• Class Number 6489
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Martin Amidy
    • AsPr Craig Strong
    • Martin Amidy
    • Dr Rachael Rodney Harris
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

The sustainability of human food systems is examined in this course from a complex systems perspective, focusing on agricultural systems in Australia and internationally at local, national and global scales. Historical, social and political perspectives on farming systems and soil management techniques in agriculture form part of an interdisciplinary approach to food sustainability that brings together the socio-political reality of agricultural management and development with the ecological functioning of healthy landscapes. You will explore topics including rural livelihoods, sustainability, food security, adaptation, conservation agriculture, ecological processes involving soils, crop plants and livestock, and the design and implementation of improved farming systems.  A range of land management issues are addressed, including soil conservation, restoration and rehabilitation; alternative farming and grazing systems; and sustainable intensification strategies. Production issues are integrated into the broader social, cultural and economic contexts of family farming and agri-business, consumer demand and marketing, international trade and rural policy.  Examples are drawn from Australia and a range of other countries that may include Indonesia, the Philippines, Syria, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India.

The course includes field visits to farm and food industry enterprises designed to provide first-hand experience and application of your learning; attendance on field trips is a course requirement.
In the second half of the course you will choose one of two concurrent workshop streams, focusing either on socio-cultural or on biophysical aspects of sustainable agricultural systems. These streams lead respectively to human ecology and environmental studies, or to natural resource management and environmental science.  Both streams have practical components that develop skills and reinforce understanding, and a systems framework ensures that links are drawn between the two streams.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Understand the application of key concepts in human ecology and natural resource management to agricultural farming systems, and communicate these to a range of audiences in effective written and oral form.
  2. Understand key agricultural systems concepts and perspectives at regional, national and global scales.
  3. Demonstrate the knowledge of complex agricultural systems using a range of frameworks and tools.
  4. Collect, analyse, interpret and present land and soil resource data (including remotely sensed data and published literature) from a range of scales in the landscape to produce land use and land management suitability scenarios.
  5. Describe constraints and opportunities for future sustainable agricultural systems.

Research-Led Teaching

Students will receive lectures from researchers and practitioners across a range of disciplines relevant to agricultural systems. Each lecturer will draw directly from their own research experiences, management practices or publications. The course field trips visit working agricultural enterprises, and include speakers who are actively engaged in real world management. The workshops explore the use of tools and frameworks in complex cross-disciplinary applications, and give students opportunities to practice skills that can be applied to a range of real-world situations.

Field Trips

The course will include local field experiences throughout the semester. Please refer to the course Wattle site for further information. All field activities will be dependent on COVID restrictions.

Please see the Fenner School Day Field Trip page for more information.

Additional Course Costs


Examination Material or equipment

Not applicable.

Required Resources

No special resources are required.

Readings will be made available via Wattle during the course.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Written comments on assignments;
  • Verbal comments on individual presentations;
  • Verbal feedback to the whole class on group exercises;
  • Additional, individual feedback on request.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 An indicative schedule for the course is outlined below. This may change based on the availability of guest lecturers. For more complete information, please refer to the course Wattle site.
2 Weeks 1 - 3 Will explore foundational concepts that underpin various forms of agricultural production and the sustainability of agricultural systems. This includes soils, water, climate, plant production systems, animal productions systems and novel agricultural production systems. This will provide a practical overview of how food is produced, with case studies to explore key sustainability issues.
3 Weeks 4 to 6 In weeks 4 to 6 we will investigate the different environmental, economic and social dimensions of agricultural sustainability. This content will build on the foundational concepts outlined in weeks 2 and 3, and assess production systems in context of their triple bottom-line sustainability. Assessment 1: Net present value workshop Assessment 2: Quiz 1
4 Weeks 7 to 8 In weeks 7 and 8 we will explore the importance of interdisciplinary approached to complex challenges and understand how sustainability can be measured. These two weeks will outline important conceptual approaches to assessing and solving complex sustainability challenges in the agri-food system. Assessment 3: Measuring Sustainability Workshop
5 Weeks 9 - 11 In weeks 9-11 we will investigate the importance of decision making in achieving sustainable agri-food systems and the factors that influence decisions. Decision making will be explored through a number of lens, that of the producer, the consumer, society and institutions. This module will assess ways the behaviour of different stakeholders influence the sustainability of our agri-food systems. Assessment 4: Quiz 2
6 Week 12 Choose your own adventure! Course content in the final week will be developed in response to student interests, with topics discussed during the first few weeks of the course. Assessment 5: Reflection (oral presentation) Assessment 6: Final Project Report

Tutorial Registration

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

There is one workshop option scheduled for the first 6 weeks of semester. A second workshop session may be created in weeks 7-12 pending enrolment numbers. If a second workshop is required due to high enrolment numbers, registration for workshop 1 and 2 (running weeks 7-12) will be available in week 2.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Workshop task: Net Present Value 10 % 25/08/2022 01/09/2022 2,3,5
Quiz 1 10 % 03/09/2022 10/09/2022 1,2
Workshop wk 8 – Measuring Sustainability 10 % 06/10/2022 15/10/2022 2,3,5
Quiz 2 10 % 21/10/2022 28/10/2022 1,2
Oral Presentation: Reflection - Interdisciplinary approaches to Sustainable Agriculture 15 % 28/10/2022 11/11/2022 3,4,5
Project report 45 % 11/11/2022 25/11/2022 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions and course activities, whilst supporting others to do the same.


