The QAA Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences subject benchmark statement (July 2016, 3rd edition) has been used to inform the academic development of the programme.
Department of Biological Sciences
Wednesday 30th November 2016
The programme develops graduates with a range of intellectual, practical, analytical, interpersonal and professional skills and knowledge required by the sector and equips them with the entrepreneurial skills to meet the identified need for innovation in all aspects of the industry. The programme aims to provide a solid theoretical background knowledge in plant science and technology and a working knowledge of commercial growing techniques from laboratory, to glasshouse to field. The programme aims to develop knowledge and skills required to support food security and sustainable production though current production systems whilst developing a knowledge of new and advanced science and technology and an understanding of the impact that this has on commercial practice.
The educational aims of the BSc (Hons) in Applied Plant Science and Production Technology programme are as follows:
To provide a high quality academic, practical and professional programme of study in applied plant science and production technology
To provide students with the knowledge and understanding of a range of scientific theories and concepts and apply this to address a range of problems within a business and commercial context
To equip students with an understanding of the technological, economic, ethical and legal context in which applied plant science is practised
To enable students to apply relevant practical skills across a broad range of applications including independent scientific investigation, use of technologies to address problems, fieldwork and laboratory investigations, and subject-specific practical competencies
To develop key skills in self-management and leadership as well as a range of transferable skills to support professional working practice
To enable students to utilise appropriate research methods, frameworks and themes to support scientific and academic practice
To enable students to select and apply a range of concepts, theories and methods to scientific and commercial enterprises
To encourage the development of specialist knowledge and understanding to support current practice as well as future technological and enterprise developments
To develop in students an awareness of the global nature of production and supply chains and an appreciation of the wider consequences of applied plant science and production technology on sustainability and society
The development of knowledge and understanding of underlying principles associated with applied plant science and production technology is fundamental in enabling the application and critique of core concepts and ideas, and the subsequent synthesis of new knowledge during students progression through the programme. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:
FHEQ Level 4
Demonstrate a systematic & rigorous approach to academic study (all modules)
Demonstrate a basic knowledge and understanding of the defining concepts, principles and methods underlying applied plant science and production technology (RC4901; RC4902, RC4903, RC4210, RC4905)
Develop new transferable skills specific to academic study, scientific enquiry and subject-specific practical competencies that can be applied in areas of further study and/or within employment (RC4905, RC4209, RC4208, RC4903, RC4210)
Describe and independently use relevant techniques for the collecting and analysing a range of data (RC4208, RC4910, RC4903)
Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the global, regional and local context and an awareness of current issues of wider concern to society (RC4904)
Demonstrate the application of knowledge to a range of routine real-life situations (RC4903, RC4905)
FHEQ Level 5
Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and critical understanding of relevant theories and concepts in the fields of applied plant science and production technology (all modules)
Demonstrate a knowledge of the main methods of enquiry to plan, conduct and present independent investigation using appropriate laboratory and technological equipment (RC5901, RC5902)
Demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge of underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they where originally studied, including in an employment and professional context (RC5915, RC5903, )
Develop an understanding of the limitations of their subject knowledge, and how this influences their own analysis and interpretation (all modules )
Demonstrate an ability to consider issues from a range of multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives (RC5209, RC5704, RC5903, RC5904)
FHEQ Level 6
Demonstrate an extensive and systematic understanding of key aspects of topics relating to applied plant science and production technology, specifically the acquisition of detailed knowledge at the coal-face of the discipline areas (all modules)
Demonstrate an ability to utilise historical and existing knowledge to critically comment upon current research, devise and sustain arguments, solve problems and synthesise new ideas (all modules)
Demonstrate an ability to describe and apply innovative, entrepreneurial and professional standards and responsibilities in relation to commercial and business enterprise (RC6903, RC6901, RC6906)
Core cognitive skills are expected to be evidenced throughout all three years of study. To start, students undertaking study at level 4 should expect to demonstrate clear lines of thinking, description, knowledge recall and understanding, with progression towards an ability to reason in a scientific manner, critically evaluate and analyse, and to synthesize new knowledge. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:
FHEQ Level 4
Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret data of a qualitative and quantitative nature, with the view to utilise these to make informed judgments (all modules)
Demonstrate different approaches to solving problems, specifically through the manipulation of data, experimental design and data collection, and application of knowledge towards effective applied plant science practices (RC4905, RC4903, RC4901, RC4902)
Demonstrate an ability to define and solve routine problems (all modules)
FHEQ Level 5
Utilise a range of approaches to critically analyse, synthesise and summarise information from a variety of sources (all modules).
