Postgraduate study

Global Food Security and Nutrition (Online Learning) MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgProfDev

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

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

Funding opportunities

Food security is concerned with the availability, access, and utilisation 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
  • 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.

What will I learn?

This programme recognises 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)
  • climate change

We offer expertise and research on these topics, and the team have good working relationships with international organisations that are at the cutting edge of addressing food security issues, such as:

  • Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)
  • World Food Programme (WFP)
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC)

Who is this programme for?

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.

Assessment and feedback

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 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.

Studying online at Edinburgh

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

The programme is composed of:

  • 90 credits of compulsory courses
  • 30 credits of elective courses (chosen from a range of options such as food policy, food safety, global health, conservation, development)
  • 60 credit 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
  • 120 credits (Diploma)

Courses will also be offered as standalone Postgraduate Professional Development options.

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 studying 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.

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
MScUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2020/21
PgDip (ICL)Up to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2020/21
PgCert (ICL)Up to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2020/21
PgProfDevUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2020/21

The aim of this programme is to train you in the breadth of issues relating to food security and give you key skills to understand and critically assess problems across food systems.

At the end of the programme, you should have an understanding of the global context of food security and nutrition, and identify and critically assess the main trade-offs between food security and nutrition and other goals in food systems.

The programme aims to give you the ability to:

  • carry out independent research
  • produce reports to a professional standard
  • be competent in constructing logically sound arguments

By the end of the programme you 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, and make informed judgements 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, Food.SecurityNutrition@ed.ac.uk, to check before you apply. You may be admitted to certificate level only in the first instance.

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

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each section. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each paper.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions 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 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:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgDip (ICL)Up to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgCert (ICL)Up to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgProfDevUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

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
  • your tuition fee status.

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security
  • The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute
  • Easter Bush
  • Midlothian
  • EH25 9RG
Programme start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 27 August 2021

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

  • Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security
  • The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute
  • Easter Bush
  • Midlothian
  • EH25 9RG