Undergraduate prospectus

Course Information

Risk Analysis for Agriculture and the Environment

Module summary

Module code: AGRI1140
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Linda Nicolaides


Pre and co requisites



This course provides an introduction to the principles of risk analysis that underpin decision-making in the regulation of agricultural technology and consequent health and environmental protection. A robust and coherent approach to risk analysis is necessary for a number of reasons. First, decisions in these fields are usually very difficult to make in that they must balance the risks that given technology or processes may cause harm with the potential economic and social benefits from the technology. Adoption of formal risk assessment approaches allows the scientific underpinnings and objectivity of measures taken to be maximised and so avoid if possible political manipulation e.g. trade barriers. Second, according to international trade agreements (World Trade Organisation), any measures taken to prohibit or restrict trade must be based on risk analysis if they are not based strictly on agreed international standards. Third, there is the emerging link between risk assessment and legal liability in the event that harm actually results from adopted technology. This course is particularly appropriate as part of the legal/regulatory provision for Biosecurity and Biotechnology.

In the context of this rationale, the course aims:
• To provide in-depth understanding of the need for and principles of risk analysis in the context of:
o international trade and globalization;
o national control programmes for health and environmental protection;
o development;
o testing and use of Biotechnology.
• To evaluate and systematically formulate information sources for specific risk analysis exercises.
• To use and evaluate critically a variety of methodologies for risk analysis.
• To provide systematic understanding of the legal, regulatory and socio-economic affecting risk assessment and the relationship between risk analysis and decision-making applied to:
o Food safety;
o Agricultural chemicals and biotechnology;
o Environmental protection, especially protection of habitats and biodiversity from non-native species;
o Zoonoses (animal diseases transmissible to man).

Learning outcomes

On completing this course successfully you will be able to:

1 Critically evaluate the nature and importance risk analysis in the context of international trade agreements and national obligations to protect animal, plant and human health as well as food safety and the environment.
2 Critically evaluate methodology for risk analysis.
3 Using critical insight gained from a synthesis of sources, acquire an adequate information base for a risk analysis exercise.
4 Demonstrate skills to deal with and communicate complex issues by presenting risk analyses through verbal presentations and written reports in fields appropriate to the students’ interests.

Indicative content

• Introduction to risk analysis and its legal context.
• Approaches to and methodology for risk analysis.
• Administration and implementation of risk analysis.
• Risk analysis in practice.

Teaching and learning activity

Students will be taught by a combination of lectures, discussion-based workshops and practical sessions. In addition, a supporting tutorial system will operate parallel to the course (but not part of it) to permit further follow-up on key skills development.


Method of summative assessment: Presentation
Outcomes assessed:1,3,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 50%
Word Length: 20 minute presentation with visual aids as ‘work-in-progress.
Outline Details:Presentation

Method of summative assessment: Written Report
Outcomes assessed:1,2,3,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 50%
Word Length: Final report on case study 3,500
Outline Details: Written report

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning: Group exercise on risk analysis.Quiz based upon case studies.
Outcome(s) assessed by summative assessment:1, 2, 3