Key facts

Course Dates
Feb 5 to May 13
14 weeks
Entry Requirements
Graduate level or relevant experience
IFST Membership
Your course enrolment also entitles you to one year of free membership to the IFST (Institute of Food, Science and Technology).
CQFW Level
Course Provider
Aberystwyth University
Provider Reference Number
Course Arrangements
Full joining instructions will be confirmed by the course provider.
Course Location
Aberystwyth University, Online
AFTP Cohort
Course Logistics
Our distance learning modules are designed to be flexible and most of our participants work full time at the same time as studying for 10 to 15 per week, for each 20 credit module. Blocks of modules are delivered with start dates in January, May and September, with most modules offered once each year.

Sarah Watson Jones



Course overview

The Plant Breeding course is designed to give a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to bring a variety of plant from concept, through breeding and on to market. Featured crops include: beans, peas, oats, ryegrass, clover and energy crops. We will consider all aspects of what makes a commercial plant breeding program successful. Real datasets will demonstrate the challenges a plant breeder faces when making selections. Participants will undertake case studies to look in depth at the process of breeding a crop of their choice.

The course is an optional module in the MSc Sustainable and Efficient Food Production, MRes Agriculture and the MSc in Food Security in a Changing Environment.

The course is delivered entirely online through distance learning by Aberystwyth University, .

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module participants should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the principles of plant breeding, and the relationship between plant reproductive biology and commercial opportunity for varieties.
  • Compare and contrast the way varieties are produced in crop species that differ in reproductive biology. 
  • Analyse a progeny trait dataset and explain the decision making process for progeny selection in a composite variety.
  • Appraise the plant variety commercialisation pathway in the UK.
  • Critically evaluate an existing breeding system or present a rationalized plan for commencement of a new breeding system.
Additional Course Information

Topics covered will include:

  • Plant reproductive biology
  • Control of pollination and uses in breeding
  • Breeding systems for self and cross-pollinated plant species
  • Trait measurement and selection methods
  • Agricultural experimentation and trial design
  • Defining breeding objectives
  • Variety legislation and commercialisation
  • Marker-assisted and genome wide selection
  • Utilising diversity, mutant and biotechnology in breeding
    My AFTP training course has given me greater confidence day-to-day and more insight into the impact of new techniques and technologies.
    Andy Russell - Fresh Produce Technologist, Bakkavor

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