This course gives you an understanding of how agriculture interacts with the environment. There is an emphasis on sustainability and the ecological consequences of unsound management. It gives you the skills for a career related to sustainability in farming systems, environmental management or rural development.
The course is comprised of compulsory and optional modules, giving you the opportunity to tailor your studies to your personal interests.
Through the compulsory modules you will develop knowledge and skills in core concepts such as:
- sustainable development and environmental change
- quantitative techniques, experimental design and data analysis
- assessment of land use capability, habitat potential, risks of water pollution, and soil quality and ecosystem services
- analysis, interpretation and presentation of field data with regard to environment and habitat assessment
- science, policy and action underlying climate change and land use
As part of your studies you undertake a major project, similar to one you might experience in the workplace. You will be supported in designing and delivering a project based on a laboratory or field-based investigation. After choosing your topic you will collect, analyse and interpret data to produce a thesis. This research project and thesis may be based overseas.
You benefit from being taught by lecturers who are industry experienced and research active. Our research in integrated agricultural production focuses on soil science, plant science and ecology, spanning a range of scales from:
pot – plot – farm – landscape. Strategic research embraces work on:
- soil quality
- rhizosphere function
- plant-soil feedback
- soil-carbon dynamics
- nutrient cycling
Applied research addresses issues of:
- climate change mitigation (including biofuels)
- ecological (organic) farming systems
- low-input crop systems
- agriculture-environment interactions
John Gowing, Reader in Agricultural Water Management, teaches several compulsory modules on the course.
'Much of my research activity is multi-disciplinary. The scientific context can be seen as management of land and water resources.'
This course is taught in a block format with one six week block and then smaller two week teaching blocks.
You are taught through lectures, seminars, practical and field classes, tutorials, case studies and small group discussions. You are expected to undertake independent study outside of these structured sessions. You are assessed through written examinations, coursework, presentations and your final major project.
You can also study through the Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme which is a framework that enables us to award postgraduate level qualifications using credit-bearing stand-alone modules as 'building blocks' towards a qualification. This means that the credits from modules undertaken within a five-year period can be 'banked' towards the award of a qualification.
Our facilities and our teaching staff ensure you are fully supported in your studies.
Farms: Our multi-purpose farms provide demonstration facilities for teaching purposes, land-based research facilities (especially in the area of organic production) and they are viable farming businesses.
- Cockle Park Farm is a 262ha mixed farm facility that includes the Palace Leas Plots hay meadow experiment and a new anaerobic digestion plant that will generate heat, electricity and digestate - an organic fertiliser - from pig and cattle manure
- Nafferton Farm is a 300ha farm with two main farm units covering conventional and organic farming systems. The two systems are primarily focused upon dairying and arable cropping. Both also operate beef production enterprises as a by-product of their dairy enterprises, although the organic system is unique in maintaining a small-scale potato and vegetable production enterprise.
Laboratories: Our modern laboratories provide important teaching and research environments and are equipped with analytical equipment such as HPLCs, GCs, CNS analyser, centrifuges, spectrophotometers and molecular biology equipment. Our specialist research facilities include:
- a tissue culture laboratory
- plant growth rooms
- a class II laboratory for safe handling of human biological samples
- taste panel facilities and test kitchen
- a thin section facility for soil analysis
We operate closely with other Schools, Institutes and the University's Central Scientific Facilities for access to more specialist analytical services. For work with human subjects we use a purpose built Clinical Research Facility which is situated in the Royal Victoria Infirmary teaching hospital and is managed jointly by us and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
nu-food Food and Consumer Research Facility
The NU-Food Food and Consumer Research Facility has undergone a £700,000 refurbishment and now boasts a culinary training suite and a sensory laboratory and food handling facility, all supported by multi-functional rooms and a reception.