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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Food, Animals and Society (PGGE11243)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the place of animals in contemporary food cultures. Growing awareness about the ecological footprint of livestock farming has brought animal-based food systems to the centre-stage of policy and civil society discussion globally. While environmental impacts, especially those related to carbon emissions and biodiversity loss, have had much recent attention, a number of other socio-cultural, public health, political and ethical issues also raise fundamental questions relating to the use of animals as and for food in today's world.

The sentience and experiential wellbeing of food animals, modalities for enhancing welfare (regulation versus markets); and the degree to which animal wellbeing matters in relation to other social demands have been some arenas of contestation. Another set of concerns lie in the domain of planetary health because of the ecological footprint of industrial animal farming, as well as its ties with zoonotic diseases, anti-microbial resistance, and lifestyle diseases. A third set of concerns are socio-cultural, and pertain to livelihoods, occupational health, and cultural traditions.

The course will examine these political economic, ethical, and sociocultural dimensions of animal agriculture. It will do so by drawing on policy as well as scholarly literatures from a range of fields including more-than-human geographies, political philosophy, animal studies, animal welfare science, science studies, and public health. Intensive animal agriculture and its variations in the Global North and South will be a specific focus. Teaching-learning activities may include lectures, student-led discussions, seminars, quizzes, online research, and guest speakers. The wide array of materials and approaches deployed in the course will foster the skills required for critical engagement with animal agriculture and animal-source foods both in and beyond the classroom.
Course description Week Indicative Topics
1 A critical history of global livestock farming
2 The socio-ecologies of animal farming
3 Welfare and labour in the animal farm
4 Mechanisation and commodification in the slaughterhouse
5 Eating animals: identity and culture
6 Eating animals: class and health
7 Science, technology and animal-based foods
8 Disease and animal farming
9 Alternative production
10 Alternative diets
11 Review
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Knowledge or familiarity with social science literatures, research approaches, and writing conventions; students should be prepared to learn and follow the bibliographical, writing, and reading requirements of the course and the field of human geography more broadly.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% Coursework:
1. Set of two 800 word learning reports from a list of allocated topics (50%)
2. Coursework essay (3000 words) (45%)
3. Participation in student-led group activity (5%)

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No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. critically understand the political-economic, ethical and socio-cultural issues associated with mainstream animal agriculture
  2. evaluate efforts that address socio-ecological problems linked to industrial livestock farming
  3. synthesise current conceptual debates and bring them into critical dialogue with real-world examples
  4. display the capacity for independent critical engagement with contemporary animal-based food systems
  5. communicate complex information effectively and clearly
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:
1) Emel J and Heo H (eds.) (2015) Political ecologies of meat. Oxon: Routledge.
2) Neo H and Emel J (2017) Geographies of Meat: Politics, Economy and Culture. Oxon: Routledge.
3) Pachirat T (2011) Every twelve second: Industrialized slaughter and the politics of sight. New Haven ad London: Yale University Press
4) Weis T (2013) The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock. Zed Books.
5) Shukin N (2009) Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times. Minnesota University Press.
6) Twine R (2010) Animals as biotechnology: Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies. Oxon: Routledge
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the political, socio-cultural, and justice implications of contemporary livestock-based food systems. They will develop the interdisciplinary competencies required for engagement with the multiple dimensions of contemporary animal agriculture. They will also learn to source and use a variety of materials- scholarly literature, policy briefs, scientific publications, media articles- for the investigation of the complexities of producing and consuming animal-based foods. Transferable skills gained will include that of working in groups, leading discussions, presenting materials, and effective writing.
Course organiserDr Krithika Srinivasan
Tel: (0131 6)51 4311
Course secretaryMrs Paula Escobar
Tel: (0131 6)50 2543
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