Elective courses are designed to enable students to shape their own professional and/or research profile. They can choose different course combinations aimed at deepening their knowledge following their research interests and at providing transferable skills according to their identified career goals. The transferable skills of this M.A. are grounded in the existing programs at AUR related to communications and to business and management. The elective courses include the possibility of doing an internship and also, in exceptional cases, following consultation and approval by the Academic Advisor, independent study up to a maximum of three credits. The program allows a certain flexibility, not only with the choice of elective courses, but also in respect to the time frame in which these courses can be taken. However, students are required to complete all course work before they can submit their thesis.

Students must select 15 credits from the following courses (minimum course enrollments must be met to ensure that the course will run; exact selection and number of elective courses offered in each semester is subject to change):

For deepening knowledge    

  • Food, Rurality and Local Development (3 credits)
  • Anthropology of Food and Eating (3 credits)
  • The Global Food Economy (3 credits)

For acquiring skills on communications    

  • Communicating with Digital Multimedia (3 credits)
  • Food Writing Across Media: (3 credits)

For acquiring business and management skills    

  • Negotiation and Conflict management (3 credits)
  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Design (3 credits)
  • Principles of Business: Marketing Management and Operations (3 credits)
  • Statistics for Social Research (3 credits)

For added flexibility to steer course of studies towards career goals    

  • Internship (3 credits)
  • Independent study (3 credits)

Exact selection and number of elective courses offered in each semester is subject to change. Students will be informed about available elective courses for the fall semester upon opening of the application procedure for the MA program. Students will be asked to choose elective courses in the fall semester upon the official registration for the program. Students choose elective courses for the spring semester by the end of the winter break (minimum course enrollments must be met to ensure that the course will run).

Food, Rurality and Local Development (3 credits)

The course reviews the role of food in influencing and shaping local development in rural areas. It examines the scope and characteristics of local food systems as well as the range of other products and services delivered by rural areas for rural and urban communities. The course covers the main tenets, practices and processes of rural development, with specific reference to developed countries, but considering also the global food markets and developing countries’ experiences. Rural development paths based on the multiple functions of farms will be analyzed in relation to local food systems as well as to the new roles that rural areas and actors can play to address emerging social needs and demands.


Anthropology of Food and Eating (3 credits)

This course aims at enabling students to identify the meaning and significance of food in different societies by exploring the way that culture, gender, socioeconomic status and religion influence food chioces and preferences. Eating habits and patterns-namely how we eat, what we eat and with whom we eat – are key elements in determining and communicating social identities. In Anthropology of Food we will determine how people use food to define themselves as individuals, groups or whole societies. We will discuss food taboos and beliefs, the historical dynamism of food habits, the contemporary food trends and critical issues as food access, malnutrition and food vulnerability as a climate change consequence. Identifying and defining the differences between eating and nutrition, the course will provide a holistic perspective on the study of food, tackling its influence on body perceptions and health issues. Furthermore, the course will provide qualitative research methodological tools for applied research and project work on food and eating in both industrialized and developing countries’ social and cultural contexts.

The Global Food Economy (3 credits)

This course introduces students to key economic concepts in macroeconomics as applied to the agro-food sector, finance and accounting. During the first part of the course students learn key economic concepts such as opportunity costs, trade-off, elasticity, production frontiers, public goods and externalities. The relations between GDP, inflation and unemployment will be critically analyzed in the context of the classical and Keynesian models, with a particular focus on the role of government and central banks. International trade policies are examined with reference to food, agribusiness and development issues. Different market structures ranging from monopolistic competition, oligopolies and monopolies will be reviewed to gain a better understanding of how markets work in practice and to identify the key actors in today global food systemIn the second part,  the course provides a survey of accounting and finance methodologies. Case studies, lecture and in class exercises provide for a practical and active learning approach. The course assumes no prior knowledge of economics and business techniques or terminology.

