ACE8114 : Principles and current topics in Agro-food economics & Policy

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


1) Introduce students to the basic principles of agro-food economics and policy;
2) Discuss current food security and sustainable agriculture topics through the lenses of economics and social sciences.

More specifically the goals of this module are to enable students to:
I.       Underline and explain the economic drivers of consumption and the determinants of food demand;
II.       Describe and state how farmers and food business decide what and how much food to produce and supply
III.       Discuss and appraise the role of markets as institutions and their role on food security
IV.       Recognize and assess why markets fail and propose policies to mitigate such cases
V.       Examine and assess using economic, social, environmental and ethical principles alternative policies to tackle food security problems
VI.       Discuss and debate on current issues and local, national and international policies in food security and sustainability.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module runs over 4 weeks and has two distinct parts reflected on the syllabus and assessment below. The first part defines and describes the economic principles governing food markets. These are going to be taught in the context of food markets and will assume students have limited knowledge of economics. The material will conveyed through a set of lectures, though these will require student participation and engagement. The second part of this module expect active learning and considerable commitment from students. A set of seminars on current topics or research in food security and sustainability by School staff as well as by Guest Speakers will be organized and students are expected to lead discussions on the topic based on suggested readings and their own searches.
An illustrative outline syllabus is:

1.       The concept and dimensions of food security and the role of markets and economics
2.       Economic principles of agro-food markets:
2.1       Consumer demand for food
2.2       Food supply
2.3       Food markets
2.4       Market failure (non-competitive markets, information asymmetries and externalities)
2.5       Market Intervention: Policies for Food Security
2.6       Economic principles of policy evaluation

Topics in Food security & Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
(NB: these are likely to change over the years)
2.3       SGD 2 - Zero Hunger
•       International trade of food
•       Ethics in production and consumption
•       Food waste and social impact of food security
2.3       SGD 12 -Responsible production and consumption
•       True costs of food and natural accounting
•       The role of private standards
•       Agri-tech innovation and technology adoption

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Revision for written exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:001:00Completion of Written Exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Completion of Formative assignment: writing a blog post
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading102:0020:00Lecture follow-up and consolidation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching118:0018:00Preparation and completion of report
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00Seminar/Discussion/Case study session or visit to an invited speaker on one of the topics covered
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study184:0084:00Independent reading and additional study on-topic
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study82:0016:00Seminar preparation
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will deliver the core knowledge based material to achieve the learning outcomes. Students will be provided with directed reading prior to each lecture to facilitate in-class group discussion where appropriate, and context to guest speakers. Seminars on current topics will enable students to use economic principles and frameworks to participate and discuss with staff and guest speakers the current topics in seminars.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination602A50Written exam, answer 2 questions out of four.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M50Individual Report (up to 2000 words)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MStudents will write a blog post based on one of the seminars (1000 word max). The best blog will be posted at CRE.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam is designed to assess the comprehension of the economic principles. The individual report assesses students to ability analyze and evaluate an existing or proposed policy intervention addressing one of SDG goals from a social sciences perspective.
The formative assessment challenges students to master a novel form of communication and their ability to synthesize complex information in a compelling way.

Reading Lists