Certificate International Agri-Food Policy (online)

  • Online
  • Not specified
  • EUR1430 per Year (International

    Tuition fee for the international students.

    EUR1430 per Year (EEA

    European Economic Area tuition fee is applicable to the students from EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

  • English ( Take IELTS test or Find a course )
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)
Agriculture and food regulation is no longer primarily the responsibility of states, but implies common rules, common principles and common regulators extended to the world scale. In addition, it is multidimensional, implying a balanced protection of several interests and values. The International Agri-Food Policy is offered by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).



The International Agri-Food Policy is offered by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).

Through a vertical comparison of different food safety regulatory systems students will study the main issues of food safety regulation and different strategies and approaches for analysing them.

Students will learn about institutions and agreements such as the World Health Organization, Codex Alimentarius, International Organization for Standards, International Plant Protection Convention and the World Organization for Animal Health, so as to understand their role in international agri-food policy, especially food safety policy. This Specialisation also defines food safety law and regulation in the international legal space focusing on linkages to World Trade Organization (WTO) law.

  • To provide students with the tools and knowledge to analyse and understand:
  • Food systems and their role in society.
  • How food and agriculture are regulated nationally and internationally.
  • How agencies and institutions regulate agriculture and food nationally and internationally.
  • To provide a framework for the exchange of knowledge, experiences, programmes and viewpoints among players, including other universities, researchers, professionals, civil service, private sector and government.
  • Understanding of the relationships between economics, environment, society, culture and agri-food policy.
  • Understanding of international agriculture and food regulatory agencies and corresponding legal texts.
  • Comprehensive understanding of agricultural regulations and standardisation and their local and international implications.
  • Comprehensive understanding of international agriculture and food regulatory agencies.

This programme will prepare you to meet the demand for knowledgeable and well-trained food systems analysts and leaders, by fostering practical and critical learning with an international perspective.

The courses are specifically geared towards:

  • Individuals working in NGOs and community organizations that address issues related to food, and agriculture.
  • Individuals working in the agri-food sector.
  • Public administrators.
  • Policy analysts.
  • Consultants.
  • Lawyers.
  • Journalists specializing in food politics.
  • Professional organizations or international cooperation projects that address issues linked to food and agriculture.
  • Students wishing further education on issues of agri-food governance.

Detailed Course Facts

Application deadline 16th March
Tuition fee
  • EUR 1430 per year (International

    Tuition fee for the international students.

  • EUR 1430 per year (EEA

    European Economic Area tuition fee is applicable to the students from EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.


The price of this programme will be confirmed when you complete registration. When enrolling, you will be able to choose the payment option that best meets your needs.

Start date 16-03-15
Credits (ECTS) 15 ECTS
Delivery mode Online
Educational variant Part-time
Intensity Flexible
Duration part-time 12 months
Structure Self-paced
Student interaction Online group works/assignments
Attendance No Attendance
Teacher support Continuous support with feedback on request
Entry Level Bachelor
Skill Disciplines Personal Effectiveness

Course Content

Note that the Specialisation in International Agri-Food Policy can be taken as a stand-alone certificate but also makes up a mandatory part of the Master's in Food, Society and International Food Governance and the Postgraduate Degree in Food Systems and Governance.

