Courses & Units

Farming Systems KLA312


In this interdisciplinary unit, students explore systems approaches to farming, wherein understanding of various components of a farm is linked to broader social, cultural, political, institutional, economic and ecological factors that influence how a farm operates. The first part
of the unit introduces students to systems thinking and systems practice in a farming context. Using local and international case studies, students learn how different systems approaches can be applied to analyse problems and find solutions. The second part of the unit
focuses more specifically on the decision making context of a farm business, that is, how land, labour and capital are used to attain the
goals and aspirations of owners while taking into account the risks and uncertainties involved. Students will learn how to apply appropriate economic and financial techniques to the analysis of business performance and investment decisions, and to communicate
the results clearly and succinctly.


Unit name Farming Systems
Unit code KLA312
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Sciences and Engineering
Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Discipline Agriculture and Food Systems
Coordinator Ms Saideepa Kumar
Available as an elective? Yes
Delivered By University of Tasmania
Level Advanced


Location Study period Attendance options Available to
Hobart Semester 1 On-Campus International Domestic


International students
Domestic students

Key Dates

Study Period Start date Census date WW date End date
Semester 1 21/2/2022 22/3/2022 11/4/2022 29/5/2022

* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (refer to How do I withdraw from a unit? for more information).

Unit census dates currently displaying for 2022 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2022 will be available from the 1st October 2021. Note census date cutoff is 11.59pm AEST (AEDT during October to March).

About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  • integrate knowledge from different disciplines into a larger understanding of how farming systems interact with their social, political, economic and ecological environments.
  • apply systems approaches to engage critically with complex problems in farming systems and communicate your understanding clearly and succinctly.
  • appreciate the fundamental aspects of managing a farm business.
  • understand and creatively apply appropriate economic and financial techniques to the analysis of new investments and communicate the results clearly and succinctly.
  • analyse the financial position of a farm business using financial statements and use them to create a business case for new investments tailored to the requirements of lending institutions.'

Fee Information

Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1,3 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1,3 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2,3 Domestic Full Fee 4
050100 $498.00 $498.00 not applicable $2,783.00

1 Please refer to more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Please refer to more information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses.
3 Please refer to more information on eligibility for HECS-HELP.
4 Please refer to more information on eligibility for FEE-HELP.

If you have any questions in relation to the fees, please contact UConnect or more information is available on StudyAssist.

Please note: international students should refer to What is an indicative Fee? to get an indicative course cost.


Teaching Pattern

2 x 1 hr lectures, 3-hr tutorial weekly, 1-half day excursion (13 weeks)

AssessmentExamination (50%)|Report - Business plan for new investment (25%)|Systems Analysis and Operating plan (System diagram, Group presentation and Individual Q&A) (25%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



You will need the following text [available as electronic books through the University Library]:

E-book: Thinking in Systems (see unit schedule for important chapters)

E-book: The Farming Game (see unit schedule for important chapters)



  1. Rittel, H.W. and Webber, M.M., 1973. Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy sciences, 4(2), pp.155-169.
  2. Ackoff, R.L., 1981. The art and science of mess management. Interfaces, 11(1), pp.20-26.
  3. Spedding, C.R.W., 1988. A systems approach to agriculture. In An Introduction to Agricultural Systems, pp. 15-40. Springer, Dordrecht.
  4. Bawden, R.J., 1991. Systems thinking and practice in agriculture. Journal of Dairy Science, 74(7), pp. 2362-2373.
  5. Lockie, S., 2015. Australia’s agricultural future: the social and political context. Report to SAF07—Australia’s Agricultural Future Project.
  6. Barr, N., Wilkinson, R.L. and Karunaratne, K., 2005. Australia's farmers: past, present and future. Land and Water Australia.
  7. Burch, D. and Lawrence, G., 2009. Towards a third food regime: behind the transformation. Agriculture and human values, 26(4), pp.267-279. 

  8. Sippel, S.R., Larder, N. and Lawrence, G., 2017. Grounding the financialization of farmland: perspectives on financial actors as new land owners in rural Australia. Agriculture and Human Values, 34(2), pp.251-265 

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