Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 hour lectures/seminars
Other 5 x 2 hours Film viewing sessions


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  50%
Semester Assessment 1 x Electronic Portfolio  30%
Semester Assessment Teamwork Participation  20%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,500 word assignment in lieu of Teamwork  20%
Supplementary Assessment 1 X 2,000 word assignment in lieu of electronic portfolio  30%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay, if essay element failed  50%

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of broad issues raised by the question of famine
2. Critically discuss questions of famine orally and report on these discussions in writing
3. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of particular instances of famine
4. Apply concepts and frameworks encountered in the module to questions relating to specific famines
5. Critically assess visual material and /or films dealing with questions of famine

Brief description

The module provides a critical introduction to debates and questions surrounding famine in international politics. It presents the argument that famine and hunger are not technical but political problems, bound up with conflict and oppression and similar in many ways to genocides. There is extensive use of film material, the aim being to provide students with a richness of detail that they can draw on to debate the politics of famine


The module discusses what is meant by famine, and how famines can be regarded as a product of modernity rather than either its failure or a natural disaster. We examine a number of case studies in some detail, looking particularly at Ireland 1845-1850 and Ethiopia 1984-1985, but also touching on other cases such as Bengal, Biafra, and the Sudan; there is space for students to examine cases that interest them too. We consider whether it is useful to ask what causes famine, and who benefits. We look at the Malthusian approach, Sen's entitlement critique and the complex emergency writers. We consider a series of issues surrounding the question of famine: the way food for work programs and famine relief camps sustain particular systems; hunger strikes and mass starvations as a weapon; hunger and the body; still and moving images of famine; the portrayal of famine as disaster and endemic malnutrition; questions of trauma, memory and accountability. Alongside the blended lecture/seminars there will be film showings and discussions of documentaries that illustrate the case studies. In the lecture/seminar sessions, students will work in teams. Attendance at the blended lecture/seminar sessions is compulsory.


This module is an important part of provision in the general area of international politics, with its emphasis on third world issues, postcolonialism and modernity. It provides teaching that incorporates the use and analysis of visual and film media, tackles emotive questions of trauma, memory and accountability in the context of famine, and draws on detailed case studies.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to how to present their arguments most effectively. They will learn the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to best advantage. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. This module will particularly test aural and oral communication skills as it involves assessed teamwork performance.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convenor and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and exercising their own initiative, including searching for sources and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their coursework and teamwork presentation topics. The need to prepare for assessed teamwork participation and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC). Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard VLE.
Personal Development and Career planning This module is designed to hone and test skills of use to students in their working lives, particularly in speaking to small groups, listening, thinking and responding to the statements of others. Moreover, the written work includes writing clearly and concisely, which is a common task in the workplace. Students will be encouraged throughout to reflect on their performance and to consider lessons for future application.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of an essay and an e-portfolio and preparation for blended lecture/seminar discussions will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills Students will be required to undertake independent research for all elements of the assessed work. This will involve utilizing media and web sources, as well as more conventional academic texts. Students will in part be assessed on their ability to gather appropriate and interesting resource materials.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: - Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module - Evaluate competing perspectives - Demonstrate subject specific research techniques Apply a range of methodologies to complex historical and contemporary political problems
Team work Students will be allocated to teams and will undertake teamwork exercises in the blended lecture/seminars. For the teamwork, each student will act as team leader at least once, to present a summary of the findings of group discussions and readings in the session and submit a written summary after the session. Blackboard facilities will also be used and students will be encouraged to use these resources to organize as teams.


This module is at CQFW Level 6