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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Land Use and Food Security (BIME11011)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryWith an ever-expanding population, the issue of food security is becoming increasingly relevant for humankind. This course will consider the changes we have imposed on land use over the last 100 years and the reasons for these changes. It will then go on to explore the implications of changing land use with respect to food security and the effect this can have on human populations.
Course description Over the past 100 years we have seen an unprecedented change in patterns of land use around the globe in response to multiple demands on land resources to accommodate the growing global population. The world┐s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, raising questions of whether our existing land and water resources have the capacity to support a world with 2 billion more people. Increasing pressure for land and water has led to the resources we depend on for food being over-utilised and degraded and climate change creates even greater uncertainty as to the long term sustainability of the food resources we rely on.

This course will provide an overview of land use change and the implications this has had for food security. It will also explore the importance of food security and consider current strategies for maintaining food security and their importance for human health and wellbeing.

Weekly lectures will concentrate on the following topics:

1. A Changing World
In this introductory lecture we will examine some of the land use changes which have occurred and investigate the drivers of this change.
2. Impacts of Changing Land Use
Some of the impacts of changing land use and increased demand for resources on local biodiversity, productivity and food security will be explored.
3. Food Security
We will discuss the importance of food security and examine some of the current strategies for maintaining food security. We will also investigate some of the longer term strategies being considered to rethink our approach to agriculture and food.
4. Facing Uncertainty: Climate Change
We will discuss some of the possible impacts of climate change on land use and what this will mean for food security in the future. We will also consider what strategies are being developed in the global arena to tackle climate change and ensure we can feed a population of 9 billion people.

Study materials are released on a weekly basis, providing an overview of the study topic, suggested reading materials and key questions that address the learning outcomes for the course. Students are expected to split their time between independent study and interacting with peers and course tutors on the discussion boards in order to fully explore the topic and their understanding of it. Summative written and online assessment will test knowledge and understanding of the learning outcomes, as well as the ability to communicate with others in a variety of ways.

The course relies heavily on reading primary literature as well as key publications from the conservation sector. Both assessed and non-assessed online discussion fora provide further content and reflection, and students are expected to engage with group discussions for both learning and assessment purposes.

Students should expect to spend between 12 and 15 hours per week on reading course materials, engaging with peers and tutors on the discussion boards and preparing assessed work. It is up to the student how they organise their time from week to week, with course materials and discussion boards available for the duration of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Flexible
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Online Activities 25, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 53 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Formal summative written assessment will constitute 60% of the student's grade. Online assessment will incorporate a variety of activities will constitute 40% of their overall course grade and is taken to represent a formative assessment of learning throughout the programme.
Feedback Summative assessment consists of a written element, worth 60% of the total mark, and an online element worth 40%. In both cases, comprehensive written feedback is provided individually with 15 working days of the assessment deadline. Students are expected to reflect on their feedback, to seek additional clarification if appropriate, and to use this to improve on future assignments of a similar nature.
Formative assessment consists of discussion around what is expected of each piece of assessed work for the course. This is conducted in an open discussion forum for all students to contribute to and provides an opportunity to clearly understand the key requirements for each assignment before submission. Any student can post questions about the assignment and a response will be posted on the discussion board by the course tutor within 3 working days.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe the changing patterns of land use over the last 100 years.
  2. Understand the main drivers for changing land use.
  3. Assess the impact changing land use has had on local biodiversity, productivity and ultimately on food security.
  4. Discuss the importance of food security to human health and wellbeing.
  5. Predict the possible impact(s) of climate change on future land use and resulting food security.
Reading List
The course will draw from current literature and other publications relevant to the topic. A reading list will be provided for each lecture.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills The study materials provided in this course will enhance the student┐s abilities to search for, read and understand the relevant scientific literature, to use this to support specific arguments and to present the findings in a coherent and appropriate way. They will also develop skills in ICT through the use of an online learning platform, online search engines and word-processing and presentation packages. Online discussion with tutors and peers will develop confidence in communicating with others and the skills to engage in high level academic discourse. The independent study aspect of the course will enhance the student┐s abilities in time-management and self-motivation.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sharron Ogle
Course secretaryMr Lyndon Zahra
Tel: (0131) 651 5232
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