Module Identifier RD20420  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Graham P Harris  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr John M Warren  
Course delivery Lecture   40 Hours 20 x 2 hour lectures  
  Other   4 Hours Debate  
  Practical   12 Hours 3 x 4 hour visits  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Outcomes assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  50%
Semester Assessment Assignment Outcomes assessed: 2, 3, 4  50%
Supplementary Assessment Candidates will be required to re-take the element(s) of assessment that resulted in failure of the module. 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Outcome 1
Describe the ecological process that occur within agricultural systems.

Performance criteria
a. The concept of competition is described.
b. Diversity and sustainability relationships are identified.
c. The concept of maximum sustainable yield is explained.
d. The effects of inputs on the non-food components of the system are appreciated.
Competition- within and between species, arable systems.   
Diversity - grassland, monocultures (arable), multi-cropping.
Maximum sustainable yields- fishing, farming systems
Effects of inputs - fertilisers, pesticides, irrigation.

Outcome 2
Discuss the pressures on the food supply industry.
Performance criteria
a.   The current UK food supply industry and historical changes are described.
b. The key issues of public concern in the food chain and how these are influenced by media and scientific
understanding are recognized.
c. The future consumer and population demands on the food supply industry are identified.
UK food industry - stratified nature, key roles, control of system, pre- and post 1940s, CAP, WTO.   
Key issues - biotechnological advances, GMOs, breeding, input efficiency, factory farming, food poisoning outbreaks, BSE, pesticide residues (food, soil, water).
Future concerns - animal welfare, food and human health, sourcing food, quality assurance, food miles, population increase, type of diet.

Outcome 3
Identify the environmental impacts due to agricultural intensification
Performance criteria
a.   Types and effects of environmental impacts are described.
Types of impacts - fertilizers, pesticides, soil erosion, monocultures, habitat fragmentation, specialization of production systems, over-exploitation.

Outcome 4
Appraise the impacts of food policy and globalisation of food markets.
Performance criteria
a. Effects of food policy at different levels are analysed.
b. Impacts of globalisation of trade and markets are appreciated
Food policy - post 1940s Uk policy, CAP, CAP reform, WTO/GATT
Impacts of globalisation - homogenization of production systems, development issues in developing nations.

Outcome 5
Discuss the concept of sustainability in food production
Performance criteria
a.   Sustainable use of resources are recognized
b.   Appropriate objectives for sustainable use are identified.   
Sustainable use of resources - soil, water, energy, nutrients, biodiversity.
Appropriate objectives - criteria, indicators, relative sustainability, comparative performance of systems.


The module describes the scientific knowledge required to understand the applied ecological aspects that constitutes agricultural production systems. This module will provide the student with an awareness of the impact of agriculture and food supply systems on the environment. The module is designed to highlight issues in the human food chain including the globalisation of food markets, the homogenisation of production systems, sustainability, environmental impacts of agricultural and aquacultural intensification, agricultural policy development, public concerns with food production and health, animal welfare, and future consumer and population demands on the food production industry.

   The aims of this module are to:

1. Explain the ecological processes occurring in agricultural systems.
2. Describe the UK food supply industry and key issues of public concern in the food chain.
3. Identify the environmental impacts due to agricultural intensification.
4. Develop an appreciation of food policy and globalisation issues.
5. Develop an understanding of sustainability in food production.

Transferable skills

.1 Independent project work
   The assignment will develop the student?s ability to work independently, integrating scientific, social, political and economic knowledge to critically evaluate how a specific issue in the human food chain has been reported in a range of media sources. (Assessed in coursework)

.2 IT and information handling
   Extensive use of internet sources will be needed to compile information for the assignment. (Assessed in coursework).

.3 Use and analysis of numerical information
   Analysis of relevant literature will require the students to understand and interpret numerical information, particularly with regard to production, marketing and risk assessment data.

.4 Writing in an academic context
   The assignment will require the production of a report on a specific issue in the human food chain and how it has been reported in a range of media sources, developing students? skills in academic writing and the justification of critical analysis and conclusions. (Assessed as part of the coursework).   
Common Skill outcomes 8 and 10

.6   Careers needs awareness
   The outcomes of the module are designed to provide the skills and awareness of principles and knowledge required by practitioners in the wider rural environment to address and discuss issues of concern in the public and scientific domain with regard to the human food chain.

.7 Self-management
   The assignment will require students to be able to undertake self- management.

.8 Group activity
   The formal debate will develop the students? ability to analyse and discuss information in an interactive group forum.

Reading Lists

Appleby M C and Hughes B O (eds) (1997) Animal welfare CABI
Barnett V, Payne, R and Steiner R (eds) (1995) Agricultural sustainability: economic, enviromental, and statistical considerations. Wiley
Conway GR & Pretty JN (1991) Unwelcome Harvest: agriculture and pollution
FAO (2001) The state of food and agriculture Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
Gliessman, S R (2000) Field and laboratory investigations in agroecology
Hudson, P and Symonds, C (1996) Nutrition and food hygiene Hodder and Stoughton
Jackson, L E (1997) Ecology in agriculture
Pearce, D and Barbier E B (2000) Blueprint for a sustainable economy Earthscan
Phillips, M and Mighall, T Society and exploitation through nature Prentice Hall
Pimbert, M (1999) Sustaining the multiple functions of agricultural diversity. Gatekeeper Series No 88 International Institute for Environment and Development
Pretty, J N (1995) Regenerating agriculture Earthscan
Rolling N G and Wagemakers M A E (1998) Facilitating sustainable agriculture Cambridge University Press
Spedding, C R W (1996) Agriculture and the citizen Chapman Hall
Tansey, G and D'Silva (1999) The meat business: devouring a hungry planet Earthscan
Winter, M (1996) Rural politics: policies for agriculture, forestry and the environment Routledge


This module is at CQFW Level 5