Courses & Units

Farming Systems KLA535



In this interdisciplinary unit, students will be introduced to systems thinking and practice in a farming context. Systems approaches will be used to explore how the broader social, cultural, political, institutional, economic and ecological factors influence how a farm operates. Different farming styles and approaches will be discussed. Using local and international case studies, students will apply different systems approaches to analyse and address complex problems related to agriculture.


Unit name Farming Systems
Unit code KLA535
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Sciences and Engineering
Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Discipline Agriculture and Food Systems
Coordinator Ms Saideepa Kumar
Delivered By University of Tasmania
Level Postgraduate


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


International students
Domestic students

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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

  • Describe the structure and operation of different farming systems, using concepts and principles of systems thinking.
  • Integrate knowledge across disciplines to analyse farming systems within their ecological, social and political context
  • Evaluate the use of agricultural systems models to support decision making at various scales
  • Recommend policy options to address complex sustainability challenges by using appropriate systems approaches
Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1,3 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1,3 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2,3 Domestic Full Fee 4
050101 $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.


AssessmentPresentation (25%)|Report (40%)|Critique (35%)
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)

  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.
  9. Epstein, J.M., 2008. Why model? Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 11(4), p.12.
  10. Antle, J.M., Jones, J.W. and Rosenzweig, C., 2017. Next generation agricultural system models and knowledge products: synthesis and strategy. Agricultural Systems, 155, pp. 179-185
  11. Duncan, R., 2016. Ways of knowing–out-of-sync or incompatible? Framing water quality and farmers’ encounters with science in the regulation of non-point source pollution in the Canterbury region of New Zeala
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