Postgraduate study

Sustainable Plant Health MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Sustainable Plant Health

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. 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

Can you find sustainable solutions to maintaining our global food supply?

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 in 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.

Through the programme you will gain:

  • Specialist knowledge and understanding of plant health.
  • 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 systems.
  • Knowledge of the relevance of plant health to sustainability and food security.

This programme is delivered in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). You will not only benefit from being a fully matriculated student at The University of Edinburgh, but also access to all of complementary staff, expertise, and resources at SRUC. Upon successful completion of the programme, you will be awarded your degree by The University of Edinburgh.

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This MSc programme is comprised of:

  • 4 Compulsory courses
  • 2 Option courses
  • Field trip
  • Dissertation

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

You will experience a range of teaching styles while you are studying, depending on the subject matter and courses you are taking. Courses can be delivered through a mix of lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, practicals, laboratory work, short field trips and longer field courses.

Please view each relevant course for teaching and assessment methods.

Part-time study

As we are committed to helping people into education whilst continuing to work or managing family and personal commitments, you may study this programme part-time.

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
MScSustainable Plant Health3 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

Through this programme, you will be equipped to pursue a career in plant health in a variety of vocations including environmental consultancy, research, overseas development, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, urban planning, policy development, plant inspection and management.

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

Long term career prospects are strong as agricultural scientists will continue to be needed to balance increased output with protection and preservation of ecosystems.

Field trips

Field trips are an excellent way in which to explore the factors and forces that shape our world and enable you to put valuable skills into practice.

You will have a unique opportunity to develop your experience and skills with a residential field trip in the second semester. This will immerse you in real-world problems, enabling you to see how the knowledge, techniques and investigative skills learned during the earlier part of the programme are applied in practice.

Previous locations have included Poland and the USA, where students gained exposure to crop research work, and measures to address early identification of disease for intervention management.

You may also experience a short field tour during induction week, to give students a chance to get to know each other. In recent years, our students have taken part in a two day trip with accommodation provided at a SRUC research farm in the southern highlands of Scotland.

  • We are pleased to advise that we do not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips. Travel and accommodation costs are covered by your programme.
  • Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons. In any given academic year, the main destination of the field course will be announced as soon as possible.

Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)

SRUC – Scotland’s Rural College – is a higher education institution with a number of campuses, farms and research centres across Scotland. SRUC is an associated institution of the University of Edinburgh and focuses on applied research, education and consulting in the rural and land-based sectors.

In Edinburgh, SRUC is based at the King’s Buildings Campus alongside the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences.

SRUC has a long history of plant health research and education and is the lead organisation for agriculture within the Scottish Plant Health Centre, working with other research specialists, such as the James Hutton Institute, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and Forest Research, to provide expertise to help tackle plant health challenges for Scotland.

As a Sustainable Plant Health student, you will have an opportunity through the programme to discover the work these partner organisations carry out and to explore opportunities available for collaborative work. Previous students have been able to make use of these contacts for dissertation projects or future career opportunities.

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.

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.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Field trips and field courses

We do not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips or field courses. Costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence on compulsory field trips will be covered by the programme fees. However incidental/ personal expenses are to be met by the student.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScSustainable Plant Health1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScSustainable Plant Health2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScSustainable Plant Health3 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 Administrator for more information.

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.

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 Administrator.

School of GeoSciences Scholarships

Browse funding opportunities

You are also encouraged to undertake your own research into the range of potential scholarships and other funding for which you may be eligible.

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.

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