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Sustainable Food Production and Land Use BSc / BSc Hons

Level: SCQF 9-10

UCAS Code: D702

Available at these campuses: Barony

About the Course

sustainable land useBSc (Hons) Sustainable Food Production & Land Use is an applied biology degree that considers how land use practices can help to tackle today’s critical challenges of climate change, biodiversity and food security. 

Agriculture and land use are significant sources of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause climate change, and the IPCC has called for rapid and substantial reductions in GHG from all sectors, including agriculture, if global warming is to be kept below 1.5°C. This will require a major transition in our agricultural and food production systems.

BSc (Hons) Sustainable Food Production & Land Use is designed to equip graduates with knowledge, skills and understanding of sustainable and efficient agricultural systems that provide the growing population with food, bioproducts and bioenergy, whilst helping to combat climate change, enhance biodiversity, and minimise pollution.

The curriculum reflects the recommendations of the UK Committee on Climate Change in their 2018 report ‘Land Use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change’.  These include increased crop productivity, reduced food wastage and a reduction in land used for grasslands and livestock production. Such measures would release land for forestry and woodlands and for the sustainable production of biomass for biorefining and a rural bioeconomy, to not only reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but also to offset the economic and social impacts of reducing livestock production. Some land released from agricultural production could also be managed for carbon sequestration e.g. by the restoration of peatlands, and the provision of other ecosystem services e.g. water catchment management and maintaining habitats for biodiversity. These issues are all explored in the Sustainable Food Production & Land Use degree.

Plants have a vital role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to generate the biomass and energy that drives all agricultural and natural ecosystems, so plant science is an important part of the curriculum. Students will investigate the latest approaches to improve the nutritional value and yields of crops and to make them more resistant to pests and diseases and more resilient to environmental stresses and climate change. They will also find out about alternative, more sustainable animal production systems, and the integration of livestock into arable rotations and agroforestry systems. Food product innovations from insects or from the culture of animal cells or microbes will also be considered. Soils have the potential to store large amounts of carbon, locking it out of the atmosphere, so students will also learn how soils can be better managed to improve fertility and carbon sequestration, whilst reducing soil erosion, degradation and desertification. They will also be introduced to forestry and woodland systems and to the generation of land-based renewable energy. At an advanced level of the degree, the latest technologies for biorefining and bioproduct manufacture will also be investigated.

Course Duration: BSc 3 years, BSc(Hons) 4 years if studied full-time

The Sustainable Food Production & Land Use BSc/BSc (Hons) degree is awarded by the University of Glasgow.

* course subject to revalidation

View detailed course guide

Entry Requirements

Minimum entry requirement: 4 Scottish Highers (BBCC) or 3 A-Levels (BCC) or equivalent, to include a science subject or geography. English or Maths are required at Standard Grade/GCSE level or equivalent. Applicants with NQ Bioscience or other Access qualifications are encouraged to apply. Mature entrants with an interest and desire in the subject are encouraged to discuss application.

Course Content

The first year provides an introduction to the principles of cell biology, biochemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, biotechnology,   plant physiology, soils, land use, crop and livestock production, ecology, ecosystems and environmental issues. Students also gain associated laboratory and practical skills.

In the second year students apply these principles to the land-based sector, with the following 8 modules: Molecular techniques and research investigation; Food production systems; Agroecosystems: energy and environment; Crop physiology and protection; Soil carbon and fertility; Forestry and woodland systems; Land-based renewable energy systems and Introduction to business skills & data management.

Third year modules are more advanced and specialised, namely: Innovations in food production systems; Crop metabolism, productivity & resilience; Agronomy; Advances in food safety, storage and supply; 

Bioresources for a low-carbon bio-economy; Agricultural policy analysis; Management, innovation and entrepreneurship as well as Research skills and data analysis.

The fourth year includes the triple credit Honours research project, in which students investigate a relevant topic of their own choice. In addition, students take the following core modules: Agriculture, environment & society; Advanced agronomy; Crop breeding and biotechnology and Biorefining technologies. Students also choose one of the following elective modules: Food biotechnology or Urban agriculture. Alternatively, one elective can be selected from years 3 or 4 of other SRUC programmes, subject to approval and timetables, such as one of the following modules: Climate change and the global environment; Integrated catchment management; Land and habitat restoration; GIS and remote sensing; Multipurpose woodland management; Action for biodiversity or Wildlife and resource management conflicts.