Postgraduate study

Food Security MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Food Security

My favourite part of the course was our fieldwork trip to Kenya, where we gained many valuable insights on urban farming, food markets in developing countries and the importance of native underutilized crops; all which contribute to regional food security. Overall, the programme helped widen my knowledge, strengthen my critical and analytical skills, as well as prepared me for a future career in food, environment, and sustainability.

Monica Gunawan MSc Food Security
Monica Gunawan               MSc Food Security

How will we feed ourselves in the future?

This is one of the most important questions faced by the human race. Access to good and healthy food is a basic human right. However, a rapidly growing population, finite resources, environmental damage, climate change and global inequality make this an incredibly complex issue. This MSc addresses these challenges, with a specific focus on the social and economic aspects of food security.

Through this programme, you will explore issues such as social demographics, diet and nutrition, the transformation of the food system, trade, technology and innovation, conservation and climate change. You will also learn about the role of genetics to address sustainable food production, the importance of orphan crops and the increasing pressures on resources such as water and soil among other topics.

You will explore how food security has become a critically important issue for societies around the globe as it concerns not only food production systems and supply chains, but also development issues such as land tenure, inequality, and the exchange value of commodities.

This MSc provides a multidisciplinary approach to these issues, giving you an advanced understanding of the technical, agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors that influence food security. You will also learn qualitative and quantitative data analysis technics to assess different aspects of food security.

There is an increasing demand for qualified experts to contribute to policy creation and legislation in food production as well as to assess the Agri-industry on tracing their development strategy to improve food production and distribution in a sustainable way. This provides you with excellent opportunities to tackle world hunger and feed the world in the 21st century.

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.

Please note: the MSc Food Security is not a suitable qualification for those mainly interested in Food Hygiene, Food Safety or related areas. Please read about the programme carefully and ensure you understand the nature of the programme before you apply. Applicants who do not show a clear understanding of the programme will not be accepted.

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student blog, where our students share their experiences of postgraduate study, living in Edinburgh and everything in-between.

This MSc programme is comprised of:

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

Although we endeavour to provide a wide range of optional courses to choose from, these can be subject to change or cancellation at short notice. Places on optional courses can be restricted on the basis of numbers, room capacity and timetabling constraints. It may not be possible to guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses*.

*(Revised 11 December 2019 to include information on optional courses.)

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, short field trips and longer field courses.

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
MScFood Security1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScFood Security2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScFood Security3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

Students will be able to:

  • provide a broad understanding of agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors that influence food security
  • apply scientific information and methods in the analysis of complex problems
  • formulate a research problem and independently carry out the research needed to produce an appropriate solution in a range of scientific or policy contexts
  • enhance their skills in specialist topics related to food security

This MSc gives you the scope to fulfil the growing demand for qualified experts that contribute to the policy and legislation development on food production and the supply chain.

You will be able to develop methodologies to appraise trade-offs in terms of risk and uncertainty in strategic decision-making, from the farm-level through to national planning level. Such appraisal is particularly important in light of global environmental change.

Our graduates have typically gained employment in a variety of sectors including government organisations and NGO agencies, international bodies, research and education, private businesses and multinational corporations, Government analyst, communication officer, marketing analyst, researcher, etc.

Additionally, given the media attention and prominence of food security for our rapidly growing population, it is a great time to pursue further PhD research and academic study in this area.

Please note: the MSc Food Security is not a suitable qualification for those interested in Food Hygiene, Food Safety or related areas.

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 as part of this programme. This will immerse you in real-world food security challenges, enabling you to see how the knowledge, techniques and investigative skills learned during the earlier part of the programme are applied in practice.

During the study tour we visit international organisations, and governmental institutions as we all local universities and different key stakeholders for the food security in the country.

Previous locations have included Italy, Malaysia and Kenya

  • 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.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in an agricultural, ecological, biological or environmental science, engineering, social science, economics, politics or other relevant subject.

We may also consider a UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with relevant work experience.

This programme is not suitable for applicants pursuing a career in food safety/hygiene or related areas. Your personal statement must demonstrate an understanding of the programme.

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
MScFood Security1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScFood Security2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScFood Security3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

SRUC bursary

Students undertaking the MSc Food Security 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