BSc (ordinary degree) Agriculture




1   Awarding institution/body

University of Essex

2   Teaching institution

Writtle College

3   Programme accredited by

Essex University

4   Named award

BSc (Ordinary) Agriculture

5   Programme

Writtle College Honours Degree Scheme

6   UCAS code (or other coding system if relevant)


7   Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s)

Agriculture, Forestry, Agricultural Science, Food Science and Consumer Science

8   Date of production/revision

Revised January 2006


9 Educational aims of the programme:


This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of all BSc/BA Honours programmes at Writtle College, with learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably expect to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of learning opportunities that are provided. The course aims to:


·               Impart an understanding of the broad principles underpinning general agricultural production, monitoring and commercial viability.

·               Give students an opportunity to specialise in crop or livestock production.

·               Educate agricultural practitioners who will be flexible, innovative and creative in the commercial management of land and related resources.

·               In the context of land-based industries, provide students with a set of key skills suited to a wide range of employment opportunities.

·               Instil considerations of environmental impact and sustainability into all facets of agricultural practice.

·               Produce students capable of critical thinking and who can analyse complex agricultural operations and suggest improvements and changes leading to commercial success.






10 Programme outcomes:


The programme will provide opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:


Knowledge and Understanding

A Knowledge and understanding of:


1.    The key scientific and managerial principles underpinning agricultural production.

2.       The principles and methodologies of land evaluation pertaining to selection of appropriate crops and livestock, levels of inputs or other land uses.

3.       The diversity of agricultural systems and the development of such systems.

4.       Environmental implications of practices associated with agriculture in relation to local, national and global impact, and issues of waste management and sustainability.

5.       Management and business practices relevant to efficient and profitable agricultural operations.

6.       Selected key technologies, identified as important to the future success of agricultural operations.

7.       Relevant methodologies to evaluate land quality and crop/livestock suitability and to experiment with alternative land uses.

8.       The responsibility of land managers as a custodian of the countryside.



Teaching/learning methods and strategies:


The acquisition of knowledge and understanding is approached through an emphasis on student-based learning.  Integration of theoretical and practical learning ensures the strong vocational focus as a priority in the provision.  Acquisition and development of outcomes 3-7 are through key lectures, practical sessions and fieldwork and tutorials.  The balance of lectures and group work shifts towards a greater emphasis on independent learning methodologies at the higher levels.

Investigative strategies are contextualised within discipline fields and increasing exposure to real-life scenarios and problems culminating in the Level 4 dissertation.



Knowledge and understanding is assessed mainly via examination and coursework.

Understanding is also evaluated through presentations and class discussions.



Skill and Other Attributes


B Intellectual skills – able to:


1.       Analyse and solve problems.

2.       Be creative in the solution to problems

3.       Assemble data from a variety of sources, and discern and establish connections.

4.       Apply discipline principles, theories and methods to investigation of field and workplace themes.

5.       Plan, conduct and report an individual investigative programme.

6.       Challenge received conclusions about topics and controversies.



Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

Intellectual skills are developed through practical project work, tutorial, seminar and course work.

Open-ended practical and project work is designed to permit students to demonstrate achievement of all of the learning outcomes in this category.

Individual feedback is given to students on all work produced.



Cognitive skills are assessed by coursework and examination.  The higher level examinations provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to structure a clear, concise reasoned argument and analyse an issue in a limited time period.


C Practical skills – able to:


1.        Plan and execute safely a series of procedures.

2.       To visually assess the condition or worth of crops and animals associated with agriculture.

3.      Use, workshop or field equipment to generate data or achieve outcomes.

4.      Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.

5.      Prepare technical reports.

6.      Give presentations in appropriate format for a variety of audiences.

7.      Use IT in a variety of situations to support the processes of learning, manipulate data and present information.




Teaching/learning methods and strategies:


Subject practical skills are developed in a co-ordinated and progressive pattern throughout the four levels of the programme.  In levels 1 and 2 attention is focused on the acquisition of basic skills and safe working practices through prescribed exercises.  At higher levels of studies more advanced techniques and open-ended exercises are introduced.  The integration of science and business management is an important aspect of practical work.



A variety of assessment methods are used to assess practical skills.  These include inspection of work, reports, presentations, notebooks and attendance at viva voce.  The use of IT is pervasive in all assessments.



