NIFK16004U CANCELLED: Organic and Regional Food Systems

Volume 2017/2018

MSc Programme in Agriculture


This course comprises three core elements.

1) Lectures and theoretical exercises will introduce the organic and origin food sector as alternative food systems. The theoretical focus will be on development theory, ecological economics and food systems, serving as conceptual framework for analyzing and understanding observed developments in the two sectors. Lectures will provide an overview of the evolution of organic and traditional origin food production in an international context; consumer preferences, markets and distribution systems for organic and ´terroir´ products.

2) Two excursions to organic/origin food enterprises, offering an option to discuss theoretical aspects from the lectures in a real life context. We will visit one enterprise within the organic food system and one from the origin (terroir labelled) food system.

3) A problem oriented group project investigating a specific theoretical aspect of alternative food systems.

Learning Outcome

The aim of the course is to give students with an agriculture-, food- or global development oriented background an overview of important conceptual and theoretical aspects relevant for the analysis of food systems with a special focus on organic and origin labelled food systems.

After completing the course the student should be able to:

- Show overview of important concepts related to alternative food systems, including theoretical understanding of correlations between ecological economics and organic production and protected geographical indications (PGI/PDO), as part of the international trade- and intellectual property rights regime.
- Give an account of the development and present structure of the organic and origin food systems, as well as challenges in a global context with regard to consumer - producer ownership of certification rules/schemes and access to markets.

- Identify key actors, institutional environment and structures of importance for the organic and origin labelled food system, including participation in compliance criteria setting and controls.

- Apply ecological economics and food systems theory as conceptual frameworks for analyzing global production, distribution and consumption of food.

- Demonstrate an understanding of the defining aspects and principles of organic and origin labelled food production, with reference to national, EU and international agencies and rules.

- Explain key issues related to the analysis of food systems, including levels of environmental and socio-economic sustainability, consumer trust, producer risk, and animal welfare.

- Reflect on organic and origin food production systems and their economic and social roles in national, regional and international contexts.
- Apply the analytical framework and concepts studied, on alternative food system related problems at different levels (from local to international) and from different perspectives (economic, environmental, institutional rules).

The most important written course materials will be articles from international social science journals in the fields of development studies, ecological economics, sustainable agriculture, rural development and other journals publishing analyses of developments in the organic and traditional or´terroir´ based food systems.

Basic knowledge of either agriculture, food production or food science is required.
Lectures, exercises, workshops, 2 excursions and problem based group project.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • Guidance
  • 10
  • Lectures
  • 31
  • Preparation
  • 50
  • Project work
  • 100
  • Theory exercises
  • 6
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min.
No time for preparation.

Formative feedback will be provided after the exam in the form of written comments to each group report uploaded to Absalon by censor/examinator.
Exam registration requirements

Submitted report from group project.

Only certain aids allowed

The examinee may bring notes and report.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
More than one internal examinator.

Same as ordinary exam.

If the student has not handed in the project report, then an individual project report must be handed in two weeks prior to the re-exam. It must be approved before the exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

The mark 12 will be achieved by students fulfilling all aspects as described in the learning outcomes.