New search

Prospects and challenges for sustainable food systems


Welcome to the course Prospects and Challenges for Sustainable Food Systems!

We are looking forward to meet you on campus in the end of August and for lively and inspiring discussions about problems with current food production and consumption and solutions and pathways toward future sustainable food systems!

The course for the autumn semester is planned as a campus course but due to the pandemic parts of the course (mainly lectures) will be given on zoom while we are striving to have workshops, seminars and presentations on campus. On-campus actvities will be organised in a precautionary manner so physical distance can be maintained; we will e.g. use larger lecture halls than normally and SLU will limit the number of students on campus at one time. Conditions may of course change so please make sure that you are updated with the latest information on the SLU homepage, from the Public Health Agency of Sweden and, during the course, on Canvas (the course platform providing all necessary course information when the course is running).

This first course has a massive amount of interesting literature, both reports and scientific articles, addressing many important aspects of food system sustainability. It is a good idea to get familiar with the literature list before hand and - when the course starts, i.e. from the very beginning - to read the literature directly in connection with the lectures. There are links to all literature and/or pdf files on Canvas and no need to buy any literature.

Students attending the master's program 'Sustainable Food Systems' (SFS) have their introduction 10.00 while the introduction to the course for all students (SFS programme students as well as all other students) is on zoom at 13.00. Passcode: sfs2021.

Hope to see you soon at Ultuna Campus in Uppsala!

Best regards, Pernilla Tidåker (course leader on behalf of the course team)

The course evaluation is not yet activated

The course evaluation is open between 2021-10-25 and 2021-11-15

Additional course evaluations for LV0103

Academic year 2021/2022

Prospects and challenges for sustainable food systems (LV0103-M1209) 2021-08-30 - 2021-11-01

Academic year 2020/2021

Prospects and challenges for sustainable food systems (LV0103-10237) 2020-08-31 - 2020-11-01

Academic year 2019/2020

Prospects and challenges for sustainable food systems (LV0103-10066) 2019-09-02 - 2019-10-31

Academic year 2018/2019

Prospects and challenges for sustainable food systems (LV0103-10081) 2018-09-03 - 2018-11-05

LV0103 Prospects and challenges for sustainable food systems, 15.0 Credits

Möjligheter och utmaningar för hållbara livsmedelssystem

Syllabus approved



Food science

Education cycle

Master’s level


Title Credits Code
Exam and individual LCA project 8.00 1002
Seminars, projects, exercises and study visit 7.00 1003

Advanced study in the main field

Second cycle, only first-cycle courses as entry requirements(A1N)

Grading scale

5:Pass with Distinction, 4:Pass with Credit, 3:Pass, U:Fail The requirements for attaining different grades are described in the course assessment criteria which are contained in a supplement to the course syllabus. Current information on assessment criteria shall be made available at the start of the course.



Prior knowledge

- 180 credits, of which 90 credits in natural or social sciences
- Knowledge equivalent to English 6 from Swedish upper secondary school


The aim of the course is to provide students with a deeper understanding of prerequisites for food systems today, how they look like, as well as opportunities and challenges for the future sustainable production and consumption of food. Food systems are studied on the basis of environmental, economic and social sustainability on different scales (local, regional, national and global) with a particular focus on sustainable use of natural resources. The course is offered as an advanced introduction to the master program in sustainable food systems.

After completed course the student should be able to:
- Collect and compile information about food systems, as well as, identify factors that affect the production and consumption of foods today and in the future.
- Explain the prerequisites for food production and provide examples of existing food chains, including primary production, processing, distribution and waste management of food in different scales.
- Understand the sustainability challenges in food systems and be able to problematise the concept of sustainable development in relation to food systems based on various aspects (environmental, economic and social).
- Describe how to use tools for evaluating sustainability from different perspectives.
- Describe, evaluate and compare (qualitatively and quantitatively) different food products/processes from a life-cycle perspective and propose improvement measures.
- Analyse and assess food systems from a consumer perspective and explain the relationship between diet, health and environmental impact.
- Identify underutilised and novel raw materials and foods and assess their potential.


