Postgraduate study

Sustainable Plant Health MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Sustainable Plant Health

Food production has tripled in the last forty years, but one billion people still go hungry every year. On average 30% of all food produced is wasted in the pathway from ‘field to fork’. With the global human population set to rise from seven to over nine billion by 2050, we urgently need sustainable solutions that will allow us to increase the global food supply while preserving the integrity of agricultural and non-agricultural ecosystems.

Our trees and forests face new plant health threats which in turn threaten areas of great natural beauty and diversity, and affect both rural and urban landscapes. Our unique MSc Sustainable Plant Health will give you the opportunity to develop your understanding of the vital role of plant health, applying your skills by conducting laboratory and field studies.

This programme is primarily aimed at graduates wishing to pursue a career in plant protection in agriculture, horticulture, forestry or urban settings, and also careers in policy development and implementation, plant health inspection, academic and industrial research, consultancy and conservation management, and private industry.

This 12 month programme involves two semesters of classes followed by an individual research project. Students will take 80 credits of compulsory courses, with the opportunity to choose two optional courses. Field trips will also form a crucial part of this course.

Compulsory courses typically will be*:

  • Fundamentals of Plant Health
  • Forensic Plant Health
  • Plant Health in a Global Context
  • Professional and Research Skills in Practice (including Field Trip)
  • Dissertation

Option courses may include* (select two):

  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Ecosystem Service Values
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Soil Ecology and Taxonomy
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Understanding Environment and Development

Field trip

As part of the programme students on Sustainable Plant Health will take part in a week-long study tour at the end of the second semester – usually in April. The tour has recently been to Poznan in Poland and proved an opportunity for students to see how the knowledge, techniques and investigative skills learned during the earlier part of the programme are applied in practice. Feedback from students has been very positive about the study tour, which takes in cultural and well as academic activities.

The costs of the study tour – travel, subsistence and accommodation are included in the programme tuition fees, though you will want to take some spending money.

There is also normally a short field tour during induction week, to give students a chance to get to know each other. In recent years this has involved a two-day trip with accommodation provided at a SRUC research farm in the southern highlands of Scotland.

*Please note: courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change each year.

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
MScSustainable Plant Health1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScSustainable Plant Health2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

On completion of this course our graduates will have gained:

  • Specialist knowledge and understanding of plant health, and its evaluation, impact and management
  • Skills to detect and identify agents detrimental to plant health
  • An understanding of the nature and diversity of plant health interactions
  • The ability to develop strategies for plant health management taking into account their impact on agricultural and non-agricultural ecosystems
  • Knowledge of the relevance of plant health to sustainability and food security
  • Improved analytical skills and critical thinking

Plant health scientists are employed in a range of vocations: environmental consultancy, research, overseas development, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, urban planning, policy development, plant inspection and management. Long term career prospects are strong as agricultural scientists will continue to be needed to balance increased output with protection and preservation of ecosystems.

Our graduates will gain particularly valuable skills due to our programme's unique approach looking at impacts across ecosystems. They also benefit from the applied nature of the course allowing them to use their practical skills in a range of field trip environments with expert supervision.

As a late starter in higher education I wanted to enhance my career change options following an undergraduate degree by taking a more focused post graduate training in a subject that I found interesting, engaging and was relevant to a world that is having increasing demands placed on its limited resources by a growing population and the miss management of the environment. The MSc in Sustainable Plant Health ticks all these boxes covering a broad range of topics that allow you to develop your interests in plant health whether that be laboratory based research or policy related approaches to crop management or the international movement of plant materials.

Site visits provided a valuable exposure to working practices and research environments associated with the field of plant health ranging from crop production issues to forestry disease management. I found the overseas trip to Poland of particular value providing an insight into some very interesting crop research work and to the approaches being undertaken to address early identification of disease that enables early intervention management techniques to minimise the impact of pathogens. The learning opportunities and experiences this course provides are life changing and have certainly opened my eyes to a new world where solutions do exist or are at the very least are achievable to some very complicated problems. The year went past very quickly and I enjoyed every minute of it to the extent that I'm envious of anyone starting the course!"

Alastair Maclaren, MSc Sustainable Plant Health, 2016/17

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a related subject.

We may also consider a UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with relevant experience in plant or crop protection.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

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, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, 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.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fee deposit

If you receive an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, you will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,500 to secure your place on the programme.

Any applicants who are required to pay will receive an offer with full details. (If there is no information on your offer about the deposit then you are not required to pay.)

  • If you receive an offer before 1 March, you must pay your deposit by 31 March.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 March and 30 June, you must pay your deposit within 28 days.
  • If you receive an offer on or after 1 July, you must pay your deposit within 14 days.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScSustainable Plant Health1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScSustainable Plant Health2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

SRUC bursary

Students undertaking the MSc Sustainable Plant Health may be eligible for a SRUC bursary. Applicants will be sent information with guidance on eligibility and how to apply. Contact the Programme Secretary for more information.

The SRUC bursary provided up to 10% of the tuition fee to eligible candidates in 2018/19.

SRUC alumni discount

The SRUC alumni discount aims to encourage SRUC graduates to take up opportunities to study on taught masters (MSc) degree programmes run by SRUC in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh by providing a financial contribution towards the programme tuition fees to eligible applicants.

Eligible applicants will:

  1. have graduated, or be expecting to graduate, with an honours degree delivered through SRUC, and awarded by either the University of Glasgow or the University of Edinburgh, within five years prior to the commencement of the masters programme
  2. have been accepted for admission to one of the following MSc programmes:

  3. have been offered a place for the next academic session
  4. have firmly accepted that offer, or be intending to do so

We will inform you if you are eligible to receive the discount on tuition fees during the application and admissions process. (Please tell us on your application if you are a SRUC graduate, as this will help speed up the process.) For further information please contact the Programme Secretary.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
  • Peter Wilson Building
  • West Mains Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JG

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 or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
  • Peter Wilson Building
  • West Mains Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JG