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AGR8003 Critical Issues in Agriculture

Semester 2, 2021 Online
Short Description: Critical Issues in Agriculture
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Sciences
Student contribution band : Band 1
ASCED code : 050101 - Agricultural Science
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 14 April 2021


Examiner: Keith Pembleton


The pressures of an expanding world population, limited natural resources, a constantly changing climate and ongoing advances in science and technology bring about a range of issues which impact on agricultural production. Agriculturists of the future will need to have an appreciation of the ways in which agricultural production impacts on the environment and on society, an awareness of how political and social factors influence agriculture, and will also need to have an understanding of the forces impacting on agricultural production moving into the future.


This course provides an overview of a broad range of environmental, political, social and scientific issues which can impact on agricultural production. The course commences with an analysis of historical case studies surrounding agricultural production before introducing a number of issues which have the potential for conflict in contemporary agriculture systems. Topics covered will include land availability and alternate land use, water quality and availability, pollution management, agricultural imports and exports, biotechnological advances in agricultural production and other emerging issues. Students are required to prepare case studies on two critical issues, drawing on perspectives gained during the program.


On completion of this course students should be able to demonstrate:

  1. a sound appreciation of some key historical agricultural issues
  2. an understanding of the major factors which significantly influence agricultural production
  3. an understanding of how agricultural production may impact on surrounding natural and human environments
  4. the ability to carry out rigorous research investigation into a major issue in agriculture
  5. advanced skills in presenting their investigation findings research to a peer group


Description Weighting(%)
1. A historical perspective on agricultural issues 20.00
2. Agriculture‘s impact on the environment 25.00
3. Sustainable Agriculture 25.00
4. Agriculture and Society 30.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

There are no texts or materials required for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
CGIAR and CCFS 2011. Commission on sustainable agriculture and climate change 2011. Achieving food security in the face of climate change. Final report from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. [Accessed 29/7/15].
Committee on Twenty first century systems agriculture. Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources Division of Earth and Life Sciences 2010 Towards sustainable agricultural systems in the 21st Century. National Academies Press. 21st-century.
Henzell, T 2007 Australian Agriculture – its history and challenges. CSIRO, Melbourne (Available as e Book)Mason, J 2003 Sustainable Agriculture. Second Edition CSIRO Publishing.
(Available as e Book, covers mainstream and other agricultural systems).
Maziyer, M and Roudart, L 2006 A history of World Agriculture – from Neoliothic Age to the Current Crisis. Monthly Review Press, New York.
(Readily available and not expensive).
Note that additional materials will be included in the course study materials to cover specific points being made – these will be identified as Reading Activities).
Students may also wish to access ‘The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (Albert R Mann Library, Cornell University) ( ), which contains in excess of 1.1 million books, searchable by keyword search).
UCD 2015 What is Sustainable Agriculture? Agricultural Sustainability Institute, UC Davis. Accessed [29/7/15].

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 60.00
Online Lectures 13.00
Online Tutorials 13.00
Private Study 89.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CASE STUDY A 30 30 26 Aug 2021
CASE STUDY B 50 50 14 Oct 2021
PRESENTATION 20 20 14 Oct 2021

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students’ responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks for that item.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative items for the course.

  6. Examination information:
    NO EXAM: There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    NO EXAM: There is no examination in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Evaluation and benchmarking

In meeting the University’s aims to establish quality learning and teaching for all programs, this course monitors and ensures quality assurance and improvements in at least two ways. This course:
1. conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement.
2. forms part of the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Science (Agriculture) and is benchmarked against the [choose one or all of the following]
o internal USQ accreditation/reaccreditation processes which include (i) stringent standards in the independent accreditation of its academic programs, (ii) close integration between business and academic planning, and (iii) regular and rigorous review.

Date printed 14 April 2021