APMA112-Issues in Agricultural Systems

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:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Lindsay Todman

Email: l.todman@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Gain the contextual background for the MSc by Research in Agriculture, Ecology & Environment, integrating the ecology and environmental science with social and economic considerations. The module will comprise lectures over autumn and spring terms combined with a series of seminars and debates in the autumn term. Lecture content is shared with APMA103 and will cover a range of contemporary issues, allowing you to question and consider the scope for sustainable intensification of agriculture. We will draw on material from a range of disciplines (environmental and social sciences, and economics).


This module aims to develop students’ knowledge of the underlying environmental, social and economic issues surrounding contemporary agricultural systems. It will expose students to the key debates surrounding sustainable agriculture, through lectures, guest speakers and seminars. Students will develop skills in accessing and synthesising research material. The structure of the course is designed to provide opportunity to discuss and debate some of the major contemporary issues in sustainable agriculture and to put their subsequent independent research in its wider societal context. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

At the end of this module students will be able to:

• Locate, access and summarise research material pertinent to contemporary debates on sustainability in agricultural systems.

• Synthesise research sources from a range of scientific disciplines (environmental, social, economic) and present a coherent summary of the key issues for one contemporary issues in agricultural sustainability.

• Contribute to debates with academic staff, visiting sp eakers and peers on a range of contemporary issues in agricultural sustainability.

Additional outcomes:

At the end of this module students will be able to:

• Communicate their findings and conclusions clearly in writing and orally to academic staff and their peers.

• Demonstrate good academic practice in use, citation and referencing of source material.

• Use appropriate bibliographic sources and tools to identify literature relevant to a given topic.

Outline content:

The module will consist of lectures, debates and discussions covering a range of current issues in agriculture and the challenges of establishing how food can be produced sustainably. It will cover topics such as the sustainable use of resources (e.g. water, soils), different production practices, pests and IPM, impacts and need for ecosystem services including pollination. It will highlight the need and scope for sustainable intensification of food production systems in order to meet the nee ds of a growing global population.  The module will also highlight the global nature of food systems and the challenges this presents in terms of complexity and the trading of resources across distances.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module will comprise two sessions each week in the autumn term. Lectures and guest speakers will introduce each theme and present relevant research literature. Seminar style debates will be used to explore the issues and discuss implications for policy and practice. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 20
Seminars 20
Guided independent study: 90 50
Total hours by term 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Oral assessment and presentation 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

The Module will be assessed by three pieces of coursework:

1) A critical review (topic: the sustainable development goals, 20%)

2) Introductory presentations and contributions to seminar debates (40%)

3) a 3000 word essay on an issue covered in spring term(40%).

Formative assessment methods:

An annotated bibliography on an issue covered in spring term (with feedback given prior to the summative essay)

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 50 overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 27 July 2020


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