital to humans and animals, but how do they work? In this module you’ll be given a comprehensive introduction to the key concepts in the field of nutrition, including macronutrients, energy metabolism, vitamins and minerals. Depending on your interest, you’ll be able to focus on human or animal nutrition. This means you can choose to look at the role of nutrition in human disease (including coronary heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes), or learn about animal nutrition and what it means for food production. You’ll learn about nutrition through a mix of lectures, practical sessions and e-learning.
Contemporary Agricultural Systems
Modern agriculture is a dynamic, fast-paced and high-tech industry. In this module, you’ll explore practical agricultural systems used by commercial UK farms. Designed for students with a farm or non-farming background, you’ll get to understand the fundamental concepts of agricultural systems within the context of contemporary markets, policy and research. Exact topics covered in the module will vary according to the issues affecting the agricultural industry in any one year, but examples include: dairy production, arable production, soils, agri-environmental interactions, labour and machinery management and farm business systems. You’ll have lectures from academics currently researching these fields and will visit the University Farm and external farms to see what you’ve learnt in practice.
Animals – both pets and livestock – play a big part in our lives. In this module, you’ll be introduced to animal ecology and evolution and examine the basis of animal interactions with humans. You’ll then look at domestication and how animal production systems have been developed. Using practical laboratory sessions and lectures, you’ll learn more about animal biology and explore the way in which animal product quality can be manipulated.
There’s more to grass than meets the eye. Grasslands are used for forage in agricultural systems but are also important as habitat for wild animals, birds and beneficial insects. In this module you’ll learn about the latest developments in grassland management, both UK and globally, and the policy issues associated with these developments. You’ll examine the morphology and physiology of forage grass species to understand the mechanisms of grass growth, production and utilisation and how these are influenced by management practices. In addition to lectures, you’ll have farm visits and computer-based tutorials so you can develop your understanding of grassland management, identify grass plants and use the latest subject-specific software to calculate a pasture budget.
Genes and Cells 2
In a series of lectures, workshops and practicals you’ll further develop your understanding of gene structure, function and regulation and investigate how this knowledge can be applied in recombinant DNA technology through DNA sequencing and genetic engineering.
Biosciences Tutorials and Foundation Science
The tutorials component of this module is intended to enhance your transition into university and guide you through the academic expectations of your degrees. This part of the module is spread throughout the year and includes three generic sessions on ‘study skills and plagiarism’, ‘study opportunities’ and ‘career and personal development’, and a series of small group tutorials with your academic tutor to develop generic skills such as finding crucial information, oral presentation, data handling and presentation of results, preparation for examinations, and essay writing skills relevant to biosciences.
The Foundation Science content has three elements: chemistry, maths and statistics and physics. The chemistry element will include: elements and periodic table; atomic structure and bonding; intermolecular attractions, chemical equilibrium; acids and bases, oxidation and reduction; rates of reaction; basic organic chemistry, isomerism, and rings. The Maths and Stats element will include: calculations, algebra, functions and relationships, powers, logarithms, descriptive statistics, significance, regression and presenting data. The Physics element will include: units and dimensions; power, energy and heat; light and the electromagnetic spectrum; attenuation/absorption; and radioactivity.
There is also an IT element, which interfaces with generic IT training for undergraduates provided within the University.
Optional - there are no optional modules in year one.
Economic Analysis for Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Economic analysis can help you answer important management questions: how much fertiliser should I apply to my wheat? If demand for beer is going up, how will that affect the price I receive for my barley? Through this module you’ll gain an understanding of economic ideas and principles and be able to apply them to a range of problems of interest to agricultural and environmental scientists and managers. You’ll also examine the arguments for government intervention to correct ‘market failures’ with reference to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and look at CAP support mechanisms and their impact on arable and animal production. In addition to lectures and farm visits, you’ll have computer-aided learning sessions to teach you planning techniques that will enable you to use your economic skills to analyse the impact of the market and policy environment on business performance and stability.