Develop an awareness of the provisional nature of the facts and principles associated with applied plant science and how this influences their own analysis and interpretation (all modules)
Apply knowledge and understanding to address multidisciplinary problems within a global context (RC5905, RC5903, RC5704)
FHEQ Level 6
Develop an appreciation of one’s own uncertainty, ambiguity and limitations of knowledge specific to themes in applied plant science (all modules)
Demonstrate an ability to collect, analyse and integrate several lines of evidence to develop balanced arguments demonstrating critical thinking and synthesis (all modules)
Demonstrate innovation balanced by ethical awareness (RC6903)
All students should be expected to evidence the development and enhancement of subject-specific practical competencies and the application of theory to practice during their studies.
Emphasis is also placed on the development of skills that can be transferred to the employment sector as a graduate (e.g. communication, time management and team working skills, problem-solving abilities and leadership skills). Technical skills should be demonstrated specific to the discipline including laboratory and scientific skills and the use of a range of technologies to address problems. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:
FHEQ Level 4
Undertake practical training in the development of newly acquired skills specific to applied plant science and production technology (including laboratory skills, subject-specific practical competencies) (RC4905, RC4901, RC4902, RC4903)
Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret data of a qualitative and quantitative nature, with the view to utilise these to make informed judgments (all modules)
Demonstrate the development of some skills necessary for self-managed and life-long learning (independent study, time management, organisational skills) (RC4208, RC4905)
FHEQ Level 5
Display generic skills and demonstrate the ability to acquire new competencies required for career progression including initiative, reflection, leadership and team skills (RC5915)
Use a range of techniques to undertake critical analysis of information, and to propose a solution to the problems arising from that analysis (RC5201, RC5901, RC5902)
Identify and work towards targets for personal, academic and career progression (RC5915)
Devise plan and undertake field, laboratory or other investigations in a responsible, safe and sensitive manner paying due diligence to risk assessment, ethical and data protection issues, rights of access and relevant health and safety issues (RC5901, RC5902, RC5201)
FHEQ Level 6
Demonstrate an ability to manage one’s own learning, and to make use of primary sources of literature to formulate new ideas and draw conclusions (all modules)
Demonstrate an ability to analyse financial and other management information and use it in decision making (RC6901, RC6906, RC6905)
Demonstrate an ability to tackle problems by collecting, analysing and evaluating appropriate qualitative and quantitative information, using it creatively and imaginatively to solve problems, introduce and develop innovations and make decisions (all modules)
Upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:
FHEQ Level 4
Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret both data of a qualitative and quantitative nature, with the view to utilise these to make informed judgments ((RC4208, RC4901, RC4902, RC4903)
Communicate to a variety of audiences in written, graphical, verbal and electronic forms (all modules)
FHEQ Level 5
Effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis to a range of audiences (all modules)
Use a range of IT platforms and social media to communicate information effectively (RC5915)
FHEQ Level 6
Communicate accurately, concisely, clearly and confidently and appropriately to a variety of audiences using a range of formats and using appropriate academic language (all modules)
The programme is designed to facilitate the development of academic knowledge and understanding of fundamental principles of applied plant science and production technology, with a particular emphasis on the development of transferable, professional skills and their application in a work-based environment.
The curriculum has three distinct levels of study consisting of core modules in fundamental principles of landscape management. Within the programme students are expected to undertake 120 credits of study each year. Modules have a value of 15 credits with the exception of the Dissertation Project which is a 30 credit module. Modules are assessed on a 3000 word-equivalent basis using a variety of assessment strategies such as presentations, discussion groups, reports, portfolios and examinations.
The mode of study is full-time or part-time, with attendance.
The development of the programme reflects level-related characteristics, as indicated in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. In respect of subject knowledge, emphasis at Level 4 concerns “describing” and “knowing about” fundamental principles that can be reinforced and developed when constructing rational argument and questioning skills. Level 5 encourages and promotes more research informed study, making reference to, and linking, complex elements of knowledge, and subsequently allowing students to demonstrate their own critical approach to data and evidence. Level 6 focusses on analysis and synthesis of knowledge, data and evidence, which requires students to develop a more reflective approach to skills and concepts. Level-specific characteristics are embedded in the learning outcomes of the programme and Level 6 outcomes necessitate high order cognitive application in both generic and subject-specific areas.
