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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

FOOD5072M Food Systems and Sustainability

15 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Jonas Cromwell

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications

Entry to MSc Qualifications

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Using systems thinking and current sustainability frameworks (e.g., sustainable food production and consumption, circular economy and LCAs and emissions calculators) relevant to food production and consumption, you will take an in-depth look into how systems thinking relates to food sustainability. You will review key components of the global food system, including various actors/stakeholders, e.g., NGOs, farmers, governments, and how they function collectively to sustain the food system. You will also cover current sustainability challenges facing the global food system, e.g., environmental degradation, climate change, sustainable production systems, food and nutrition security, and food waste, and discuss how possibilities for optimising for human and environmental health (One Health concept), sustainable production – regenerative agriculture, net zero, circular economy.


This module aims to use systems thinking and sustainability approaches to explore the complexities in our current food system(s) and identify potential solutions to the contemporary and future challenges that face our food system (such as food security (cost, quality, availability), nutrition and health (obesity and malnutrition), climate change, food justice, food governance, and power in the food systems, etc. The objectives of the module are to:

* Critically examine the key components and actors of the global food system, and the relationships and interactions between them
* Evaluate the wide range of approaches to sustainability and systems change
* Apply a system thinking approach to explore current and future sustainability challenges faced by the food systems and discuss possible solutions
* Critically evaluate issues of power, equity and social justice within food systems.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students should be able to:

LO1. Identify the key components of the global food system and critically evaluate the relationships and interconnections between them
LO2. Map out a food system (e.g., local, urban, regional or national), using a system-thinking approach
LO3. Propose realistic recommendations to address current and future sustainability challenges within the food systems (e.g., local, regional, national)

Skills learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:

1. SS1 System thinking – Student will develop the ability to recognise and understand relationships; analyse complex systems (environmental, economic, and social systems and interdependence across these); consider how systems are embedded within different domains and scales; deal with uncertainty and use analytical thinking.
2. SS2 Critical thinking – students will develop of the ability to question norms, practices, and opinions; reflect on their own values, perceptions, and actions and take a position in the sustainable development discourse in relation to food systems.
3. SS3 Collaborations: students will learn from others (including peers) and develop the ability to understand and respect the needs, perspectives, and actions of others when dealing with conflicts in a group within the context of collaborative and participatory problem-solving.
4. SS4 Integrated problem solving: student will develop the ability to apply different problem-solving frameworks to complex sustainable development and food system problems, and develop viable, inclusive, and equitable solutions.


* What is sustainability and food sustainability?
* What sustainability frameworks are relevant to food systems: e.g., sustainable food production and consumption, circular economy?
* What is system thinking and how does it relate to food – what are food systems?
* What are the environmental, social and economic impacts of the global food production and consumption?
* 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.?
* Concentration and power in the food system - who controls what we eat? Financialisaton of the global food system
* 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?
* Food systems resilience – how resilient are food systems to external shocks including climate change?
* How can we transform our food system to optimise human health and achieve environmental sustainability? What are the trade-offs and feedback?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours40.00
Private study hours80.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Throughout the module there are opportunities for students to received formative feedback during lectures. The seminar sessions are designed to enable providing continuous feedback to student on understanding and application of key concepts in food systems and sustainability.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 18/04/2024


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