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Course overview

Develop your understanding of agriculture from a global perspective. Learn from international experts in agricultural science at two different locations around the world.

You'll discover how agriculture works around the world. In your second year you'll spend a semester at two of the following locations:

  • University of Nottingham Malaysia
  • Australia
  • USA
  • The Netherlands

The course combines crop and animal production with business management and marketing. At Nottingham we take an applied approach throughout the course. You'll build your science, business and practical knowledge of agriculture.

Topics include:

  • animal health, nutrition and disease management
  • reproduction and fertility in livestock and bioethics
  • plant science and physiology, pest and disease management
  • economics and policy
  • agricultural and food marketing
  • rural business management 

Sutton Bonington Campus is home to the University Farm and Dairy Centre. The farm is commercially run, with facilities for research and teaching. Farm staff contribute to the teaching on our degree programmes.

Why choose this course?

  • Ranked 2nd in the Guardian University Guide 2021 for agriculture, forestry and food
  • Grow, manage and market your own crop or manage a student sheep flock
  • Get industry expertise from guest lectures and visits to commercial organisations
  • Add an industry placement year. You could work for ADAS or Eurofins Scientific
  • See agricultural systems in operation. Learn at the University Farm and through visits to external farms
  • Take part in our Global Agribusiness Field Course over the summer. Students from around the world look at what makes innovative agribusinesses successful

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level offer AAB-ABB, including one science-based subject
IB score 34-32 (including 5 in one science subject at Higher Level.)

A levels: 

ABB-BBB, including one science-based subject 

Preferred subjects: biology, chemistry, maths, physics, or geography.

Citizenship studies, critical thinking, general studies and leisure studies not accepted. 
We may also consider ABC depending on predicted grades in specific subjects.

GCSEs

Maths and English language with 4 (C) or above.

Alternative qualifications

We accept the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture. For details on other qualifications please see alternative qualifications page

Foundation year - a foundation year is available for this course

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Computer labs
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Problem-based learning

How you will be assessed

You will receive a copy of our marking criteria which provides guidance on how we will assess your work. Your work will be marked on time and you will receive regular feedback.

Your final degree classification will be based on marks gained in your second and third years of study.

You must pass each year to progress. This typically means that you will need to achieve marks of at least 40% in each module. Full details on our marking criteria and structure will be provided at your induction.

To study abroad as part of your degree, you must meet minimum academic requirements in year one.

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Group project
  • Lab reports
  • Oral exam
  • Poster presentation
  • Research project
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

In your first year, you will take 120 credits in core modules. As a guide, one credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. You will spend around half of your time in lectures, seminars and practicals. The remaining time will be independent study. Core modules are typically taught by professors or associate professors. PhD students may support teaching on some modules.

Year in industry

We have excellent links with companies, and can help to find the best placement for you. Often a placement year can help you to secure to a graduate job.

Our students have been on placement with:

  • Holkham Farm
  • Frontier Agriculture
  • McDonald's
  • ADAS

Watch Alice on her placement at ADAS.

The industry placement takes place between years two and three of your degree. You can apply during year two of your degree, subject to meeting minimum academic requirements.

"I will be doing my industry placement year in Australia, doing agricultural research with the University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute. It will consist of six months field research at the I.A Watson Grain Research Centre followed by six months laboratory analysis at the Centre for Carbon, Water and Food"

Ed Chaplin

Modules

Core modules

Animal Biology

Through lectures, practical animal handling sessions, zoo and farm trips you’ll study:

  • animal evolution and diversity across the animal kingdom
  • animal ecology, biodiversity, and bioethics
  • animal development and behaviour
  • livestock production in relation to global food security 
  • management requirements for keeping livestock species
  • techniques for manipulating livestock growth and development 

This is a 20 credit module.

Sustainable 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.

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.

Plant Science

How can mutant plants be used to improve crop yield? In this module you’ll be introduced to plant evolution and the cellular structure of plants, in particular seeds, leaves, flowers and roots, and how these multicellular tissues are constructed. You’ll become familiar with the techniques used to study plant science, including genetics and the use of mutants. Using model plants, such as Arabidopsis, you’ll look at the development of modern plant biology and genetics and then explore the applications of biotechnology in plant science. You’ll also examine the importance of plant nutrition and how the interaction with pathogens is crucial to plant growth and production. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions to apply your learning.

Grassland Management

Grasslands are used for forage in agricultural systems but are also important as habitat for wild animals, birds and beneficial insects.

  • You’ll learn about the latest developments and policy issues around the world
  • You’ll examine the morphology and physiology of forage grass species
  • You'll understand the mechanisms of grass growth, production and utilisation. Looking at how these are influenced by management practices.

Alongside lectures, you’ll visit farms and use the latest software to identify grass plants and calculate a pasture budget. This is a 10 credit module.

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.

Core: Agriculture Production Pathway

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.