Module 1: Policy Analysis

1. Introduction and Overview of Global Food and Agriculture

1.1. Introduction to agriculture and food policy

1.2. Towards a systems approach to policy

1.3. Basic principles of agriculture and food policy

1.3.1. Trade

1.3.2. Safety

1.3.3. Health

1.3.4. Environment

1.3.5. Poverty reduction

1.4. Basic policy tools in agriculture and food

1.4.1. Subsidies and taxes (domestic and border measures)

1.4.2. Price controls

1.4.3. Trade barriers

1.4.4. Regulation

2. The Economics of Food Consumption

2.1. Determinants of food demand

2.2. Population growth and demographic transition

2.3. Economics of food demand

2.3.1. Demand functions and fundamentals of food consumption

2.3.2. Price and income elasticities

2.3.3. Aggregate consumption to individual intakes

2.4. Understanding Supply

2.4.1. Agriculture and food production

2.4.2. Farming systems

2.4.3. Resource use and externalities (positive and negative)

3. Markets, Prices, Policies and Trade

3.1. Markets and price formation

3.2. Why intervene in markets?

3.3. Role of government in provision of public goods

3.4. Changing structure of food markets

3.5. Policy instruments (redistribution, consumption and production subsidies)

3.6. Trade

3.6.1. Why trade?

3.6.2. Why not?

4. Critical Approaches to Policy Analysis

4.1. Introduction

4.2. The Policy Analysis Process

4.2.1. Developing a Research Question

4.2.2. Methods in Policy Analysis

4.2.3. Reconstruction of Policy Theory

4.2.4. Stakeholder analysis

4.2.5. Impact assessment

4.2.6. Cost-benefit analysis

4.2.7. Discourse analysis

4.2.8. The Role of Bias

4.3. Policy Development: Regimes and Frameworks

4.3.1. The Productionist Paradigm

4.3.2. The Life Sciences Integrated Paradigm

4.3.3. The Ecologically Integrated Paradigm

4.4. Case Study: Egg Policy in British Columbia, Canada

4.4.1. Introduction

4.4.2. Grading the Systems

4.4.3. Supply management

4.4.4. A Brief History of Agricultural Marketing Boards in Canada

4.4.5. British Columbia Egg Marketing Board

4.4.6. Opening up the Market: Small Lot Authorization Program

4.4.7. Expanding the Market

4.4.8. Starting the Analysis

4.4.9. What do the farmers have to say?

4.4.10. Conclusion

4.5. Paradigm Change

4.5.1. Case study: Dolphin-safe tuna: the need for integrated approaches to policies

4.5.2. What do the policies say?

4.5.3. Examples of dolphin-safe labels for tuna

4.5.4. Ecological issues associated with dolphin-friendly tuna fishing

4.5.5. Does this label do more harm than good?

4.6. Conclusion: Towards Environmental Policy Integration

5. Conclusion

5.1. Food policy – developments and future new approaches

5.2. Concerns for the future: Policy considerations

5.2.1. Food safety

5.2.2. Trans-border diseases

5.2.3. Global value chains

5.2.4. Biodiversity

5.2.5. Cultural diversity

5.2.6. Climate change

Module 2: Agri-Food Policy, Food Safety and International Trade

1. Agriculture and trade

1.1. Scene setter

1.2. Agricultural, food and trade policy: concepts

1.2.1. Political economy of agricultural and food policy of trade policy

1.2.2. Economic concepts of agricultural and food policy of trade policy

1.2.3. Structure and evolution of agricultural, food and trade protectionism High income countries Low income countries

1.2.4. Impact of policy on food security and production

1.2.5. Linkages between domestic and trade measures

1.2.6. Trade measures and implications High income countries Low income countries

1.2.7. URAA

2. Food-related regulations (farm-to-fork)

2.1. Scene setter

2.2. “What is food?â€

2.3. Origins of food-related regulations

2.4. Regulations in different stages of food chain

2.5. Types of food regulations

2.5.1. Food safety intro

2.5.2. Standards intro

2.5.3. Production processes

2.5.4. Labelling

2.5.5. Packaging

2.5.6. Inspections

2.5.7. Certification

2.5.8. Product testing

2.5.9. etc

2.6. Factors influencing food-related regulations

2.6.1. Differing perceptions of and preferences for food-related regulations across countries

2.6.2. Science-based regulations

2.6.3. Precautionary principle

2.6.4. Food-related regulations and industry

2.6.5. Costs and benefits of food-related regulations Costs of food-borne illness

2.7. “Markets for food regulation or government intervention?â€

2.8. Implementation

2.9. Regulatory trends in food-related regulation in developed and developing countries

3. Agri-food standards

3.1. Scene setter

3.2. Food and agriculture standards

3.2.1. Definitions, what is food (recall earlier discussion)

3.2.2. Types of standards Public versus private overview Types of standard according to level Target standards Performance standards Specification standards Types of standards according to their use Food safety standards Marketing standards Grades Processing standards Pesticide residues and the like Labelling standards (including allergens, nutrition labelling, health claims) Packaging standards

