APMA103-Rethinking Agricultural Development (including Horticulture): Implementing Solutions

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: APMA41 Agriculture in the Tropics
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Andrew Ainslie

Email: a.m.ainslie@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Learn about what’s right and what’s wrong with twenty-first century agriculture in different parts of the world. Will further and deeper applications of technology reduce hunger (including ‘hidden hunger’ and poor diets), human drudgery and pressure on the earth’s resources, or do the answers lie in adopting ‘regenerative’ forms of production, such as Conservation Agriculture? Through a series of lectures delivered by subject specialists, debates, study visits and collaborative work, you will learn to critically evaluate the issues, role and impact of agriculture (including horticulture and livestock production) for development. 


This course aims to teach and stimulate critical thinking and evaluation about the issues, role and impact of agriculture (including horticulture) for development and livelihoods. On many issues there may be a diversity of views and the key aim is to give you the opportunity to evaluate evidence critically so that you will be able to defend your own evidence-based opinion. We will have succeeded if at the end of the module you feel comfortable about questioning and evaluating the wide range of opinions on agriculture and development and are equipped for contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in relation to agriculture and/or horticulture!

Assessable learning outcomes:

Learning Outcome 1: For Knowledge and understanding Students will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • key concepts, issues and current debates in the field of agriculture and horticulture for development;

  • factors that promote or hinder agricultural and horticultural development;

  • the needs of the growing world population for food/nutrition security;

  • the scope for agriculture and horticulture to meet these needs i n economically and environmentally sustainable ways. Some alternative and novel production practices will be introduced.

Learning Outcome 2: For Cognitive skills Students will be able to:

  • develop strategic thinking in their own work now and in the future;

  • critically analyse, evaluate and discuss relevant scientific literature and agriculture development documents, for example on strategy, policy, agricultural devel opment economics, research, extension and new or alternative technologies and production practices;

  • develop a holistic project proposal for sustainable intensification of a chosen farming system.

Learning Outcome 3: For Key practical skills Students will be able to:

  • write a critical literature review;

  • develop team work and communication skills to formulate well-structured and well- reasoned argument s relevant to the module topics, integrating both qualitative and quantitative evidence;

  • participate in discussions, produce a team presentation, and a final report appropriate to postgraduate work that constructs and deploys arguments around current policy and technical issues;

  • write a report on a topic relevant to agriculture/horticulture and development over a three-day period.

Additional outcomes:

  • Experiential learning about sustainable intensification and the whole food value chain through outside visits

  • Reflect on good and less good farming practices in the UK and their application in agricultural development

Outline content:

  • Key concepts and issues involved in the field of agriculture and horticulture for development including the role of agriculture for development including both economic, socio-economic, technical aspects;

  • The need and scope for sustainable intensification of food production in order to satisfy the needs of the growing world population for food/nutrition security in a range of ecological and socioeconomic contexts;

  • Current debates on (1) use of (a) w ater in food production systems, (b) pesticides and IPM, (c) impacts and needs for ecosystem services including pollination, (d) genetically-modified organisms and plant breeding; (2) the green revolution and its relevance in Africa; (3) impacts and adaptation of agriculture to climate variability and climate change; (4) the relevance of agriculture in economic development and poverty alleviation and achievement of the sustainable development goals;

  • Factors that promote or hinder agricultural development;

  • Alternative and novel production practices including precision agriculture and Conservation Agriculture;

  • The future tasks and challenges for national and international agriculture and food systems in the 21st century-modern’ era – how can private and civil sectors co-operate to support food and agricultural development in the public interest?

  • How do trade, markets and financial systems contribute to national a nd international agricultural development and civil society in the 21st century?

  • Two outside visits will take place 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module consists of an interactive blended approach of lectures and seminars on development issues relevant to agriculture and horticulture, external international speaker(s), and team evaluation exercise. Students will work individually and in teams to analyse and evaluate an important topic of relevance to future agricultural development, and present their findings.

Information will be consolidated and exemplified by relevant outside visits.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10 10
Seminars 10 10
External visits 22
Guided independent study: 40 78 20
Total hours by term 60 120 20
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 80
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Autumn: one summative critical review (topic: preparing crops for climate change 20%).

Spring: one summative group agricultural development project proposal on how to intensify a specific farming system sustainably (40%), comprising two components: (i) a group presentation, presented to a research sponsor (20%) and (ii) an executive summary of the proposal (max. 1000 words to be written individually 20%).

Summer term: a summative essay assignment for which students are given three days to write, giving them an opportunity to integrate all the material in this module but also framed so that students can integrated material specifically from the co-requisite module (APMA41) as well as other modules in the degree programme (40%).

Formative assessment methods:

Autumn: Two formative (an abstract of a paper and a critical review).

Penalties for late submission:

The below information applies to students on taught programmes except those on Postgraduate Flexible programmes. Penalties for late submission, and the associated procedures, which apply to Postgraduate Flexible programmes are specified in the policy “Penalties for late submission for Postgraduate Flexible programmes”, which can be found here: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/files/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmissionPGflexible.pdf
The Support Centres 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 (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:
A mark of 50% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

By submission of a set essay (a three-day assignment exercise as for summer term above).

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

  1. Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: waterproof boots (recommended) and wet-weather gear for field trip

  2. Subsistence during field trip

Last updated: 25 November 2020


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