Plant Science Research Tutorials

In this 10 credit module you'll learn about our latest plant and crop research. Each week different academics will explain and demonstrate the research being carried out by their group.

You’ll be able to:

  • find out how research is contributing to our understanding of plant function and society’s needs
  • discover what area of plant science you find most interesting
Genes and Cells

Cells are the basic functional units of life, but how do they grow and develop? In this module, you’ll follow the lifecycle of cells. You'll focus on mitosis, meiosis, cell division and differentiation. We’ll put cells not just under the microscope, but use advanced laboratory technologies to explore the ultrastructure of cells. These are the parts of cells too small to be seen through ordinary laboratory equipment. You’ll then put this science to the test, to apply cellular biology to applied genetics.

You’ll study:

  • structures and ultrastructures of animal and plant cells
  • microscopic features of bacteria and viruses
  • gene replication, expression and inheritance
  • laboratory methods used to discover how cells work

Core: Business Management Pathway

Agricultural Business in the Global Economy

Today’s agricultural businesses operate in the global economy. In this module, you’ll explore both the influence of the global economy on agricultural businesses and the impact of agriculture on the global economy. You’ll look at the key issues affecting agricultural businesses today, including national and global economic drivers, supply and demand trends, the impact of financial drivers (exchange rates, interest rates and monetary flows) and the importance of trade agreements in agriculture. Importantly, you’ll also explore how consumer concerns have affected agricultural businesses globally (think free trade and traceability) and how agricultural businesses can affect the environment (think pollution and deforestation, but also amenity). You’ll have a mix of lectures, computer-aided learning sessions, field trips to local agricultural businesses and lectures from invited guest speakers.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

Your second year will be spent studying agricultural sciences at two of our international partner universities (subject to progression criteria). These include the University of Adelaide, Wageningen University and Research, Oregon State University and the University of Nottingham Malaysia.

Depending on your pathway and partner university typical modules include:

  • Agricultural economics
  • Agri-business and marketing
  • Plant and crop physiology
  • Soil science
  • Applied animal science

Other modules depending on the agricultural interest in the country of study.

  • You can use our agricultural research centres to complete your final year research project in either agricultural science or business management.
  • Choose your project to suit your interests, which can be carried out on the University Farm or as part of an industry placement year.
  • You can then choose four to eight optional modules, below are some of the most popular.

Core modules

Agriculture Research Project

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.

This important part of your degree gives you the opportunity to participate in the work of one of the country's top agricultural research centres. Our research at Nottingham is funded by the UK and international organisations, including the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the UK research councils and agricultural businesses and governments from around the world. This funding enables us to teach the most modern and exciting aspects of agriculture.

If you are interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dairy cows, managing farms under the new agricultural policy environment; if you want to be involved in research into the influence of diet on reproductive performance in pigs or cows; if you want to know how seed rate and fertiliser application influences winter wheat production or how climate change will affect crop production in Africa and Asia, Nottingham is the place to be.

Recent research projects have included:

  • The effects of canopy architecture on the photosynthetic activities of wheat
  • The effect of cultivation strategy on the establishment, growth and yield of winter triticale (Triticosecale spp)
  • Understanding root growth responses of sugar beet under different water regimes, and the subsequent changes in plant morphology
  • Methods for achieving differential advantage for the small scale mushroom producer
  • Why do farmers farm?
  • Post-Brexit profitability projections for UK arable farms 2019-20: Using actual farm data and an advanced projection calculator
  • Assessing the use of a mobile NIR device to measure fresh grass quality in real-time
  • The effect of feeding system and management practices on enteric methane emissions from dairy cows on commercial farms
  • How can urban agriculture help meet the food security needs of a growing urban population by enhancing fruit, vegetable and poultry production?
  • Farmers’ markets and supermarkets: food prices vs. the consumer benefits of ‘local’ food
  • The effects of winter supplementary feeding on the relative abundance of farmland birds
  • How does future climate change affect crop yield and yield variability of maize (Zea mays) in Nigeria?
  • An investigation into English and Welsh sheep farmer opinions on Schmallenberg virus
  • A comparison of literature to farming practice of zero tillage on case study farms in the UK
  • The relationship between milk yields, variable costs and the overall profitability of dairy farms 

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.

Optional modules

Global Agribusiness Field Course

In this summer field course, you will work with agricultural students from around the world to investigate the role of innovation and entrepreneurship for success. Through visits to leading agri-business and research institutes, you will experience the issues faced by British agriculture and see the innovations driving the industry.

Agri-Business Innovation Incubator

Within the Innovation Incubator module you’ll have the opportunity to develop and test your own business ideas. You’ll learn about the principles of innovation and entrepreneurship, and you’ll be embedded in a supportive tutorial environment where external inspirational practitioners provide feedback on business concepts as they are being developed. A ‘Dragon’s Den’ experience towards the end of the module provides you with vital experience in business-to-business communication.  

