The Politics of Food

Subject FOOD90026 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 12 x 2.5 hour seminars
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours total time commitment

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:


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

Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)

Subject Overview:

This subject examines the politics of the global food system, and will focus on the policies, structures, power relations and political debates surrounding the production, distribution and consumption of food. The impacts of food production and consumption on food security, health, the environment, animal welfare, and the livelihoods of producers, will be critically explored. Key theoretical frameworks and concepts for understanding the dominant paradigms and dynamics of the food system will be discussed and evaluated. Integrated policies and strategies for creating more sustainable and equitable food systems, and alternative paradigms and practices of production, distribution and consumption, will also be critically examined. This subject will primarily draw on theories and methodologies from the sociology and politics of food and agriculture, food policy, the political economy and the political ecology of food

The topics and debates covered include

  • Food policy and governance at the global, national and local levels;
  • Food security, food sovereignty and the Global Food Crisis;
  • Global trading relations, free trade and fair trade;
  • Environmental impacts and sustainable forms of food production and consumption;
  • Animal production, factory farms and animal welfare;
  • Supermarkets and alternative retailing and distribution networks;
  • Technological paradigms: chemical-industrial agriculture, genetically modified foods, organic agriculture and agroecology;
  • Corporate concentration within and across sectors of the food system;
  • Competition for food and land: animal feed, biofuels and land-grabbing;
  • Food processing, food marketing, dietary patterns, dietary advice, functional foods and health;
  • Local and urban food production and planning;
  • Alternative paradigms and networks of food production, distribution and consumption.
Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • Describe and analyse the food security, environmental, socio-economic, and animal welfare issues and debates related to the production, processing, distribution, retailing and consumption of food;
  • Describe and analyse the policies, power relations, socio-economic structures, and practices that shape systems of food production, distribution and consumption;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key frameworks, concepts and arguments in the politics, sociology, policy, public health, and political ecology of food literature.
  • 1500 word essay due mid-semester, 35%
  • 3500 word essay due end of semester, 65%
Prescribed Texts:

Readings will be provided via the Learning Management System (LMS).

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Urban Horticulture
Master of Agricultural Science
Master of Animal Science
Master of Food Science
Master of Public Administration
Master of Public Administration (Enhanced)
Master of Science (Geography)
Master of Urban Horticulture
Master of Urban Planning
Postgraduate Certificate in Food Science
Postgraduate Diploma in Agricultural Science
Postgraduate Diploma in Animal Science
Postgraduate Diploma in Food Science
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Development Studies (CWT)
100 Point Master of Development Studies (Gender && Development)
100 Point Master of International Relations
100 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 Point Master of Development Studies (CWT)
150 Point Master of Development Studies (Gender && Development)
150 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 Point Master of Development Studies (CWT)
200 Point Master of Development Studies (Gender && Development)
200 Point Master of International Relations
200 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
Climate Change
Climate Change
Governance, Policy and Communication
Governance, Policy and Communication
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions
Tailored Specialisation
Tailored Specialisation

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