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Unit information: The Ecology of Food Production and the Farmed Landscape in 2021/22

Unit name The Ecology of Food Production and the Farmed Landscape
Unit code BIOL30009
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Wall
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

By 2050, the global population is expected to exceed 10 billion. Increasing the productivity of plant and animal agricultural systems, and therefore food supply, will be critical to feeding this growing population. With 12.5 % of the world’s population undernourished, to meet the food demands of the global population food production will need to increase by 70%. Hence, there is an urgent need for food production, food resilience and food security to be increased in all countries, but particularly in developing nations where the effects of population growth are most acute. However, agricultural intensification is usually accompanied by environmental impacts, the acceptability of which must be balanced against the need to feed the human population. Views about where an appropriate or acceptable balance point in such a trade-off might be are highly context dependent and differing views can lead to social, economic and political conflict. This unit will examine a range of existing approaches to agricultural production in livestock and crop systems and consider their environmental impacts, it will evaluate differing interpretations of sustainability, and consider technological advances and novel approaches that might be used in the future to increase productivity while minimising impacts.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will:

1. Understand the ecological consequences of a range of human activities in agricultural environments.

2. Understand differing perspectives that apply to the trade-off between greater food production and environmental sustainability.

3. Understand how fundamental science can assist in the solution of practical environmental problems in managed agro-ecosystems

Teaching Information

Lectures, directed reading, research and/or problem-solving activities; and independent study.

Assessment Information

Summative written assessment, with one essay question to be selected from a choice of two.


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How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.