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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

FOEV5100M Introduction to Sustainable Food Systems

30 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Effie Papargyropoulou

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Food is the single strongest lever to optimise human health & environmental sustainability. However, transforming our food system is not an easy taskbecause it is highly complex. This module will use systems thinking as an approach/tool to explore this complexity and start identifying possible solutions to the big contemporary and future challenges our food system faces, such as food security, obesity and malnutrition, climate change, food justice etc. The cohort will reach a consensus on what sustainability means in the context of food (including environmental, social, economic, political drivers & implications), and the role various actors and governance structures play. Through problem based learning, this knowledge will be applied to identify possible leverage points that can transform the food system, and the students will gain a new appreciation of their role as change agents.


As the first module of the MSc Sustainable Food Systems it aims to:
• critically examine the main components of the global food system, their relationships and interactions between them;
• evaluate the wide range of approaches to sustainability and systems change;
• apply a systems thinking approach to explore the current and future sustainability challenges the food systems face and the possible solutions; and
• build a foundation of teamwork, develop a strong cohort identity, and forge positive relationships amongst the cohort, prior to group learning and assessment.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module students will be able to (Module Learning Outcomes):
MLO1: Identify the key components of the global food system and critically evaluate the relationships and interconnections between them.
MLO2: Design/ develop a map of the global food system using a systems thinking approach.
MLO3: Propose ambitious and realistic recommendations to enhance the environmental and social sustainability of the global food system.


Indicative content of this module will address questions such as:
• What is sustainability?
• What is food sustainability?
• What sustainability frameworks are relevant to food systems: e.g. sustainable consumption and production, circular economy?
• What are the environmental, social and economic impacts of the global food production and consumption?
• What is systems thinking and how does it relate to food?
• What are the main components of our globalised food system? How do these components relate to each other? What function(s) does the food system perform?
• How is the food system governed, and what is the role of the main actors/ stakeholders e.g. governments, farmers, producers, suppliers, corporations, NGOs, and consumers/ food citizens etc.?
• What are the current and future challenges the global food system face: e.g. global food security, malnutrition, obesity, climate change, environmental degradation, food justice?
• How can we transform our food system to optimise human health and achieve environmental sustainability? What are the trade-offs and feedbacks?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent Learning101.0010.00
Drop-in Session21.002.00
Private study hours248.00
Total Contact hours52.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Reading and critically reviewing relevant material such as academic journals, books, grey literature (policy, technical and business reports, working papers, government documents, white papers etc.)
Group working and peer learning

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Literature Review1,500 words30.00
Assignment3500 Word Essay70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

If the resit is being taken as a New First Attempt, the resit will consist of an attempt at a new piece of work for each component that was failed, in a format to be announced by the Module Leader. Its original mark will be discarded irrevocably and replaced by the new mark even if it is lower., and a new aggregated mark for the module will be returned. If the resit is being taken as a Capped Second Attempt, the resit for this module will be a single item of assessment, in a format to be announced by the Module Leader, and covering all Module Learning Objectives. Whichever is higher of the original aggregated module mark, and the new mark capped at the Pass mark of 50%, will be returned.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/05/2023 16:29:06


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