3.3. Development of standards

3.3.1. Procedures, organizations, role of science

3.3.2. Use of science and technology

3.3.3. Social, cultural and political surroundings

3.3.4. Supply vs. demand driven standards

3.3.5. Process versus product based standard

3.3.6. Production processes methods incorporated in a product or not

3.3.7. Ethical issues (domestic and international)

3.4. Application of standards (legal considerations)

3.5. Implementation of standards

3.6. Accountability, transparency, and enforcement

3.7. Private standards

3.7.1. Definitions

3.7.2. Differences between public and private standards

3.7.3. Implications

3.7.4. Case studies on private standards

4. Food safety

4.1. What is food safety?

4.2. Setting up food safety regulations

4.2.1. Differing consumer perceptions of food safety across countries

4.2.2. Food safety as public health problem Developed countries Developing countries System-based risk assessment methods in food safety regulations HACCP Traceability

5. Other food-related regulations

5.1. Food quality

5.2. Organic standards

5.3. Geographical indicators

5.4. Animal welfare

5.5. Country of Origin Labelling (COOL)

5.6. Other issues

5.6.1. Self-governance

5.6.2. Certification schemes

6. Food- related regulations and agricultural production
7. Food-related regulations in trade: barriers or catalyst to trade

7.1. Conceptual relationship between food-related regulations and international trade

7.1.1. Standards

7.1.2. Food safety

7.1.3. Geographical indicators

7.1.4. Other examples

7.2. Approaches

7.2.1. Harmonisation

7.2.2. Equivalence

7.2.3. Conformity assessment

7.2.4. Mutual recognition

7.3. Potential issues

7.3.1. Same standards (regulations) Harmonized Harmonized but certification or conformity assessment required Extra-territorial application

7.3.2. Different standards (regulations)

7.4. Standards (regulations): the positive and negative aspects

7.4.1. Positive: Industry Trade Development

7.4.2. Negative: Industry Trade Development

7.5. Addressing potential disputes in multilateral and bilateral framework

7.5.1. Linkage to the WTO law course: TBT measures SPS measures Provisions for developing countries

7.5.2. Bilateral ways of solving possible disputes

7.6. Final thoughts: Harmonise between countries or not?

8. Methods of analyzing SPS and TBT measures

8.1. Sources and quality of data

8.1.1. WTO notifications

8.1.2. WITS

8.1.3. Business surveys

8.2. Analytical tools

8.2.1. Inventory approaches

8.2.2. Modelling

8.2.3. Other

8.3. Comparison of studies and results

8.3.1. SPS and TBT impact studies

8.3.2. Examples and case studies: Poultry Seafood Raspberries (Guatemala)

9. Emerging issues in agri-food policy, food safety and trade

9.1. Biosecurity

9.2. DDA

9.3. Climate change

9.4. Food miles

10. Conclusions and summary

Module 3: Introduction to Global Food Safety Law and Regulation

1. What is global food safety law?

1.1. The scope of food safety law in the global legal space

1.2. Food safety and its multidimensional nature: towards a general and multi-comprehensive regulation

1.2.1. Food safety and its extra-national nature: towards a global – as well as plural – regulation

1.2.2. Food safety and its interdisciplinary nature: towards a science-based and multi-disciplinary approach, performed into a public-oriented regulation

1.3. Conclusions

2. Global food safety law “in actionâ€: characters, problems and future perspectives

2.1. The “EC-Hormones†case

2.1.1. The case

2.1.2. “Based on†and “conform toâ€

2.1.3. Scientific justification

2.1.4. The precautionary principle

2.1.5. Conclusions: the effect and implementation of the DSB decision

2.2. The “EC-Biotech†case [extra reading + assignment]

2.2.1. The GMOs and their legal and regulatory framework

2.2.2. The case

2.2.3. The inclusion of the EC moratoria under the scope of the SPS Agreement

2.2.4. The interpretation of the procedural requirement of the SPS Agreement demanding to avoid undue delay in national authorization procedures

2.2.5. The interpretation of Art 5.7 and the exclusion of the precautionary principle from the SPS Agreement

2.2.6. The exclusion of the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol to integrate or interpret WTO law

2.2.7. Conclusions and assignment

2.3. Conclusions: positive and negative perspectives of the global food safety framework

3. The global legal framework of food safety law and regulation and its actors

3.1. Principles and rationale governing food safety law

3.1.1. The risk analysis procedure

3.1.2. The precautionary principle

3.1.3. Proportionality and reasonability

3.2. The “Joint Food Standards Programme†and the objectives of the Codex Alimentarius Commission

3.3. The International Office of Epizootics and the International Plant Protection Convention

3.3.1. The OIE

3.3.2. The IPPC

3.4. The SPS and the TBT Agreements

3.4.1. The SPS Agreement

3.4.2. TBT Agreement

3.5. The Cartagena Biosafety Protocol

3.6. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

3.6.1. The Global Forums of Food Safety Regulators

3.7. The World Health Organization (WHO)

3.7.1. The International Food Safety Authority Network

3.8. Conclusions

4. The Codex Alimentarius Commission

4.1. Two study cases of Codex standards: The international standard on irradiated foods and the international standard on corn

