THE UK'S only MSc in Organic Farming has now been on offer at Scotland's Rural College for 20 years and has proved popular with applicants during the pandemic.

The MSc programme – delivered by SRUC in partnership with the Organic Research Centre (ORC) – has now signed a further five-year term of their partnership agreement for teaching provision and MSc supervision.

The course has equipped well over 100 students with a Masters qualification since the programme’s inception in 2000, and many more have gained postgraduate certificates and diplomas or studied specific modules suited to their particular interests.

The part-time, online distance learning format has proved particularly attractive to students during the current coronavirus pandemic, with 25 new students signing up for the course this year.

SRUC programme leader in Organic Farming, Dr Lou Ralph, commented: “Getting a high new student intake during a pandemic was an unexpected result for us, as we had been concerned that with so much uncertainty around jobs, there may be fewer applications.

“We were delighted to welcome this group of students during a virtual event in September – a first for us as we usually run live study weekends at our Aberdeen campus as part of the programme. Both new and returning students engaged well with the enforced new format, although we do look forward to meeting everyone in person when we can."

One high-profile former student is David Michie – who graduated in 2009 – who now works at Soil Association Scotland. He said: “Taking part in the MSc Organic Farming course completely changed my career.

“It gave me the opportunity to do a work placement at the Scottish Organic Producers Association, which offered me a job as an Organic Certification Officer.

“From there, I went on to become an Agricultural Consultant at SAC Consulting, part of SRUC, using the knowledge and skills developed from the course to advise farming clients," he continued.

“I then got a job with Soil Association Scotland, working with farmers to run field labs and am now Scotland Associate Director of Farming and Land Use.”

For more information about studying organic farming at SRUC, visit: