Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Food Safety (Online Learning) MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgProfDev

Awards: MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgProfDev

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study


Online learning

Programme website: Food Safety (Online Learning)

"This is a prestigious and well-respected programme that prepares me, not only for the work of food safety management, but for many of the other skills that are needed in the field, including critical hazard identification, critical analysis of the main concepts related to the sources and pathways of foodborne hazards along the food chain. The programme structures are well-designed, and I love the way it was delivered, exciting, and stimulating the learner’s way of thinking. Significantly, the tutors always bring up the most recent hot topics in food safety for us to discuss, which are helpful for me to develop critical thinking skills. Furthermore, the tutors are very professional, flexible, and able to adjust to our schedule and gave extra discussion sections on the teaching topic diligently. This Master’s degree upskilled my knowledge and profile as a food safety professional. I am fortunate and glad to study with the University of Edinburgh in the Food Safety programme."

Minh Trang Nguyen-Thi Sc Food Safety, 2019-2023
Minh Trang Nguyen-Thi                 Sc Food Safety, 2019-2023

Why study this programme?

Based in the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (R(D)SVS), the MSc is uniquely positioned to draw expertise from the world class staff based in the vet school, Roslin Institute and the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security.

Globally, poor food safety affects 600 million people and results in 420,000 deaths in a year (World Health Organisation report; Estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases, 2015).

This report highlighted the importance of producing safe food to save human lives, reduce morbidity, conserve resources and improve the economy of every country.

Concern about foodborne diseases is a heightened public health concern worldwide.

The contamination of food with microorganisms or chemicals may occur at any stage in the process from food production to consumption. Environmental contamination, including pollution of water, soil, or air, also poses a threat.

What will I learn?

Uniquely positioned to provide a holistic (“farm to fork”) food safety approach to the food chain, this MSc covers key food safety issues in:

  • agricultural food production
  • harvest
  • slaughter
  • processing
  • storage
  • transport
  • retail
  • consumption

This MSc considers the pre- and post-harvest stages of agricultural food production. It incorporates:

  • the drivers and economics of food safety throughout the food chain,
  • how to minimize, detect and deal with potential hazards in crop production, animal products, food processing, manufacture, and storage
  • how to collect and analyse data from a foodborne disease outbreak
  • a guide to relevant microbial and chemical hazards, and testing systems.
  • designing and implementing food safety management systems
  • an introduction to animal welfare and food safety/quality concerns on farms, transport vehicles, slaughterhouses, meat processing plants, including waste management
  • guides to relevant legislation, comparing legislation and issues with labelling, traceability, enforcement, and food fraud
  • other topics are available in elective options

Who is this programme for?

The MSc in Food Safety is a part-time online learning programme.

It is aimed at busy professionals keen to acquire in-depth knowledge on food safety, with relevant backgrounds in:

  • public health
  • food and beverage
  • agriculture
  • veterinary
  • biology

This programme would be suitable for those with an undergraduate degree in:

  • agricultural sciences
  • biological science
  • food systems
  • veterinary medicine
  • human medicine

It is also suitable if you are a/an:

  • agriculture professional
  • rural industries professional
  • food industry professional
  • government official
  • international organisation employee
  • researcher in food safety
  • third sector employee


Courses within the MSc in Food Safety programme, once accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), can be used by veterinarians towards the RCVS Certificate or Diploma in Veterinary Public Health.

The programme aligns and contributes to the current European College of Veterinary Public Health (ECVPH) approved specialist standard residency training programme that occurs at the RDSVS.

The University of Edinburgh has been delivering online postgraduate programmes since 2005 and is the largest provider of online programmes in the prestigious Russell Group of universities.

How will I learn?

As an online student, not only do you have access to Edinburgh's excellent resources, you will also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

You will engage with learning materials on a week-by-week basis, accessing lecture materials developed specifically for online learners.

You will take part in online discussion boards with fellow students and activities set by the tutors.

You also have access to lecturers via live sessions.

How will I be assessed?

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 has been designed to help you develop the key skills associated with the learning outcomes.

Assessment is tied to practical applications such as report and project proposal writing. Examples include:

  • a data analysis report for a foodborne disease outbreak
  • a qualitative microbiological risk assessment report
  • a brief for an information sheet on dioxins for farmers
  • a presentation on HACCP measures for a method of food processing
  • a procedural strategy to verify the veracity of food labels
  • developing a dissertation research proposal selected by you with the programme team

Formative assessment, for example multiple-choice questions 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.

Find out about studying the MSc Food Safety online programme on our website:

Find out more about the benefits and practicalities of studying for an online degree:

The degree programme is structured to allow sequential progression from individual courses to Certificate, Diploma and MSc phases. Students may also exit the programme on completion of each phase.

The programme is designed to be taken part-time over three years at 20 hours per week, with the option to complete in up to six years if required.

The completion times are as follows:

  • PgCert: 1-2 years
  • PgDip: 2-4 years
  • MSc: 3-6 years

Year 1 You will take 4 compulsory courses:

  • Food Supply Chain and Food Safety
  • Data Analysis for Food Safety
  • Food Safety Hazards and Food Safety Management Systems
  • Food Production Systems

If you successfully complete Year 1 and exit the programme, you will be awarded a PG Certificate (PG Cert) in Food Safety.

Year 2 You will take 2 compulsory courses:

  • Food Processing and Waste Management
  • Research Methods and Data Analysis

You will also choose 2 to 3 elective courses (10 or 20 credits) from within the postgraduate taught (PGT) portfolio of courses which allow you to follow your own interests.

Courses within Food Safety and Global Food Security fields include:

  • Food Traceability
  • Labelling
  • Fraud and Crime
  • Food Policy
  • Innovations in Sustainable Food Systems

Elective options are also available from One Health and Livestock Management topics, such as:

  • One Health Policy
  • Production Animal Welfare
  • Globalisation and Health

If you successfully complete Year 1 and 2 and exit the programme, will be awarded with a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Food Safety.

Year 3 You will complete a final dissertation to gain the award of MSc.

Postgraduate Professional Development

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through postgraduate-level learning, without the time, or financial commitment, of a full award.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses from within this degree over two years and gain a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit.

It may also be possible to continue your studies after one year and put credits towards a postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or full Masters degree. Any time spent taking courses through the PPD scheme will be deducted from the amount of time you have left to complete the higher award.

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.

Additional professional qualifications

You will take 60 credits per year over the three year MSc programme.

You will undertake:

  • SCQF level 11 compulsory courses - 90 credits
  • elective courses - 30 credits
  • specialist training with a final dissertation - 60 credits

This credit load and the syllabus allow the programme to align and contribute to the current European College of Veterinary Public Health (VPH) approved specialist standard residency training programme that occurs at the RDSVS. However, there will not be any overlap in assessment or awards.

The European College Diplomas are awarded following independent examinations run by the relevant College at the end of the residency.

Credentials to sit the examinations vary between the Colleges but typically involve:

  • a minimum number of time spent in VPH activities
  • at least three papers accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals

Courses of the MSc in Food Safety, once accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), can be used by veterinarians towards the RCVS Certificate or Diploma in VPH.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScFood SafetyUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2024/25
PgDip (ICL)Food SafetyUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2024/25
PgCert (ICL)Food SafetyUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2024/25
PgProfDevFood SafetyUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2024/25

Beyond gaining factual knowledge of the immediate subject matter, programme participation is designed to achieve a series of key learning outcomes:

  • critical identification, evaluation and assessment of the main theories, principles and concepts related to sources and pathways of foodborne hazards along the food chain and formulation of bespoke intervention strategies to mitigate the risk to public health

  • use of a significant range of the principal skills, techniques and practices associated with the evaluation of economic burdens of foodborne diseases, epidemiological and statistical analysis of food safety data and most advanced practices to isolate and identify microbiological foodborne hazards from different food matrixes

  • apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to a holistic approach to animal health, animal welfare, plant and environmental health as an integral part to food safety and how this can contribute to improve efficiency and save resources from a food security perspective

  • critically evaluate food safety data by applying epidemiological and statistical methods (including statistical software) from collection to presentation including data generation, collection, curation, backup, cleaning, analysis and communication

  • deal with complex professional issues, to make informed judgements, on your own or collectively, about food safety

This programme aims to equip you with the fundamental knowledge and expertise to be able to influence and promote food safety at different levels of your organisation.

It gives solid grounds to enhance your career, to help secure a position, or to pursue a different career in food safety related organisations. Whether for the government, for the industry or in research, for example to prepare for a PhD in Food Safety or to have a more hands-on experience.

As a graduate of the food safety programme, you have a range of options, often progressing your current careers to a higher level.

There are careers available in managing, auditing, and inspecting food safety and quality in both large and small production and manufacturing environments.

Some of our students are vets and are progressing their careers in veterinary public health.

Others run their own businesses, or are setting up their own businesses, and are aware of their need to be up-to-date with the legislation and current food traceability, safety and quality issues.

Local and international governmental and non-governmental organisations are also destinations for food safety experts.

As a recently qualified veterinarian working in the public health industry, I quickly noticed myself asking more and more questions that my undergraduate degree could not provide all the answers to. Not only were there times where I felt ill-equipped for some of the challenges I faced in this vast industry, but I also had the desire to unlock greater career opportunities in the future going forward. These are some of the factors that lead me to discover the MSc in Food Safety offered by the University of Edinburgh.

Living and working full time in South Africa, I was initially sceptical as to the practical aspects, including how the course will be presented and possible time constraints. Even though there have been some challenging days, the manner in which the course is designed and the support from the academic staff have been second to none. Concepts such as statistics, which I found intimidating in a full-time undergraduate environment, were made accessible and understandable in this course.

The MSc in Food Safety offered by the University of Edinburgh has enriched my perspective on food and the food industry in a remarkable way. In a world where knowledge is expanding at a rapid pace, especially when it comes to a sector that is specialised and complex, I have found this masters degree to be invaluable. Not only does it provide a solid base of knowledge, but it addresses wider relevant and current issues such as antimicrobial resistance, chemical residues and animal welfare in food production. I fully intend to complete this postgraduate degree over the next two years, and I am excited to extend my knowledge and deepen my perspective even further.

I would recommend this to any individual with an interest in food safety and a curious mind. Whether you have been in the field for some time and would like to know more, or whether you intend to change the course of your career entirely, this degree will guide you in that prospect.

Matthys Uys, current student, MSc Food Safety

I highly recommend this postgraduate course. I was apprehensive at the start as I have been away from university since graduation from UCD in 2004 but the on line support and mentoring I have received has made my decision to join this course one of the best both personally and professionally. The course is outstanding and the knowledge learnt has impacted on my job as a veterinarian. The course is well structured and the subjects are interesting. There is huge back up from top class tutors. With a full time job and a young child I was worried that it would be very difficult for me to get back into education but this course was the ideal choice. To anyone thinking about joining I would say just do it!

Joanna Richardson, current student, MSc Food Safety

I pursued this program because of my interest in the field. My hope at the end of this experience was to gain knowledge and recognised qualifications to develop as a young individual and make myself more marketable for potential jobs while building a career. However, I gained much more than this and my expectations were surpassed beyond anything I could image. I not only gained knowledge but a deeper insight in all angles of food safety and the different aspects involved.

Reneka Guy, PG Cert Food Safety student, 2019-20

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent in agricultural or biological science, veterinary or human medicine.

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 of food safety or 3 years or more involvement in food related matters. Please contact the programme team to check before you apply. You may be admitted to certificate level only in the first instance.

Students from China

This degree is Band D.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Application fee




Additional programme costs


Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScFood SafetyUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgDip (ICL)Food SafetyUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgCert (ICL)Food SafetyUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgProfDevFood SafetyUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Easter Bush
  • Edinburgh
  • EH25 9RG
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 23 August 2024

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application.

If you are also applying for funding we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Easter Bush
  • Edinburgh
  • EH25 9RG