Course overview:

Sustainability is one of the most critical topics in the current agrifood sector and has become a subject of debate for governments, major companies, and the general public. That is why the ‘What is Sustainability?’ course introduces participants to the latest research in Sustainability and the relevance of this topic across the food industries. You will explore the different sustainability frameworks through online lectures and seminars, including economic, ethical and environmental measures, and a practical sense of when and how these frameworks should be applied.

The course is aimed at agriculture, food and related environmental professionals (including feed, veterinary, pharmaceutical and breeding companies). This may also be suitable for those with careers in research and development and in the advisory or extension sector. International and national corporations will be able to use the knowledge provided in the course and research and higher education institutions in the governmental sector.

Assessments are designed to advance participants’ careers by developing and assessing the analytical and communication skills required by food or environmental industries. Projects are designed to be relevant to the participant’s current employment. To ensures relevant research and questions are addressed; participants are encouraged to discuss particular projects with their employer.

Learning outcomes:

By completing this course, participants should be able to :

  • Critically evaluate the various definitions of the term ‘sustainability.’
  • Select appropriate frameworks for the assessment of sustainability
  • Critically evaluate the sustainability of particular systems.
  • Use appropriate tools to identify reliable information and literature on sustainability related to food and environmental industries
  • Communicate research findings clearly
  • Demonstrate good academic practice in the use, citation and referencing of source material

Additional Course Information:

The ‘What is Sustainability?’ course covers:

  • Definitions of sustainability and frameworks of assessment
  • Issues and scoping
  • Case study based on the participant’s own food-related business
  • Ethical measures of sustainability
  • Economic measures of sustainability
  • Environmental measures of sustainability

Course structure and assessments:

Each topic will be introduced with interactive online material and downloadable materials available to the participant. There will be a series of online discussion fora and exercises. Feedback and contributions from the module convenor or deliverer will be the primary source of formative assessment.

Where completing the module as part of a postgraduate programme, a report on the case study of the participant`s own business/farm will constitute 70% of the marks awarded for this module. A screencast that explores the concepts of economic, environmental and ethical sustainability will also be produced and uploaded, and this will constitute the other 30% of the module marks.

Online exercises, quizzes, feedback and contributions from others in the online discussion forum will provide the basis for formative assessment.

Key facts:

Course Dates 02 Oct 2023
Type/Duration 8 Weeks online
Entry Requirements Graduate level or relevant experience
Credits 10
Cost £850.00
Fee info
CQFW Level   7
Course Provider University of Reading
Provider Reference Number APMA107
Course Arrangements Full joining instructions will be confirmed by the course provider.
Course Location Online, University of Reading
Cohort Continued Professional Development
Tutors Dr Caroline Rymer

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Contact details:

Contact Name for Enquiries: Fiona Lee or Cathy Crips

Email address:

Telephone Number: 0118 378 3312 or  0118 378 8722

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