SUM4027 – Food and Sustainability

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This course will provide students with a broad and thorough understanding of the environmental and developmental challenges of industrial food production in a global world. Through interdisciplinary lectures and seminars, we will trace the history of food and explore present day food and food systems. The course will give an in-depth understanding of the political and cultural problems of what we eat, how we eat, who goes hungry and why they do so. By linking production and consumption, environment, health and economy, and addressing questions of both power and democracy, this module will examine industrial agriculture and trace food chains geographically and culturally from agriculture to production and consumption. Research cases from the global North and South will be used as a starting point to explore the ways in which the growing complexity of food systems impact health, livelihoods and the environment through problems of under-nutrition, over-nutrition, pesticides, pollution, irrigation, and soil degradation.

Learning outcome

  • To recognize the historical processes behind the industrialisation and globalisation of present day food systems
  • To critically discuss the benefits and challenges of industrial agriculture in countries of both the North and South
  • To thoroughly understand the key debates relevant to the origins of agriculture and the conservation of its biological resources.
  • To fully comprehend long-term policies necessary to reduce malnutrition and starvation
  • To categorize, compare, interpret, and compare new theoretical perspectives on the social, economic and technological contributions to food systems


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Please contact Centre for Development and the Environment for more information regarding admission.

A minimum number of registrants is needed in order for the course to run. If 6 or less has registered, the course will be cancelled. If the course is cancelled, you will be notified by email two weeks before the first lecture. 


Formal prerequisite knowledge

The minimum requirement for admission is:

  • a bachelors degree within social sciences, the humanities, or natural sciences. Students with a natural science background should have at least half a year's studies within the humantities or social sciences to prepare them for the interdisciplinary challenges this course offers.
  • Passed examination in English foundation course (140 hours/5 periods per week) in Norwegian upper secondary school with a minimum grade of 4 (or an equivalent grade from a Nordic upper secondary school) or alternatively passed examination in English from second and/or third school year, or an internationally recognised English language proficiency test.


The lectures and seminars will be held intensively over a period of 6 weeks. The course is part of the regular course offerings at the Centre for Development and the Environment.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


  • A three day take-home exam on a given topic. Length: 4000 Words (±500)

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Will not be offered spring 2019. 

Teaching language