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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Delivering the Circular Economy and the Bioeconomy (PGSP11569)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces the concept of the circular economy and the role of the bioeconomy in delivering it for applications in agriculture, health, energy and manufacturing sectors. It teaches a 'total systems approach' to managing the interactions across a broad range of components to deliver, where appropriate, a viable circular bioeconomy. It focuses on: the new scientific and technological developments that drive innovation in the circular bioeconomy; why and how they are being promoted by governments; how they are regulated and whether today's regulatory systems need to be better adapted to the needs of 21st century technologies; and how stakeholders' and citizens' views are taken into account.
Students will benefit from the experience of the lecturers in advising companies and policy makers about these issues, and from guest speakers with experience in industry and policy bodies, providing an ideal foundation for a career in these areas.
Course description This course introduces the concepts relevant to the circular economy and the bioeconomy and their combination as a circular bioeconomy. Societal, environmental and health priorities are driving these developments, from climate change and resource scarcity to biodiversity loss, healthy diets and food waste. The concept of the circular economy means moving away from the old-style linear (take, make, dispose) economy to one that is based on waste minimization, re-use and re-cycling. Bringing together ideas from the circular economy and the bioeconomy, particularly building on innovation in the life sciences, can greatly magnify the benefits to society and the environment, but the complexity of the processes is also greatly increased. This course builds on the Innogen Institute total systems approach to understanding and managing the complex interactions involved in making the circular economy and the bioeconomy work well, separately and in combination. The following topics will be included in the course as part of this overall integrated systemic approach:

- the different properties of disruptive and incremental innovation and their potential contributions to a circular bioeconomy;

- innovative business models and their role inew, more circular value chains; current and potential future regulatory frameworks and their roles in supporting and constraining the adoption of innovative biotechnologies in agriculture, health and industrial biotechnology;

- and responsible innovation approaches by companies, including taking account of the perspectives of stakeholders and the public.

The course provides rich case studies from the contributors' long-standing expertise and research findings in the field.

Outline content
1. Introduction to the course, led by a policy maker from OECD who was involved in conceiving and setting up the bioeconomy concept, explaining its policy and strategic foundations, its basic concepts, the problems that it addresses, and its combination with circular economy ideas to form the circular bioeconomy.

2. Introduces the Innogen Institute total systems framework for analysis of innovation processes, including distinguishing between disruptive and incremental technologies, and illustrates its use in support of the circular economy and the bioeconomy. It covers the interactions between (i) company business strategies and innovation development pathways, (ii) policy and regulatory systems and their impact on innovation trajectories, and (iii) responsible innovation and stakeholder perspectives.

3. Focuses (i) on company perspectives on the circular economy and the bioeconomy (both large and small companies) across a broad range of sectors (industrial biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and aquaculture), including the opportunities and challenges they face and what they can do to exploit or mitigate them; and (ii) on government innovation support policies, particularly recent developments in the UK and Brexit contexts.

4. Presents the perspective of an external speaker from a small company, describing how they have developed their business model and the value chains they interact with.

5. Covers today¿s regulatory systems for innovative biotechnologies, how they have evolved and their impact on companies¿ innovation strategies. Recent UK developments designed to make our regulatory systems more proportionate and adaptive to the needs of innovative technologies, as influenced by the work of the Innogen Institute.

6. Focuses on the contribution of innovative biotechnologies to circular bioeconomies in agriculture and food production, particularly proposed changes in food production systems to enable the UK to meet its commitments to ¿Net Zero¿ carbon emissions by 2050. (Includes a guest lecture contribution.)

7. Explores the health-related aspects of the bioeconomy, from the relationships between the food we eat and our health to the biotechnology-based manufacture of complex drugs.

8. Considers the nature and focus of stakeholder perspectives and of the engagement processes adopted in different technology sectors, and recent initiatives supporting companies to innovate in a responsible manner.

9. Looks at intellectual property, covering the various forms of IP and governance structures and the role of intellectual property in sustainability transitions, with case studies from developing countries.

10. Student group presentations.

The course, which has no prerequisites, is delivered through a 10 week lecture and seminar discussion format. The two hour sessions will typically consist of a short lecture (introducing the key themes of the week¿s topic and the core readings provided), followed by an hour of classroom discussion. Discussion with staff and guest speakers on the course is a key element in learning.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  28
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 18/09/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Group presentation 20%
Individual essay 3000 words, 80%
Feedback Essays will be returned with feedback within 15 working days of submission
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Acquire critical knowledge and understanding of key definitions, principle interdisciplinary and systemic theories and concepts relevant to the circular economy and the bioeconomy.
  2. Develop the ability to apply a range of specialist research techniques to understand how policy, regulatory regimes and governance function in sectors of the circular and bioeconomy.
  3. Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to the problems and issues that affect the circular and bioeconomy.
  4. Gain advanced understanding of the skills needed to engage effectively with policy makers, company managers and stakeholder groups.
  5. Practice the skills needed to work autonomously, work with peers and exercise leadership
Reading List
Tait, J., Banda, G. and Watkins, A. (2018) Proportionate and Adaptive Governance of Innovative Technologies (PAGIT). Case Study: Responsible Governance of Innovative Technologies, Final Report. Innogen Institute Report to the British Standards Institution.
Ellen McArthur Foundation (2019) "Completing the Picture: how the circular economy tackles climate change",
Philp, J. and Winickoff, J. (2018) ¿Realising the Circular Bioeconomy¿ OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, Nov. 2018, No 60.
Suggestion: Kate Raworth (2017) Doughnut Economics ¿ Seven ways to think like a 21st century economist.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Critical and reflective thinking
- Effective and influential contribution
- Skilled communication
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Farah Huzair
Tel: (0131 6)50 6386
Course secretaryMrs Casey Behringer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2456
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