In 1893 University College, Nottingham established a Department of Agriculture and with the assistance of a joint agricultural education committee made up of local government representatives, the Midland Dairy Institute was opened at Kingston Fields, Kingston-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire in 1895. The Agricultural Department of University College moved to Kingston in 1900 to form the Midland Agricultural and Dairy Institute. In the same year, the Institute's affiliation with University College ended and it became a college in its own right, the Midland Agricultural and Dairy College, in 1906.
The college flourished in the years before the First World War, offering short courses in theoretical and practical agriculture. It also became the scientific headquarters of the Board of Agriculture in the Midlands. To cope with the expansion in student numbers and the increase in the Board of Agriculture's advisory role, a 100 acre site at Sutton Bonington was purchased and extra accommodation built. The new buildings were used as a prisoner of war camp during the First World War, and were taken over by the Agriculture Department of the College in October 1919. The Dairy and Poultry Departments remained at Kingston-on-Soar. Further building work at Sutton Bonington was completed in 1928, enabling the Kingston site to be closed.
In the 1930s the college offered courses in Agriculture, Dairying, Poultry and Horticulture. On the outbreak of war in September 1939 all courses were immediately cancelled and replaced with training courses for Women's Land Army girls. Regular courses were resumed in January 1940.
A closer association with University College, Nottingham, commenced in 1943. The Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture was established as a joint venture with 11 Board members from University College and 17 from the Agricultural College. Principal H.G. Robinson of the Agricultural College became the first Professor of Agriculture. In 1946 an agreement was made to transfer the faculty and the buildings at Sutton Bonington from the county councils to University College, Nottingham. On 1 April 1947, the Midland Agricultural College became the Faculty of Agriculture of University College, Nottingham. It became a part of the new University of Nottingham in 1948. Advisory staff from the Board of Agriculture moved to the National Agricultural Advisory Service at Shardlow Hall, Derbyshire, in 1946, leaving the Sutton Bonington campus as a purely academic institution. Certificate and diploma courses were largely phased out in the 1940s and 1950s and replaced with degree courses, and there was a greater emphasis placed on research. An Experimental Farm was established in 1954.
Steady expansion and an increase in buildings and accommodation continued in the post-war period. The faculty was re-named the Faculty of Agricultural Science in 1960, and the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences in 1991. In 1997 it merged with the Department of Life Science at University Park to become the School of Biological Sciences. In 2000 the School of Biological Sciences was divided back into the School of Biosciences (based at Sutton Bonington) and the School of Life and Environmental Sciences (based at University Park).