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Agricultural Professional Practice MSc

Course Description

There is an increasing need for specialists within agriculture who have an understanding of both the business and technical aspects of the industry. This postgraduate course is aimed at people who are interested in pursuing a career within the land based industries in a professional capacity. This could include consultants, agronomists, animal nutritionists, farm managers/ owners and those working for government departments on technical and regulatory issues.

There is currently a high demand for well trained and suitably qualified personnel within the agricultural industry, and a need for specialists who not only have an understanding of their sector, but have the skills to interact professionally with their clients. A core group of modules will focus on topics such as professional leadership and management, food and agricultural policy, business planning, project management. In order to develop the student’s own area of expertise there are a number of elective modules in business, crop or livestock production. Many positions require professional qualifications so there is the potential within the course to study FACTS, BASIS or AMTRA (additional fee and assessment will be required for these qualifications). In addition, the Institute of Agricultural Management (IAgrM) considers this course as suitable evidence of CPD for those wishing to pursue ‘Professional Agriculturalist’ status.

The course is offered on a part-time distance learning basis to make it accessible to those in employment or with family commitments to be able to participate. Applicants may come from a wide range of backgrounds including farmers, growers, vets and other agricultural and food sector workers who wish to develop their career and businesses in the land-based sector.

Specific course objectives are to provide graduates with:
- the technical and management skills required in modern agricultural professional practice
- the knowledge and understanding of how policy decisions impact on the land-based sector
- the ability to appraise research information and apply this to sustainable agricultural practice

The MSc Agricultural Professional Practice degree is awarded by the University of Glasgow.

Course Content

The programme is a mix of technical production, management, and skills development modules. The MSc consists of eight taught modules, followed by a period of dissertation project work. Five modules are compulsory:

Professional Leadership and Management
This module will develop key skills required for professional practice in Agriculture eg. communication skills, facilitating meetings, networking, customer relations, presentation skills and dealing with the media. It will also focus on professionalism, leadership and management skills and will include the setting of personal goals for career progression and identifying relevant CPD opportunities. Participants will be encouraged to identify and display appropriate attitudes, behaviors and values for their own situation.

Food and Agricultural Policy
This module will develop an understanding of the local, national and international policies that impact on the whole food chain from agricultural production, through business development to the consumer.

Business Planning and Decision Making
Business planning, analysis and decision making are essential components of successful rural business management. The applied nature of this course allows students to choose a business with which they are familiar thus making the experience relevant to their own work environment. This module will assist in the process of formulating a business plan to a professional standard, suitable for submission to a potential lender. The process of planning and control, and assessing the financial consequences of that plan will also be covered in the module.

Project Management for Agricultural Professionals
A key role of any agricultural consultancy is management of projects for clients. Underpinning this work is the role of project management. Firstly, this module will consider how to plan a project, manage resources and monitor progress. Secondly, this module will consider how to design an investigation and then analyse and interpret data from this work. The assignments will apply this information in work related projects.

Topical Issues in Modern Agriculture
The purpose of this module is to allow students to integrate the knowledge they possess and, by constructing a reasoned argument, develop broader understanding of their professional area and its relevance to related industries and the wider society. It is designed to develop the critical analysis and evaluation skills of students whilst dealing with complex issues and making informed judgements. The module will typically consist of a series of structured online debates on selected topics of contemporary relevance. Students will engage in constructive discussion of the topics giving critical analyses of the issues. Students will also research an issue that is relevant to their profession and then present it to the class, for peer review.

A further three modules are chosen from a range of options, including:
- Integrated Agricultural Management
- Sustainable Nutrient Management
- Animal Health and Veterinary Medicine
- Arable Crop Protection
- Grassland and Fodder Crop Protection
- Animal Feed Technology

MSc Project (taken following successful completion of taught modules)
This module takes the form of an in-depth investigative or research project on a topic related to agriculture which will be decided in consultation with the Module Leader and project supervisor. It will develop investigative skills and enable the critical evaluation and presentation of information.

[[Course Structure ]]
The programme is studied by part-time distance learning, with learning material presented using SRUC’s online learning environment which allows students to undertake the course from their own home or workplace.

The course is supported by regular weekend schools where participants attend SRUC Aberdeen for seminars, practical sessions and farm visits which provide a valuable part of the learning experience through group discussions and presentations.

The PgDip is a high level learning course taught at university post-graduate level. Students are required to complete all taught modules detailed above. Typically a student will study four modules per year and complete the PgDip in two years. This would normally take an average of 12 to 15 hours study time a week during ‘term’ time.

Students wishing to complete the MSc, and who reach progression standard, will then go on to complete a research project following successful completion of all the taught modules.

Study weekends are an integral part of teaching and learning through interaction with peers, industry subject specialists and teaching staff. Students are strongly recommended to attend the two study weekends in September and February if they are to succeed in this course.

Visit the Agricultural Professional Practice MSc page on the SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College website for more details!

Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

A degree in a science or technology relevant to the sector and/or assessment of candidate’s ability to benefit from the course. No absolute academic prerequisites - work experience is considered.

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