PAE301 Agroecology: Working with the Complexity of Farming Systems

Credits (ECTS):7.5

Course responsible:Geir Hofgaard Lieblein

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Limits of class size:

Minimum 5, maximum 20 students.

NB! Sign up by sending an e-mail to: Admission must be confirmed by studieveileder-ipv. The studieveileder-ipv is responsible for the registration at the Student office.

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:180 hours during 9 weeks and 2 days

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in the middle of the January block and ends in the middle of the spring parallel (January 15 - March 19.

About this course

With a concrete case as starting point, the course deals with structure and functioning of agroecosystems as whole entities seen from different perspectives. Examples of such are ecological, economic, social, time and spatial scale, and organisational level perspectives. The students will also learn about and practice methods for describing and analysing the case and its goals, and they are expected to suggest improvements.

Learning outcome

The aim of this course is to provide students with an introduction to working with the complexity of farming systems.

After completion of the course, the student will be able to:


  • Have knowledge of structure and function of farming systems.


  • Apply a systemic approach to a complex farming system.
  • Recognize the steps needed to understand and improve a complex farming system.
  • Identify and use suitable methods at the different steps of a systemic approach

Generic competence

  • Engage in a constructive peer feedback process.
  • Reflect on own learning and on group dynamics based on the course experiences
  • The course is web-based, and faculty resources and students will be located in several countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland). In order to effectively deal with the interdisciplinary nature of agroecology, teachers will provide guidance and feedback to the students.
  • Bachelor´s degree or its equivalent in agriculture, plant science, economics, natural resources, human nutrition or other relevant social or natural sciences.
  • Details for the portfolio assessment will be given at course start. Students will be assessed on written assignments, on understanding of the materials, on ability to conceptualise the course content and on making application to the case and to their current local situations. Their papers, short assignments, and peer feedback contributions will be the basis for a grade.

  • An external examiner approves the course plan, literature and chosen parts of the student portfolio.
  • NB! Course registration to The course is based on collaboration between universities in Norway (NMBU), Sweden (SLU), and FInland (HU), and participating students will come from all of these institutions.
  • MSc students students in Agroecology.
  • Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway (generell studiekompetanse)