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Sustainable Food Production (FOOD90034)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeFOOD90034
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Currently, there is more than sufficient food produced on a global scale to feed the population. This has been an upward trend throughout agricultural history, whereby humans have altered their cultivation habits to produce more. However, the continued rise in productivity is unlikely to continue under current systems within which resources are finite. The full impacts of this on a global scale are yet to be experienced by much of the population, largely in developed areas, although viability has dropped in many food producing systems due to increases in input costs of fuel, water, fertilizers and pest and disease control. Meanwhile, at the regional scale, food production systems are already found to be unsustainable with dropping productivity in previously fertile and highly productive areas. The reasons for the production declines are varied and complex, ranging from climate impacts to unsustainable cultivation methods leading to land degradation, reduced fertility and biodiversity required for healthy ecosystems. This subject will explore the biological issues contributing to the reduction of productivity we are currently observing in these fragile agricultural systems and explore the future issues that are likely to impact on systems thought to currently be more stable. We will thereby understand the components that contribute to sustainable food productivity and learn which of these are most unsustainable and will require future investment in systems change to maintain productivity.

Intended learning outcomes

  • To be able to understand sustainable and unsustainable agricultural practices
  • To describe the existing agricultural land use and food availability and linkage between increasing human population and climate change and excess pressure on agricultural systems
  • To explain the importance of biodiversity conservation in agriculture and preventive strategies for biodiversity conservation
  • To demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of sustainable practices needed to maintain long term food availability from existing agroecoystems
  • To differentiate different types of sustainable agriculture practices in crop production and animal husbandry and what progress has so far been achieved in improving the sustainability of intensive and organic production systems in under different scenarios within the developing and developed world
  • To demonstrate the role of new generation technologies and how they will aid the existing conventional technologies to maintain the food availability in resource constrained systems

Generic skills

  • A profound respect for truth, intellectual and professional integrity, and the ethics of scholarship
  • Develop problem solving skills, sharpen analytic skills
  • Capacity for independent critical thought, rational inquiry and self-directed learning and research
  • Develop the ability to work as a team member
  • An ability to derive, interpret and analyse social, technical or economic information from primary and other sources
  • Awareness of and ability to utilise appropriate communication technology and methods for the storage, management and analysis of data
  • Capacity for creativity and innovation, through the application of skills and knowledge
  • Ability to integrate information across sustainable food production systems to solve problems in applied situations across globe
  • Highly developed computer - based skills to allow for effective on-line learning and communication
  • Highly developed written communication skills to allow informed dialogue with individuals and groups from industry, government and the community

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Oral presentation (15 minutes) due mid-semester (30%)
  • Essay (1000 words) due week 11 (20%)
  • Essay (2500 words) due at the end-of-semester (50%)

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorDorin Gupta
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours36 hours: 24 hours lectures/interactive discussion. 12 hours of oral assignment preparation and delivery.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

Last updated: 3 April 2019