MSc Sustainable Agricultural Technologies
How will we feed nine billion people by 2050? It’s a challenge with complex solutions. In the UK alone, it’s estimated that £1.2bn is lost annually to the value of our soils due to mismanagement. Investment and research into agri-tech is growing and here at Sheffield, our MSc Sustainable Agricultural Technologies course draws on our world-leading expertise in the field, training the next generation of skilled agronomy professionals to drive positive changes in agricultural practice and policy.
This MSc programme is designed to equip you with the knowledge needed to understand the challenges of sustainable agriculture, and the skills to pursue an exciting career in the agri-tech sector. You'll learn from the experts behind our flagship Institute for Sustainable Food which brings together expertise from across the University of Sheffield to find dynamic solutions to the challenges of food security and sustainability. Guest environmental and sustainability speakers will contribute to your learning through regular seminars, and you'll get the opportunity to put your knowledge into practice through external placements with our industrial, government and NGO partners.
Top 20 for Ecology in the world
Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018, ShanghaiRanking
Course Director: Professor Duncan Cameron
If you would like to know more about this course, contact:
You can also visit us throughout the year:
Pathway programme for international students
|About the course||
This 12-month course is designed to give you a breadth of understanding of the agri-food system as a whole. You’ll learn about the major issues in sustainable agriculture and receive training in how to apply cutting-edge techniques used in crop and soil science. Topics that you’ll cover include issues in global food security, the origins of agriculture and agricultural ecology in a changing world. A full list of modules can be found below.
The biggest part of the course is the individual research project. Here you’ll spend 3 months over the summer in our Institute for Sustainable Food, working with our world-leading researchers, taking the latest scientific knowledge and applying it in real-world settings to ensure that the production and consumption of the world’s food is sustainable and resilient.
In addition to technical skills and specialist knowledge of sustainable agriculture, throughout your course you’ll also develop transferable skills around problem solving and communication, sought after by employers around the globe. In order to build these skills, you’ll learn through a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and discussion groups, practical and field classes, and individual research. Assessment includes, but is not limited to, written examinations, essays, extended project reports, policy briefing notes, reflective journal entries, statistics exercises and oral presentations.
Read more about this course on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:
|After your degree||
As precision farming approaches develop, the agricultural industry is becoming increasingly high-skilled, calling for trained graduates to become future leaders in the agronomy sector.
At Sheffield, we have links with a number of agri-businesses and policy makers in this area who will contribute to your learning throughout your studies during external lectures. These partners are organisations we’ve collaborated with on projects, where our students have done placements, and where Sheffield graduates have gone to work.
Possible career paths include:
If you choose to continue your research training, graduates will be well equipped to pursue PhDs in soil science, crop science, microbiology or food supply and beyond.
The University's Careers Service runs workshops on CV and application writing, job hunting and preparing for interviews. They offer events where you can meet employers, and opportunities to get work experience while you study. The Careers Service will even continue to support you for three years after you graduate.
For this course, we usually ask for at least a 2:2 BSc honours degree, or equivalent, in biological sciences or another relevant science subject. Applicants with professional experience may also be considered following interview.
We can also accept qualifications from other countries. You can find out which qualifications we accept from your country on the University's webpages for international students.
International pathway programmes
If you are an international student who does not meet our entry requirements, the University of Sheffield International College offers a Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering programme. This programme is designed to develop your academic level in your chosen subject, introduce you to the study skills that will be vital to success and help with language if you need it.
Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at the University of Sheffield.
English Language Requirements
If you have not already studied in a country where English is the majority language, it is likely that you will need to have an English language qualification. We usually ask for:
You can find out whether you need to have an english language qualification, and which other English language qualifications we accept, on the University's webpages for international students.
The English Language Teaching Centre offers English language courses for students who are preparing to study at the University of Sheffield.
|Funding and scholarships||
Funding is available, depending on your fee status, where you live and the course you plan to study. You could also qualify for a repayable postgraduate masters loan to help fund your studies.
Up-to-date fees can be found on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students:
Tilly is investigating how the declining microbe content of soils will affect the resistance and resilience of grasses to extreme drought as part of her masters.
IN THE NEWS
Replace soil with foam to solve global food security crisis, say Sheffield scientists
Course Director, Professor Duncan Cameron, said: “The world is facing a crisis of soil fertility. If we’re going to fix this, we need to do something radically different."
The Future of Food: Plant science approaches to the global challenge of food security
Our scientists are using their knowledge of fundamental plant processes to research new approaches to sustainable food production.
The University of Sheffield Institute for Sustainable Food
Working in partnership with policymakers, farmers, and the agri-food industry, our Institute for Sustainable Food is creating new solutions to sustain and improve the world’s future food supplies.
|Crop Science, Biotechnology and Breeding (30 credits)||
This module consists of four topics: crop physiology, agricultural productivity, crop protection, and breeding and genetic engineering of plants. These emphasise the production of agricultural crops, the biotic and abiotic factors which can affect productivity and the use of breeding and genetic manipulation to improve crop performance. Biotic factors include such topics as weeds, insect pests and pathogens and sink-source relationships in crop plants. Abiotic factors include economic constraints, light interception, effects of pesticides on the environment, genetic manipulation to provide resistance to pests and pathogens and the use of fertilisers and other chemicals.
|Agricultural Ecology in a Changing World (15 credits)||
This module introduces the concept of agriculture as an ecological system and explore agriculture in the context of global change. Specifically, this unit will consider the value of biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems, the role of ecosystem services in the sustainability of food production and the vulnerabilities of agriculture to a changing climate.
|Soil Science (15 credits)||
The focus in the module is on demonstrating the inter-dependence, in natural and agricultural ecosystems, of soils and the ecosystems which are founded upon them and the significance for global biogeochemical cycles, food production and sustainability.
|Issues in Global Food Security (15 credits)||
Global food security encompasses a range of issues which themselves change rapidly, in response to political shifts or new technologies. This module encourages a critical analysis of current major issues in food security, drawing on interdisciplinary research expertise and experience working in public and private sectors. It features seminars from experts at the University of Sheffield as well as guest speakers, and will involve a range of delivery methods such as discussion sessions and group horizon scanning exercises.
|Advanced Analytical Techniques in Agricultural Research (15 credits)||
In this module, we explore the diversity of methods used in 'omics' biology including genes and the genome, the proteome and the metabolome and how these methods are applied in an agricultural context. You will gain a firm practical grounding in aspects of modern genetics and molecular biochemistry (metabolomics and proteomics).
|Scientific Skills and Project Management (30 credits)||
This module provides training in the skills and approaches necessary to design, manage, conduct, analyse and present research in whole organism biology and environmental science. Generic skills involve designing and planning an effective and reproducible study, making best use of available resources; collecting and managing data to address study aims; and communicating results orally and in writing to different audiences. The module also covers advanced principles of experimental design, data interpretation, and graphical presentation, introduced in the statistical computing environment using a series of workshops and student-centred learning assignments to develop skills and proficiency.
|Individual Research Project (60 credits)||
This module gives students the opportunity to develop to a high level skills relevant to a career in environmental research or management. Based on their interests and career aspirations, students will conduct either a laboratory of field-based research project, or a desk-based literature review and dissertation, with potential to work with an external organisation. Common elements include the independent planning and production of an original piece of research, under the guidance of an academic supervisor. The project write-up is targeted to a specific audience – either a scientific research or review paper, or a report aimed at a specific sector.
The cost of all core fieldwork and practical project work is included in your tuition fees, this includes both one day field trips and compulsory field courses as well as obligatory safety equipment. Travel to field sites for project work may incur additional costs.
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.
We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.