Applied Animal Science
A highly applied module, you’ll learn about animal physiology, nutrition and management and use your knowledge to think critically about production systems. Focusing on the nutrition, growth and welfare of farmed animals, you’ll cover a wide range of subjects, including investigating the energy and protein evaluation systems for ruminants and non-ruminants and the differential maturity of individual carcass components. You’ll compare systems of production for all major species of livestock and explore how these different systems integrate with each other and other enterprises on farms. Visits to local livestock farms give you the opportunity to further develop your understanding within a ‘real-life’ context and are a core component of the module.
Principles of Animal Health and Disease
Animal health and diseases can have serious health implications for people and livestock. In this module you’ll learn how diseases affect the body’s physiological and immunological systems. Focusing on companion, farm and exotic animals, you’ll explore the main types of disease and how to assess the health status of an animal. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions and gain experience in safe animal handling techniques.
Professional Skills for Bioscientists
In this module you will develop and consolidate your professional competencies and abilities as a bioscientist. You’ll improve your core professional skills in the scientific method, experimentation, data analysis and measurement techniques that enable you carry out scientifically-sound research in animal, crop or management science. You’ll also cover discipline-specific topics. There will be a mix of lectures, workshops and group activity sessions for you to work on your skills.
Agricultural and Food Marketing
Marketing is a lot bigger than just advertising. In this module, you’ll learn about the importance of a marketing-orientated approach to successful rural and food businesses. A hands-on module, you’ll use an agricultural or food company of your choice as a case study and, in small teams, analyse its market and create your own marketing plan. Guest lectures will be invited so you can learn more about how marketing theory is applied in practice and there will be a field visit to a local farm to see their marketing strategy in action.
This module aims to give you a comprehensive introduction to the study of animal behaviour, from the physiological and genetic bases of behaviour to its development and adaptive significance in the natural environment. Using examples from across the animal kingdom, it emphasizes how predictive modelling, experimental and observational approaches integrate to explain how and why animals behave as they do. You will have lectures, tutorials and group discussions.
Enterprise Management Challenge
This module aims to introduce you to agricultural management decision making in practice through team-based activity integrating science, business and economics. Working in small teams, and supported by teaching staff and industry consultants, you will be responsible for making management (science and business) decisions relating to the production of a crop enterprise or a livestock enterprise, based on University Farm, as for commercial purposes. Your team’s decisions – in the roles of both professional consultant and farm manager will be implemented by technical staff.For this module you will have lectures plus significant ‘field time’, including formal field site visits and informal field observation visits.
Principles of Animal Nutrition
How important is protein quality in your livestock’s diet? How can you formulate an optimum diet? In this module you’ll learn about diet formulation and food analysis. You’ll examine topics such as: dietary energy and nutritional energetics, protein and amino acid nutrition, and regulation of appetite and energy expenditure. You’ll be able to calculate the different energy requirements of animals in different physiological or pathological states. There will be a mix of lectures, seminars and computer-based workshops to apply what you’ve learnt.
Understanding reproduction is important for many different aspects of agriculture. In this module, you’ll become familiar with the physiology and regulation of male and female mammalian reproduction, the control of avian reproduction and lactational physiology. You’ll look at reproduction in male and female mammals, including physiological control, cyclicity and reproductive efficiency. You’ll also consider the principal features of avian physiology and reproduction in domestic fowl, with an emphasis on the nutritional and metabolic challenges associated with commercial rates of egg lay. Lactational physiology will also be discussed, and you’ll learn about the development of mammary tissue, the biochemistry of milk synthesis, the endocrine control of milk secretion, and the metabolic correlates of lactation in dairy ruminants. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions for experimental work and dissection.
Principles of Immunology
What are the main events of the immune response when the body is infected by intra and extracellular parasites, essential components of many diseases? In this module you’ll be introduced to the fundamental concepts behind cellular and molecular immunology. You’ll learn about the main characteristics and features of the innate and adaptive immune system, their functions and how they relate to each other. You’ll explore current immune-techniques, modern concepts of immune-deficiency and hypersensitivities, and contemporary topics in animal and human diseases.
