Teaching Matters

Design and delivery of a Global Masterclass in Horticulture

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Teaching Matters 2017 | Presentation Details | 28 NovemberNov 2017


Design and delivery of a Global Masterclass in Horticulture


Alistair Gracie, School of Land and Food
Tina Acuña, School of Land and Food
Claire Knowles, School of Land and Food
David Monckton, School of Land and Food
Dugald Close, School of Land and Food


Curriculum Design for Degrees of Difference

Presentation Type

Showcase Presentation


Social Sciences 210




The Masterclass in Horticultural Business is a new national program requested by and tailor made for Australian business managers and entrepreneurs in horticulture. The University of Tasmania has developed the Masterclass in collaboration with the internationally-recognised higher education providers, Wageningen University and Research (Netherlands) and Lincoln University (New Zealand). The Masterclass is externally funded through a $3m nationally competitive grant from the Australian Government’s Research and Development Corporation, Horticulture Innovation Australia, and builds on our strong links between teaching and research, development and extension in horticulture.

Building human resource capacity and leadership in production horticulture is of fundamental importance to the ongoing success and growth of the $9 billion industry in Australia (Horticulture Innovation Australia, 2015). The horticultural workforce, however, is less engaged with formal training and education compared with the broader agricultural sector. The Masterclass, delivered as a new pre-tertiary qualification (Diploma in Horticultural Business) through University College, combines a strong understanding of horticulture production and business practices.

The integrative program has a basis in production horticulture with modules on, for example, supply chain management, logistics, law, and entrepreneurship. First offered in 2017, the program has attracted a range of industry professionals in horticulture from across Australia, supported by generous scholarships from Horticulture Innovation Australia as well as the vegetable, nursery and fruit and nut industries. Participants in the Masterclass have been selected on the basis of their current involvement in a horticultural business, a demonstrated drive for excellence and recommendations from industry players.

The design of the Masterclass for a national cohort of students necessitated online delivery that is highly-professional, flexible and relevant to people working in the horticulture industry to foster innovative and creative thinking and engagement among students. The contemporary and visually appealing graphic design package, Adobe Spark, is used to design and deliver the online content that consists of short video clips, interspersed with links to activities and resources. Intensive face-to-face workshops and field visits are provided for students in parallel with Work Integrated Learning (Patrick et al., 2008) offered through Practice and Portfolio subjects.

Module topics and assignments are designed to promote interaction of the participants with their staff (if they are business owners) or employers (if they work for a business owner). In this way, the students are applying learnings to their workplace, raising questions and stimulating discussions about Agribusiness. In their final assessment the participants prepare and present a business plan to their fellow students, academics, Horticulture Innovation Australia and leading industry representatives. This will be a lasting and high impact learning experience that consolidates the curriculum. Many students have provided feedback that they intend to put their business plan into action, applying it to their own businesses. In order to unlock the potential of individuals, the content of the Masterclass has been designed to be readily applicable and to encourage interaction and mentoring. In particular, three face-to-face sessions promotes experiential learning. The participants engage in an interactive workshop providing support on content, followed by tours of farms and businesses, with talks by keynote speakers

In summary, the high degree of industry engagement and endorsement as well as international collaboration in the design of the Masterclass is unique to the discipline of Horticulture. It is our vision that this Masterclass will develop a strong reputation and become internationally recognised and competitive. Our vision extends to the development of similar courses with other key agricultural industry bodies and Research and Development Corporations to position the University of Tasmania as Australia’s premier provider of education and training for agriculture. This approach has the potential to be a ‘blue-print’ for the development and delivery of new Associate Degrees at University of Tasmania.


Horticulture Innovation Australia. (2015). Annual Report. Sydney: Horticulture Innovation Australia. Retrieved from http://horticulture.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Annual-Report-2015-Final-Lo-1.pdf.

Patrick, C.-j., Peach, D., Pocknee, C., Webb, F., Fletcher, M., & Pretto, G. (2008). The WIL (Work Integrated Learning) report. A national scoping study [Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Final report]. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology Retrieved from www.altc.edu.au.

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