About the course
Our Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture is equivalent to three A levels and designed to fully prepare you for Higher Education or go directly into the Agricultural industries. Through both classroom and practical activities, you will deepen your knowledge of livestock, crops and machinery. The course provides ample opportunities to engage with the farming community through visits and work experience.
Why choose Brackenhurst
Brackenhurst is the rural campus of Nottingham Trent University and, as the centre of Animal Rural and Environmental Sciences, we are passionate about the countryside and farming. Our mission is to make you industry-ready and career-focused individuals, so that you are ready to take the industry forward.
Brackenhurst is only a bus journey away from Nottingham City Centre. However, it feels a world away from the city when you see the stunning Nottinghamshire countryside within which Brackenhurst is located. Our college courses run alongside degree courses - all taught by tutors who are skilled, experienced and supportive.
At Brackenhurst we have a commercially managed pedigree beef herd, sheep flock and arable farm that makes up our 200-hectare estate. You’ll have access to an excellent range of facilities, including a beef round house, new grain store and lambing building, also machinery workshops, laboratories, lecture rooms, computer suites and library. We also have an extensive range of farm machinery including tractors fitted with GPS equipment that you’ll learn with.
Brackenhurst prides itself on providing you with a friendly and supportive learning environment. Our college courses are taught by tutors who have spent time working in industry, therefore transferring their skills and experience, with a focus on making you industry ready.
We have limited on-site accommodation available for students studying on this course. Please contact us for more details.
Links with the Agricultural industry
Brackenhurst has strong links with many local farming businesses, which helps your studies by either allowing us to visit their farm or being a guest speaker at Brackenhurst. Many also provide opportunities for students to complete work experience. Nottingham has a rich variety of farming businesses including field scale vegetable, dairy, beef, poultry, pig and arable farms as well as the allied industries like animal feed manufacturing.
Brackenhurst is easy to get to. We’re just 14 miles from Nottingham city centre, next to the town of Southwell. Find out more about getting here.
What you'll study
This course will provide you with ample opportunity to work outdoors, where you will learn about crop husbandry, livestock husbandry, as well as machinery maintenance and tractor driving. These varied sessions are delivered by our own teaching and technical teams who have extensive subject knowledge and experience.
Professional working responsibilities
You will investigate the impact that professional working responsibilities have on personal welfare. You will learn about health and safety legislation, safe working practices, risk assessments, and the professional skills required to work safely and effectively in the land-based sectors. You will develop skills in and knowledge of good practice and professional responsibility towards self and others in the workplace, including the duty of care for the environment, relating this to resource efficiency and responsible management. You will develop a sound understanding of personal and professional responsibilities required to enter employment, with a strong awareness of how to be safe and keep others safe.
Plant and soil science
You will develop an understanding of external and internal plant structures, including plant cells. You will learn about the relationship between these structures and their function, such as how they obtain their nutrition and how they reproduce. You will gain an understanding of important life processes of plants and how these are affected by their environment. You will learn about the physical and chemical characteristics of soil. You will also learn different types of soil, their characteristics and the essential nutrition in soils that plants need to ensure their success.
Land-based machinery operations
You will explore machines relevant to your particular sector of the industry, developing practical skills and understanding of the different conditions in which machinery might need to operate. You will learn how to carry out pre-start checks and maintenance on these machines as well as the safe use and operation of the machine for a variety of tasks. The skills and knowledge gained in this unit will help you to manage the potential dangers involved in operating land-based machinery.
Managing Agricultural environmentsYou will study the changes in farming practices and their impact on the environment. You will undertake habitat and species surveys to measure this impact. You will plan and carry out habitat management in order to reduce the impact of agricultural activities on the environment.
Work experience in the land-based sectors
As well as investigating employment opportunities, you will examine how good communication and employability skills can improve your prospects in gaining and staying in employment. You will learn how and where to access information about employment vacancies and further courses of study as well as how to develop your curriculum vitae (CV) and adapt it for specific vacancies. You will also learn how to develop good communication, interview and customer service skills. You will apply for and take on available work experience roles in the sector and reflect on your own progress.