4.2. The organizational structure of the Codex Alimentarius Commission

4.2.1. The Commission and the other main bodies

4.2.2. The subordinate committees

4.2.3. The Joint FAO-WHO scientific committees

4.2.4. The National Codex Contact Points

4.3. The standard-setting activity of the Codex Alimentarius Commission

4.3.1. A global administrative procedure: features, positive issues and pitfalls

4.4. The legitimacy of the Codex Alimentarius Commission: values and drawbacks

5. Conclusions and summary of the course

Learning resources

Materials will be in English and will include written course materials, relevant websites, academic articles, books and magazine articles, among others.


Management and teaching staff

F. Xavier Medina

Dr. Medina is Academic Director of Food Systems, Culture and Society. His main fields of research include: anthropology of food, food and wine tourism and social and ethnic identities. He has undertaken fieldwork in Spain (Basque Country, Catalonia), Hungary (Budapest, Tokaj), Argentina & Zimbabwe (Matabeleland) and has edited and authored several books on Food Studies. In 2005 he received the Gourmand Books Awards, (Special award of the Jury). He is currently President of ICAF-Europe, European Section of the International Commission of Anthropology of Food (ICAF).

Teaching staff

Jessica Duncan

Jessica Duncan coordinates the Masters programme in Food, Society and International Food Governance in the Department of Food Systems, Culture and Society. Her research interests include public participation in global agri-food governance and farm-level consequences of agri-food policies. She has worked in community capacity building, rural development, youth engagement and with various food and agriculture organizations. She has published on participation in global agri-food governance and on the politics of food.p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

Dario Bevilacqua

p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }Dr. Dario Bevilacqua holds a Doctorate in Administrative Law from the Faculty of Law at the University of Rome. His doctoral research focussed on food safety regulation in global and European law. He has worked as an external consultant for the FAO and acted as project manager for the Consortium des Universités Euro-Méditerranéennes et des Pays du Sud.

William Meyers

William H. Meyers is Co-Director, FAPRI and Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri-Columbia since 2003. He holds a PhD in agricultural economics, University of Minnesota and MS, University of the Philippines, Los Banos. He was Professor of Economics at Iowa State University, 1979-2003 and Director, Agriculture and Economic Development Division of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations from July 1999 to July 2002, while on leave from ISU. He was Interim Director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development 1996 to 1998 and Co-Director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at Iowa State University from 1984 to 1998. He has directed development projects in Ukraine, Hungary, Indonesia, Zambia, Jamaica, and Honduras and worked on agricultural and rural policy studies in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Dr. Meyers has authored numerous publications on trade and agricultural policy, commodity market analysis, and transition economics.

Aysen Tanyeri-Abur

Dr. Aysen Tanyeri-Abur currently teaches in the Department of Economics at Northeastern University (Boston, USA). She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Food Studies and Gastronomy program at Boston University's Metropolitan College. Until 2007, she was with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN in Rome, where she worked as an Economist in the Economic and Social Analysis Division and as Senior Officer for private sector partnerships. Her research has primarily focused on modelling and analysis of food and agriculture policies and she has worked in several countries including the US, Mexico, Tanzania, Mali, Ecuador and Turkey. She holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M university and an MA in Economics from Ohio State University.

Programme administration

  • Roser Nadal

English Language Requirements

Take IELTS test


Academic requirements

Students can apply for this specialisation even if they do not have a university degree.

The Specialisation in International Agri-Food Policy is open to everyone with a good grasp of English.

The UOC is an open university which means that even if you do not have a high school diploma or university degree you can still take our courses.

If you do not have a recognised university degree then you will receive an equivalency certificate instead of a degree.

Work Experience

No work experience is required.

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Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Spain

Spain The UOC is an online university born from the knowledge society and whose mission is to provide people with lifelong learning and education. The UOC is a leader and innovator in education and technology, and is a benchmark for quality in its academic work and research in e-learning based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).