Famine: The Geography of Scarcity

Subject GEOG10001 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 02-Mar-2015 to 31-May-2015
Assessment Period End 26-Jun-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 13-Mar-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 08-May-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36
Total Time Commitment:

Contact Hours: Two 1 hour lectures and one 1 hour tutorial per week. Total Time Commitment: 3 contact hours per week. It is a hurdle requirement that students attend 8 out of 12 weeks of tutorials. Attendance will be taken.

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

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. This course requires all students to enrol in subjects where they
must actively and safely contribute to field excursions and laboratory activities. Students who
feel their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter
with the Subject Coordinator and Disability Liaison http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/
students email: disability-liaison@unimelb.edu.au


Assoc Prof Russell Drysdale


Faculty of Science
Building 138, between the Doug McDonell building and the Eastern Resource Centre (ERC).

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

Subject co-ordinator: abumpus@unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview:

This subject explains the physical and social drivers of famines and related crises in social-ecological systems, including the collapse of civilizations and violent conflicts seemingly triggered by scarcity of food, water, and arable land. It proposes theories that explain famines and crises of scarcity, and tests these with evidence and cases studies. In this way the subject introduces key issues, concepts, and theories central to geography, development, and environmental studies. The subject is interdisciplinary, providing student a broad range of knowledge and analytical tools.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Understand the causes of hunger and famine;
  • Understand the science of climate and food production that contributes to variations in food supply
  • Understand how scarcity has contributed to the collapse of civilizations throughout history, and still influences contemporary societies
  • Understand relations between population, environmental change and food supply;
  • Understand the interactions between environmental and social dimensions of scarcity
  • Understand how solutions to hunger are designed on the basis of particular theories about scarcity;
  • Have developed skills in empirical and theoretical evaluation of theories of scarcity;
  • Have gained a basic understanding of the discipline of geography and the interdisciplinary field of development studies.
    1. Library skills development session (10% of final grade), due by the end of Week 4. This assessment will help students identify the sources needed for the first short essay (approximately 200 words;
    2. Three short essays (3 x 600 words) (35% of final grade), due by the end of Week 8;
    3. Students (in groups if needed) will be required to lead an activity and discussion once per term (20% of final grade);
    4. A take-home final exam (1350 words) (35% of final grade) will be due one week following the final class. The topic will be provided in the final day of class.

    Each of the assessment components must be attempted (i.e. a submission must be made for marking) for a student to be able to pass this subject.

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 and analytically

• be capable of testing theories with evidence;

• be capable of writing essays that weigh-up evidence concerning complex physical and social phenomena; and

• be capable of working in groups.


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): Bachelor of Environments
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Development Studies
Environmental Geographies, Politics and Cultures major
Environmental Geography
Environmental Studies
Environments Discipline subjects
Science-credited subjects - new generation B-SCI and B-ENG.
Selective subjects for B-BMED
Related Breadth Track(s): Feeding the World's Population
Understanding Disasters, Their Management and Planning

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