Free online course


Further information

Master of International Development

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Email us if you have any questions about the course.  

Course sponsor

Made possible with the support of Yara Pilbara.

The School of Agricultural and Resource Economics offers a free online course on the economics of agriculture, natural resources and the environment. Click here to enrol.

We are able to do this courtesy of the generous support of Yara Pilbara, part of the international fertiliser company. Yara aims to create impact by promoting sustainable agriculture and the environment, not just production, so their goals are well aligned with this course. In addition, Yara is conscious of its contribution to production of the food required for the growing world population.

  1. About the course: Agriculture, Economics and Nature
  2. Course information 
  3. Course format and how to enrol

About the course: Agriculture, Economics and Nature

The development of agriculture is what got human beings started on the long trip from hunter-gatherers to modern civilisation. Agriculture remains an economically important industry in both developed and developing countries.

This course is about agriculture, including agricultural production and the interaction between agriculture and the environment. We will look at these issues from a general perspective, and from an economic perspective. You will see that the economic perspective can often really enrich our understanding of what is happening and how we might respond.

Sound economic thinking is crucial for farmers because they depend on good economic decision making to survive. Governments depend on economic information to make good policy decisions on behalf of the community.

The key economic principles that we’ll learn about can help us understand changes that have occurred in agriculture, and support improved decision making about things like agricultural production methods, agricultural input levels, resource conservation, and the balance between agricultural production and its environmental impacts.

There are literally thousands of agricultural economists around the world who work on these issues, so there is a wealth of knowledge to draw on for the course.

Video: an introduction to the course


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Course information

Commencement date

You can enrol at any time.  About every two months, Coursera starts another round of the course.  They will advise you when the course materials are available for you to work on.  Visit the Coursera website to enrol.


Professor David Pannell is one of Australia's leading economists working in the area of agriculture, natural resources and environment.

His research includes work on the economics of farming systems, land conservation, farmers' behaviour, agri-environmental policy, risk in agriculture, weed management, agricultural policy, environmental management and environmental policy.

At the University of Western Australia he is Head of the School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and Director of the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy.


No prerequisites or prior knowledge needed.

Required text

No required texts. Recommended reading will be provided each week. All will be readily accessible online, or copies of original material will be provided.

Course outline

Week 1
Agricultural production and prices and agriculture?s reliance on natural resources
Week 2
Resource and environmental challenges facing agriculture
Week 3
Economics of agricultural inputs
Week 4
The economics of land conservation
Week 5
The economics of agri-environmental projects
Week 6
Agricultural policies

Email us if you have any questions about the course.

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Course format and how to enrol

Coursera has rolling enrolments, so you can enrol at any time.  Coursera starts a new round of the course about every two months. The course is set up as six weeks of modules, plus a final exam which is displayed as week seven.  All the modules are available from the start of the course, and you can do them more quickly than one per week if you wish.

Each week, a set of lecture videos, mostly between 5 and 10 minutes in length, are provided. Each module contains a quiz to help you make sure you are understanding the material. There is a final exam.  The estimated minimum work required is 2 hours per week, although some students choose to go into more depth and invest more time than this.

The course is completely free. However, Coursera provides you with the option to pay a fee to receive a certificate once you successfully complete the course.

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