Agri-Business Enterprise and Innovation
Innovation and enterprise are key drivers of agri-business success and growth. You’ll explore a range of topics that influence agri-business success and growth, including knowledge transfer and exchange, intellectual property surrounding new innovations, planning issues for agri-businesses and technologies supporting sustainable intensification projects. Looking at particular contemporary issues, you’ll examine the issues surrounding taxation, green energy, inheritance and business succession. You’ll build on the skills developed in this module further in the final year ‘Innovation Incubator’ module, where you’ll develop your own business idea.
Practical Policy Making
In this module you’ll develop your understanding of how and why policies relating to agriculture, the environment and food are developed, and you will gain a valuable insight into how to influence policy. The module will be delivered via a series of lectures from, or visits to, stakeholders which may include Defra, the National Farmers Union (NFU), agri-businesses within the input supply chain and food retailers.
Human and Techological Resource Management
Both human and technological resources are at the heart of many successful agri-businesses. Drawing upon both academic and industrial agri-business expertise, in this module you will examine theories and practices to inspire people, manage change and implement different leadership approaches to achieve business success. You will analyse the role of current and potential technological developments within agri-business contexts and explore the trade-offs and challenges from drawing upon people and/or technology in agri-businesses.
Other modules by approval of the course manager
The project gives you an opportunity to use your initiative and knowledge to undertake original research under the supervision of an individual member of academic staff. You will design the study, gain familiarity with relevant analysis techniques, undertake data collection, and where appropriate safety procedures relevant to the topic. You’ll undertake appropriate quantitative analysis and prepare a report of approximately 5000 words.
A major part of your degree at Nottingham this year is your research project, specialising in animal production. Our academic staff are known internationally for applied animal science research in fertility, nutrition, reproduction and product quality. More recently, research has also looked at the effect of diets on methane emissions from ruminants.
Examples of recent student projects include:
- Patterns of milking behaviour in robotic milking
- Reducing heat stress in dairy cows
- Dietary effects on methane production by ruminant livestock
- A financial appraisal of anaerobic digestion at the University Farm
Rural Business Research Unit (RBRU) and University Farm
Based at Sutton Bonington campus, the RBRU is the lead centre for the government-funded Farm Business Survey, collecting financial and environmental data from over 2000 farms; University Farm is a 450 hectare arable, dairy and sheep farm, also based at Sutton Bonington, with land and people dedicated to student teaching and research work. Both are available for your research project.
Read BURN the Biosciences Undergraduate Research at Nottingham web pages to find out more about undergraduate research projects. BURN is a freely accessible e-journal which showcases final-year research projects undertaken by biosciences students.
Livestock Production Science
How can production systems be adapted to meet demands for animal products in contrasting global markets? In this module, you’ll use your knowledge of physiology, nutrition, genetics, health, welfare and management to study the production of meat, milk and eggs, and the wellbeing of the animals in these production systems. You’ll undertake a detailed study of the integration of the production, nutrition, product quality, management and health of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry at UK and global scales. You’ll be able to critically analyse key performance indicators and provide solutions to problems encountered in livestock production enterprises. You’ll have a mix of lectures, group work and farm visits to develop and apply your knowledge.
Field Crops Cereals
A highly applied module, you’ll learn how to optimise the management of different cereal crops to meet the requirements of specific environments and end-uses. To do this, you’ll learn about the production strategies for the major grain cereals, with particular emphasis on factors controlling yield and quality. You’ll also examine the structure and function of the Gramineae and the influence of the environment and management practices on crop growth and development. You’ll have a mix of lectures, seminars, in-class exercises and field work to develop and apply your understanding.
Rural Business Management
How do you apply management principles to modern rural businesses? This module will develop your knowledge of business management principles and provide you with an opportunity to apply these principles to the type of problems facing rural businesses at the present time. You’ll construct and interpret business accounts, use investment appraisal techniques, learn about labour and machinery management, explore the different forms of business organisation, and consider taxation. Using a ‘real-life’ case study, you’ll also learn and practice teamwork, time management and data analysis skills, which are vital when working in business. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical classes, as well as guest lectures from invited speakers to give you insights into the management and finance of rural businesses.