The modules at Level 4 provide a comprehensive review of key concepts and skills for a range of students. Students undertake eight core modules to ensure that students develop grounded knowledge of the fundamental principles, skills and concepts necessary for the study of applied plant science and production technology. Of paramount importance here, is the development of core technical skills including the development of laboratory skills (RC4901, RC4902,) and core subject-specific practical competencies including Health and Safety training, basic First Aid, Safe use of Pesticides, basic propagation and crop management techniques (RC4905). There is also an emphasis on the exploration of the range of theory relating to applied plant science including fundamental scientific principles (RC4901, RC4902). In addition further emphasis is placed on developing core academic skills (e.g. academic writing, presenting/communicating research and referencing in accordance to a prescribed style), which are expected to be applied across many areas of study as the progress towards Levels 5 & 6. Students are also encouraged to develop an awareness of business skills and knowledge (RC4209) as well as an understanding of the global nature of the subject and the broader, contextual considerations (RC4904).
The study of modules at Level 5 involves greater detail and depth of knowledge to reinforce existing knowledge and further enhance key concepts and skills. There is an increased emphasis on the development of scientific skills and knowledge through key modules (RC5901, RC5209, RC5902) and students are encouraged to develop a broader understanding of applied plant science within a global and commercial and financial context (RC5904, RC5903, RC5704) . Students also undertake a credit-based work placement to further enhance the development of professional knowledge (RC5915). Delivery for this module will take place across the academic year. Students will be tasked to secure a placement during the period from October to March and a work placement induction week will take place the first week following the Easter break to provide students with an overview of placement requirements and responsibilities. The placement period will take place over 5 weeks following the induction week. All delivery for Level 5 modules is to be completed for assessment 2 weeks prior to the Easter break to ensure that the work placement has no impact on achievement of other modules. Coursework for RC5915 will be submitted upon completion of the work placement and assessed in time for the June Module Assessment Board. This module also supports the development of digital literacy and, in particular, social media skills.
Modules at Level 6 of the programme are directed towards developing enhancing academic and scientific skills and developing further professional and entrepreneurial qualities (RC6901, RC6903). Students are encouraged to consider the application of plant science to the commercial world and to develop an awareness of the range of skills and knowledge required to meet current and future business, economic, social, environmental and technological requirements of the sector (RC6902, RC6904, RC6905, RC6906). Central to study at Level 6 is the ability for students to undertake independent research. To facilitate this, students are expected to complete a 30 credit dissertation module (RC6201). The dissertation module allows students to focus on individual research interests, and will require them to utilise advanced knowledge and understanding across the broad range of subjects and research themes .
Level 4: modules are all 15 credits. A candidate who successfully completes level four will have accumulated 120 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Certificate of Higher Education. These 120 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.
Level 5: modules are all 15 credits. A candidate successfully completing level five will have accumulated 240 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Diploma of Higher Education*. These 240 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.
Level 6: modules are either 15 or 30 credits A candidate successfully completing level six will have accumulated 360 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of an honours degree.
(*see the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education: The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland—August 2008)
A minimum of 96 UCAS points
Candidates should possess proficiency in English and mathematics equivalent to passes in GCSE (A-C grades), in addition to the equivalent of either (a) a minimum of three passes (grade C or above) in other GCSE subjects or (b) an Intermediate level Specialised Diploma, as well as one of the following:
Advanced GCE, which must include two passes at A2-level.
Two passes at Vocational A-level.
Pass grades CC or better for the Vocational Double Award.
Advanced level Specialised Diploma, which should normally include the Extended Project.
A National Diploma or Higher National Diploma or Certificate with an overall meritorious performance.
Passes (grade C or above) in at least five separate subjects of the Scottish Certificate of Education of which at least four must be at Higher grade.
An Irish Leaving Certificate with a least four grades C or above at the Higher level.
A full International, European or French Baccalaureate.
A recognised appropriate Access course.
Applicants from non-native English speaking countries are expected to meet the following English Language requirements:
Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), Accreditation of Certified Learning (APCL) and Accreditation of Experiential Learning (APEL)
Appropriate consideration will be given to applicants previously certified and/or being assessed for award classification within an accepted related landscape architecture discipline. Similarly, any applicant who has not received certification for prior learning experiences, but has worked within the discipline, will also be considered.
The University will assess whether the learning derived from experience and/or prior certificated study is equivalent to that of the learning derived from the programme of study. This evidence may include a combination of skills and learning outcomes, in addition to the level and relevance of the subject knowledge and understanding to be evidenced by the applicant. Prior accredited learning must be supported by a transcript indicating the number, and level, of credits, achieved, and the titles of the courses for which they were awarded.
An applicant not accredited on a certificate or transcript, would be asked to map their experience against the module, and/or programme learning outcomes, to provide a clear, evidenced paper submission. Conversely, applications stating certified learning experience must be accompanied by the certificate awarded for the qualification. In most cases, these must have been achieved within five years of the date of application.
The QAA subject benchmark statement for Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences (July 2016, 3rd edition) has been used as a guide in developing the programme as they define the nature of the programme and identify the skills and attributes expected to be acquired by the programme graduate.
The subject specific statements that have been consulted are the generic standards, both threshold and typical as well as the subject specific knowledge and understanding in horticulture.
The programme content reflects the requirements for degree programmes in horticulture including the scientific, economic, environmental and business principles underpinning sustainable plant production and commercial practice. The programme addresses core subject themes and requirements through the development of knowledge of the underlying principles of the subject and the application of relevant concepts, theories and methods to professional and industry contexts. Broader issues of sustainability and environmental impact as well as local, national and global concerns are also reflected in the programme content and outcomes, as is the development of specific vocational and practical skills to support the application of principles into practice (Section 3.5; 3.6).
Subject specific knowledge and understanding in horticulture (Section 5.5.8.a, 5.6.8 b and Section 5.6.8 c) including knowledge and understanding of business management, economic theories and legal, environmental and ethical frameworks are reflected at levels 4, 5 and 6 and the ability to apply scientific and technological knowledge and process is explored through fieldwork, experimentation and applied project work. A broad understanding of the horticulture industry is developed, particularly at level 5, and this understanding is used to support innovative and entrepreneurial approaches at level 6.
The more generic "soft" skills identified in the benchmark statements, including interpersonal and teamwork, communication, self management and professional development and digital literacy skills are all explicitly embedded in the majority of modules presented within the programme, either assessed formatively through classroom based activities, or alternatively through components of assessment. Specifically, social media skills are developed through the Work Based Learning for Academic Credit Module (RC5915).
Graduates are familiar with the following subdivisions of applied science:
- Applied plant science
Have achieved a level of specialist knowledge and understanding in applied plant science allowing them to work adaptably to apply their subject within the broad industry or cognate field of activity
Be able to follow current practice and adapt to future developments and be able to comment on the local and global environmental impact and sustainability of industry practices
Students will encounter a broad range of teaching and learning experiences across all levels of study as befits the subject matter. Methods of teaching and learning are indicated clearly in each module descriptor and the list below describes the variety of approaches used by tutors.
Teaching and learning methods used to deliver this curriculum are designed to provide experience, and, through reflection upon it, develop concepts which can then be explored through testing and experimentation. The methods used, in practice, vary according to the nature of each module’s subject matter but include a wide diversity from more formal lectures to student centred activities including assignments, seminars, case studies and design studio teaching. All students also carry out a major individual research, work based problem or design project in the final year. All students experience learning through a Virtual Learning Environment, in order to prepare them for the autonomy expected of HE students and for Continuing Professional Development studies, post-graduation. The curriculum is delivered in such a way that there is a reducing reliance on tutor-directed study as students progress through their programme. Teaching strategies are employed that encourage active learning and the use of integrated case studies as well as practical project experience.
A combination of learning and teaching methods are employed:
Tutorials and seminars
Specialist external lectures
Practical classes in and outside the laboratory
E-learning technologies in the form of virtual learning environments
Working in groups on realistic/live projects with external organisations
Other exercises which require students to integrate information and techniques
Visits to commercial and industrial businesses, consumer organisations, policy-making bodies and research organisations
Managed placement or work experience
In the main, teaching and learning activities take place on the campus. Timetabling is arranged centrally, except for individual tutorials. There is some flexibility for students to change groups for laboratory classes and group tutorials to suit part-time students and those who have family commitments or transport difficulties. This is in accordance with the University's widening access and participation strategy. It is possible for all students to access support materials at home via the ‘Sharepoint Portal'.
In line with benchmarking and the Department's Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy, the need for students to become effective as independent learners is planned for and encouraged. The programme structures its learning outcomes so that this will happen progressively across the programme. At Level 6, students have the opportunity to do an extensive piece of independent research (equivalent to two modules) that requires them to plan and implement a research project, analyse data and report on their study.
The University's over-arching level-related criteria are a key reference when designing modular assessments. Therefore, progression towards more complex and involved assessments, that require greater levels of study autonomy and greater levels of critical analysis, underpins the overall assessment strategy of the programme.
