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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 about the use of animals as and for food in today¿ss world.

The sentience and experiential wellbeing of food animals, modalities for enhancing welfare; 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 group 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 Indicative Topics
Week 1 A critical history of global livestock farming
Week 2 The socio-ecologies of animal farming
Week 3 Welfare and labour in the animal farm
Week 4 Welfare and labour in the slaughterhouse
Week 5 Animal welfare science in agriculture
Week 6 Eating animals: identity and culture
Week 7 Eating animals: disease and health
Week 8 Science, technology and animal-based foods
Week 9 Farmed animals as individual personalities
Week 10 Alternatives: production & consumption
Week 11 Review
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is not open for auditing.

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. This is a Level 11 course and therefore recommended for MSc and Year 4 Honours students.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, 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 1000 word learning reports from a list of allocated topics (50%) due in week 8;
2. Coursework essay (3000 words) (45%) due at the beginning of May;
3. Participation in student-led group activity (5%) - 5 working days after completion of group activity.

Feedback Not entered
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
Reading List (indicative)

1. Emel J and Neo 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 seconds: Industrialized slaughter and the politics of sight. New Haven and 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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