Applied Bioethics 1: Animals, Biotechnology and Society
Animal-human interactions raise some prominent ethical issues. In this module, you’ll examine the ethical dimensions concerning animal agriculture, modern biotechnologies and research in the biosciences, in relation to both humans and non-human species. You’ll learn about the ethical frameworks used to analyse specific dilemmas raised by the human use of animals. Using specific animal and biotechnology case studies, you’ll interpret the main ethical theories and principles and apply them to the case studies to inform professional decision-making. You’ll have a mix of lectures and seminars to explore these concepts.
Companion Animal Science
Want to know more about the nutrition your dog or horse needs, or maybe what an elephant needs? In this module, you’ll study the scientific principles governing the nutrition, health and welfare of major companion species, including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and zoo animals/exotic species. You’ll learn about the cross-disciplinary principles and the interactions between nutrition, health and longevity within the broad area of ‘clinical nutrition’. Bringing in current research, you’ll look at the problems arising from keeping animals in captivity, and in particular the policies governing zoo animals/ exotics in terms of intervention strategies. You’ll have lectures from current researchers and have a field trip to see what you’ve learnt in practice.
This module will further develop your specialised knowledge of animal nutrition. At an advanced level, you’ll learn about the role of micronutrient and trace minerals and organic micronutrients (including vitamins B, choline and essential fatty acids) in the nutritional requirements for animal health and growth in both ruminant and non-ruminant species. You’ll also examine the various factors involved in the regulation of animal growth and product quality and look at selected examples of metabolic disorders. Using the most up-to-date scientific research, you’ll explore specialist aspects of ruminant nutrition and produce scientific work of your own.
Consultancy is a strong growth area for jobs in agriculture. In this module you’ll be introduced to the practicalities of management consultancy and have the opportunity to integrate your knowledge of management principles to a real-life case study of your choice and based on the University Farm. You’ll learn how to appraise individual enterprises and whole firms with a view to improving the respective financial and technical performance of the business. With a strong focus on working productively as an individual, you’ll assess problems and opportunities, analyse information and data, and identify and meet objectives in order to aid managerial decision-making. To find out more about how consultancy works in practice, you’ll have guest lectures from invited speakers from industry in addition to your lectures and workshops.
In this popular module, you’ll attend a five day field course to study selected field-grown crop species that have been chosen as models to illustrate major systems of production. You’ll examine the scientific principles that govern the management of field-grown crops through production to final end use, with particular emphasis being given to their physiology and ecology. Through field visits, you’ll observe and critically appraise the efficiency of current commercial production strategies and assess the scope to exploit plant responses to the environment at specific growth stages for optimal control of quality and yield. You’ll learn about the optimisation of quality and yield of crops through the manipulation of leaf, stem and root development, and the impact of post-harvest physiology on handling and storage. The field course is typically primarily based at the Sutton Bonington Campus with day-long trips to industry, farms and research organisations, and one overnight stay in an arable region.
Reproduction and Fertility
Drawing on your knowledge from earlier modules, the Reproduction and Fertility module is advanced study into fertility regulation and manipulation in mammals. You’ll learn about the artificial control of reproductive cycles in the female and mechanisms involved in pregnancy recognition and maintenance. You’ll explore recent developments in reproductive technology and embryology as it applies to farm species, humans and endangered species. You’ll have lectures and laboratory practical sessions to apply your learning.
Applied Bioethics 2: Sustainable Food Production, Biotechnology and the Environment
Building on Applied Bioethics 1, you’ll investigate widely accepted ethical principles and apply your insights to contemporary ethical issues in agricultural, food and environmental sciences. You’ll explore the ethical dimensions of prominent issues raised by the agricultural practices (including the use of biotechnology and GM crops) designed to meet the nutritional needs of the global population. You’ll also learn about how ethical theory can inform professional choices and public policies related to food production and environmental management. You’ll have a mix of lectures, tutorials and team-based exercises to develop a sound understanding of ethical principles.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.