AP3A90-Climate Change and Food Systems

Module Provider: Agriculture
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Jake Bishop

Email: j.bishop@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Anybody working in the food system needs to consider climate change. You will learn about the global climate system and how organisms respond to climate factors. You will apply this knowledge to understand how agriculture and the wider food system need to adapt to climate change. You will learn about a range of scientific approaches used in this area of research, how to decipher the methodology sections of scientific papers, and how to critique what you read in scientific journals and in the media. You will also develop transferable skills in literature review and information synthesis.


This module will consider how human-induced climate change may impact on global food systems. It aims to combine knowledge of the global climate system with the response of ecosystems and agricultural productivity to climate variability and change, in order to provide a basis for assessing the impacts of climate change on food production within the Earth system.

Assessable learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrate a broad understanding of human-induced climate change and identify aspects of climate that are important for food systems.

  • Question whether or not documented trends in managed and natural ecosystems can be attributed to climate change.

  • Critically analyse methods used for understanding and predicting the impacts of climate change on agricultural productivity and independently judge the reliability of the resulting information. 

  • Evaluate how issues around food production and climate change are affected by other factors such as sustainable development, international trade, policy and climate change mitigation.

Additional outcomes:

The module will develop research skills in critical evaluation and synthesis of scientific literature.

Outline content:

The series of lectures will cover a range of topics including:

  • An overview of human induced climate change – the climate system, causes of climate change, projections of future climate change, sources of uncertainty

  • The impacts of climate and climate change on natural and agricultural ecosystems – how does climate influence the distribution of species and agricultural systems, what are the key climate factors that influence plant an d animal growth

  • Impacts of agriculture on climate change – how does agriculture contribute to climate change, how can this be mitigated

  • A critical evaluation of research approaches used to evaluate the past, present and future impacts of climate and climate change on agricultural productivity – an overview of experimental methods from controlled environment, field, and modelling studies, how can these guide adaptation

  • Exploring the wid e r context of agriculture and climate change, for instance the media, policy, sustainable development, population growth – the politics of communication around climate change, public understanding of climate science, what is the role of scientists in communicating climate science

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module will use a range of methods including lectures, formative assessment, a revision seminar, and supportive material on Blackboard.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 18
Tutorials 2
Guided independent study: 80
Total hours by term 100
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 80
Class test administered by School 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

The summative assessment will consist of a) an online test consisting multiple choice and short answer questions (20%) which will be supported by a formative MCQ test, and b) a coursework assignment which will be supported by teaching throughout the module and will be used to demonstrate critical evaluation of scientific papers and understanding of the wider context in which agricultural systems operate (80%).

Formative assessment methods:

Multiple choice question tests on weeks when summative tests are not used.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
By coursework.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 30 September 2020


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