University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 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) 6 credit points of 3000-level core units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level core interdisciplinary project units
(v) 12 credit points of 3000-level disciplinary selective or interdisciplinary project selective units

A minor in Plant Production requires 36 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 3000-level core units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level core interdisciplinary project units

First year

Core: BIOL1XX6 Life and Evolution and BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems

Second year

Core: AGRI2001 Plant Management in Agroecosystems and BIOL2X31 Plants and Environment

Third year

AGRI3X05, BIOL3019 Plant Protection and 12 credit points from a selection of: BIOL3X20 Applied Plant Function, SOIL3011, AFNR3001 Agro-ecosystems in Developing Countries, ENVX3001 Environmental GIS, HORT3005 Production Horticulture.

In your third year you must take at least one designated project unit.

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, with a minimum of 24 credit points at 4000-level or above. Of these 24 credit points, you must complete a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Advanced coursework will be included in the table for 2020.

Meritorious students in the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies may apply for admission to Honours within a subject area of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Admission to Honours requires the prior completion of all requirements of the Bachelor of Science, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units. If you are considering applying for admission to Honours, ensure your degree planning takes into account the completion of a second major and all OLE requirements by the end of your Honours year.

Unit of study 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 2 9351 5819

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. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge in plant structure and function, integrating concepts and principles to describe the plant metabolic network and its regulation.
  2. Relate a depth of knowledge in core biological principles and concepts to the management requirements for plant production systems.
  3. Recognise and describe technical issues that challenge crop management and assess how knowledge from other disciplines must be integrated into farming systems across a range of conditions.
  4. Work effectively and safely to analyse plants in the laboratory, adhering to ethical and regulatory practices.
  5. Analyse limitations to plant production and yield in Australia and assess how those limitations can be minimized or overcome through science-based planning and management practice.
  6. Communicate concepts and findings in plant production through a range of modes for a variety of purposes and audiences, using evidence-based arguments that are robust to critique.
  7. Integrate knowledge of plant–microbial interactions at multiple scales to determine how these interactions influence nutrient availability and acquisition, plant growth, yield and disease development.
  8. Devise informed management options for the optimization of crop plant productivity and system resilience in Australian agroecosystems.
  9. Critically evaluate the economic, biophysical, and chemical principles that must be considered in assessing sustainability in plant production.
  10. Address authentic problems in plant production, working professionally and responsibly and with consideration of cross-cultural perspectives, within collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.