Communicating with Digital Multimedia (3 credits)

This is an intensive hands-on, practical course that teaches students the aesthetic concepts and theories of visual communication along with technical skills such as working with Adobe-based software utilized to create various forms of visual media. The areas of computer art/image making, graphic design, typography, sound design, and video motion graphics will be explored. Practical foundations will be applied to design projects as developed through an increasing command of analyzing concepts of design, composition, color theory, and graphic communication. Students will leave the course with the skills and understanding to create a variety of multimedia products across a number of platforms in a professional way, the ability to learn new technical skills in an ever evolving digital environment, and the ability to better communicate with and manage creative collaborators. This course requires 15 additional hours of work on exercises. Laboratory course fee Euro 75.

Food Writing Across Media (3 credits)

This course will examine food writing in relation to food production; its economic, environmental and social sustainability; and the social and cultural dimensions of food consumption.  It will cover food writing in its various professional forms, across different media and for different audiences:  writing non-fiction essays, analytical papers, personal narratives, blogs, policy briefs, press releases and writing for newspapers, magazines and websites. Examples of such writing will be drawn from a wide range of writers and organizations. Students will also take photographs and video to accompany their work.  Italy is our classroom and textbook so students should be prepared to visit locales and institutions where food plays a role. 

Negotiation and Conflict Management (3 credits)

Conflict is part of daily life: it can be destructive as well as constructive but it needs to be dealt with productively. Resolution is a collaborative process by which differences are handled and outcomes are jointly agreed by the interested parties. It is the transformation of the relationships and situations such that solutions are sustainable and self-correcting in the long term. This course will introduce the student to the common causes of conflicts, and enable them to understand how and why they appear. Techniques and methods to approach, manage and resolve conflicts will be introduced, including the strategies of good listening and good communication skills. Various techniques will be examined and applied using selected case studies, including negotiation from a humanitarian perspective and negotiation with armed groups.

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Design (3 credits)

The course will offer a comprehensive understanding for Entrepreneurship from the perspective of startup design, corporate ideation process and social entrepreneurship. Its core mission is to underlie the proactive elements that make the entrepreneurial approach pursued at corporate level (from start-ups to big enterprises) but also embraced at management level in institutional environments (i.e. framing projects, structure and evaluate viable initiatives, looking for valuable partnerships). The course philosophy aims at answering basic business questions through design thinking, prototyping, and market test modeling. Basic concepts rely on disciplines of Business Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Lean Methodology, Design Thinking and Management of Innovation.

Principles of Business: Marketing Management and Operations (3 credits)

This course teaches the core elements of marketing in nonprofit, public, for-profit and social enterprise organizations. In the first section, students examine the strategic marketing process from initial research and analysis through writing a marketing plan. The second course section highlights the latest tactics used in executing the plan, including digital content marketing and offline real time techniques. The course content reflects continuing changes in the operating environment, including the imperative to develop sustainable organizations, the impact of digital technologies, the continued blurring of boundaries among the nonprofit, for-profit, and public sections in the economy and the increasing interconnectedness of local and global markets.

Statistics for Social Research (3 credits)

The course covers basic statistical methods for research and analysis in the social sciences. Descriptive statistics, regression and multivariate analysis will be addressed with attention to both the comprehension and the application of methods and tools, as well as to the capability to present complex statistical data in a clear and effective way. Both theoretical and practical issues will be covered, hence homework assignments and in class exercises will be a fundamental part of the course.

Internship (3 credits)

An internship with a food-environment organization can be considered part of the M.A. Program up to three credits. A three-credit internship requires up to 150 hours of practical work experience, a journal with the daily activities detailed as well as reflections on the internship as a learning experience and a presentation and written paper at the end of the work experience period.

Independent study (3 credits)

Highly focused students with specific career goals or research aims may in exceptional circumstances be permitted to register for independent study of a topic in depth, not covered by the courses offered by the MA in Food Studies or other MA Programs of the University. The topic will be decided in collaboration with the instructor. Students will develop a goal statement for the independent study, the related learning objectives, the timetable for completion, a preliminary list of readings and the final product. This could be a research-based paper or it might be a written paper that accompanies a technical project (e.g. a video or other digital media communication). In addition to the final product, students will keep a journal of the work undertaken, commentary on readings and results of the independent study. Independent study requires approximately 150 hours of learning activities and it will involve a schedule with number and frequency of contact hours between the student and the supervisor. AUR reserves the right to limit the offering of an independent study - individual applications will require the approval of the Dean and Program Director.