Courses & Units

Food Fights: The Political Economy of Sustainable Food Systems HPP324


This unit offers you the opportunity to better understand the role that food plays in Australia’s ecological political economy. Taking a critical, coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) approach, you will study the structure and operation of our modern ‘linear’, export-oriented food system, which is increasingly under scrutiny for its carbon emissions, pesticide and herbicide use, marketing of HSSF foods (which are high in salt, sugar and fat), plastic packaging and food waste. ‘Food deserts’ (areas where no sustainable, nutritious, seasonal food is available) and ‘food swamps’ (areas with a high density of fast-food outlets) will also be examined from the perspective of food justice. The unit investigates the policies required for a ‘just transition’ to what is termed a ‘circular food economy’ and considers the degree to which these can be operationalised through movements like agroecology, community supported agriculture, farmers markets, slow food, vegetarianism and veganism. You will learn about different approaches to systems thinking, how systems thinking can be operationalised in the production of community food maps, and what policy reforms are required to ensure that Australia’s and Tasmania’s 21st century food system delivers for people and planet as well as profit. You will also be encouraged to reflect on your own food habits and consider the degree to which these might need to be reformed based on what you learn in the unit.


Unit name Food Fights: The Political Economy of Sustainable Food Systems
Unit code HPP324
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Arts, Law and Education
School of Social Sciences
Discipline Politics and International Relations
Coordinator Professor Fred Gale
Available as an elective? Yes
Delivered By University of Tasmania


Location Study period Attendance options Available to
Hobart Semester 2 On-Campus International Domestic
Launceston Semester 2 On-Campus International Domestic
Online Semester 2 Off-Campus International Domestic


International students
Domestic students

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Key Dates

Study Period Start date Census date WW date End date
Semester 2 22/7/2024 16/8/2024 9/9/2024 27/10/2024

* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (refer to How do I withdraw from a unit? for more information).

Unit census dates currently displaying for 2024 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2024 will be available from the 1st October 2023. Note census date cutoff is 11.59pm AEST (AEDT during October to March).

About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain discrete and systems thinking concepts and how they are applied to food systems.
  • Compare and contrast the sustainability of conventional, high-tech, export-oriented food systems with people-centred, community-oriented, values-balanced alternatives and hybrid approaches.
  • Apply a sustainable systems approach to local food systems.
  • Critically evaluate the impact of food policies and practices on your home, the university and the workplace.

Fee Information

Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1,3 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1,3 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2,3 Domestic Full Fee 4
090103 $2,040.00 $957.00 not applicable $2,324.00

1 Please refer to more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Please refer to more information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses.
3 Please refer to more information on eligibility for HECS-HELP.
4 Please refer to more information on eligibility for FEE-HELP.

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AssessmentParticipation in weekly tutorials (25%)|political economy of food (25%)|place-based food issue (50%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



Required readings will be listed in the unit outline prior to the start of classes.

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