Food security is concerned with the availability, access, and utilization of safe, nutritious and sustainable food to all, especially vulnerable groups within society. The challenges related to food are not only the existence of approximately 795 million undernourished people in the world (Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)) but also the increasing presence of diet-related non-communicable diseases (e.g. diabetes and heart disease); the contribution of agriculture to greenhouse gas emissions and land use change. Understanding the interconnection of food, health, and the environment, as well as their trade-offs is vital to formulate policies that enable us to achieve food security in a sustainable manner.
This programme recognizes that food security concerns not only food policy and food production issues but other aspects such as land tenure, immigration, demographics, diet and nutrition, technology, natural resources (e.g., pressures on water and soil) and climate change. We offer expertise and research on these topics, and the team has good working relationships with international organizations that are at the cutting edge of addressing food security issues, such as FAO, World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Federation of Red Cross/Crescent.
This programme would be suitable for students with a background in agriculture, development, food systems or other food-related studies, as well as professionals within a broad range of disciplines such as food production, distribution, policy, or international development.
Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.
Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh's excellent resources but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.
The programme has been designed to use a range of assessment tools, both formative and summative, with multiple feedback opportunities across the programme. Summative assessment and feedback have been designed to help students develop the key skills associated with the learning outcomes and tied to practical applications such as report and grant writing. Formative assessment (e.g. MCQs and discussion groups) will be included in each course to provide opportunities for feedback before assessment deadlines. Opportunities will be provided for formative feedback on assessment drafts.
The programme is composed of 180 credits divided over eight taught courses (6 core and 2 electives chosen from a range of options such as food policy, food safety, global health, conservation, development) plus a Master’s dissertation. It is designed to be taken part-time over three years (20 hours per week), with an option to complete the course in up to six years if required. Students may exit the programme after completing 60 credits (Certificate) or after 120 credits (Diploma) and courses will also be offered as standalone Continuous Professional Development options.
Programme staff all actively work in food security and nutrition-related topics alongside their academic posts.
Programme Director: Dr Fiona Borthwick (Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security) and Deputy Programme Director: Dr Peter Alexander (University of Edinburgh Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security/School of Geosciences)
Postgraduate Professional Development
Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate. You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses, you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to study towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme. Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout a year you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.
The aim of this programme is to train students in the breadth of issues relating to food security and give them key skills to understand and critically assess problems across food systems. At the end of the programme, students should have an understanding of the global context of food security and nutrition, identify and critically assess the main trade-offs between food security and nutrition and other goals in food systems. The programme aims to give students the ability to carry out independent research, produce reports to a professional standard, and be competent in constricting logically sound arguments.
By the end of the programme students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of, and critical evaluation and assessment of the main theories, principles, and concepts related to agronomic, environmental, economic, nutritional, and socio-political factors that influence food security.
- Apply food security and nutrition practical methods to scientific information and methods in the analysis of complex.
- Develop critical analysis skills to review complex issues relating to food security and nutrition, and formulate an original research problem and independently carry out the research needed to produce an appropriate solution in a range of scientific or policy contexts.
- Apply and enhance a range of communication, ICT and numeracy skills applicable to food security and nutrition problems.
- Work individually or as part of a group, make informed judgments about the complex problems connected to global food security, and nutrition.
This programme is designed to equip graduates with the skills to go on to careers in government and international Non-Governmental Organisations working in a broad range of areas relating to food security.
There are increasing postgraduate research opportunities available in the food security arena, in the UK, EU and internationally.
There are also some positions in the private sector that will be attractive to graduates such as retail, food supply management, or even commodity trading.
A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in biological or biochemical sciences.
We may also consider your application if your background is not specifically related to these disciplines and you have relevant work experience in a related area. Please contact us to check before you apply. You may be admitted to the certificate level only in the first instance.
English language requirements
All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:
- an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration
- IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
- TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
- PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
- CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
- Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components
Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.
Scholarships and funding
UK nationals, those with settled status, and some EU nationals not resident in the UK could be eligible for a postgraduate loan towards fees - and in some cases living costs.