Module DDL-4207:
Global Food Security

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Eefke Mollee

Overall aims and purpose

This module takes a global perspective on food systems and food security, and aims to equip students with the ability to fully understand global food systems and their role in providing food security, and to be able to critically assess existing and future pressures and solutions. A range of diverse factors are coming together to affect the global food system, and after describing the various food systems globally, different definitions of food security, and how these are evolving, will look at these drivers, in particular population growth and changing dynamics, resource competition, and climate change (although climate change will be covered in more detail in DDL4208). After an assessment of future trends, we will look at how existing and future technologies might be used to sustainably increase production, and at how the governance of food systems and waste reduction could play a part. We address how failings have led to famine, and how this could be prevented. The module concludes with a look at the global indicators used for food security assessment.

Course content

• Introduction to food security and food systems: Definitions and evolution of the concept of food security; conventional and alternative food systems and their interconnections • Cropping systems : Intensive, subsistence and alternative systems • Drivers affecting the food system: Population and increased demand; Governance; Energy and other costs; Competition for resources
• Impact of future climate change; Impacts of rising prices • Sustainably balancing future supply and demand; improving productivity using existing knowledge and emerging technologies; sustainable intensification • Reducing waste; improving governance; reducing / managing demand • Linking food systems with environmental policy; improving biodiversity and ecosystem services while increasing food production

Assessment Criteria


Be able to demonstrate, with few factual errors, knowledge of a range of global food systems and how they have developed. Show an understanding of the external factors affecting food supply and how they can be manipulated.


In addition to the above, demonstrate an ability think critically about the interactions between various components of the global food system, and be able to suggest strategies for adapting food systems to changed circumstances in order to sustainably increase food security. Show evidence of additional background reading around the topic.


In addition to the above, be able to present well-reasoned arguments for and against the implementation of specific management practices to sustainably increase food security and improve food systems, including trade-offs between them, and demonstrating evidence of wide reading around the subject and an ability to analyse and synthesise arguments and information.

Learning outcomes

    1. Critically evaluate the scope for differing food production systems to meet future demand.
    1. Describe food production systems and how they have evolved
    1. Identify the components of food security and the mechanisms that support equitable and sustainable access to food
    1. Develop a critical understanding of the drivers of change affecting global food systems
    1. Describe the failures in global food systems that lead to famine and habitat loss, and be able to suggest coping strategies adopted to cope with it

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Discussion Forum

Active weekly participation on the Discussion forum, posting at least once every week displaying critical command of the subject (15% of module assessment marks). At the end of the module, you will submit three of your best posts for marking (5% for each post - total 15%).

COURSEWORK Infographic

An individual infographic on an agreed topic within the theme Food security in a changing world.


Agroforestry for food security – a case study. An individual essay on an agreed topic covering trends in agroforestry practice and how these practices may contribute to food security. You should write in an academic style and use examples and references from your wider reading to support your ideas and arguments.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Online forum

Private study

Distance learning online


Online lectures and focus group discussions


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Resource implications for students

Students require a good broadband connection to access the recorded material

Talis Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: