University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 Archive

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Plant Production

About the major

Increasing the sustainable production of plant food and fibre products over the next 50 years is one of the great global challenges facing the planet. This task is made more complex by climate change, which will place the use of existing plant production systems under question. The plant production system encompasses the basic genetic and physiological regulations on plant growth, the impact on growth of the important abiotic and biotic variables (soil, water, nutrients, disease and pests) and the over-arching influence of management processes. Achieving increased economically and environmentally sustainable plant productivity will be dependent on implementing innovations across all aspects of the production system while more efficiently using resources and reducing negative impacts on the environment.

This major provides training in plant biology (physiology, biochemistry, plant molecular biology and breeding), soil science, plant protection (integrated insect, disease and weed management), sustainable crop management (agronomy), automation and precision agriculture that will enable students to contribute to this globally important transformation.

Requirements for completion

A major in Plant Production requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level core units, including 1 interdisciplinary unit and 1 project unit
(iv) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units

A minor in Plant Production is available and articulates to this major.

Pathway through the major

The requirements for a major in Plant Production are spread out over three years of the degree (possibly four years if students are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree).

A sample pathway for the Plant Production major (over three years of a degree) is listed below.

Sample pathway: Plant Production major (48 credit points)



Units of study


Semester 1

Core: BIOL1XX6 Life and Evolution

Semester 2

Core: BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems


Semester 1

Core: AGRI2001 Plant Management in Agroecosystems

Semester 2

Core: BIOL2X31 Plants and Environment


Semester 1 or  2

Core: AGRI3X05 Sustainable Plant Production

Core: BIOL3019 Plant Protection

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major


Please Note. This sample progression is meant as an example only. Depending on unit prerequisites, students may be able to complete these units in a different sequence from that displayed in the table above.

For details of the core and selective units of study required for the major or minor please refer to the Plant Production section of the unit of study table, Table S, in this handbook.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced Coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, which must include a minimum of 24 credit points in a single subject area at 4000-level, including a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Space is provided for 12 credit points towards the second major (if not already completed). 24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

Requirements for Honours in the area of Plant Production: completion of 24 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information


T +61 02 9351 4262

School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Level 5, Carslaw Building F07
University of Sydney NSW 2006
T +61 2 9351 4262

Associate Professor Brett Whelan
T +61 2 8627 1132
Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Plant Production will be able to:

  1. Understand the structure and function of plants.
  2. Articulate the major components of the plant metabolic network, its regulation in response to changes in resource availability
  3. Use laboratory methods to analyse plants and the effectively communicate experimental findings.
  4. Understand how microbes interact with plants at the ecosystem, whole plant, cellular and molecular levels, impacting on nutrient availability and acquisition, growth, yield and disease development
  5. Relate the depth of biological understanding to the management requirements for plant production systems.
  6. Understand the technical issues that challenge the management of crops and the diversity of specialist information from other relevant disciplines such as soil science and entomology that must be integrated into farming systems
  7. Appreciate and analyse some of the most important limitations to plant production and yield in Australia and how those limitations can be minimized or overcome through science-based planning and management practice
  8. Integrate this knowledge into a critical understanding of the economic, biophysical, and chemical principles that must be considered in assessing sustainability in plant production.
  9. Devise informed management options for the optimization of crop plant productivity and system resilience in Australian agroecosystems.
  10. Possess inquiry and communication skills developed through research-based group projects, on-line discussion postings, tutorial discussions and presentations.