Plant Sciences in the 21st Century

Plant growth and development in relation to food supply, biofuels and climate change. Research-based module with emphasis on analysis of the current research literature.


  • BSc Biochemistry, BSc Biological Sciences


Final Year

20 Credits

This module aims to show how plant science underpins current "real-world" problems such as food supply, biofuel production and climate change. The module is research-intensive, using up-to-date scientific literature and highly interactive teaching, and therefore an upper limit of 30 students is set for this module. Specifically, you will learn how plant growth and development can be analysed and manipulated using state-of-the-art experimental techniques. You will read research papers and learn how to critically analyse them to facilitate learning. You will use case studies to illustrate broader principles of plant science and how these lead to ways to improve crop production.

The module content will include:
(i) Plants’ importance in society and the economy: the past and the future; (ii) How plants cope with stresses and environmental change using hormone- and cell-signalling pathways: for example, how plants survive flooding and drought; (iii) Regulation of developmental processes; for example how plants regulate their root system architecture; (iv) Understand how plant breeders use next-generation sequencing and QTL-based approaches to generate new, improved crop varieties; (v) Explore whether there is a need for genetically modified crop plants and how they can be used in modern agricultural practices.

The subject-based aims of this course are to foster the learning of plant science with emphasis on developmental processes, and to extend knowledge of the range of techniques that are currently used in this research area.Skills-based aims are to foster the ability to interpret data, to understand hypothesis-driven scientific research and to present findings of your analyses.

Watch the module-in-a-minute video


Continuous Assessment : Coursework (40%)
Examination : Exam (Centrally Timetabled) - Written Unseen (60%)