You will gain the skills needed to identify a range of commercially grown crops and their products, including annual, biennial and perennial plants. You will find out how and why crops are grown in specific situations and how crop growth is maintained throughout the production cycle. This will include recognising weeds, pests, diseases and deficiency symptoms, together with recommendations of remedial action that can be undertaken. You will understand the principles of harvesting and develop harvesting skills. You will investigate how crops are monitored in store, and consider how crops are treated while there, to maintain them in an acceptable condition. In order to maintain or improve the quality of crop products, you will learn about conditioning, cleaning, sorting and grading, together with the use of associated equipment.
Farm livestock husbandry
You will explore a range of farming systems and develop specialist knowledge and understanding of farmed livestock handling and husbandry. You will explore farm livestock nutrition and feed systems, creating balanced diets that meet the needs of the animal and the producer. You will develop the skills and experience needed to confidently and safely manage large and sometimes unpredictable animals.
Livestock health and diseases
You will study the causes, signs and treatments of illness and disease in livestock, along with how pathogens and parasites grow, reproduce and cause infection. This will help you to understand infection identification and control, and the different treatment options available. You will explore practical ways to assess and manage livestock health, how to apply treatments and implementation of preventative measures. You will learn about the importance of managing livestock health along with monitoring and recording health and health care interventions.
Contemporary issues in the land-based sectors
You will consider the issues affecting the sector, for example environmental politics, emerging technologies and working practices. When you are exploring these contemporary issues, you will apply your skills to make judgements about the relevance and importance of the issue to the agricultural industry.
Agricultural enterprise operations and supervision
You will explore the operation of an agricultural enterprise, its purpose and objectives. You will carry out an evaluation of the management processes and management activities and use your evaluation to prepare recommendations for possible improvements to the management processes and to produce a personal development plan.
Agricultural business improvements
You will learn about the features of agricultural businesses, their scope and importance, and the markets in which they operate. You will investigate the external and internal influences that have an impact on the performance of a business, including customer trends and legislation. You will carry out a review of a business’s performance to identify and recommend changes or alternatives to its operations in order to improve performance.
You will develop the knowledge and skills needed to manage the repair, maintenance and installation of boundaries, structures and surfaces in the farm setting. You will learn to plan, implement and reflect on maintenance tasks and develop experience and confidence in using practical skills in a range of situations. You will also gain an understanding of project management, including knowledge of health and safety and environmental legislation.
Root crop and field vegetable production
You will develop the skills and knowledge required to produce commodities that are frequently destined for the human consumption market. As such, these crops and vegetables must meet the highest food quality standards as both quality and traceability are increasingly important matters of public interest. You will investigate fundamental root crop production requirements, following the product from the field through to processing and undertake husbandry tasks associated with the production of root crops and field vegetables.
You will investigate the types of production system used across the UK, and the process of breeding and rearing animals. You will explore the different breeds and their production characteristics, and the importance of selecting suitable breeds. You will carry out routine feeding and husbandry tasks throughout the production cycle as part of the management of calves and adult animals. You will find out how production affects animal welfare and develop skills in meeting the nutritional requirements of cattle at different stages in the production cycle, including feed ingredients and ration formulation. You will develop a clear understanding of the legal, economic and environmental factors, health and safety and welfare legislation that contribute to decision making in beef production.
Dairy productionYou will investigate different dairy production systems such as housed systems, the grass-based system, the extensively grazed system and the associated cow and calf accommodation. You will carry out routine feeding and husbandry tasks throughout the production cycle as part of the management of breeding cows and newborn calves. You will find out how production affects animal welfare and develop skills in meeting the nutritional requirements of cows at different stages in the production cycle, including feed ingredients and ration formulation. You will develop a clear understanding of the legal, economic and environmental factors that contribute to dairy production.
Grass and forage crop production
You will investigate the wide range of grass and forage crops produced across the UK. This will include the husbandry of forage crops, and study their establishment and growth. This unit will give you the opportunity to undertake practical grazing management tasks and to make relevant recommendations for a forage crop. You will research the harvesting, storage and utilisation of forage crops by a range of livestock species, developing a sound understanding of yield and nutritive content as methods of evaluating the potential feed value of forage crops for feeding livestock.
In our last ofsted assessment we received a ‘good’ grade with some outstanding features.
