AP1A25-Agriculture in Practice

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Yiorgos Gadanakis

Email: g.gadanakis@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The module will help you to understand the importance of agricultural systems for supplying our food, delivering ecosystem services and supporting the rural economy. You will have the opportunity to visit a range of different farm types, businesses and systems across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. In addition, you will be encouraged to engage in a series of activities to develop team spirit and a set of research skills that involve academic writing, data analysis, data visualisation and discussion of the scientific findings. The module is relevant to future farmers, farm managers and rural entrepreneurs.


The module aims:

  • To develop an understanding of a range of farming systems, types of farm management practices and agricultural businesses

  • Introduce the concept of rural entrepreneurship and guide students in the development of innovative business structures and ventures

  • To provide students with a range of opportunities to discuss with farm managers and professionals in the area alternative methods of marketing their produce

  • To allow students to evaluate and discuss current research in agriculture and farm business management

  • To develop a set of transferable to the industry skills (developing presentation skills, written and oral communication skills, build team working skills and develop familiarity with the use of information technology on the field and in classroom).

  • To introduce students into research methods design and to help them identify and use the appropriate statistical methods to solve a range of problems relating to business, economics and agronomic applications

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • Compare a range of farming systems in relation to their physical, social and economic attributes;

  • Critically evaluate the impact of different crop management and animal husbandry practices into the production performance of the farming system;

  • Develop formative, well-argued views on selected topical issues affecting agriculture, rural communities and the c ountryside;

  • Understand the breadth and diversity of agriculture systems and how they fit into the rural economy and business environment.

During the farm visits students have the opportunity to learn more about farming activities and to acquire new skills and knowledge in agricultural and farm business science on the field by observing, engaging and discussing their experience with farm managers and professionals. The module aims to educate and pr ovide the skills to prospective farmers and entrepreneurs for proficiency in managing their farming systems and production methods.

Additional outcomes:

Upon completion of the module, students will have developed a series of employability skills;

• Report writing – developing the ability to critically assess and analyse a problem

• Presentation skills – developing skills in presenting oral reports and debating

• Analytical thinking – developing reasoning and appraisal skills

• Interaction with other students and business managers – developing team work and communication skills

• Interpersonal skills – developing skills in purposive questioning

The students, will be able to provide illustrative examples of the different management practices applied by farming systems in the UK and incorporate them in the concepts of agricultural intensification, animal welfare, limited natural resources, biodiversity, integrated pest management in sustainable agriculture and rural entrepreneurship.

Outline content:
Students will visit a range of farm businesses, the hosts of the visits will be the farm owners/managers, or site directors. The visits include:
• Arable and livestock enterprises
• Field scale vegetable growers
• Mixed farming estates
• Organic producers
• Ancillary industries (machinery, chemicals, etc.)

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Students will visit up to five farm / businesses per term. Prior to each farm visit, students will receive relevant information to enable note taking and the development of a more constructive interaction with the host. The use of Information Technology will be incorporated in order to transform field trips to an interactive experience for the students. Field visits will be interspersed with classroom discussion and formative feedback. In addition, a series of specialised lecture sessions on farm machinery, organic production systems, on-line trading systems (crop & livestock) and staff farm management will be organised to develop further understanding of the agricultural industry and its different components. Students will be expected to present their perspectives on key aspects of the visits through discussions, graphs and figures, and short written reports. Please note that the contact hours below are indicative only

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 8 8
External visits 20 20 2
Guided independent study: 65 66 11
Total hours by term 93 94 13
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 30
Portfolio 50
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

1. Farm visits (50% of module mark)

(i) The assessment will include an evidence based portfolio linked to the farm visits on both the autumn and spring term. All summative assessments must be handed in by the dates specified in the autumn and spring terms. Dates will be advised in relation to each visit and subject area.

2. Topical issue (50% of module mark: 30% written report, 20% presentation)

Students will select their topical issue of interest from an extensive list.

(i) Presentation – a 10 minute presentation will be presented to the class, with an additional 5 minutes for questions

(ii) Written report – 800 word (maximum limit), processed report on the topical issue

Formative assessment methods:

At the beginning of the autumn term students will be asked to install to their Android/Windows/iOS devises the “Socrative” student app. This is used for in class quizzes, open questions, group competitions and instant feedback. The App enables the user to present graphs and instant reports. This will enable further understanding and will allow the instructor to evaluate and assess learning techniques and methods.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
Requirements for a pass: 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
By three hour examination in August/September.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: A pair of Wellington boots, a waterproof pair of trousers and a windproof, waterproof jacket are essential during the farm visits

Last updated: 27 July 2020


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