Food Dilemmas: Production, Security and Health

University of Reading

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Food Dilemmas: Production, Security and Health

  • Host University

    University of Reading

  • Location

    Reading, England

  • Area of Study

    Global Health, Nutrition and Food Science, Sociology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Module Provider: Food and Nutritional Sciences
    Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
    Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
    Non-modular pre-requisites:
    Modules excluded: FB1AG2 Farm to Fork
    Module version for: 2014/5
    Module Convenor: Dr Carol Wagstaff
    Summary module description:
    This module will cover historical, present and future aspects of food production and consumption. Discussion topics include how food has shaped society, the impact of food on the environment, the relationship between diet and health, and the implications of future populations and climates on food production.
    This module is NOT intended for Food and Nutritional Sciences students, but students from this department can register for attendance on a 0-credit basis to further develop their interest in the subject.
    To provide students from all disciplines with an understanding of how food production has driven the structure of society across the globe, of the major issues facing food supply for future populations and how food is intrinsically linked to health and wellbeing.
    Assessable learning outcomes:
    On completion of the module the student should be able to:
    ?Discuss aspects of the history of agriculture and how it has shaped society.
    ?Explain the generic principles of the food chain.
    ?Describe the principles of sustainability in food production.
    ?Discuss the some of the key public health consequences of food production and cultural differences such as organic, halal, biodynamics, protected crop production.
    ?Discuss the implications of food security issues such as food miles, seasonality, population growth, water, feed, fuel and land use competition.
    Additional outcomes:
    Students will develop a number of key skills such as critical evaluation, presentation and writing skills for a number of different audiences.
    Outline content:
    1.History of agriculture and how it shaped society (2h) Carol Wagstaff and Paddy Woodman
    2.Introduction to food security (1h) Carol Wagstaff
    3.Seasonal, local or global? Introduction plus class discussion (2h) Carol Wagstaff
    4.The green revolution and ?the doubly green revolution?. (2h) Peter Gregory
    5.Land use: fuel, feed or food? (2h) Carol Wagstaff
    6.Water security and sustainability (2h) Andrew Wade
    7.Consumer food choices. A conflict between education and desire? (2h) Marina Della Gusta and Rachel McCloy (from 2013)
    8.Food production and consumption and consequences for public health nutrition (2h) Danny Commane
    9.Cultural influences on food choice (2h) Carol Wagstaff
    10.The economic burden of food security (2h) Richard Tiffin
    11.Under and over nutrition and the impact on human health (2h) Ian Rowland
    12.Food for the future (4h) Bob Rastall and Carol Wagstaff
    Additional sessions
    1.Debate on global food security (1 x 2h plus preparation time in groups)
    2.Food Security blog (introductory session plus monitoring and contributions by various staff members during the course)
    3.Food for the Future mini conference (whole day). Talks and poster session. Would be good to get external keynote speaker if possible and sponsorship for refreshments.
    Global context:
    Food is a requirement for survival and as such is something that everyone can relate to. Food also drives many aspects of culture and social history, defines aspects of health and wellbeing, and is changing the way our planet will look in the future. This module addresses a range of topical issues covering these areas and encourages class debate from the basis of informed opinion. The demand is for food supply to double to meet the demands of a growing population by 2030 and the global population is expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050. These challenges need to be met, and solutions delivered, in the face of climate change, consumer demands for choice, and the requirement to address global health issues. The complex and fascinating problem of global food security ? providing sufficient, safe and nutritious food for everyone ? will be explored within the module and the implications for societal and cultural behaviour will also be discussed.
    Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
    The module is a cross disciplinary module aimed at students from all faculties. However, it is recognised that some students (primarily in Science and Life Science) will wish to take it during part 2 of their degree when their programme is more flexible. The lectures will be as interactive with the aim of promoting class discussion and increasing awareness of the different disciplines in the group and how each has something to bring to the way that food is produced and consumed. The class will be divided if required to facilitate seminar-style learning and to promote debate. For formal debates students will be divided into multi-disciplinary groups and given some guided preparation time. Each assignment will be associated with a preparation session to enable students from all disciplines to be fully aware of what is expected from them. Assessment methods are varied and are designed to give students from different backgrounds experience of a range of communication methods, from a formal essay, to a blog, debate, presentation and poster. Individual working and team working will both be required in this course. At least one whole day visit is planned to a food production/research facility to give non-specialist students an insight into the food chain. The final pieces of assessment (oral presentation and poster) will be contained within a mini-conference which will give the students involved a real taste of what it is like to communicate their work to an academic audience and the rigour with which they will need to defend their subject material.
    Contact hours:
    Autumn Spring
    Lectures 14 11
    Seminars 2 8
    Practicals classes and workshops 8
    Supervised time in studio/workshop 6
    Guided independent study 78 73
    Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
    Total hours for module 200.00
    Summative Assessment Methods:
    Method Percentage
    Written assignment including essay 20
    Project output other than dissertation 40
    Oral assessment and presentation 40
    Other information on summative assessment:
    1.Coursework- 20% essay assignment on agriculture and society. Week 5 autumn term
    2.Coursework ? 40% food security blog in teams. Start of spring term
    3.Coursework ? 20% contribution to group presentation and poster on food for the future.
    Week 5 of spring term.
    4.Coursework ? 20% for newspaper article on diet and health Week 9 of spring term.
    Formative assessment methods:
    Penalties for late submission:
    The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
    where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
    where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.
    Length of examination:
    Requirements for a pass:
    40% average in module
    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-submission of coursework
    Last updated: 8 October 2014

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Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

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Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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