How you’re taught
Spending time learning in our industry leading facilities through a mixture of lectures, group discussion, practical demonstrations and hands on experience with livestock, crops and machinery.
An important element of the course are our trips; visits to leading vegetable growers, organic dairy farmers and industry shows allows you to broaden your horizons.
The course includes a work placement allowing you to develop your skills and knowledge in agriculture by working on a farm, enhancing your chances of employment after you complete your studies. You can work with local farmers, agronomists, nutritionists or in connected industries such as the National Farmers Union.
How you’ll be assessed
The majority of your assessments will be written work, practical assessments or presentations, but there are some modules for which the assessment is an external exam.
Careers and employability
After completing this course, there are a number of options and routes that you can take. You could choose to continue your studies into Higher Education or pursue a career in an agriculture-related industry. There is an option, once you have achieved the right combination of results, to continue your studies into one of Brackenhurst NTU’s degree courses.
Future jobs within the agricultural industry that are attainable with a Level 3 qualification include:
- Machinery Salesperson - you could earn up to £27,000 per year
- Dairy Herd Manager - you could earn up to £35,000 per year
- Senior tractor driver - you could earn up to £32,000 per year
- Agronomist - you could earn up to £40,000 per year
- Nutritionist - you could earn up to £43,000 per year
In 2019 our college courses had a 99% pass rate.
For 2021 entry you'll need:
- Four GCSEs including science at grade 4 / C or above and including maths or English at grade 4 / grade C or above.
- If you have grade 3 / D in maths or English Language (where the other subject is at least grade 4 / C), you’ll need to complete GCSE retakes as a part of your study programme.
Equivalent qualifications will be considered.
You will also be required to attend an interview.
Applications are welcome from mature and international students.
Getting in touch
If you need any more help or information, please email our FE Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 5299.
We welcome applications from international students. Please email our FE Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 5299 to discuss how your qualifications match our course requirements.
How to apply
Applying is really easy. Follow our step-by-step guide below.
Fill in an application form
- Download an application form. Remember to show your passion for your chosen subject in your personal statement.
- Provide contact details for two referees - usually one teacher from your current School or College and one character reference which could refer to any volunteering, work experience or hobbies you may have (i.e. Sea Scouts, sports clubs etc.). Alternatively, this can be a long standing family friend or neighbour.
Come for an interview
- If you meet the criteria for the course, we’ll invite you in for an interview. We’ll send you details of what will happen on the day in advance through the post. Don’t panic! Our tutors are really friendly and will help you to do your best.
Get your offer
- We’ll write to you and let you know how you got on at the interview. Hopefully we’ll be able to offer you a place on the course. This offer might be conditional on your upcoming exam results – for example GCSEs.
Accept your offer
- You need to tell us that you want to accept your offer of a place by returning your confirmation slip to us or calling us on 0115 848 5299.
Get your exam results
- If you’re taking GCSEs, you’ll get your results on Thursday 19 August 2021. Other exam results will also come out over the summer. Once you’ve got your results you need to let us know what they are. Then we can confirm your place.
Start at Brackenhurst
- We’ll send out all the information you need to start with us in the post at the end of August. We hold an enrolment day in the first week of September. This allows you to get your student ID and start meeting your new friends and tutors.
Just drop us a line – we’re here to help every step of the way. You can email us or give us a call on 0115 848 5299.
Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.
Please email our FE Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 5299 for more information on how to apply.
Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.
Fees and funding
If you are aged 16-18 and applying for a Level 2 or 3 course
There are no course fees if you’re aged under 19 on 31 August of the year you start your course.
If you are aged 19+ and applying for a Level 2, Level 3 or Access to Higher Education course
If you’re studying your first full Level 3 or Access to Higher Education qualification you may be eligible for free tuition. You will still need to pay the registration fee applicable for your course.
If you are applying for the Level 2 qualification or have already completed a full Level 3 qualification, tuition and registration fees will apply.
To cover the cost of tuition when applying for a Level 3 and Access to Higher Education qualification, you can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan from the UK Government. It is easy to apply, your household income is not taken into account and there is no credit check. You will not have to pay anything back until your income is over £25,000.
Please visit fees and funding information for more information.
Please email our FE Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 5299 for more information on fees and funding.