NIFK20002U Alternative and Mainstream Food Systems

Volume 2021/2022

Msc Programme in Integrated Food Studies


The overall aim of the course is to introduce students to food systems and their actors as a framework for understanding and analyzing the development in the food sector. This will also provide a basis for handling future changes towards food systems that address societal changes. 

The course will comprise the following themes

· Food systems and food networks as conceptualizations of the complex system behind food products and as useful tool in analysis of food related developments. 

· The historical development and structure of mainstream food systems and the emergence of alternative food systems towards the end of the 20 century. This will include an overview of changing technologies; structure, location, actors as well as salient political issues characterizing food systems in different periods.

· Governance of food systems including an introduction to national and international regulation and dynamics of the policy process. This also includes questions of the power and interests of core actors as well the role of social movements.

· Key concepts and theories useful for understanding an analyzing the development and change of food systems. This includes among other things socio-material approaches to food systems,  sustainability and actor understandings. 

Learning Outcome


· Give an account of the development and present structure mainstream and alternative food systems.

· Show overview of concepts important for understanding food systems and their development.

· Have an overview of key actors, institutional environments and structures of importance for food systems and their development.

· Understand how food related policies govern food systems


· Is able map relevant actors within a given food system

· Is able to analyze societal and institutional issues of relevance for the development of food related policies or strategies.

· Can apply relevant theoretical frameworks and concepts to analyze governance of food systems


· I able to reflect on the key concepts of the theories presented, and discuss their relevance for new food systems.

· Should, using a food systems approach, able to discuss how complex issues related to the food sector can be handled. 

None are required
Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The type of instruction at the course will include lectures, plenary and group discussions, seminars, individual and group exercises, student presentations, project work, supervision and feedback from teachers, and peer feedback.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Class Instruction
  • 4
  • Preparation
  • 44
  • Theory exercises
  • 25
  • Excursions
  • 12
  • Project work
  • 98
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min
The exam includes a discussion of the project report as well as questions in the curriculum.
No time for preparation.

No external censorship
More than one internal examinator.
Reexam: 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.
Exam registration requirements

To register for the exam, a written report must be submitted. The report is made individually or in groups and submitted at the end of the course, before the exam. The report is not included in the assessment.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Two internal examiners

As the ordinary exam.


If the student has not handed in and gotten the report approved, then a report must be handed in three weeks prior to the re-exam. The report must be approved before the re-exam. If the student has passed the project report prior to the ordinary exam, it can be re-used at the re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

The assessment is based on the criteria given by the Learning Outcomes