Module: Agricultural Research Methods

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    Steve Finch
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

    75 hours
  • Contact hrs

    20 hours

Module content

The role of science in agricultural progress:

  • Research as the means to the development and application of effective technological and intellectual resources.
  • Forms of data as evidence; types (quantitative and qualitative) and methods of handling for description and analysis.
  • Methodological approaches to obtaining data; the role of observation, experimentation and deduction in both natural and social sciences.
  • Development of hypotheses, testing; acceptance, rejection and reformulation.
  • The role of statistics; applications and limitations.
  • Descriptive statistics and data presentation.
  • Inferential statistics and decision-making.
  • Case studies, surveys and questionnaires
  • Computer based application of statistics to agricultural research.

Communication in agricultural science:

  • Writers and audiences.
  • Forms of publication; written and electronic.
  • Standards in research reporting; the peer review process.
  • Interface with popular journals and e-information.

Techniques in writing science

  • Technical writing.

Rhetoric and science:

  • Persuasion and communication.

Forms of science writing:

  • Research papers, reports, dissertations and theses.

Science and public debate

Module outcomes

To achieve credit for this module, students must be able to:

  1. Understand the nature of scientific investigation and methodology.
  2. Apply appropriate quantitative techniques to the analysis of experimental and investigational data.
  3. Understand the role of scientific methods in the development and advancement of production agriculture and associated industries.


Assessment Description Weighting
Coursework 1 x data analysis and presentation project 100%

Assessments may differ in 2020/21 due to adjustments for Covid-19. Please check Gateway for the latest regulations.

Key texts

Students should be familiar with the content of at least one of the following:

  • Ireland, C.R. (2010) Experimental statistics for agriculture and horticulture. CABI.
  • Van Emden, H (2008) Statistics for terrified biologists Blackwell Publishing
  • Berk, K N & Carey, P (2004) Data analysis with MS Excel: updated for windows XP. Thomson Learning (nb CD held at library counter)
  • Clewer A G & Scarisbrick D H (1991) Introduction to the Principles of Crop Experimentation. BASF plc and Wye College.
  • Saunders M N K, LEWIS P and Thornhill A (2007) Research methods for business students. (4th edition) Pearson Education .
  • Barrass, R (2002) Scientists must write: a guide to better writing for scientists, engineers and students. Routledge
  • Malmfors, B (et al) (2004) Writing and Presenting Scientific Papers. (2nd edition) Nottingham University Press
  • Pears, R and Shields, G. (2005) Cite them right: The essential guide to referencing and plagiarism.  Pear Tree Books
  • Li, X and Crane, N B. (1995) Electronic style: a guide to citing electronic Information. Mecklermedia
  • Sense about Science website