Module Identifier RD20420  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Graham P Harris  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr Hefin Wyn Williams, Dr John M Warren  
Course delivery Other   Debate, arranged by module co-ordinator during semester.  
  Practical   3 x 4 hour visits  
  Lecture   2 x 2 hour lectures per week  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Assignment Outcomes assessed: 2, 3, 4  50%
Semester Exam2 Hours Outcomes assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  50%
Supplementary Assessment Candidates will be required to re-take the element(s) of assessment that resulted in failure of the module.100%

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.

Module Skills

Communication Read in different contexts and for different purposes Write for different purposes and audiences  
Information Technology Find information on the Internet Access information via an on-line library system.  

Reading Lists

** General Text
Carson, R (1962) Silent Spring Penguin 0140022686
Collins, W W and Qualset, C O (1999) Biodiversity in agroecosystems CRC Press 1566702909
Conway GR & Pretty JN (1991) Unwelcome Harvest: agriculture and pollution
Dodds, F (editor) (1991) Earth Summit 2002: a New Deal Earthscan 1853837121
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
Jackson, L E (1997) Ecology in agriculture
McNeeley, J A and Scherr, S J (2003) Ecoagriculture: Strategies for feeding the world and saving wild biodiversity Island Press 1559636459
Meffe, G K et al (2002) Ecosystem management: adaptive, community-based conservation Island Press 1559638249
Open University (2000) A globalising world? Culture, economics, politics Routledge 0041522294
Pimbert, M (1999) Sustaining the multiple functions of agricultural diversity. Gatekeeper Series No 88 International Institute for Environment and Development
Rolling N G and Wagemakers M A E (1998) Facilitating sustainable agriculture Cambridge University Press
Tansey, G and D'Silva (1999) The meat business: devouring a hungry planet Earthscan
World Bank (2003) Sustainable development in a dynamic world: Transforming Institutions, Growth and Quality of Life The World Bank 0821351508


This module is at CQFW Level 5