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Unit information: Power, Politics and Food in 2018/19

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Unit name Power, Politics and Food
Unit code POLI30027
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Parrott
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will provide students with an introduction to the broad issues relating to food as a site of power and inequality at the global, national and local level. Through an examination of a range of topics relating to the production, regulation, distribution, consumption and waste of food students will develop core knowledge of food systems and cultures with particular attention paid to the ecological, political, social, cultural and economic elements of the theory and practice of food.

Unit aims:

  • To encourage student understanding of, and interest in, the politics of food.
  • To develop student appreciation of the connections between theory and practice in relation to food production, regulation, distribution, consumption and waste.
  • To enhance student understanding of the complexity of the relationship between power, poverty, inequality, ‘flourishing’ and food.
  • To extend student key skills in independent research, group work, essay writing and ICT

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the core debates related to the politics of food.
  2. Situate these debates in relation to the weekly topics of the unit.
  3. Assess these debates in relation to empirical examples.
  4. Analyse and critique dominant discourses of food production, regulation, distribution, consumption and waste.
  5. Demonstrate key skills in evaluation, speaking and listening, independent research, group work, essay writing and ICT

Teaching details

1 x 3 hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

Food Blog – summative (25%)

3000 word Essay – summative (75%)

Both assessments assess all Learning Outcomes

Reading and References

Cook, Christopher, D. (2004) Diet for a Dead Planet: How the World Food Industry is Killing Us, New York: The New Press.

Lawrence, Felicity (2004) Not on the Label: What Really Goes Into the Food on Your Plate, London: Penguin.

McMahon, Paul (2014) Feeding Frenzy: The New Politics of Food, London: Profile Books.

Patel, Raj (2013) Stuffed and Starved: From Farm to Fork – The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, London: Portobello Books.

Weis, Tony (2013) The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock Production, London: ZED