D Transferable/key skills – able to:


1.       Communicate effectively using a variety of means and to a range of audiences.

2.       Apply numerical and statistical skills as appropriate

3.       Manage time and resources, organise study pattern and work to deadlines.

4.       Participate constructively in teams and groups, showing tolerance and acceptance of others’ points of view.

5.       Demonstrate capacity to learn independently in familiar and unfamiliar situations with open-mindedness and in the spirit of critical enquiry.

6.       Find information from a variety of sources and use IT.

7.       Understand career opportunities and challenges ahead and begin to plan a career path.



Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

Promotion of key skills begins with a compulsory ‘Learning Methods for Undergraduates at Level 1.  From that point, in all programmes, the skills are delivered and developed as an integrated component of modules.  The delivery is mapped across each programme.  Individual tutor support is also provided.


Effective communication of ideas is an important criterion in assessing all areas of a learner’s work.  Regular feed back and final grading reflect the students’ transferable skills.  All students develop their skills in IT across the levels and these skills form part of the criteria of assessment.







11  Programme structure and requirements, levels, modules, credits and awards:


§         All degree programmes are designed for full-time or part-time delivery.  Full-time students can complete their programmes in three years if they are not eligible for exemption.  The academic year is organised over two fifteen-week semesters. 

§         The units of learning are arranged in modules of 15-credit value and a full-time schedule allows students to study four modules per semester.

§         Every programme includes core, compulsory modules and options. 

§         Options are determined by the student in consultation with their tutor and allow students to construct programmes unique to the students needs.  The appropriate course-unit credit is awarded for the successful achievement of the learning outcomes for the unit.

§         Students must satisfy all course scheme requirements at every level to allow them to graduate with their designated degree title.



Core Choice

Integrated Livestock Production*


Combinable and Root Crops*



Options Semester 5

Farm Diversification

Development of Rural Buildings

Supply Chain Management

Postharvest Physiology

Options Semester 6

Alternative Crops

Rural Development Policy & Politics

Alternative Livestock

Food Technology



BSc Agriculture

(300 credits at  least 60 at level 3)

Outcomes developed/ assessed:

A1-8 B1-6

C1-7 D1-7






Year 2/

credit level 2

Compulsory Core Units

Business Management


Core Choice

Farm Livestock Production*


Combinable and Root Crops*



Options Semester 3

Farm Livestock Production*

Combinable and Root Crops*

Soil, Irrigation and Drainage

Energy and Waste Management ,   

Product Development & Packaging,

Career Development


Or other appropriate    module choice as agreed by the Course Manager

Options Semester 4

Agricultural Tractor and Machine Applications

Fruit and Vegetable Crop Production

Advertising Sales & Promotion

Grass and Forage, Science  and Production

Organic Crop Production

Or other appropriate  module choice as agreed by the Course Manager



Progression requirements

Minimum of 180 credits

Outcomes developed/ assessed:

Will depend on mix of level 2 and level 3 modules







Optional Year (not a credit level) - Work /experience module to be arranged on a College wide basis.






Year 1/

credit level 1

Compulsory Core Units

Learning Methods

Biological Processes

Countryside in Britain

Crops and Animal Husbandry 1 & 2*

Introduction to Management

Agricultural Science

Agricultural Machinery





Progression requirements






12  Support for students and their learning:

       Induction programme for new students

       Student handbooks and module guides

       Teaching programme based at one site

       Broad range of library and IT facilities with extended access for students

       All students have an identified personal tutor to advise on pastoral and academic matters

       Free individual email facilities for students and access to the World Wide Web

       Access to trained counsellors and student welfare advisors

       Extensive College Estate available for student use

        Range of visits and external speakers


13  Criteria for admission:

Appropriate award worth at least 180 credits i.e. HND/FdSc Agriculture, or equivalent including APL/AP(E)L


14  Award Content – see diagram:



The following reference points were used in compiling this institutional Degree Programme Specification:


Strategic Plan of Writtle College, 2000-2004; Learning and Teaching Strategy of Writtle College 1999-2002; Semesterisation and the New Curriculum Framework 2000; QAA Guidelines for Preparing Programme Specifications, 2000; QAA National Qualifications Framework for HE: A Position Paper, 2000; Agriculture, Forestry, Agricultural Science, Food Science and Consumer Science (QAA 2002)