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Why study agriculture?

This subject guide explores agriculture at degree level looking at course content, entry requirements, careers, salaries and more.

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Did you know that agriculture led to the development of cities and trade? Agriculture enabled people to grow food in one place, leading to the permanent civilizations we have today. With the advancement of new technology, agriculture has evolved making the work less manual. Agriculture can involve genetic modification of plants and artificial insemination for breeding animals. 


So, there are a variety of specialisations within the agricultural industry that you may want to explore if this is an area you are interested in. You can gain the necessary knowledge and skills of this subject with a degree in agriculture. Here we explore what this involves and why this might be the right programme for you.


What is agriculture?


Put simply, agriculture is the art, science, and practice of farming. This includes raising livestock and growing crops for food production. Studying agriculture at a degree level will equip you with a combination of skills and knowledge in farming practice, sustainability, environmental management, food production and more. 


This subject is unique in that it combines several disciplines such as scienceeconomics, and business for a multifaceted approach. There is a lot of variety within the field and you can explore different topics depending on your interests. For example, some courses might cover the relationship between biology and technology for increasing food production or the connection between engineering and farming. You can explore these interests when choosing optional modules. 


Discover universities offering agriculture courses in the UK:



What types of agriculture degrees are there?


A degree in agriculture is most commonly taught as a bachelor of science (BSc) and there can be different types of programmes within this field such as:


  • Equine science
  • Forestry
  • Agricultural economics
  • Animal sciences
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Aquaculture and fisheries 
  • International agriculture
  • Agricultural engineering
  • Agriculture and environment
  • Agricultural technology


As you can see, agriculture programmes can have different degree titles depending on the focus of the course. So, if you are more interested in sustainable agriculture, this might be a better-suited degree than just agriculture without the specialisation. Looking into different programmes should help you figure out which area of agriculture interests you most.


What will I learn during an agriculture degree?


The modules of an agriculture degree will vary according to the type of course you choose. If you study agriculture, you are likely to cover the following topics:


  • Breeding and genetics
  • Biology, anatomy, and physiology
  • Livestock production
  • Crop production
  • Global sustainability
  • Soil and environmental science
  • Agricultural research methods
  • Agricultural policy
  • Waste 
  • Bioscience
  • Farm business management
  • Agricultural economics
  • Farm animal health and disease
  • Agricultural technology
  • Conservation
  • Forestry


Some of these modules will be compulsory while others will be optional, allowing for more flexibility. The course content depends on the university so make sure you compare the modules for each course you look at. 


Want to find out more about how to compare universities?


What are the entry requirements for an agriculture degree?


The admission requirements for an agriculture degree depends on the university. For example, the University of Reading in the UK has entry requirements of BBB at A-level while Aberystwyth University offers places to students with grades BBB-CCC.


Make sure you check the university websites for specific entry requirements or use our course matcher tool to find a programme suited to your qualifications.


As an international applicant, you will also need to prove your English language proficiency with one of the accepted English tests such as IELTS or TOEFL. Most agriculture courses require an IELTS score of 6.5 with no component lower than 5.5.


You may also be required to have studied a science subject at A-level or equivalent to ensure you have the foundational knowledge for an agriculture degree. 


Want to check out agriculture degrees in Australia? 



How many years is an agriculture degree?


The length of an agriculture degree depends on which country you choose for your studies. In the UK, most undergraduate degrees take three years to complete while in the U.S., programmes typically take four years. In Canada and Australia, degrees can take either three or four years depending on the course and institution.


Many agriculture degrees also offer work placements for a few months or even up to a year to give students experience within the industry to gain professional contacts and knowledge of agriculture in practice. These placements can be overseas or within your study destination.


You might gain experience as an assistant herds person or you could shadow someone in farm management. If this is not offered as part of your course, you could look into volunteering on local farms for some hands-on experience that will look great on your CV.


What to do after an agriculture degree 


Speaking of work experience, this is beneficial when it comes to finding work after graduating. There are many opportunities for agriculture graduates including roles such as:


  • Soil scientist
  • Fish farm manager
  • Farm manager
  • Agricultural consultant 
  • Animal nutritionist 
  • Forest ecosystem manager
  • Farmer
  • Poultry production manager
  • Agricultural engineer
  • Agricultural economist
  • Science teacher
  • Agricultural salesperson
  • Commercial horticulturalist 
  • Conservation planner
  • Agricultural journalist
  • Chartered surveyor


As you can see there are many professions that you could pursue with an agriculture degree that’s not just limited to being a farmer. This degree will also provide you with useful transferrable skills across a wide range of sectors. 76.2 per cent of agriculture graduates in the UK find employment after their studies. 


As the roles vary so widely, the expected salary will depend on the position. But to give you an idea, a farm manager will generally start on a salary of GBP 20,000 to GBP 22,000 as an assistant but with experience can earn between GBP 35,000 to GBP 50,000 once promoted to manager level (Prospects 2019).


So, we’ve seen that agriculture graduates gain in-depth knowledge across a range of subjects, enabling them to work in many professions. Added to this is the practical work experience as part of your degree. These are just a few reasons why agriculture is a worthwhile subject if you are interested in this field. 


Want to find out if you could be accepted into an agriculture degree? Use our course matcher tool to see what programmes would be best suited to you.

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