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MSc Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security

Mode of Study: Full Time Department: Lancaster Environment Centre
UCAS Code: Duration/Length: 12 Month(s)
QAA Subject Benchmark: Not Defined Director of Studies: Professor IC Dodd
Total Credit Points: 180

Educational Aims: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

    The range of transferable skills that students are expected to gain includes:

    • IT literacy in mainstream word-processing, analysis and presentation software
    • Presenting information in verbal, electronic and hardcopy media
    • Numerical skills, including statistical analysis
    • Practical laboratory and field skills
    • The ability to critically analyse and interpret data.

    The taught element of the course, which accounts for 50% of the final assessment, provides students with a basic understanding of the principles of sustainable agriculture, with particular emphasis on optimising crop resource use efficiency based on an analysis of crop resource inputs and economic outputs. Linking crop production outcomes (both economic production, and environmental risks associated with these) to national / international policy objectives of food security is developed as a key theme within the course. Social and political considerations of food security are developed via modules run in association with the Management School and Institute of Advanced Studies.

     A range of transferable skills modules are available to students through the joint science faculty Graduate Training Programme. Transferable skills (scientific writing, statistical methods, computing, presentation skills, project management etc.) are also developed throughout the taught modules and the extended research project. On completion of the taught component of the course, the students undertake a research project which comprises the remaining 50% of the degree. The projects are tailored to allow the students to develop particular areas of speciality relating to agricultural sciences and technology. The framework of the project enables students to enhance problem solving methodologies through the focussed application of appropriate scientific methodologies.

Learning Outcomes: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Students completing the MSc programme will be expected to have gained transferable skills, subject specific knowledge and scientific methodology to Masters level. In addition to these outcomes, which are considered in more detail below, the course nurtures working relationships between students and active researchers/practitioners both internally and externally.

    Transferable skills outcomes
    Transferable skills achieved through varied methods of delivery and assessment of the subject specific modules which include group presentations, reports and essays, and associated practical and analytical work. The individual research projects consolidate and extend transferable skills both through the execution of the research work and the writing of the associated thesis. The range of transferable skills that students are expected to gain includes:
                            IT literacy in industry standard word processing, analysis and presentation software.
                           Presenting information in verbal, electronic and hardcopy media.
                           Numeracy, including mathematical and statistical modelling.
                           Project management.
                           Interpersonal skills in group settings.
                           Self management and motivation.
    Subject specific knowledge outcomes
    Subject specific knowledge is developed through research informed teaching and associated reading. Initially this is achieved through the subject specific modules that employ a range of delivery and assessment styles including lectures, practical workshops (including paper based, computer based, laboratory based and site based studies), and seminars. Students are expected to self learn using reference material to further develop their perceptual models, and to field visits are provided illustrate the associated practicalities. More depth to subject specific knowledge is added through the specialisation of students in their chosen research projects. The range of subject specific knowledge that students are expected to gain is reflected in the breadth of modules available in the taught programme. These cover a broad range of science and technology modules.

    Scientific methodology outcomes
    Students' scientific methodology is developed at all stages of the programme and in particular through their chosen research projects. Initially, scientific method is nurtured through the written and verbal feedback of staff to students during the taught elements of the programme, along with the exposure of students to the scientific literature. The research project affords the opportunity for closer staff student interactions where a critique of scientific method occurs within a research active environment. The range of scientific disciplines that students are expected to gain include:
    Developing a robust scientific argument.
    Formulating and testing hypotheses.
    Assessing contrasting scientific theories.
    Identifying, abstracting and synthesising scientific information.
    Problem solving and decision making.
    Identifying, abstracting and synthesising scientific information
    The use of experimentation within a scientific problem solving exercise.
    Handling complexity and uncertainty.

Learning and Teaching Strategies and Methods: Knowledge, Understanding, Skills

  • The MSc in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security is a one year, full time course. In sympathy with the educational aims, the course is made up of two parts, a. subject modules delivered in the first and second terms b. a research project in the third term which may be developed in conjunction with an industrial partner identified through the Enterprise and Business Partnership unit within LEC.

    It is expected that the dissertation should not exceed 8,500 words, and be submitted in August. The dissertation should be written concisely and effectively to logically and coherently communicate key concepts and ideas. data must be presented effectively (via graphical / tabular formats) to enhance the communication of quantitative data. Care must be taken with grammar, spelling and punctuation, and make precise bibliographical references.
    The course is structured so that the students are able to tailor their programme of modules based on their interests and background. During the project students are given the opportunity to apply and further develop their transferable skills, subject knowledge and in some cases scientific methodology. The project may be developed in conjunction with LEC and possibly an industrial partner identified through the Enterprise and Business Partnership unit within LEC and so draws on real world experience and contexts. The diversity of the research and vocational expertise offered by the contributors promotes interdisciplinary learning, whilst also improving students' employability.

    General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills 

    The student will gain a variety of transferable skills essential for the effective communication of science. These transferable skills are developed through the varied methods of delivery and assessment within the taught elements of the programme, particularly in the workshop/practical sessions and (where applicable) the project. All students on this programme will be required to attend specific careers training provision provided by LEC to aid the planning and development of students' careers.

Assessment Strategy and Methods: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills
    This is achieved through module specific coursework assessments, which may take the form of essays, reports, grant applications, tests or presentations either individually, or as group work and also through the examination system. Furthermore, the research project tests the ability of a student to manage their time effectively whilst carrying out an in depth piece of scientific research using practical, library or computer skills. The project also displays the level of in depth knowledge acquired by the student.

    General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills 
    During the course of this scheme of study students will be called upon to make oral and poster presentations to support their academic work. They will also present their work in a written scientific paper format, write a grant proposal and examine how the peer review process works. They will have had the opportunity to attend specific computer; statistics; scientific writing and project management courses, either as part of their assessed programme or simply to enhance their individual personal development on a non assessed basis.

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