Not applicable.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 25/08/2022
Return of Assessment: 01/09/2022
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,5

Workshop task: Net Present Value

This assessment task draws directly on the modified net present value (NPV) model and economic principles explored in the week 4 lectures and workshop. You are asked to assess the trade-off between short-term production and profit outcomes and long-term productivity and profitability. Along with the role that revenue from environmental services can play in transitioning production systems over-time. Students are expected to manipulate the model, interpret the model output and describe the what the model output means .

Please refer to the course Wattle site for detailed information about this assessment item including the rubric.

Word limit: 750

Value: 10%

Estimated return date: 7 days after submission

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 03/09/2022
Return of Assessment: 10/09/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quiz 1

Quiz 1:

This quiz is intended to assess your understanding of lecture and workshop from weeks 1-5. 

There are twelve (12) questions - 10 multiple choice (0.5 mark each) and 2 short answer (2.5 marks each) randomly allocated to each student. 

Responses to short answer questions should be no longer than 200 words in length. A list of references is not required.

Value: 10%

Presentation requirements: via WATTLE Quiz

Estimated return date: 7 days after submission.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 06/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 15/10/2022
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,5

Workshop wk 8 – Measuring Sustainability

This assessment task draws directly on content from the week 8 lectures and workshop activity. You are asked to describe different approaches for assessing sustainability in agri-food systems, critiquing the usefulness and limitations of these approaches.

Please refer to the course Wattle site for detailed information about this assessment item including the rubric.

Word limit: 750

Value: 10%

Estimated return date: 7 days after submission

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 21/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 28/10/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Quiz 2

Quiz 2:

This quiz is intended to assess your understanding of lecture and workshop material from weeks 6-10. 

There are twelve (12) questions - 10 multiple choice (0.5 mark each) and 2 short answer (2.5 marks each) randomly allocated to each student. 

Responses to short answer questions should be no longer than 200 words in length. A list of references is not required.

Value: 10%

Presentation requirements: via WATTLE Quiz

Estimated return date: 7 days after submission.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 28/10/2022
Return of Assessment: 11/11/2022
Learning Outcomes: 3,4,5

Oral Presentation: Reflection - Interdisciplinary approaches to Sustainable Agriculture

This assessment asks students to reflect on their experience of working in an interdisciplinary team environment. This assessment task is designed to assist your learning, by encouraging you to: critically reflect on course content; to examine your own beliefs, values and practices; and consider your response relates to and interacts with your prior knowledge, beliefs, values, and practices. Students will provide an overview of the key elements of applying interdisciplinary approaches in practice, if/how this differed from the theory, and what they perceived to the benefits and challenges of working in an interdisciplinary environment.

Word limit: N/A

Time limit: 6 mins

Value: 15%

Estimated return date: 10 days after submission

Assessment Task 6

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 11/11/2022
Return of Assessment: 25/11/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Project report

Students will work in teams of 4-6 on a selected topical agri-food issue. The team will have an assigned staff member and will arrange a weekly meeting to discuss the project and their progress. Students will provide an individual project brief to their assigned staff member in week 7 providing an overview of the project requirements to ensure they have understood the brief and the scope of the project.

Students will work as a team to ideate, problem solve and share different perspectives on a topical agricultural sustainability issue. An individual project report will examine the social, environmental and economic aspects of their selected agri-food topic. The team will use secondary research approaches to identify appropriate sustainability measures and interpret data and information from the literature to assess the sustainability of their chosen topic. Students will also critically assess the reliability, credibility and quality of information sources they use in their project.

Working in a small interdisciplinary team, you are tasked to ideate solutions to the sustainability challenges of a given topic. You will assess the benefits, disadvantages and trade-offs of different approaches to solving these challenges. You will make suggestions on how these complex trade-offs can be balanced and how/if the sustainability of the system could be improved.

Word limit (or equivalent): 2500 words, excluding bibliography, but including everything else

Value: 45%

Estimated return date: 14 days after submission

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Feedback on assignments is provided electronically on Turnitin via the Wattle course pages.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

In exceptional circumstances the convenor will allow an assignment to be resubmitted, but this must be negotiated in person with the convenor.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Martin Amidy

Research Interests

agricultural innovation; agricultural economic modelling, agricultural systems

Martin Amidy

By Appointment
AsPr Craig Strong

Research Interests

AsPr Craig Strong

Martin Amidy

Research Interests

Martin Amidy

By Appointment
Dr Rachael Rodney Harris

Research Interests

Dr Rachael Rodney Harris

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions