Postgraduate Module Descriptor

POLM073: Political Economy of Food and Agriculture

This module descriptor refers to the 2018/9 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

1. An introduction to the historical development of agriculture and food systems.
2. Introduction to the political economy of agri-food systems and the historical development of the contemporary global agri-food system.
3. How the food chain works  from farm to mouth; covering the role of marketing organizations, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers.
4. Farming and food in the UK trends, pressures, issues, farming systems and their characteristics and distribution, alternative uses of land.
5. What we eat and why - food choices and diet, healthy eating, livestock versus crop sources of food.
6. Food security: the history of a policy concern; covering demographics, competing pressures on land, nutrition, and food safety.
7. Food security in its wider context the relationship of food security to geo-politics, and to biosecurity, water security and energy security.
8. Prospects for food security can the world feed itself, examining the debate in the context of contrasting economic models, peak oil and climate change; and alternative food systems (organic food, slow food, local food, food miles and fair trade).
9. Issues of Contention: regulating genetically modified food: defining food safety risks in the context of trade liberalisation.
10. The politics of food and international trade: trade liberalisation, the WTO, technology and entitlements.

The module will use formal lectures and discussion with external experts. Weekly two-hour contact hours introduce the theoretical framework, key issues and background knowledge as the basis for discussion well as a seminar element which allows students to present their thoughts on particular theories or issues. Students will be assigned readings on key module themes and will give presentations on assigned topics. Students will also develop their depth of knowledge of the module topics through researching and writing the course essays as well as through report writing. Study is continuous throughout the course

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
20 1300

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities17 Lectures, expert speakers and field visits
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities3 Student-led seminars
Guided independent study130 Private study

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).