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Global Food Systems


Subject Area Agriculture & Food Science
Credits 10
Start Date 20 January 2025
Duration 12 weeks
Mode of Delivery Online 
Course Leader (opens in a new window)Professor Alex Evans
  • €1250 
  • 80% Learner Fee Subsidy (Please see below)
Application Deadline 06 January 2025

Food and food security have always been important to humankind; however, the nature of food availability, food production, and food supply is constantly changing. The world’s food system is in disarray. One in ten people is undernourished, one in four is overweight, and more than one-third of the world’s population cannot afford a healthy diet. Food supplies are disrupted by heatwaves, floods, droughts and wars but are responsible for about 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Now more than ever we live in a global world where food is traded as a commodity, but systems that impact and interrupt this trade can have dramatic effects on the food we eat. On top of this are the complexities of consumer demands, nutrition, climate change, and sustainability.

This micro-credential will give you a broad overview of the global food system today. It will include the current state of food, agriculture and fisheries, the key influences on food systems, the role of government policies and interventions. It will explore the threats and opportunities the sector faces and what is needed to transition to a more sustainable, resilient food system and what the future of food and farming might look like.

Key Features

This micro-credential is relevant to professionals interested in global systems of agriculture, food and sustainability.

In particular, those who are currently working in the food and beverage industry, food retail, food technology and innovation, supply chain management, regulatory bodies, government departments, NGOs or trade organisations, journalists, and more.

On completion of this micro-credential students should be able to:

• Understand the complexities of food production, distribution and consumption.
• Evaluate interactions among food production, food distribution and food demand challenges.
• Explain the differences among nutritional requirements, food demand, and consumer behaviour for food.
• Apply knowledge of different food chains and their effects on food systems.
• Understand the issues around sustainable food systems.
• Appreciate the challenges of food safety and security authenticity.
• Weigh up the issues associated with food production, sustainability, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Topics that will be included in this micro-credential:

  • What is the Food System?
  • Evolution of food and diets.
  • Food, nutrition and sustainable diets.
  • Global food commodities and food production.
  • Food chain, food trade, globalisation.
  • Food waste and Food Security.
  • Food safety and Regulation.
  • Food and climate change.
  • Food, feed, energy, biodiversity.
  • Future foods.
  • Food Fraud policy and governance.
  • Challenges for Animal Sourced Foods.

Completing this micro-credential will give you the confidence to discuss the topic based on sound reliable information delivered by UCD experts. You will gain new perspectives on the complexity and interconnectedness of global food systems, to reflect on your role within your personal and professional contexts on how to leverage your new knowledge or steer strategic goals to advance the transition to more sustainable and resilient food systems. You will engage and critically evaluate the latest developments in research and technology across food systems and evaluate reliable sources of information.

This micro-credential is delivered through the UCD online learning platform (Brightspace). Lectures will be uploaded weekly for you to work through the material when fits your schedule. You will need to meet the key assessment dates.

You will learn in a variety of ways, through a mixture of autonomous learning, guest lectures, and recommended reading materials/additional resources.
Assessments will develop your expertise in understanding food systems, the interpretation of data and opinions, and critical thinking.

A repository of resources will be available to support your learning, and as a UCD student, you will have full access to the library.
This is a 10 ECTS micro-credential and involves approximately 200 hours of learner effort.

Applicants are required to hold an NFQ level 8 Honours degree (minimum 2nd Class Honours Lower) or equivalent.

Applicants who do not meet this requirement may be admitted on the basis of considerable relevant experience.

All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate proof of English proficiency as per UCD's minimum English language requirements.

Assessment will consist of:

  • Three short written assignments based on lecture material throughout the semester and an end-of-semester short answer assignment (answer 3 out of 4 questions). A window of approx 2 weeks will be given for completion and submission.

Written feedback will be provided for assignments.

This micro-credential is also a module on the MSc Animal Health.

Please note: Learners can avail of only one form of funding per application. 

Micro-Credentials Learner Fee Subsidy-Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3

The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy has been introduced to enable more learners to address critical skills gaps and engage with lifelong learning through micro-credentials. The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy is funded by Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 

HCI Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidies are available on identified micro-credentials only and in fixed numbers from March 2024 until October 2025.  

Please see Eligibility Criteria for further information.