Production and consumption of food are among the most pressing sustainability issues today. The course covers aspects of the entire food chain, including primary production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management, and complex relationships between these aspects. The focus is on efficient use of resources throughout the chain. This includes minimization of waste at all stages, resource-efficient use of side streams and residual products, as well as recycling potential. In this course we start from knowledge about today’s food systems, how they look and function, and analyze future improvement potentials. Sustainable food systems also include food safety and nutritional aspects. In their project work, students will gain a deeper understanding about production chains, analyze them from a life-cycle perspective, compare them with other production chains and develop proposals for improvements that can lead to increased sustainability. Throughout the project seminars are held with active participation of researchers in the field.

The course consists of lectures, literature studies, seminars and project work based on case studies (combining individual tasks and group work). It is largely based on student-centered teaching, as well as, contacts with various actors in the food chain (where attendance can be compulsary). The course brings together students with different educational backgrounds and the overall competence of the group and the previous experience of the students, will contribute to a deeper understanding of today’s food systems and what is needed for a transition to sustainable food systems in the future.

Formats and requirements for examination

Approved oral and written presentation of project work and assignments
Presence on mandatory activities
Approved participation in seminars
Passed individual written exam
  • If the student fails a test, the examiner may give the student a supplementary assignment, provided this is possible and there is reason to do so.
  • If the student has been granted special educational support because of a disability, the examiner has the right to offer the student an adapted test, or provide an alternative assessment.
  • If changes are made to this course syllabus, or if the course is closed, SLU shall decide on transitional rules for examination of students admitted under this syllabus but who have not yet passed the course.
  • For the examination of a degree project (independent project), the examiner may also allow the student to add supplemental information after the deadline. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.

Other information

  • The right to take part in teaching and/or supervision only applies to the course date to which the student has been admitted and registered on.
  • If there are special reasons, the student may take part in course components that require compulsory attendance at a later date. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.

Responsible department

Department of Energy and Technology

Further information

Determined by: Programnämnden för utbildning inom naturresurser och jordbruk (PN - NJ)
There are no Grading criteria posted for this course
1) FoodSource
Author: FCRN
Comments: Chapters 1-4, 7-9
2) Solutions for a cultivated planet
Author: Foley et al. 2011
3) The future of food from the sea
Author: Costello et al. 2020.
4) Nutrient Imbalances in Agricultural Development
Author: Vitousek et al 2009
5) Can soil-less crop production be a sustainable option for soil conservation and future agriculture?
Author: Muller et al 2017
6) Introduction to Systems Thinking
Author: Kim, Daniel H. 1999
7) Food systems and natural resources
Author: UNEP 2016
Comments: Chapters 1-5, 7 and appendix 1
9) Losing the Links Between Livestock and Land
Author: Naylor et al. 2005
10) Doughnut for the Anthropocene: humanity’s compass in the 21st century
Author: Raworth K. A
Comments: Supplement to: Raworth K. A Doughnut for the Anthropocene: humanity’s compass in the 21st century. Lancet Planet Health 2017; 1: e48–49
11) Food Miles or Poverty Eradication? The moral duty to eat African strawberries at Christmas
Author: Müller, B. 2007
12) The world on Agricultural Economics
Author: Martiin 2014
Comments: Chapter 21. Available in SLU e-library.
13) Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Strategies for reducing cost and improving service.
Author: Christopher. 1998.
14) How Does Agriculture Change Our Climate?
Author: Colombo et al. 2018.
15) Food Supply Chain Management and Logistics: From Farm to Fork
Author: Dani. 2015
22) The role of farm animals in a circular food system
Author: Van Zanten et al. 2019
27) Organic agriculture in the twenty-first century
Author: Reganold & Wachter.
29) Environmental performance in the US broiler poultry sector: Life cycle energy use and greenhouse gas, ozone depleting, acidifying and eutrophying emissions
Author: Pelletier. 2008
30) Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers
Author: Poore & Nemecek. 2018

Course facts

The course is offered as an independent course: Yes The course is offered as a programme course: Sustainable Food Systems – Master´s Programme Tuition fee: Tuition fee only for non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens: 38054 SEK Cycle: Master’s level
Subject: Food science
Course code: LV0103 Application code: SLU-10209 Location: Uppsala Distance course: No Language: English Responsible department: Department of Energy and Technology Pace: 100%