Biorenewable Feedstocks

Complementary module starting January 2019


The aim of this module is to provide you with in-depth knowledge of the scope of biotechnological advances in:

  • industrial crop improvement; and
  • bi-product valorisation 

​and an appreciation of how these can be optimised for end use matching.


Driven by on-going biorefining and bioenergy research at Aberystwyth University in collaboration with industrial partners, the module will focus on research into a range of feedstocks including dedicated feedstock crops grown for energy and for the biopharmaceutical industry. Biorefining of agricultural waste and food waste streams will also be investigated for valorisation.  We will explore how and why research programmes in dedicated crops can improve such feedstocks and how this drives the bio-economy. We will begin with an overall introduction to biotechnology, industrial crop breeding and feedstock improvement and look at the societal drivers and impacts of this sector. Students will gain understanding and appreciation of the technologies used to identify variation in feedstocks and to improve yield and composition including: trait analysis, imaging and spectral analysis, conventional breeding, GM and association genetics.  Students will also gain knowledge of funding sources and business innovation to ‘make biotechnology happen’.

The course will consist of a series of lectures and guided learning focused on:

  • introduction to biotechnology
  • the objectives and methodologies involved in crop breeding
  • agricultural and food waste streams
  • matching feedstock to enduse
  • the scale of the challenge facing land-based crop production in the 21st century
  • the role of emerging technologies to meet these needs sustainably
  • practical and economic considerations to scaling up production

The module will deliver the content through a series of recorded lectures, interviews and discussions from researchers at IBERS and with our industrial partners. You will be given a reading list of ‘essential’ and recommended’ articles and books and expected to interact through forums with other students and the course tutor/researcher. You will also complete assessments which will encourage you to apply your new knowledge to real-life scenarios.

Learning Outcomes

Having completed the module you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the challenges facing land based agriculture to substitute for fossil carbon
  • Evaluate the relative limitations and merits of a range of feedstocks and match feedstocks to potential end-use
  • Demonstrate a fundamental and practical knowledge of crop performance traits and the technologies available for crop improvement.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the potential impact and limitations associated with the application (and non-application) of different biotechnology options such as GM.


UK and EU students from £750

International Students from £800 (non commercial) and from £1,363 (commercial)