Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Module=course=class.  I'll use them interchangeably.  In official terms, course=the degree program for which you are enrolled (e.g., MSc in Water Security and International Development); module=semester-long series of meetings about a specific class (e.g., "Education for International Development"); class=a specific meeting of a module.  But, as I said, I'll use them all interchangeably.
So, in basic American terms: I've chosen my classes for the year! And they are as follows:

  • Water Security for Development: Theory and Concepts
  • Water Security for Development: Tools and Policy
  • Research Techniques and Analysis
  • Advanced Qualitative Research and Analysis
  • Political Ecology of Environment and Development
  • Introduction to Education for Development
I will also probably be auditing (i.e., sitting in on but not being assessed in or receiving formal credit for) a few more science-based courses on food security issues.

Perhaps none of these sound particularly interesting for you.  To me, they represent the culmination of more than a year's worth of work to get to UEA and a fabulous new range of skills and qualifications!

For those interested, the formal descriptions of each of the courses are below.

Water Security for Development: Theory and Concepts
The aim of ‘Water Security Theory and Concepts’ is to investigate the theory and conceptual frameworks that underpin research and policy work on ‘water security’. It will explore the background to rising concerns regarding the protection and use of water, and outline key problematics regarding its current treatment in research centres, in the literature and in practice. The module will examine the differences between water security and water resources security, and moreover, study the connections between water security with food, climate or energy security, and international, state and individual concerns regarding military security.

Water Security for Development: Tools and Policy
The aim of ‘Water Security Tools and Policy’ is to investigate and provide a working familiarity with established and cutting-edge analytical, decision-making, and development tools (such as water footprinting or climate impacts assessment) for effective water security policy. It will utilise case study material, physical models, computer exercises and material brought or sourced by students to audit the water security of a system of interest (e.g. city, region, country, irrigation scheme). The students will record and assess the factors that affect water security such as laws and legal frameworks; water supply and demand volumes; institutions for managing water; climate change science and models; climate risks and adaptation; and future projections regarding societal change. Actions to address security will be discussed and formulated.

Research Techniques and Analysis
The course lectures and seminars will include the following topics: • Development research & research ethics • Research design and method; sampling, questionnaire design, interviews • The role of qualitative methods in quantitative research and mixed methods • Participatory and action research • Design and implementation of household surveys on various topics, e.g. income, consumption, employment, health, nutrition, education, etc. Basic data processing and statistical analysis and presentation are taught using SPSS.

Advanced Qualitative Research and Analysis
The Advanced Qualitative Research and Analysis module (AQRA) is designed to provide a more advanced training in qualitative methods than its predecessor Research Skills for Social Analysis. It represents a progression from Research Techniques and Analysis in the first semester or an extension of previous experience/ training. Areas covered include bringing social theory into qualitative research, designing research using qualitative and mixed methods, data cleaning and management, data analysis, representing others, and applying qualitative research. There will be three lectures on core qualitative methods such as participant observation, however, the module assumes participants have previous experience or training.

Political Ecology of Environment and Development
This course seeks to provide students with a solid understanding of political ecology theory and to enable them to apply this theory for analyzing environment and development problems. After a brief introduction to key theoretical concepts in political ecology, students review key contributions to major policy fields in environment and development. They do this in a series of reading seminars, covering agriculture and biotechnology, climate change, conservation, fisheries, forestry, water management and other fields. The course ends with a workshop on the role of policy in political ecology.

Introduction to Education for Development
The aim of the module is for students to understand current debates on the principles and theories linking education to development in a range of social contexts. The module will introduce students to theories of education and development including international and comparative education. These are examined in relation to the broader challenges of development. Topics in the module may include: theories of human development and capabilities, human capital and rights based approaches, theories of equity, social justice and inclusive education. We will examine schooling in contexts of chronic poverty, models of schooling and de-schooling, formal and non-formal education, the challenges of linguistic and cultural diversity, gender inequalities, Islamic education, and the education of nomads and other migratory groups.

I will also audit a selection of the courses below:

Agri-Food in Action
During this module students will visit a range of farms, food-production companies, and research institutes. To maximise benefit from these visits, students will develop a reflective portfolio that records each visit through a variety of media, which may include a narrative, brochures, diagrams, maps, photographs etc. Students will develop an understanding of traditional and contemporary agricultural practices and several of the visits will increase understanding of the operation of selected food manufacturing and production organizations.

Sustainable Agriculture
This module examines the concept of sustainability as it applies to modern agriculture. Specific objectives are to provide a systematic understanding of methods used in contemporary agriculture, alongside a critical awareness of new insights into how to make agriculture sustainable.

Climate Change: Physical Science Basis
Climate change and variability have played a major role in shaping human history and the prospect of a warming world as a result of human activities (global warming) presents society with an increasing challenge over the coming decades. This module covers the science of climate change and our current understanding of anthropogenic effects on climate. It provides details about the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years, supporting further study of the scientific or policy aspects of the subject in either an academic or applied context.

Narratives of Environmental Change
The aim of this Module is to introduce students to a range of different narratives of environmental change which have been influential in Western thought and action over the last 200 years and especially the last 50 years. It also aims to show how different narratives of past changes can be used to shape different environmental policy futures. The Module draws upon the sub-disciplines of environmental history, cultural geography, futures studies and systems theory and is taught by three experts in these fields. The Module is divided into three parts. In Part 1, through lectures and seminars we introduce students to seven different narratives of environmental change: for example, limits to growth, planetary boundaries, social-ecological resilience. In Part 2, through lectures we introduce four different arenas where environmental policy-making is currently active and show how different narratives of environmental change shape, constrain or inflect the development of environmental policy and the engagement of citizens. In Part 3, the students working in pairs lead a series of assessed seminars on allocated topics which bring together the historical narratives with areas of live policy debate.

Globalised Agriculture and Food Systems
The aim of this module is to understand how food security is affected by policies, environmental processes, and actions that occur at the international level. Food security is a central theme, and how it is constructed and contested at international level, involving global institutions, interest groups, and diverse policy agendas. This exploration does not confine itself exclusively to production, but also considers other areas of concern, including: global environmental change, dietary shifts, ‘post-production’ concerns with food quality or ecosystem integrity, agribusiness, public versus private agricultural innovation, intellectual property rights, and strategies for technological development. Students will gain critical understanding of these debates and how different policy actors engage with them at both the local and the global level. These actors include firms, public R&D institutions, civil society, farmers’ movements, consumers’ groups, and major donors and philanthropic organizations. The module will help students develop a critical and inter-disciplinary understanding of key international policy debates that have relevance to agriculture. Additionally, students will gain a better understanding of how trends in globalised agriculture affect poor people, particularly smallholder farmers, but also consumers and those involved in value chains.


  1. 6 classes look like a lot--does this equate to a number of credits such that those of us who are less traveled would have an idea about your work load?


    1. This is for the whole year; sorry about the lack of clarity. It equates to 12 credits a semester. Thus all the auditing. I'll be dreadfully bored, otherwise, in all possibility...

    2. Haha got it! You explained this to me while we were talking on Plus, but then I was just reading this post and thinking "WOW that is a lot of classes!" But over the course of a year makes more sense. They sound most exciting! :)