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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Sociology

Undergraduate Course: The social life of food (SCIL10081)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryFood has long been, and will continue to be, an intense socio-cultural, material, ethical and political issue. Taking sustainability as a specific lens, the course examines what we eat, how we eat, where food comes from, and goes, what food is wasted, who gets to eat and grow food, how food brings us together and how food divides us, who is excluded or disadvantaged at different points in the process of producing, consuming and wasting food. Sustainability is introduced as pertinent not only to the environment, but also to people. Food appears in the course:
- as good to think (and act) with;
- as an area of debate and inquiry in its own right;
- as a force which acts on us and on the world;
- as a site where we can explore the use of, and apply, key concepts in social science study ¿ as varied as globalization; industrialization; colonialism; inequality and social justice; family relations and sociability; the body; nature/culture dualisms and posthumanism (the course is thus in dialogue with quite a few other Sociology honours courses).
Course description The course provides a framework for understanding key concepts and contemporary debates about food, as well as critically evaluating how past, current and future food-related issues are framed and dealt with locally and globally. In particular we ask: what is food and where has it come from? Can we measure food? How does food act on us? Has food anything to do with government? Who can grow food and where? Who do we eat with and who is not at the table? How could food be different? Can food be 'sustained' and is there a politics of food?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 2 social science courses (such as Sociology, Politics, Social Policy, Social Anthropology, etc) at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  65
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, 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) Short assignment: 25%
Long essay: 75%.
Feedback Formative feed-back will be provided on the short assignment (through the feed-back form). Part of a session will be dedicated to providing collective feed-back once the short assignment has been returned.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of some of the main terminologies, theories and disciplinary boundaries in the study of food through the lens of sustainability
  2. Apply the acquired knowledge to make sense of historical, contemporary and newly emerging food debates
  3. Apply the acquired methodological and theoretical skills to critically identify, define, conceptualise and analyse complex problems around food and sustainability
  4. Apply the acquired methodological and theoretical skills to assess currently debated ¿solutions¿ to issues of food sustainability
  5. Present and convey information about contemporary debates around food to informed audiences.
Reading List
Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter: A political ecology of things. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
Berry, W. (1997). The unsettling of America: Culture & agriculture (Rev. reprint. ed.). San Francisco; [Great Britain]: Sierra Club Books.
Berry, W. (2009). Bringing it to the Table: On farming and food. Berkley: Counterpoint.
Crouch, D., & Ward, C. (1994). The Allotment: Its landscape and culture. Nottingham: Mushroom.
Gottlieb, R., & Joshi, A. (2010). Food Justice. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Guthman, J. (2004). Agrarian Dreams: The paradox of organic farming in California. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Jarosz, L. (2011). Nourishing Women: Toward a feminist political ecology of community supported agriculture in the United States. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 18(3), 307 - 326.
Kingsolver, B., Hopp, S. L., & Kingsolver, C. (2007). Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our year of seasonal eating. London: Faber.
Lang, T., Barling, D., & Caraher, M. (2009). Food Policy: Integrating health, environment and society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lang, T., Dibb, S., & Reddy, S. (2011). Looking Back, Looking Forward: Sustainability and UK food policy 2000-2011. London: Sustainable Development Commission.
Lang, T., & Heasman, M. A. (2004). Food Wars: The global battle for mouths, minds and markets. London: Earthscan.
McKay, G. (2013). Radical Gardening: Politics, idealism and rebellion in the garden (Second edition. ed.). London: Frances Lincoln Limited.
Mollinson, J., Judy, W., & Mollinson, R. (2014). Raising Spirits: Allotments, Well-being and Community. Edinburgh: Argyll Publishing.
Small, M. (2012). Scotland's Local Food Revolution. Edinburgh: Argyll Publishing.
Warhurst, P., & Dobson, J. (2014). Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution. Leicester: Matador.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Critical analysis and evaluation
- Communication to informed audiences
- Working with others
KeywordsFood,sustainability,naturecultures,food inequalities
Course organiserDr Isabelle Darmon
Tel: (0131 6)51 1574
Course secretaryMiss Laura Thiessen
Tel: (0131 6)50 3932
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