Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


This is an advanced unit linking soil fertility, plant nutrition and human diet. It emphasises (1) plant accumulation of macronutrients and micronutrients in edible parts and bioavailability of these nutrients in the human digestive tract; and (2) supply of antioxidants, vitamins and other health-promoting phytochemicals in edible plant parts. Special attention is paid to the balance between nutrients and antinutrients in plant-based food. Physiological mechanisms governing uptake of mineral nutrients from soil and transport to and remobilisation from non-edible into edible plant parts (particularly grains) are emphasised together with biosynthesis of phytochemicals (nutraceuticals) in edible plant tissues. Various types of biofortification (e.g. fertilisation and other agricultural measures, selection of genotypes with enhanced nutrient accumulation in edible parts, etc.) are covered. Students gain an understanding of the dynamics of nutrient cycling from soil to plants to humans, as well as the importance of nutritional food quality. While the main emphasis is on soils and plants, attention is also paid to food processing and social and health issues associated with food choice and quality.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Honours option in Agricultural Science [Bachelor of Science (Honours)]

Students are able to (1) understand processes governing cycling of macronutrients and micronutrients from soils to plants to humans; (2) understand the role of phytochemicals in a healthy diet; (3) integrate the concept of nutrient bioavailability across the soil–plant–human continuum; (4) understand agricultural and genetic means of producing food with a high content of micronutrients; (5) analyse, critically assess, present and discuss experimental data; (6) write research essays based on relevant literature; and (7) place relevant soil and plant science information in the context of healthy food production.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) a research essay based on assigned literature (70 per cent) and (2) a seminar on an assigned topic (30 per cent). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Zed Rengel
Unit rules
Enrolment in
72510 Master of Agricultural Science
or 71570 Master of Geographic Information Science
or HON-AGSCI Agricultural Science
Contact hours
total workload: 150 hours
contact hours: 6 days full-time
There is no end-of-semester examination in this unit. Students are assigned literature and write an essay based on that literature, supported by lectures and class discussions. Group work comprises a seminar presentation on an assigned topic linked to lecture and essay material.
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.