School of Biological and Marine Sciences

ResM Agriculture and Food

This ResM will provide you with the opportunity to undertake substantial independent research alongside scientists working at the forefront of innovation in terrestrial and aquatic food systems in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences. Areas of expertise include development of technology to monitor and improve animal behaviour and welfare, the use of molecular methods for pest, pathogen and biodiversity assessments, and the application of controlled environments in agriculture.

A research masters degree incorporates taught elements and an extended research project, which culminates in the submission of a thesis. This programme is governed by research degree regulations, is supported through the University Doctoral College, and requires full engagement in professional and research skills development.

Course details

  • Taught modules

  • The programme incorporates taught elements (a minimum of 40 credits at least at level 7) taken alongside an extended research project. After completing your taught modules, you continue with independent research, guided by your Director of Studies, leading to a written thesis. The programme can be studied either full time or part time.
    Taught modules
    All students will undertake a 20 credit research skills module:
    Postgraduate Research Skills & Methods (BIO5131)
    The module provides the research- and communication-related skills that biology postgraduates require to carry out an original research project at the forefront of their academic discipline. Emphasis is given to the philosophy, design, ethics and management of research, effective communication to a range of audiences, and advice on career management and presentation skills involved in job applications and interviews.
    We recommend one of the following modules to make up the additional 20 credits:
    Health and Production in Aquaculture (BIO504)
    This module addresses the biological, chemical and physical factors that affect the health of freshwater and marine organisms. The curriculum will include an evaluation of sustainable approaches towards enhancing health and production levels through the use of conventional and novel techniques. Developments in disease management, genetic improvement, nutrition and water quality optimisation will be included.
    Sustainable Fisheries (BIO5132)
    This module provides a framework for the analysis of resource utilisation and management of fisheries, aquatic resources and aquaculture. Students will study example systems appropriate to their programme of study to allow them to evaluate the extent to which resources are used sustainably.
    Aquarium Health and Nutrition (ANIM5012)
    This module addresses the fundamentals of preventative health and nutrition in the context of aquariums as businesses and centres for education, research and conservation. Particular focus will be placed on exemplars of taxa-/species-specific conditions and on understanding how environments and diets may be managed to minimise health risks to animals.
    Animal Behaviour and Welfare Research (ANIM5010)
    Explores fundamental principles of evolution & behavioural function and how they underpin the concepts of animal welfare and well-being. Understand and critically evaluate approaches for welfare assessment in the context of zoos and aquariums, including behavioural, physiological and cognitive indices. Understand the application of animal behaviour science to evidence-based improvement of the captive environment.
    Animal Nutrition (BIOL320)
    This module examines the principles and practice of animal nutrition for a range of animal species. It provides an understanding of feds, feed evaluation, diet formulation and feeding. The module also examines the impact of ingredient, physical, manufacturing and legal constraints on the production of diets.
    Plant Biotechnology (BIOL301)
    Despite the increasing importance of 'food security' in a changing world, plant biotechnology has had much negative publicity. This module will give students an appreciation of the science and also the ethical and social issues that surround the subject and show why these techniques are so important to secure our food supply.
    Advanced Bioinformatics and Phylogenetics (BIOL324)
    Technological advances have generated a substantial increase in the amount and speed of data production. You will build expertise in skills used for data analysis, essential for working in the life sciences (big data sets, bioinformatics, phylogenetics, image analysis and genomics etc.) to address questions in biology, ecology, evolution and behaviour; and communicating these complex ideas to the wider public.
    Global Change Biology (BIOL310)
    This module provides the student with an in-depth overview of the likely consequences of climate change for plant and animal species biology and distribution over the coming century. From this starting point we will show how an understanding of climate change biology is vital for conservation theory and practice over coming decades.
    Modules should be chosen on consultation with your Director of Studies to ensure the most appropriate choice to support your research project and confirmed prior to application.
  • Thesis and assessment

  • Throughout the time spent working towards your thesis, you are considered a full member of our research community and completely supported until you successfully complete your degree. You may attend additional training, workshops and research seminars. As a full-time ResM student, you submit your thesis after 12 months (part time after 24 months) or pay a nominal sum for up to six months’ additional writing up time (part time 12 months). Your viva voce (or oral examination) takes place following submission of your thesis.
The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

For entry to postgraduate level, you should normally possess:
  • a first or upper second (2:1) degree with honours or professional qualification, recognised as being equivalent to degree standard; or
  • an ordinary degree, foundation degree, higher national diploma, or university diploma, accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field.
If you are an overseas applicant you can check the comparability of your qualifications with the UK equivalent through ECCTIS, who provide an advisory service.Applicants must have discussed a research topic with a prospective University of Plymouth supervisor in advance, including agreement about possible sources of funding for the project. Find out about our research groups, their members and interests via the School of Biological and Marine Sciences research page before applying. The research group leaders will be happy to answer your questions about potential supervisors and research topics.
Please contact Dr Mick Hanley with any additional queries.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you must have proficiency in written and spoken English (normally a minimum test score of 6.5 for IELTS, or equivalent). Given the nature of the programme, you’ll be expected to read and engage with complex theoretical texts and debates for which fluency in English is essential.
English language requirements

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees.
If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for 1 year. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you will enter your writing up period for up to 6 months.
If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for two years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you will enter your writing up period of up to one year.
You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.
Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.
As this course is delivered by one of our partner institutions, please contact the institution directly for information on fees and funding.

How to apply

Submitting your application
Complete your application and upload supporting documents to the Doctoral College by completing our online application form. You must identify a supervisor (in Section 2) of the application form, and provide an estimate of funding costs with an indication of funding source (Section 4). Applications without this information will be returned without further consideration.
Questions on the application process?
We're here to help. Please contact the Doctoral College team and we'll be happy to assist you.
You can view or download our postgraduate research admissions policy.
If you have a disability and would like further information on the support available, please visit our Additional support for students with an impairment, health condition or disability website.
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office.
Find more information about how to apply for a research degree

Research project supervisors include:

Coastal Processes Research Group Perranporth beach
Postgraduate research students listening to a talk