• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Environmental Management & Development
  • Areas of interest Environmental Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof John McCarthy
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

This course is available for on-campus & remote (online) learning. All students participate in interactive, real-time classes.

Spikes in food prices and fears stirred up by a changing climate, increasing energy and water needs and the increasing concentration of power in global food systems have heightened concerns about food security, inequality and the sustainability of agriculture. In the context of these immense challenges, including ongoing challenges facing ‘globalised agriculture’, the course introduces students to critical policy debates regarding how agriculture might develop in a fashion that minimises environmental and social inequalities and vulnerabilities. Scholars are deeply concerned with the conditions under which specific policies and projects can support a sustainable development agenda that is more friendly to the poor and to the environment.   


Students will engage with key concepts and competing theories and approaches to agri-food issues. This includes competing explanations of the causes of food insecurity and crises, and the critical examination of the connections between agriculture, poverty and rural development. The course focuses on debates between advocates of 'mainstream' development approaches and alternative approaches that challenges conventional wisdom regarding pathways out of poverty, climate adaptation and transitions to sustainable agriculture. Students are encouraged to draw on a wide range of scholarly approaches to think critically about how to address the challenges posed by climate change, human rights, hunger and inequality. In undertaking this course, students will therefore gain capacities to research and analyse critical agri-food issues and communicate arguments about possible policy implications and options on cases of their choosing. 

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Critically appraise key policy problems facing the agricultural and rural sectors and the livelihoods of rural dwellers in the contemporary developing world.
  2. Analyse food and nutritional security issues arising from a combination of economic, political, and natural processes.
  3. Debate key perspectives on food systems, food security and agricultural policy.
  4. Consider the potentialities and limits of selected widely promoted and replicated policies for addressing climate change, food and nutritional security and inequality. 
  5.  Research and analyse critical agri-food issues, argue for options for reform and contribute to policy debates.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class preparation (300 words per week for 4 weeks) (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Survey of key concepts (1200 words) (30) [LO 4,5]
  3. Seminar contribution (400 words) (10) [LO 1,2]
  4. Presentation of discussion paper (draft) (0) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  5. Discussion paper (2000 words) (50) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

The ANU uses 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. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


A standard workload for a 6 unit course is 130 hours including in-class time and independent study.

Prescribed Texts

See Wattle


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $4680
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
On Campus
9057 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person N/A
9058 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 Online N/A

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