University of Chester

Programme Specification
Agriculture FDS
2017 - 2018

Foundation Science Degree



University of Chester

Reaseheath College

Reaseheath College

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years (full time) or 4 years (part time)

5 Years

Annual - September

E15-Q97 / DD45



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences. July 2016 revision.


Biological Sciences

Monday 28th November 2016

In today’s global marketplace individuals seeking to take managerial responsibility in a farming or allied business must have enhanced business, marketing and management skills to complement their practical experience. New entrants will need both technical and managerial skills in order to embrace new methods of land management and ensure global food security for the future. The FdSc Agriculture will introduce the principles of human resource management and the influence of global markets on UK agriculture and aims to produce graduates with high levels of scientific, agricultural and communication skills in order to meet the skills gap identified by several industry commentators and ensure the continued high levels of employability enjoyed by Reaseheath graduates.

The FdSc Agriculture award aims to provide the following:

  • To enable students to progress in a professional career within the agricultural industry.
  • To develop the student’s understanding of the technical, economic, legal and managerial principles relating to farm businesses.
  • To develop the student’s ability to identify and review the effects of technical, economic, environmental, and ethical issues in the global agricultural industry.
  • To develop an awareness of local and global market opportunities for agricultural commodities.
  • To develop student’s business skills needed to manage and solve problems associated with farming businesses.
  • To enable students to undertake an honours degree conversion programme.

Key knowledge areas are a firm grasp of the underlying scientific principles of crop and animal production, and an understanding of business evaluation and planning. Techniques such as benchmarking, recording financial and physical performance and staff management. The role of UK agriculture in global food production, its impact on the environment and the development of sustainable land management techniques.

FHEQ Level 4; underlying scientific principles, evaluation of production systems, appreciation of financial consequences of decision making taught in:

  • RC4102 - Biological Systems in Agriculture
  • RC4110 - Farm Animal Nutrition
  • RC4209 - Fundamentals of Business & Human Resource Management
  • RC4107 - Principles of Livestock Production

FHEQ Level 5; application of scientific principles to specific problems within livestock or crop production, ability to investigate, evaluate data and draw conclusions in order to inform professional practice, business planning. Taught in:

  • RC5106 - Farm Animal Health
  • RC5103 - Farm Business Diversification
  • RC5703 - Professional Research Project
  • RC5209 - Agronomy

Cognitive skills will be expected to develop over the two years of the programme, starting with descriptive and explanatory skills and progressing on to the development of analytical and evaluative skills. Throughout the programme students will be expected to apply new knowledge to real life business situations in order to evaluate the best options for positive welfare, sustainability and production outcomes.

FHEQ Level 4;

  • RC4107 - Find, read and understand sector specific texts including primary research material, industry publications and benchmarking data
  • RC4105 - Use appropriate referencing conventions
  • RC4208 - Understand, analyse and interpret basic data sets
  • RC4110 - Evaluate a range of approaches to solving given problems

FHEQ Level 5;

  • RC5108 - Evaluate key texts and critique source material
  • RC5101 - Synthesise information from a range of sources to elucidate general principles
  • RC5703 - Analyse data using complex tests of relationship & difference and draw appropriate conclusions
  • RC5103 - Adapt writing styles to suit specific audiences

Students will demonstrate academic and employability skills such as planning, time management and self reflection. They will show an ability to meet deadlines and take responsibility for developing the level and range of their own skills over the duration of the programme. It is expected that by the end of the programme they will have assumed a greater level of managerial responsibility in their family business or in their place of employment.

FHEQ Level 4;

  • RC4208 - self evaluation and career development planning
  • RC4209 - understanding of business structures, operating environment and workforce management
  • RC4208 - IT skills
  • RC4105 - awareness of ethical and legal influences on farming practice

FHEQ Level 5;

  • RC5109 - ability to work as a key member of a team
  • RC5704 - Business management & planning skills
  • RC5109 - enhanced employability skills: reliability & ability to work to high standards under pressure
  • RC5703 - Project planning & execution, enhanced reflective skills

Students will develop confidence in a number of methods of written and oral communication. They will be able to adapt their communication method to suit a variety of audiences or subject content.

FHEQ Level 4;

  • RC4107 - Describe and discuss issues affecting the sector accurately and factually in both written & oral forms
  • All modules - Correctly structure and reference written reports for an academic audience
  • RC4208 - Give constructive feedback to peers

FHEQ Level 5;

  • RC5703 - Present coherent and evidence-based arguments in written and oral forms
  • RC5101 - Communicate effectively with members of a team
  • RC5108 - Adapt writing styles for a specific audience

Farming is a multidisciplinary occupation. On a daily basis a farmer needs to be a mechanic, a vet, a midwife, an agronomist and a businessman. This programme aims to equip its graduates with a high level of underpinning knowledge in all these aspects to allow them to make informed decisions that benefit their animals, their business and the end consumers of their produce.

At level 4 they will develop generic HE research and communication skills, and be introduced to the underlying scientific concepts of animal and crop production. These skills and knowledge will be used as a foundation to build more in-depth knowledge and understanding in the key areas that underpin the efficient production of high quality food. These areas include animal nutrition and welfare, the ability to understand and evaluate livestock and crop production systems, and an understanding of business structure and workforce management.

At level 5 students will gain an understanding of come of the more complex elements of farming practice which require higher levels of scientific and business knowledge, namely the causes, prevention and treatment of animal & plant diseases, genetics, business planning, and strategies to minimise any detrimental effects of farming on the environment. Students will be able to pursue specific areas of interest through the planning and execution of an individual research project.  Students wishing to progress to Level 6 study will be strongly advised to take RC5280 (Research Methods) as their optional module to support future dissertation projects. However the choice of RC5703 (Professional Project) will not preclude progression.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
RC4102 4 Biological Systems in Agriculture 15 Comp
RC4103 4 Agricultural Machinery and Technology 15 Comp
RC4105 4 Farm Animal Welfare and Building Design 15 Comp
RC4107 4 Principles of Livestock Production 15 Comp
RC4110 4 Farm Animal Nutrition 15 Comp
RC4208 4 Academic Skills Development 15 Comp
RC4209 4 Fundamentals of Business and Human Resource Management 15 Comp
RC4210 4 Crop Production 15 Comp
RC5101 5 Agriculture & the Environment 15 Comp
RC5103 5 Farm Business Diversification 15 Comp
RC5106 5 Farm Animal Health 15 Comp
RC5108 5 Forage Production & Management 15 Comp
RC5109 5 Work Based Learning (Agriculture) 15 Comp
RC5208 5 Research Methods 15 Optional
RC5209 5 Agronomy 15 Comp
RC5703 5 Professional Project 15 Optional
RC5704 5 Finance and Planning 15 Comp

Exit awards:

Certificate of Higher Education

Level 4 - 120 credits


Foundation Science Degree

Level 4 - 120 credits

Level 5 - 120 credits



A minimum of 64 UCAS points (equivalent to 140 on the pre- 2017 tariff) from the qualifications listed below, including a grade C equivalent in one of the subjects recommended by the department.  

The department recommends one of the following qualification(s):               

  • GCE A Level: Biology, Business, or other disciplines having a basis in scientific theory (eg PE, Geography) or maths.
  • BTEC Extended Diploma in Agriculture, Animal Management or a related subject: MPP
  • BTEC Diploma in Agriculture, Animal Management or a related subject: MM
  • OCR National Extended Diploma/Diploma: merit profile plus one of the GCE A Level subjects listed above
  • Irish Highers/Scottish Highers: BBCC in 4 subjects, including Biology, Business, or other disciplines having a basis in scientific theory (eg PE, Geography) or maths.
  • International Baccalaureate: 26 points, including 4 in sciences, maths or geography.
  • Access to HE approved programme

Please note: we accept a maximum of 20 UCAS points from GCE AS Levels and that the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A Level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A Levels and BTECs/OCRs.

Mature students (21 years of age or over) working in agriculture and without evidence of the above qualifications, will be required to demonstrate enthusiasm and aptitude for higher level study, and have the support of their managers for linking their education with their work activities.  Where mature students do not have standard academic qualifications but are able to demonstrate considerable vocational experience and transferable skills, their applications will be viewed on an individual basis to assess suitability. All students in his category will be required to attend an interview and may be asked to submit a piece of work to confirm their ability to undertake the programme.

Any applicant who has not received certification for prior learning experiences, but has worked within the discipline, will also be considered. Acceptable work-based experience could include one, or a combination of several, of the following: herd, flock or crop management, young-stock management, allied industries such as nutrition, breeding or advisory services.

It would normally be expected that entrants to this programme will be currently employed in the agricultural industry.

The subject benchmark statements state that degree programmes in agriculture should develop the students knowledge and understanding of crop and animal production methods and the underpinning scientific, economic, environmental and business principles (para 2.15).

Crop production methods are extensively explored in the Crop Production Systems and the Forage Production & Management modules. The underpinning science of these processes is covered in the Biological Systems in Agriculture and Agronomy modules.

Animal production methods are covered in the Principles of Livestock Production module, with further development of specific areas in the Animal Welfare, Farm Animal Nutrition and Animal Health modules.

Environmental aspects of agricultural activity are explored in the Agriculture & the Environment modules. While economic and business principles are considered in every module, they are comprehensively explored in specialist business modules at both level 4 and level 5.

In all subject areas students will be expected to gain understanding of the current concepts, theories and models, and to be able to identify gaps in both their own knowledge and in published research. At level 4 they will be required to consider their own business and farming practice and the scientific principles underlying their farming practice. At level 5 students will consider local, regional and global aspects of the agricultural industry (para 3.6).

Student's intellectual skills (para 5.6.1) will be tested and developed throughout the programme using a variety of teaching and assessment methods, and their practical skills (para 5.6.2) will be developed through their work placement and their research project planning and execution.