In addition, all students who pass any part of a degree are expected to possess such basic skills as the ability to make use of numerical and statistical information; the ability to locate internet sites from given web addresses; the ability to send and receive e-mail messages; the ability to use basic software packages such as Word; the ability to perform basic searches on standard electronic retrieval systems, and the ability to write legibly. Students who succeed at Level 4 and above should be able to construct an essay using correct grammar, spelling and referencing according to the American Psychological Association (APA) system of referencing.
In the preparation of coursework, which can include essays, laboratory/field exercises and presentation, portfolios students are given time and scope to present their work in a variety of modes, particularly where an examination would be inappropriate. However, the institutions are aware that examinations have an important role to play in summative assessment, and give academic credibility to the degree programme.
Assessments based on real-life problems with employer involvement and effective feedback are included where they are compatible with the assurance of academic standards.
The programme uses a wide range of forms of assessment including:
Essays and written assignments - testing the ability to write within word limits, convey ideas with clarity and accuracy, reference to an academic standard and the ability to conduct private study and research.
Oral presentations - testing presentation skills, the ability to discuss issues with clarity and respond to questions.
Dissertation - testing the ability to conduct individual primary research and communicate ideas and information effectively in an academic manner and within word limits.
Portfolio - testing the ability to acquire key research and evaluation skills and to present material in a clear, effective manner
Short-based seminar exercises
Reading of academic texts and discussion exercises
Close analysis of texts
Online multiple-choice and short answer exams
Formative assessment and feedback
All students receive written comments on assessed components of work and additional feedback on the work is given more informally by individual tutors during group workshops and one-to-one tutorials. Additionally, some tutors have adopted the use of GradeMark software by which to provide more timely feedback to students. Formative feedback is an important and essential component of all taught modules. The nature of the assessment and feedback varies from module to module but typically takes the form of a written assignment done under time constraints, marked by the module tutor. Formative feedback is staggered throughout the year. The programme also makes use of on-line formative feedback in the form of electronic marking and self-evaluation forms
Reassessment will address the learning outcomes not achieved in the failed components. For modules forming part of programmes in the Department of Biological Sciences, reassessment will normally take the form of the resubmission of all failed component(s) of the modular assessment strategy. Here students will be expected to resubmit the coursework or re-sit the exam in its original format, albeit using a different perspective or suite of questions.
The course prepares graduates for a broad range of careers in commercial production horticulture as well as developing the business and entrepreneurial skills required for those wishing to establish new horticultural businesses and growing ventures. The programme also responds to key themes that are currently the focus of Government policy – the need for sustainable production and the need to increase skills in science and technology. The focus is on the application of theory and knowledge to the vocational and commercial setting with an emphasis on the use of innovative technology to improve production efficiency and profitability as well as minimising environmental impacts to ensure sustainable production techniques. This programme focusses on sustainable plant production through the application of modern technology and techniques to the commercial production process for a range of plant crops, including micro propagation, commercial growing in LED lighting systems, ultra-intensive growing and the use of information technology and data handling to support efficient crop management.
The programme includes a period of work experience to ensure that students gain relevant professional experience to support employability and has an emphasis on the application of knowledge and theory to vocational situations. Additionally students undertake practical skills development as part of their programme to ensure that subject-specific practical competencies are embedded and developed throughout the programme.
Graduates may go on to manage horticultural enterprises and related businesses, operate in international trade and production systems or be involved in commercial research or advisory work.
Additional graduates will display the following:
Have a thorough understanding of plant manipulation and production methods and of the underpinning scientific, economic and business principles
Are able to identify technological, economic and ethical problems encountered in current production systems, evaluate new techniques and, where appropriate, apply them to commercial practice
Appreciate the global nature of production and supply chains and the wider consequences of horticultural activities including public concerns over sustainable land use and production practices.
Both Reaseheath College and the University of Chester are committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. Both institutions seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students. The ultimate objective of the programmes delivery is to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and the diverse needs of our students are provided for. At a departmental level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:
Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality.
Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.
There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.
The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues. Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.
Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.
Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking also enhances equal opportunity, fairness and independence to all students.
In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.
All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.
All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of both institutional Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise.
Reaseheath College offers specific support for students with specified learning needs, encompassing all physical abilities, in conjunction with the Higher Education Support Team (HEST) on campus. In collaboration with student support services, and safeguarding task groups, the college's equality and diversity policy aims to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the College have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate discrimination, which is unlawful or unfair.
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