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The Global Food System - POL00057H

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  • Department: Politics and International Relations
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Phil Roberts
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Food stands at the intersection of many of the world's most intractable political problems, including poverty and malnutrition, agricultural protectionism and free trade, interest group politics, lobbying and the role of transnational corporations, climate change, GM crops and most recently the increasing health-related consequences of poor diet and obesity. This module provides students with an advanced introduction to many of these issues. It does so using a global food systems approach, by which is meant considering food politics holistically, and by considering the different structural, institutional, behavioural and discursive drivers of dominant practices, and how these effect different societal groups (e.g. farmers, industry, consumers, policy-makers and civil society actors). The module will be based on both conceptual and thematic case study literatures. By the end, students will have a firm grasps of the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to understanding food politics and substantive knowledge of the various forms this takes in contemporary global, national and local politics.

Module learning outcomes

The aim of this module is to encourage students to think critically about a range of issues related to the global food system. Students are encouraged to apply theoretical knowledge to empirical situations as we examine food politics both historically and contemporaneously via a series of thematically organised seminars topics. By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Fully identify the strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical approaches to the global food system;
  • Demonstrate independent and critical understanding of the most important aspects of the food system, and to show awareness of the relationship between theory and practice therein;
  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, including understanding complex concepts and theories, exercising critical judgement, making effective oral and written presentations, utilising specialist primary and secondary sources, and deepening the capacity for independent learning.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor's feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 25 working days after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor's regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Jennifer Clapp, Food, Polity 2012.

Raj Patel, Stuffed and Starved, Portbelo 2007.

Tony Weis, The Global Food Economy, Zed 2007.

Phillip McMichael, Food Regimes and Agrarian Questions, Fernwood 2013.

Geoff Tansey and Tony Worsely, The Food System, Earthscan 1995.

David Goodman and Michael Watts, eds, Globalizing Food, Routledge 1996.

Anne Murcott et al , Handbook of Food Research, Bloomsbury 2013.

Marion Nestle, Food Politics, University of California Press 2013.

Julie Guthman, Weighing In, University of California Press 2013.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.