Analytical, data interpretation and communication skills (para 5.6.3 and 5.6.4) will be developed through all modules, with these skill being initially developed at level 4 through teaching and formative assessment methods, and enhanced at level 5, particularly in the planning, interpretation and presentation of their research project. It is anticipated that the majority of source material used for assignment completion will be sources from on-line sources such as e-journals and e-books, thus enhancing students digital literacy (para 5.6.5). The project module will also require self management skills will need to be demonstrated through planning workload and meeting deadlines (para 5.6.7).   Interpersonal and teamwork skills (para 6.6.6) will be developed through the use of formative group tasks during lectures, and will be assessed via their work placement reports & employer feedback.

Subject specific knowledge will be developed and assessed in all modules. The science of crop and livestock production systems will be introduced at level 4 (RC4102, RC4210, RC4107), with questions of sustainability and global socio-economic impacts addressed at Level 5 (RC5101, RC5103 & RC5703) (para 5.6.8a). Farm business management, particularly factors affecting profitability, sustainability and consumer protection & perception (para 5.6.8b) will be an underpinning theme of all modules and levels 4 and 5.

Skills in the selection, evaluation and application of key information and concepts will be developed through tasks and assessments across all modules at Level 4, and further developed at level 5 to allow students to synthesise hypotheses and find solutions to a wide range of vocationally relevant issues.

Teaching and Learning

The pattern of delivery is a unique feature of this programme which makes higher level academic study available to those who are already employed full time in the industry and have business critical roles that would not allow them to study in the normal full time (5 days per week) pattern. The full time programme is delivered in 2 days per week (currently Wednesdays & Thursdays) over 2 years, and the part time route is delivered in 1 day per week over 4 years. The compact mode of delivery of the full time route is made possible by timetabling 6 hours of lectures per day, with little or no "down time" while in college. The total contact hours for each module are similar to those offered by other institutions. The part time students in-fill into the full time route, taking Level 4 Wednesday modules in year 1, Level 4 Thursday modules in Year 2, Level 5 Wednesday modules in year 3 and level 5 Thursday modules in year 4. This pattern of delivery was originally designed in consultation with industry representatives who had identified a gap in local and national provision for their employees who wished to gain higher level qualifications while remaining in full time employment.

Lectures are scheduled from 9.00 to 12.00 and 13.00 to 16.00, and each lecture is typically 3 hours in duration. This intensive delivery, and relatively long lectures allow a diverse range of teaching techniques to be used, and result in students really getting to grips with a particular topic and exploring it in a depth not possible in a single hour. Exceptions to this are the level 4 and level 5 business modules which have 1 or 2 hours per week of core theory delivered by the Business department which is supported by a 1 hour curriculum area based seminar session to contextualise the core theory  for agriculture students.

A wide range of teaching methods are used, including lectures, group and individual research and evaluation tasks, case studies, visiting speakers and off-site visits. The college farm is also used for demonstration purposes where appropriate. This allows all individual learning styles to be catered for. At level 4 students will enter the course with varying levels of academic ability and industry experience. During induction week they will be introduced to the basics of finding and evaluating information sources, and these will be further developed and enhanced by the APD module which also builds their report writing, self evaluation and data handling skills. Another module delivered in the first semester is Biological Systems in Agriculture. This module ensures that all the students have a core understanding and appreciation of animal and plant systems and processes, in order to progress on to more applied modules such a Animal Nutrition, Crop Production and Livestock Production Systems. Teaching and learning techniques, such as group research tasks and presentations, will encourage  retention, understanding and explanation of key facts and concepts.

At level 5 students will increasingly be encouraged to critically evaluate presented information, and to synthesise evidence based arguments or solutions to vocational issues.

Assessment and Feedback

Written feedback will be given on all summative assessments, and ongoing formative assessments will usually receive verbal feedback, for example questioning during group activities. Students will be encouraged to continually self-reflect, and to give clear, constructive feedback to one another.

A variety of summative assessments will be used, including written reports, case studies, production of scientific posters, design of knowledge transfer media, seen and unseen time constrained exams and oral presentations. This will ensure that all learners are given the opportunity to achieve to their full potential while developing a wide range of transferrable skills.

Almost without exception the students joining this programme are already in full or part time employment within the industry, so are continually demonstrating basic employability skills. The aim of this programme is to develop their subject specific knowledge and personal skills in order to allow them to take on higher level management roles either within their current business or organisation, or to seek promotion elsewhere. Annual employability data shows employment rate well into the 90% and above bracket. Several graduates have successfully applied for farm tenancies or enterprise management roles. Other avenues that are open to graduates can be found in the allied industries such as nutrition, breeding or advisory companies, processors and retailers. Many of these large organisations have graduate trainee schemes and actively seek to recruit individuals who have both academic qualifications and vocational experience.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This programme is designed specifically to meet the needs of those already employed in the agricultural industry, and as such draws extensively on the vocational knowledge and experience of both students and tutors. The availability of on-site resources such as the 170 head milking herd, 150 breeding sow unit and 500 breeding ewe enterprise adds considerably to the opportunities for students to apply theoretical knowledge directly to vocational situations. The depth and breadth of industry experience amongst tutors means that they are well respected by the students as industry practitioners as well as lecturers.

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