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HR931 - Plant Breeding and Trial Design for Registration

  • Module code: HR931
  • Module name: Plant Breeding and Trial Design for Registration
  • Department: School of Life Sciences
  • Credit: 10

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

This module is a core requirement for students on the Sustainable Crop Production: Agronomy for the 21st Century MSc degree. Crop production can be considered as two distinct components. The first is what is grown, i.e. the crop varieties. The second is how it is grown, which includes the use of chemicals to control pests and diseases and to modify plant growth behaviour. It is an exciting time to be learning about these aspects as modern technology is enabling rapid advances on both fronts and they have a central role to play in improving farming sustainability. This module is divided into two complementary, but synergistic sections that address these two aspects and also provide underpinning knowledge for other modules in the degree. 1. Students will learn about the breeding industry and how genomics, combined with traditional and advanced breeding technologies, are used to generate new varieties. The targets of these breeding activities are genes, or genetic loci, controlling the crop phenotype that have been identified by breeding companies themselves, or often in academic research such as that undertaken in the School of Life Sciences. To understand how this is done requires a grasp of the principles of genetic inheritance and the methodologies used to combine all the desired properties into the seed of the next generation of varieties. 2. New agrochemicals are subjected to a wide range of safety and efficacy tests in order to satisfy the stringent legislation controlling their use. The later part of this process requires evaluation under field conditions using standards recognised by national plant protection organisations that are responsible for registering new products. Building on the statistical training provided early on in their degree, students will learn how to design and evaluate trials and apply this knowledge using specific case studies. The principles learnt here are also applicable to the design of experiments for genetic analysis.

Principal learning outcomes

Students should gain from this module a basic understanding of plant genetics, the different sources of genetic variation and the importance of conserving it. They will have experience in generating and analysing genetic data and using it to map genes controlling traits. They will have an overarching understanding of how modern biotechnological and genomic tools facilitate this process and will know different strategies for using these to incorporate specific genes or mapped traits into breeding programmes. By the end of this module students will be able to use this knowledge to investigate and describe how biotechnology is used in a specific example of their choosing. Students will also be able to design and analyse a statistically robust trial suitable for registration of new agrochemicals and how to report their findings.

Timetabled teaching activities

8 lectures, 3 seminars, 1 lab practical, 1 computer workshop and 4 trial design workshops

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
10 CATS (Module code: HR931-10)
A2 (Assessed work only) Assessed Seminar 40%
  Written Assignment 60%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:

  • Postgraduate Taught Sustainable Crop Production: Agronomy for the 21st Century (D4A2) - Year 1
Optional Core


  • Postgraduate Taught Integrative Bioscience (C1PK) - Year 1