Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Contemporary Issues in Food Policy and Law
Academic Year
Distance Learning
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT  (6,000 WORDS)  80%
Supplementary Assessment WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT  (6,000 WORDS TO BE SUBMITTED, IF FAILED)  80%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the historical backdrop against which UK food policy and law has evolved;
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the multi-faceted landscape of agri-food governance and the complex relationship that exists between national, EU and international policy and law in this broad field of activity;
3. Demonstrate an appreciation of the characters and roles of the key national, EU and international bodies responsible for shaping the policy and regulatory landscape;
4. Demonstrate an awareness of the contemporary food challenges and the manner in which these challenges are currently being negotiated and addressed within various policy fora and through hard and soft law measures at all levels;
5. Demonstrate an ability to engage critically and constructively with the topics covered in the module;
6. Locate and evaluate the relevant legal instruments, literature and other key materials in this field and use them effectively in critical discussions of the subject, both individually and in a group;
7. Demonstrate an ability to engage critically with the complex issues of policy and law, taking into account differing perspectives on some of the more controversial issues, and the inter-related and inter-dependent character, of both the food market itself and the complex regulatory systems that govern it;
8. Demonstrate the ability to employ advanced skills and analytical tools to conduct research, and articulate informed opinions.

Brief description

The first half of this module will provide students with a general grounding in national and EU food policy and law. Students? understanding of the current system of governance will be informed by a review of historical background against which it has evolved encouraging them to develop a sound appreciation of the reality and rhetoric of this free-trade oriented system of governance, and the relationship between EU and UK law. Building upon this general grounding, the module will move on to consider the specific aspects of food law through a number of illustrative case studies. These will include current topical food quality and safety issues such as the application of so called `new technologies? to food production and processing, and the evolution of EU law governing genetically modified (GM) and `novel? foods (such as those produced using nanotechnologies). Such case studies provide an ideal vehicle for an in-depth consideration of some of the key challenges facing EU regulatory authorities seeking to negotiate a politically and economically tenable path through the minefield of the global food market.


1. An overview of the content and focus of the course: A general explanation of the focus and rationale of the module.

2. Identifying key issues and trends in UK food governance: A century of change.

3. An introduction to the European and international influences shaping contemporary UK food policy and law.

- The European dimension: An overview of the role that EU law has played in shaping the UK'r food supply chain and its governance systems.

- The international dimension: the influence of international law over EU and national governance systems.

4. Contemporary Challenges in Food Governance.

- Tackling food crises: national and EU responses to the major food safety crises of the 1990s.

- 21st century diets and the issue of public health: obesity and other diet related illness.

- 21st century diets and the environment: the environmental impacts of food.

- Food law and the issue of consumer rights.

- Sustainable food futures: key challenges and current debates.

Transferable skills

Throughout the module, students will practise and develop their skills of research, analysis, time-management, oral and written presentation. In seminars they will develop their ability to listen, understand and explain subject related topics as well as present a point of view orally and discuss their thoughts with the rest of the class; their assignments will enable them to develop their skills of independent research, analysis, presentation and writing (including data collection and retrieval, IT and time management). All learning throughout the module will be relevant to a career in any legal profession.


This module is at CQFW Level 7