Famine in the Modern World

Subject GEOG10001 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 1, Parkville - 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 1 hour lectures and one 1 hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

3 contact 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 Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Sheila Scopis, Prof Jon Barnett


Melbourne School of Land & Environment Student Centre
Ground Floor, Land & Food Resources (building 142)

Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)
Email: 13MELB@unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview:

This subject explains the causes of hunger and famine. It examines the problems of hunger, famine, poverty and population growth, and as it does so it introduces key issues, concepts and theories central to geography and development studies. The subject is structured around an examination of two contrasting theories of hunger and 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. This subject is an introduction to geography and development studies.

  • understand the causes of hunger and famine;
  • understand variations in the availability of food, and the reasons for these;
  • understand relations between population, environmental change and food supply;
  • understand how solutions to hunger are designed on the basis of particular theories about the causes of hunger;
  • have developed skills in empirical and theoretical evaluation of theories of hunger and famine; and
  • have gained a basic understanding of the discipline of geography and the interdisciplinary field of development studies.

A 2-hour examination (worth 40%, in examination period), a 1000-word paper (worth 15%, due mid-semester), a 1500-word paper (worth 25%, due at the end of semester) and tutorial exercises (worth 20%).

Prescribed Texts:


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:

Upon successful completion of this subject, students will:

• be capable of thinking critically;
• be capable of testing theories with evidence;
• be capable of demographic analysis;
• be capable of writing logical essays following standard formats; and
• 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 Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Development Studies
Development Studies Major
Environmental Geographies, Politics and Cultures major
Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies Major
Environments Discipline subjects
Geography Major
Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses
Science-credited subjects - new generation B-SCI and B-ENG. Core selective subjects for B-BMED.
Related Breadth Track(s): Understanding Disasters, Their Management and Planning
Feeding the World's Population

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