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Course Information Undergraduate prospectus

Tools for Sustainable Agriculture

Course summary

Course code: AGRI1224
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Course Coordinator(s): Robert Black


Pre and co requisites



This is an introductory course to general aspects of sustainable agriculture. Students will have the opportunity to develop more focussed interests through specialised courses elsewhere in the Programme portfolio.

This course aims:

• To introduce students to the key concepts relevant to modern sustainable agriculture practice.
• To introduce students to taxonomy underlying identification of pests and diseases important in agriculture.
• To develop pest and disease identification skills to appropriate for modern pest management.
• To develop skills in assessing the risks and benefits posed by pesticides.
• To develop an awareness of national and international legislation and regulation relating to the import, distribution and safe management of pesticides.
• To provide in-depth understanding of the nature and importance of Biosecurity and its relationship with international trade and globalisation.
• To critically evaluate the importance of legal and regulatory interventions in Biosecurity
• To provide an understanding of the concept of plant quarantine and its role in developing production systems and in sustainable development.
• To provide knowledge of the operation of plant quarantine.

Learning outcomes

On completing this course successfully you will be able to:

1. Synthesise the key concepts underlying sustainable agriculture and pest control;
2. Apply simple taxonomic keys to identify key organisms to an appropriate level;
3. Develop pest management decisions on the basis of the types of pest and disease organisms identified in a crop and crop products.
4. Critically appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of using chemical pesticides versus alternative methods;
5. Make a rational choice of pest management including pesticide and pesticide application equipment according to circumstances;
6. Critically reflect on the implications of pesticide use on the environment.
7. Critically appreciate biosecurity law and biosafety in the context of international trade agreements and national programmes to protect human, animal and plant health and the environment;
8. Reflect on the importance of plant quarantine in a sustainable agriculture context and apply this in real-world situations.

Indicative content

• Basic organism, pest and plant disease taxonomy.
• Aspects of diseases and epidemiology of crop pests and diseases and the role of plant quarantine approaches in combating these.
• The role of biotechnology in the development of secure cropping systems.
• Legal aspects of agricultural biosecurity and biotechnology approaches.
• Sustainable pesticide management and the role of integrated pest management in sustainable agriculture.
• Pesticide chemistry and biological activity.
• Heath and environmental hazards of pesticides.
• Decision tools for pesticide application.
• Definitions and concepts in plant quarantine.
• Importance of plant quarantine in sustainable agriculture.
• Plant protection and quarantine legislation and documentation.

Teaching and learning activity

Lectures and tutorials. Students will be directed towards case study material in the literature to supplement course materials.

Learning Time (1 credit = 10 hours)

Scheduled contact hours:

Note: include in scheduled time: project supervision, demonstrations, practical classes and workshops, supervised time in studio or workshop, scheduled lab work , fieldwork, external visits, work-based learning where integrated into a structured academic programme.
lectures 24;
seminars 0;
supervised practical sessions 0;
tutorials 4;
formative assessment 2;
other scheduled time 0.
Guided independent study:

Note: include in guided independent study preparation for scheduled sessions, follow up work, wider reading or practice, revision.
Independent coursework 40;
Independent laboratory work 0;
other non-scheduled time 72;
Placements (including work placement and year abroad) 0.
Total hours (Should be equal to credit x 10) 150.


Essay 1 - 50% weighting. Pass mark 50%. 2500 words. Assessing learning outcomes 1,3,4,5,6.

Essay 2 - 50% weighting. Pass mark 50%. 2500 words. Assessing learning outcomes 1,2,4,7 and 8.