Agronomy Field Course

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.

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 and explore different forms of farm business organisation. 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, practical classes and farm visits, as well as guest lectures from invited speakers to give you insights into the management and finance of rural businesses.

Management Consultancy

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 case study of your choice based on a real-life commercial 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.

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.

Current Issues in Crop Science

In this integrative module you’ll consider the future options and possible strategies for maintaining or increasing crop production in the UK and world agriculture. You’ll learn about the latest trends and developments within crop science, and the philosophical, ethical and policy issues associated with them. The topics covered will vary to reflect the most recent issues, but have included: the future of genetically modified crops, impact of crop production on biodiversity and prospects for organic crop production. Using your subject knowledge and research skills, you’ll be in a position to critically analyse the advantages and disadvantages of developments in crop science, both for the module and in your future career.

Plant Disease Control
Discusses applied aspects of plant disease control, comprising transmission, epidemiology, detection and diagnosis, and control options. You will cover control strategies based on application of fungicides, biological control, deployment of disease resistant varieties and biotechnological approaches. You will also consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches. This module consists of a four-hour lecture once per week.
Plants and the Light Environment

How does light cause variation in crop yields? In this module, you’ll study the influence of the light environment on the physiology of native and crop species, extending from the cellular to community level. You’ll learn how to differentiate between different light signalling pathways in plants and demonstrate how these pathways function in plants. You’ll be able to explain how light is absorbed by plants to initiate energy transfer systems and to stimulate development and ultimately plant yield. You’ll then be able to apply your knowledge in understanding the causes of variations in crop yields and how these may be used to assist in the search for improved varieties and increased productivity in agricultural systems. You’ll have a mix of lectures, demonstrations and field trips to see what you’ve learnt in practice.

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.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

The student Agrics Society host many events throughout the year including trips to a variety of farms, guest speakers and socials in Nottingham and locally. They organise training and certifications using university facilities such as tractor licenses.

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2020*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles which could cost £40 each.

If you choose to take an optional field trip, you will need to contribute around £65 towards this. You will also need to factor in costs for studying overseas for a year. This includes a visa application (approximately £300) and flights (up to £1,200). Currently there is a reduced tuition fee during the year on exchange.

Please note that these figures are approximate and subject to change.

Due to our commitment to sustainability, we don’t print lecture notes but these are available digitally. You will be given £5 worth of printer credits a year. You are welcome to buy more credits if you need them. It costs 4p to print one black and white page.

If you do a work placement, you need to consider the travel and living costs associated with this.

Personal laptops are not compulsory as we have computer labs that are open 24 hours a day but you may want to consider one if you wish to work at home.

Scholarships and bursaries

The Felix Thornley Cobbold Scholarship

A grant of £3,000 per annum is available to a selected Home student. To be eligible, students must be living or studying in Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire or Norfolk at the time of their application.

Find out more

Rochester Bridge Trust Bridge Wardens' Spence Agricultural Scholarship

The Bridge Wardens' Spence Agricultural Scholarship is available exclusively to students studying agriculture at the University of Nottingham. Students living or studying in the following areas at the time of their application are eligible to apply:

  • Medway
  • Kent
  • London Boroughs of Bexley and Bromley
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Lincolnshire
  • West Yorkshire

The scholar will receive a grant of £1,500 per annum in each of three consecutive years. Students opting to complete a one-year industrial placement or computer science module will be eligible for an additional grant of £1,500 in respect of that year. Scholars must pass each year of study at their first attempt and provide a brief report to the Rochester Bridge Trust on their academic and other achievements during the previous academic year.

AgriFood Charities Partnership

The AgriFood Charities Partnership supports study for UK students on agricultural undergraduate degree programmes.

Find out more

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

We offer a range of Undergraduate Excellence Awards for high-achieving international and EU scholars from countries around the world, who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers. This includes our European Union Undergraduate Excellence Award for EU students and our UK International Undergraduate Excellence Award for international students based in the UK.

These scholarships cover a contribution towards tuition fees in the first year of your course. Candidates must apply for an undergraduate degree course and receive an offer before applying for scholarships. Check the links above for full scholarship details, application deadlines and how to apply.

Careers

You will graduate with a thorough understanding of the scientific principles and business management knowledge. Careers range from farm management to specialist consultancy positions.

You could work as an agronomist, in supply chain management, or marketing and communications roles within the agricultural and food-related industries.

Average starting salary and career progression

89.5% of undergraduates from the School of Biosciences secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £23,831.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" Studying at the University of Sydney has broadened my knowledge and understanding of agriculture beyond the challenges farmers face in the UK. It has given me a greater appreciation of the diversity of global food production while also allowing me to understand the difficulties farmers face in Australia. "
Ed Chaplin, BSc International Agricultural Science

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

Disclaimer

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.