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NES8105 : Global Challenges in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Hannah Davis
  • Lecturer: Professor Neil Boonham, Professor David Manning, Dr Fritha Langford, Professor Yit Arn Teh, Professor Lynn Frewer
  • Other Staff: Mr Ryan Woodward
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The overarching aim of this module is to prepare students from a wide range of backgrounds to work in the areas of sustainable, fair and equitable food production, distribution, development and policy that meets the targets of the FAO’s Zero Hunger SDG as well as addressing SDGs linked to poverty reduction (SDG 1), climate action (SDG 13) and life on land (SDG 15). The module aims to introduce a broad range of global challenges in food security and critically evaluate strategies to address these challenges.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will cover:

Foundational knowledge needed to develop a common understanding of the terminology, history, social and environmental context that frames the global food security issue. This will include: history of agricultural development globally, the role of gender, diversity and colonialism, the Green Revolution, the challenge of rising populations and changing diets, the emergence of the sustainable intensification paradigm.

Global challenges in Food Security, including: climate change, resource limitations particularly soil quality, access to land, water, loss of biodiversity, biosecurity/plant health, land degradation, livestock security, animal welfare, the role of animal agriculture, GHG emissions, the yield plateau.

Strategies, systems and technologies to address the global food security challenge such as: precision agriculture, genetic modification of crops, permaculture, agroforestry, integrated pest management, organic agriculture, regenerative agriculture, agroecology, aquaculture.

Case studies in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security; critical evaluation of peer-reviewed studies on strategies and programmes to promote food security in a range of global contexts.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion136:0036:00Tariff for an assessment worth 60% of a 20 credit module
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion126:0026:00Preparation for group presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00To take place in mornings; case study on a specific global challenge and a proposed system/approach/
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture13:003:00Introductory lecture on key concepts in food security, global challenges and sustainability
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities315:0045:0015 hours per week for first 3 weeks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00Student group presentations; debate
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Panel discussion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops92:0018:00Afternoon workshops to follow lectures with a 3 hour gap in between to prepare to evaluate
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork34:0012:00Field trips on human impacts on land and alternative food systems
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study140:0040:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures are used to provide core, factual knowledge that students need to list and describe the historical, social and environmental factors affecting food security and the global challenges needed to be addressed to achieve the UN SDG of Zero Hunger. They provide an opportunity to interact directly with the lecturer and question, challenge and interrogate new information under the guidance of the lecturer.

Afternoon workshops are designed to allow students to explore a topic in more depth, critically evaluate information presented in the lectures and through wider reading, develop their own arguments on the topics presented.

Field trips provide context and case studies in the real world to reinforce the theoretical information from the lectures.

Independent learning activities allow the students to build their knowledge base on Global Challenges in SAFS. They also provide the students with practice in accessing information from a range of sources, identifying credible information sources, and critically evaluating information sources.

The presentations and debates give the students experience in formulating their own arguments, substantiating them with evidence from peer-reviewed literature and presenting them orally.

All of these activities build a core set of skills in critical evaluation of information and development of independent, substantiated arguments that will be applied and assessed in the final essay.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation301A40Group presentation 30 minutes length in total (5 minutes per group member).
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M602500 word essay critiquing an academic paper
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1Agroup-work debate
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

In all of these assessments, knowledge of the key, foundational knowledge about global challenges in sustainable agriculture and food security will be tested.

The group oral presentations allow the students to build skills in collaborative group work and time management. This assessment is set at the beginning of week 2 and completed at the end of that week. The presentation also provides an opportunity to explore information on a key topic in Global Challenges in SAFS and to critically evaluate and synthesise that information. The assessment also helps students to build skills in design and delivery of an effective presentation.

The debate (formative assessment) is also a group activity and preparation is in a relatively short timescale, providing students with the opportunity to develop strategies to work collaboratively towards a tight deadline. The format of this presentation (debate) requires students to confidently and assertively express their arguments orally.

The essay is an effective way to assess skills in accessing and critically evaluating information, synthesising research from a range of sources and developing their own coherent and persuasive arguments using evidence from the literature.

Reading Lists