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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY3173 Plant Growth, Resources and Food Security

20 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Dr Chris West

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25


BLGY2163How Plants Work

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Plants are remarkable organisms whose ability to harvest solar energy and fix carbon makes them key organisms in terrestrial ecosystems and human societies alike. This module provides an in-depth analysis of how plants capture resources from the environment, including through symbiotic relationships with microbes, to support plant growth and development. The module also looks at how plants adapt their growth and development to the environment in order to maximise resource acquisition. The module has a strong emphasis on environmental and food security issues, including looking at how biotechnology could improve resource acquisition and use in crops.


The course will cover:
- the challenges that climate change and a growing population bring to food production and food security, and the roles of agriculture and biotechnology in addressing these issues
- Understanding how plants adapt and react to their environment;
- The uptake and assimilation of nitrogen and other nutrients in relation to availability in soils;
- The adaptive mechanisms of plants to limiting soil nutrients and how plants are able to modulate growth and development to maximise the resources available;
- the importance of symbiotic interactions in the rhizosphere for increasing plant productivity;
- Allocation and mobilisation of storage reserves during seed development and germination;
- Factors affecting nitrogen use efficiency and crop yield;
- Emphasis will be placed on how an understanding of fundamental plant biology can enable targeted crop improvement.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will be able to:
1 Understand the roles of agriculture and biotechnology in addressing the challenges associated with global food security;
2. Understand the mechanisms by which plants obtain and use resources and how resource availability impacts in plant growth and crop yield;
3. Understand about current research in this area, including experimental methodology, and they will be aware of recent developments in our knowledge of the subject;
4. Be able to communicate cutting edge research findings, integrating data from multiple sources with a focus in primary research literature.


- The importance of food security;
- The requirement for nutrients, their uptake and their availability in soils and the role of micro-organisms in this process;
- Transport and assimilation of nutrients in plants related to development from seed to seed;
- Plasticity of plant growth (and the underlying signalling processes) in relation to resource availability;
- The roles of agriculture and biotechnology in crop improvement.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment23.006.00
Private study hours174.00
Total Contact hours26.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- 3 hours private study per lecture (60 hours)
- A PowerPoint presentation (15%) requiring independent research of current literature and development of presentation skills, together with group discussion and analysis (30 hours private study)
- A poster presentation (15%) to develop skills in summarising primary research data and extracting the key points, and presenting them in clearly, and in a way that engages the target audience (30 hours private study)
- Exam revision (54 hours private study)
- Substantial further reading and private study will need to be demonstrated in all assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Poster presentation and group discussions of the topic. This feedback will feedforward to the project poster presentations for the BLGY3345 module.
- Structured discussions give students an indication of how well they understand the subject.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Oral Presentation10 minute oral presentation15.00
Poster PresentationSubmitted online15.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment24 hr 00 mins70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:11:53


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