Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Sustainable Supply Systems
Academic Year
Distance Learning
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Innovation proposal  2500 Words  60%
Semester Assessment Interactive task  1500 Words  40%
Supplementary Assessment Innovation proposal  A student may retake elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to module failure. 2500 Words  60%
Supplementary Assessment Interactive task  A student may retake elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to module failure. 1500 Words  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Explain the current and future challenges to food supply.

2. Examine the concept of sustainability and the economics of sustainable supply.

3. Assess the relationship between business goals and sustainability.

4. Evaluate current approaches to measuring and governing sustainability.

5. Evaluate the role of information and relationship management in sustainable supply.

6. Compare and evaluate different approaches to achieving sustainability.

Brief description

This module is part of the Bioinnovation Wales courses. It will teach students about the concept and challenges of sustainability in food and bio-based supply systems, drawing on the latest research. This module is one of the overarching modules bringing together many of the more specific module topics covered by Bioinnovation Wales (e.g. Waste Resource Management) to look at how these fit within the wider supply system. It explores the challenges & opportunities of sustainability in the agri-food sector, including different aspects and concepts of sustainability, different forms of sustainable systems and management, challenges to assessing sustainability, and how firms use the concept of sustainability to add value to their products and services. The module seeks to challenge students to think critically about issues surrounding sustainability in food and bio-based supply, and to gain an understanding of the motives and relationships that underlie these issues.


• Challenges and Sustainability in Food and Bio-based Supply
Introducing the unique challenges to food and bio-based supply and how these interact with the sustainability agenda; provides an overview of the aspects expanded upon in subsequent units.
• Environmental and Social Sustainability
Explores the different aspects of environmental and social sustainability in food and bio-based supply, including approaches to assessing these elements of sustainability, and potential tensions and challenges surrounding them.
• Nutritional Sustainability and Health
Considers social sustainability in food supply in terms of the quality of products delivered and their impacts on consumers, from food safety to nutritional issues (One Health agenda, obesity and malnutrition)
• Economics, Business Goals and Sustainability
Examines economic theory of supply, and business goals and the synergies and tensions between these and achieving sustainability
• Paths to Sustainability
Considers the ‘Lean management’ revolution in supply systems and the extent to which it can deliver improved sustainability in food and bio-based supply and contrasts this model for change with the development of alternative supply systems that seek sustainability through more fundamental change.
• The Power of Information
Focuses attention on the central role of information in supply systems (building on the concepts of ‘Lean management’ from the previous unit) and the impact of new data collection techniques and analytical capacity on this role. The opportunities and challenges related with these changes are explored (power relations between producers such as farmers, retailers and customers; data security; increased transparency and accountability), including through a case study on the red meat supply system.
• Added Value from Sustainable Practice
Looks at how firms can benefit from sustainability by sharing their sustainable practices with customers, for example through labelling schemes that add value to products. Considers the limits and challenges relating to this process.
• Governing Sustainability
Explores how sustainability is governed by policy at national and international levels, including the principles of good governance and the related challenges – looks critically at the drivers of sustainability and the extent of external governance required.
• Case Studies of Sustainable Supply
Presents students with a range of real-life supply systems case studies from Wales and beyond, focussing on how the issues, challenges and opportunities discussed in previous units are tackled in the real world. Which issues are being handled well, which are more complicated? How do tensions between business goals and sustainability play out in real life and what solutions have firms found?
• Improving Sustainability in Practice – Innovation in Supply Systems
On the basis of the theoretical knowledge and concrete examples given in previous units, this unit facilitates exploration by the students themselves of a specific supply chain and the innovations which might be applied to improve its sustainability, including challenges and opportunities relating to such change.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be required to examine and synthesize quantitative data from a range of publications in their assignments.
Communication Students will be expected to communicate complex research outputs to their peers in the online forums and also through other assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Detailed feedback will be given for assignment work providing general guidance towards the student’s next assignment. Especially with the formative assignment that will be due before any summative assignments.
Information Technology Students will be required to source information from a variety of scientific publication data bases and to use Blackboard for all aspects of the module.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will provide the students with the latest research on sustainability in supply systems, how it can be achieved and the opportunities and challenges involved to help them share up-to-date information/advice with their colleagues/clients in the food and bio-based industries. The module is also designed to develop the analytical and critical thinking skills of students.
Problem solving Online forum posts will be used to help develop and improve students’ problem-solving skills, through use of questions that present theoretical problems for the students to solve. In addition, the innovation proposal will require the student to propose how innovative solutions could be applied to solve a specific sustainability problem.
Research skills Through the module students will be required to undergo directed self-study, improving their literature research skills. As well as receiving feedback from assignments that will offer advice on information synthesis.
Subject Specific Skills Evaluation of sustainable supply systems. Identification of areas for improvement and opportunities relating to the sustainable supply of food and bio-based products, and experience in how to assess and implement new concepts/ideas
Team work Online forums will require students to debate among themselves to develop a consensus of opinion.


This module is at CQFW Level 7