Postgraduate study

Food Security MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

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.

The MSc Food Security addresses these challenges, with a specific focus on the social and economic aspects of food security.

What will I learn?

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
  • 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.

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.

How will I learn?

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 techniques to assess different aspects of food security.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

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 the expert staff and resources at SRUC.

Upon successful completion of the programme, you will be awarded your degree by the University of Edinburgh.

Find out more from our students

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

Food security versus food safety and hygiene

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.

This MSc programme comprises:

  • compulsory and option courses
  • dissertation

Throughout the programme, your teaching team will work with you to prepare for the dissertation project. This will be your opportunity to explore a topic of your choice in relation to food security.

Teaching methods

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 teaching and learning styles including:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • practicals
  • short field trips
  • longer field courses

Please view each relevant course for teaching and assessment methods.

Changes to teaching and learning

We are committed to offering a high-quality education to all our students. Please be advised that there may be changes to course options and delivery, including due to Covid-19.

Changes to how we deliver teaching and learning experiences will be made to safeguard the health and safety of our students, staff and community, and to ensure we can maintain the highest standards for educational experience.

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 limited, due to course capacity and timetabling constraints. It may not be possible to guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses.

Part-time study

As we are committed to helping people into education while 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.

Learning outcomes of the MSc Food Security include being 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 your skills in specialist topics related to food security

The MSc Food Security 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
  • multinational corporations

Roles have included:

  • government analyst
  • communication officer
  • marketing analyst
  • researcher

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.

The World Food Programme’s role is to end hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition. We recognize that no one single organisation can tackle this global challenge alone and therefore coordinate and closely work with other UN agencies as well as civil societies and the private sector to tackle hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Dr Joyce Kanyangwa Luma, World Food Programme

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

Careers Service

Our Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, offering a range of tailored careers and personal development guidance and support.

We support you to recognise the wealth of possibilities ahead, while at university and after graduation.

The MSc Food Security aims to develop your experience and skills with real-world food security challenges through field work experience*.

This will enable you to see how the knowledge, techniques and investigative skills learned during the earlier part of the programme are applied in practice.

Previous field work included visits to international organisations, and governmental institutions as well as local universities and different key stakeholders for the food security.

You may also take part in a short field tour during induction week, to give you a chance to get to know your fellow students and staff.

There are no additional charges for compulsory field trips.

Changes to field trips

*Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including due to Covid-19.

For the academic year 2021-22, the School of GeoSciences has decided not to run overseas field trips for our postgraduate taught Masters programmes.

Your safety and the safety of our staff and communities is our priority. We believe that attempting to take our students on international trips for the next twelve months will include an element of unacceptable risk that we are unable to anticipate and prepare for under current sector and Scottish government guidance.

Where suitable, fieldwork will be relocated or rescheduled. We will also look at alternative arrangements that will ensure you achieve the quality learning outcomes of your degree.

Any changes will be announced as soon as possible.

*(Revised 9 June 2021 to update information on field trips.)

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.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

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 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 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:


You will need to pay this deposit if you receive an offer of admission (either unconditional or conditional).

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

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, you must pay for incidental or personal expenses.

Living costs

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

Tuition fees

Featured funding

*(Revised 8 December 2020 with added featured funding.)

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.

*(Revised 26 March 2021 to remove information on SRUC bursary as this is no longer offered.)

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.

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

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within six weeks of the selection deadline.

If we have not made you an offer by a specific selection deadline this means one of two things:

  • your application has been unsuccessful, in which case we will contact you to let you know, or
  • your application is still being considered, will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline and we’ll be in touch once a decision is made

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 31 January 2021 15 March 2021
2 31 March 2021 15 May 2021
3 30 June 2021 15 August 2021

(*Revised 9 March 2021 to add information on decision timescales.)

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