Sustainability Of Farming Systems DUMF2017

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 2 (SCQF level 8)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

Farming (agriculture, forestry and fish farming) has had considerable influence on the Scottish environment, and although it supplies food and products essential to our population and economy, its impact has become an important consideration.
This course addresses questions such as:

■ What is the role of conservation within agriculture?

■ In which ways can forestry act as protection systems?

■ What is genetic modification?

■ How can we sustain North Sea fish stocks?

■ How can soil fertility be maintained?

■ Can the designation of Nitrogen Vulnerable Zones alleviate the problems of eutrophication?


One 2-hour lecture and a 2-hour field class, tutorial or seminar, weekly.

Requirements of Entry

Students must have obtained a Grade D or better in any Level 1 Environmental Science & Sustainability course to be admitted to this class.


Exam (50 %)

Poster (50 %: 30 % poster; 20 % oral presentation of poster)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to:

1. Explore the historical and contemporary effect of farming on the environment;

2. Examine whole farm conservation through environmental management, legislation, policy and conservation practices;

3. Investigate sustainable agriculture (i.e. organic farming, permaculture, biodynamics) and conventional farming methods;

4. Outline the importance of soils and nutrient cycling in farming systems and investigate the impact of nitrogen vulnerable zones;

5. Assess the impact of legislation and policies from the EU and the Scottish Executive:

6. Review aquaculture, mariculture and fisheries, and their effects on the environment globally;

7. Evaluate forestry as a protection system, and the threats of forest pests and diseases;

8. Analyse the role of genetically modified organisms in farming systems.

9. Develop specific graduate attributes in areas such as investigation, independent work, critical analysis, communication, ethics; confidence.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

1. Give an account of the historical and contemporary effect of farming on the environment using specific examples;

2. Explain holistic approaches to whole farm conservation;

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of sustainable agricultural systems and compare them with conventional agriculture;

4. Define the importance of soil and nutrient cycling and discuss the implications of nitrogen vulnerable zones on agriculture;

5. Discuss the legislation applied to agriculture, fish farming and forestry and their impacts on the environment;

6. Summarise the contribution of aquaculture, mariculture and fisheries to the sustainability of aquatic systems;

7. Explain what is meant by a protection forest and identify examples of forest pests and diseases and the implications in light of global warming;

8. Provide an account of various genetically modified organisms and their role in farming systems.

9. Illustrate: investigative skills through their poster which includes critical analysis of the information available on their subject; communication skills through presentation to the cohort - both oral and written skills; consideration of the ethics associated with the subject of their poster, and confidence in drawing up conclusions based on their research.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.