Famine in the Modern World

Subject 121-110 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Two lectures and a 2-hour laboratory or practical class per week
Total Time Commitment: 4 contact hours/week , 4 additional hours/week. Total of 8 hours per week.
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr Jon Barnett
Subject Overview: This subject is an introduction to geography and development studies, and is a prerequisite for further study in both. It examines the problems of famine and hunger, and as it does so introduces key issues, concepts and theories central to geography and development studies. This subject is structured around an examination of two contrasting theories of famine. The 'Malthusian' theory argues that famine is a matter of the balance of population and environmental resources. Evidence is drawn together from demography, environmental change and degradation, and the environmental impact of the green revolution. The 'political economy' theory argues that famine is a matter of the distribution of food. Evidence is drawn together to explain differences in access to food within and between societies, including the implications of agribusiness and the global food trade and the effect of war on food supply. The subject also considers the ways in which aid, food, and development policies are informed by these theories. Students who complete the subject should be familiar with these theories and the causes, extent, and possible solutions to famine and food problems.
  • comprehend geographical and social variations in the availability of food in the modern world;
  • understand relations between population, environmental change and food supply;
  • comprehend the manner in which food supply failures (famine and malnutrition) are socially created;
  • understand how food relief and aid are designed on the basis of a particular theory of famine;
  • have developed skills of empirical and theoretical evaluation of theories of food supply and famine.
Assessment: A 2-hour examination (worth 40%, in examination period), a 500-word paper (worth 15%, due mid-semester), a second 500-word paper (worth 15%, due at the end of semester) and practical/ tutorial exercises (worth 30%).
Prescribed Texts: None
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be capable of thinking critically;
  • be capable of testing of theories with evidence;
  • be capable of demographic analysis;
  • be capable of writing logical essays following standard formats;
  • be capable of working in groups.
Notes: Students enrolled in the BSc (both pre-2008 degree and new degree), or a combined BSc course (except for the BA/BSc) will receive science credit for the completion of this subject.
Related Course(s): Diploma in Arts (Development Studies)
Diploma in Arts (Environmental Studies)
Diploma in Arts (Geography)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Anthropology and Development
Anthropology and Development
Development Studies Major
Environmental Geographies, Politics and Cultures
Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies Major
First year geography and environments
Geography Major

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