In your first semester, you will start by focussing on the fundamental, global issues in sustainable agriculture and the food production systems that support humanity. You’ll engage with a number of existing and innovative solutions to these issues across a broad range of topics, from sustainable protein production to field management systems. Both crop and livestock production will be covered in depth, alongside developing the research and data skills you’ll need to recognise the problems in agriculture and begin to apply scientific ideas to finding potential solutions.
In your second semester, you’ll build on this knowledge to gain depth of knowledge and develop a range of skills to prepare you for your future career. You’ll focus on applied research in a wide range of agricultural disciplines, including breeding, biotechnology, agricultural policy and economics. Field skills in agricultural research and environmental monitoring will develop your research capabilities.
In your third semester, you will undertake your individual advanced research project under the supervision of an expert in the field of sustainable agriculture. You’ll be given the opportunity to work with academic supervisors and in some cases industrial supervisors, where possible. You will plan, design and implement a practical, work-based, fieldwork or data-based project, and present your results and analysis in the form of a scientific report and presentation.
This program consists of 180 credits of compulsory modules, giving you an extensive and coherent grounding in sustainable agriculture and food production.
1. Global Challenges in Sustainable Agriculture (15 Credits). In this module, you will learn about past, current and future challenges for current and future food production. This will include understanding the major drivers for change in food and agricultural systems, UK and global food security, and strategies for increased sustainability, resilience and climate adaptation agriculture. This module features a combination of lectures and seminars.
2. Crop Production in a Changing Environment (15 Credits) – In this module, you will learn about the scientific research underlying sustainable agriculture solutions soil degradation and loss, and develop understanding of strategies to sustainably improve soil health, including crop rotation, tilling regimes, regenerative agriculture. The module features a combination of lectures and fieldwork.
3. Sustainable Diets and Protein Production (15 Credits) – In this module, you will learn about the sustainability issues that arise from human dietary needs and choices, with an emphasis on protein production and nutrient demand. You will also develop and understanding of new and alternative strategies for protein production, including sustainable livestock farming, the use of insect protein, and alternative protein crops, as well as gaining insights into the industrial biotechnology sector. This module features a combination of lectures, fieldwork and workshops.
4. Research Skills (15 credits) – This module is designed to provide you with the broad range of critical thinking, data analysis and communication skills. These skills will prepare you both for completing your advanced research project and for future careers in a scientific field. The module will consist of lectures, computer workshops and tutorials.
5. Crop Science & Plant Biotechnology (30 Credits) – In this module you will learn about the cutting edge research that is currently and prospectively being used to generate ‘future crops’. There is a focus on the biotechnological tools and techniques available to crop breeders and researchers in this field and how they can be applied to solve problems in global agriculture. The module features a combination of seminars, tutorials and practicals.
6. Sustainable Agroecosystems, Economics and Policy (15 Credits) – In this module, you will gain an in-depth understanding of the social and political aspects of sustainable agriculture, as well as the integration of agriculture into the broader industrial and energy sectors. This includes circular agriculture, measuring emissions, life cycle assessment, carbon accounting, incentive schemes, and agricultural policy. This module features a combination of lectures and seminars.
7. Agri-Environmental Monitoring and Field Skills (15 Credits) – In this module you will gain an appreciation of the practicalities and complexities involved in assessing agricultural environments
8. Advanced Research Project (60 Credits) – In the final part of the program, you will undertake an independent research project under the supervision of an expert in the field of sustainable agriculture, including both academic and and industrial supervisors. You will plan, design and implement a practical-, work-based, fieldwork- or data-based project, and present your results and analysis in the form of a scientific report and presentation.
Learning and teaching
You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods including formal lectures, interactive workshops, seminars and tutorials, problem-solving, practical classes and discussions. A significant component of the course is delivered via small group sessions. You will also undertake an independent research project under the supervision of an expert in the field. These teaching methods will provide you with the latest knowledge in a range of inter-related fields, as well as the transferable and technical skills needed to excel in future careers.
The course is designed to develop your independent thinking, problem-solving, communication skills and practical ability, making you attractive to employers or providing an excellent foundation for further study (eg, PhD).
On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.
The course is 100% coursework assessed. There are a range of authentic assessments in different formats for example practical work, data handling and problem solving exercises, group work, coursework essays, research proposals, posters and oral presentations. The assignments will focus on your ability to demonstrate key intellectual, research and technical understanding, rather than the ability to produce lengthy pieces of written work. Assignments will be flexible where practicable, allowing you to work on topics that you are interested and engaged with. Assessments are designed to develop skills relevant to a future career in the agricultural, academic or scientific sector.
Choose your independent advanced research project from a wide list of topics, which are designed to offer you an immersive individual research experience, as well as the opportunity to contribute to science in an area you are passionate about.
The MSc in Sustainable Agriculture has a number of field work components, taking advantage of the unique geographical and academic situation at the University of Leeds. The University Farm will offer valuable opportunities to apply your knowledge and practical research skills outside of the laboratory and lecture theatre. In addition, Leeds sits between the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks with easy access to the diverse agricultural heritage of both of these landscapes.