Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2016 Contents Agriculture
What majors can I study?
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this
· Agribusiness · Equine science
· Agronomy · Fisheries management
· Animal behaviour · Horticulture
· Aquaculture · Viticulture
· Crop and pasture science · Wool science
To find out which institutions have courses with these specialisations, use
the Index on page 427.
What you're in for
Agriculture is a small but varied field. Perceptions that jobs in the
field are scarce and poorly paid may have contributed to
dwindling enrolment numbers, but the reality is that many
students may not even know what these jobs actually are or what
agriculture is all about. If this sounds like you - or you think it's
just a field for future farmers - read on.
Although agriculture is a highly specialised field of study, it
actually offers some very diverse options. Not only does it cover
the 'basics', such as crop and animal science, it also allows
students to explore areas that show them how to create a
profitable business. This means that agriculture and related
courses often incorporate subject areas such as computing and
IT, economics, engineering and marketing. Much falls under the
broad banner of 'agriculture', and it can suit those with interests
and skills that range from farming and production to business and
This is essentially a vocational field of study, so you should
expect that most agriculture specialisations will prepare you for
work in relevant jobs and industries. Workers in agriculture
cultivate and manage natural resources, most commonly in
primary industries such as forestry, dairy, cattle, aquaculture,
livestock and crop management, and other niche industries such
as organic farming and winemaking.
For more information about careers in the industry, visit the
Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology
website at www.aginstitute.com.au.
Other fields of study likely to appeal to someone interested in
agriculture include environmental studies, science, and business
and management. Veterinary science is an option for those with
interests in animals and medicine.
Courses and specialisations
So, what should you study? Agriculture itself is concerned with
the cultivation of land, but this is only one of a range of
specialisations covered in the field. Winemaking is self-
explanatory, as are forestry and fisheries, but arboriculture (the
cultivation of trees and shrubs) and agronomy (the applied study
of soil science) are less likely to be common vocabulary for those
who are not already in the field. We recommend doing some
careful research into different courses and the related careers
before making your choice.
Some courses are more suitable if you're good at science (such
as plant genetics). Others are better for the business-minded,
with a focus on applying management principles to various
agricultural sub-sectors, such as rural management and forestry
management, or preparing students for roles closer to the
commercial end of the agricultural industries (agribusiness, for
instance). The variation in focus makes your choice of course
very important. Look at both the title of the course and the course
outline to make sure you get what you want. The best of them will
usually balance a focus on basic science or business with the
'nitty gritty' of industry production, process and technology.
Where to study
In most, if not all, specialisations related to agriculture there
should be a range of opportunities for practical work. Look
through course outlines to find details about the time spent
throughout the course on fieldwork and in work placements and
internships. In addition to off-campus practical learning, many
institutions boast facilities that simulate the industry environment
or projects - expect to find anything from indoor riding arenas,
abattoirs and swamps to farms and vineyards. Make sure the
facilities suit your particular specialisation before making your
Courses in this field are scattered widely across the country -
many are at agricultural colleges, regional universities or rural
campuses of metropolitan universities. Note that some
specialisations will be better suited to study in particular parts of
the country (tropical agriculture in the north, for instance).
Entry difficulty is not typically a deciding factor, as most courses
are fairly accessible. Some will require or allow students to live on
campus. While some courses might not have formal
prerequisites, others may require subjects such as English,
mathematics and various science disciplines.
To compare entry difficulty at different institutions, see the 'How
tough is it to get in?' tables in Section 4.
Climate change and the continually rising global population are
projected to threaten the world's food supply. As a result,
agriculture and land management are set to become more
relevant in the future, even though enrolment numbers in
Australia seem to be dwindling.
In a bid to strengthen agricultural education, new national
standards were released in 2015 following consultation with
industry, academics and graduates. Part of the Agriculture
Learning and Teaching Academic Standards (AgL TAS) project,
the standards will help to raise the profile of agricultural education
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