EDS352 Agroecology and Development

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Ola Tveitereid Westengen

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk

Limits of class size:50

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:250 working hours in total.

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in Spring parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Spring parallel.

About this course

This course is about the principles of agroecology and sustainable agri-food system development from the local to the global level. The course is built around four interconnected modules:

  • Agriculture as social-ecological systems
  • Cropping systems
  • Soil, water, energy
  • Livestock systems

The first module lays out an interdisciplinary framework for studying agroecology and agricultural systems. The framework draws on ecology, agronomy, sustainability science, rural sociology, anthropology, and philosophy of science. Across modules, we assess social and environmental outcomes of practices and policies according to three dimensions: Productivity; Environmental sustainability; Social equality.

In all modules, we present case studies that exemplify important agricultural practices and production systems, development pathways and debates about the role of technology and politics in agricultural development. Topics covered include the environmental effects of agri-food systems, agroecology, sustainable intensification, cropping systems, agrobiodiversity, seed supply systems, crop and livestock breeding, integrated pest management, integrated soil fertility and water management, integrated crop-livestock systems, energy-flows, knowledge systems, knowledge politics in agricultural research for development, the political economy and governance of agricultural development.

The objective of this course is to provide knowledge about fundamental aspects and key debates about agri-food system transformation.

The course is taught by a group of agriculture, agroecology and development scholars at Noragric.

Learning outcome

Knowledge: The student is able to understand agriculture and agroecology as a system with emphasis on ecological principles (agro-ecosystems) with sustainability, productivity and social outcomes. The student shall acquire knowledge about key approaches to sustainable agriculture and their ecological and agronomic principles.

Skills: The student can analyze and deal critically with various sources of information and research literatures and use them to formulate scholarly arguments about different approaches and methods in agroecology/agricultural research and development. The student can apply this knowledge to carry out assignments and research projects (including a master thesis within the topic). The student understands the principles of a range of agroecological approaches and will be able to assess their appropriateness in different contexts.

  • The modules include lectures, plenary discussions and seminars. If possible, an excursion to local agri-food system actors will be organized towards the end of the course.

    Students are expected to be familiar with the core readings for each week, and further readings and videos will be provided for exploring the topics in greater breadth and depth.

    There are three mandatory assignments (one-page essays). The students will discuss the assignment topics in seminars and individually submit the assignments as short term papers. The seminars, the writing and the evaluation will train the students in academic writing and argumentation related to core topics covered in the course. The assignments are graded and count towards the final grade.

  • The lecturers are available for questions and advise during office hours.
  • Combined assessment

    Three mandatory individual assignments during the course counts for 30% of the grade. Completion and pass in mandatory assignments is required in order to sit for the exam. Final written exam (3,5 hrs) in exam period counts 70% of the grade. Exam in English only. Grades A-F.

  • External examiner on the exam. Exam papers are graded independently by the teacher (course coordinator) and the external examiner.
  • The course is designed for an interdisciplinary Master degree programme where students could have different backgrounds including agricultural, natural, social or economic sciences.
  • 4 lecture hours/week for 14 weeks = 56 hrs. Seminars are integrated.
  • M-IES


  • Letter grades
  • GSK

    Minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway