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SRUC Scotland's Rural College: Organic Farming

Institution SRUC Scotland's Rural College View institution profile
Department Agriculture
Study type Taught


Course Summary

Food production is of major importance globally, and food production systems are increasingly under scrutiny. Organic farming is a legally defined production method that is certified through quality assurance schemes. Technically, conversion to organic farming involves a major change in approach by the farmer and therefore a significant need for knowledge, advice and information.

The SRUC Organic Farming programme focuses on organic farming in temperate European climate situations and aims to build on to the existing expertise and aspirations of programme members, allowing career development and opening up employment as practitioners, promoters and facilitators of organic practices. It provides high level learning to enable students with a variety of academic and work experience to gain an understanding of the key technical production, marketing and management aspects of organic farming and food. The programme is offered on a part time distance learning basis to allow those in continuing employment or with other commitments to participate.

The programme of study comprises eight taught modules over two years for a Postgraduate Diploma qualification, with an additional third-year research project to achieve the award of MSc.

Graduates of the programme have gone on to a wide range of roles related to the sector. These roles range from advisors to certification officers, using acquired knowledge and skills to develop careers in education, to improving their own farms or businesses, or by going on to further study.

Assessment Method

Modules are assessed using a range of methods which develop both academic and critical analysis skills. Assessment formats include essay, report, case study, critical review, factsheet, oral presentation, posters/digital media campaign and, in year 1 only, exams.

Modules The MSc programme comprises 8 core modules and an MSc project.

Years 1 and 2, leading to Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma respectively, are split into two semesters of two modules, giving four modules per year.

Year 1 modules are technical and production orientated, and underpin the development of organic farming knowledge:

  • Organic Farming Principles & Practice: overview of the philosophy, principles, history and development of the organic farming industry

  • Organic Crop & Grassland Production: explores a range of typical organic production methods for the UK

  • Organic Livestock Production: organic approach to livestock production in ruminant, monogastric and aquaculture systems

  • Soils & Nutrient Cycling: provides students with the tools to manage soils optimally for organic production

Year 2 modules (Diploma) build on this to develop a wider understanding of organic farming and enhanced critical evaluation skills:

  • Marketing & Financial Management in the Organic Sector: enabling students to understand the business environment of the organic sector; interpretation of financial accounts and the process of financial planning and control, together with an understanding of the concepts, principles and techniques involved in marketing management and how they are applied in the context of the organic farming sector

  • Organic Farming Work Placement: allowing students to become familiar with an organisation or business in the organic food and farming sector

  • Issues in Organic Farming: exploring contemporary issues relevant to organic farming and its relationship with wider society

  • Organic Farming Case Study: developing students’ ability to undertake whole farm analysis and organic conversion planning

Year 3 of the programme is the MSc year, during which students carry out independent research projects under the supervision of subject experts. Students are able to choose projects which link to their particular interests.


Postgraduate Diploma - PgDip

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)


Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) was formed when in 2012, SAC (the Scottish Agricultural College) merged with three other prestigious land-based colleges - Oatridge, Elmwood and Barony - to become one of the largest institutions of its kind in Europe. SRUC is a University-level College offering education and training from entry level right up to PhD in numerous subject areas, across six regional campuses in Scotland; Aberdeen, Ayr, Barony (Dumfries), Edinburgh, Elmwood (Cupar) and Oatridge (Broxburn).

SRUC offers unique opportunities for postgraduate study. Our unbeatable links with industry, along with our own highly-respected consultancy and research divisions, …

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