Postgraduate study

Food Security MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-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.

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

What will I learn?

This MSc provides you with excellent opportunities to tackle world hunger and feed the world in the 21st century.

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 genetics role in addressing 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. 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.

Reputation, relevance and employability

There is an increasing demand for qualified experts to contribute to policy creation and legislation in food production. In addition, to assess the Agri-industry on tracing their development strategy to improve food production and distribution in a sustainable way.

This MSc provides a multidisciplinary approach to complex issues. You will gain an advanced understanding of the technical, agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors influencing food security.

You will also learn qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques to assess different aspects of food security.

Scotland's Rural College

This programme is delivered in collaboration with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).

You will benefit from being a fully enrolled student at the University of Edinburgh as well as access to all of the complementary staff, expertise, and resources at SRUC. Upon successful completion of the programme, you will be awarded your degree by the University of Edinburgh.

What's it really like to study here?

Visit our 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 this 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.

When to apply

Please note: Due to high demand for this programme, we operate on a series of early application deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

For dates and details, please refer to 'Application Deadlines' and 'How to apply' on the right panel of this page.

You should also avoid applying to more than one degree. Applicants who can demonstrate their understanding and commitment to a specific programme are preferred.

If you plan to apply to more than one programme, you should discuss your choices with us before you submit your application.

Where possible, we may make an alternative programme offer if you have been unsuccessful in your chosen programme.


There is no professional accreditation associated with this MSc.

However, some of our students submit their dissertations to the Agricultural Economics Society, (AES) or the International Association of Agricultural Economists, (IAEC) among other professional associations to become members.

This MSc programme comprises:

  • compulsory and option courses
  • dissertation

Throughout your studies, we will work with you to prepare you for the dissertation project. This will be your opportunity to explore a topic of your choice in relation to the programme and prepare a dissertation that you can use to demonstrate your work to potential employers.

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.

How will I learn?

You will experience a range of learning styles while studying, depending on the subject matter and courses you are taking.

You can view each relevant course for teaching and assessment methods through the ‘Programme Structure’ link under compulsory and option courses below.

Find out more about compulsory and option courses

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.

By studying the MSc Food Security you 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 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 the 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

SRUC works closely with colleagues in our consulting division, SAC Consulting. In recent years several graduates of this programme have obtained consultancy roles. As a result, SAC Consulting aims to offer two positions per year to suitable graduates across the SRUC-run programmes.

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 recognise 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 award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, providing:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success, whatever shape that takes.

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

Fieldwork 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 fieldwork included visits to international organisations and governmental institutions as well as local universities and different key stakeholders for food security within the relevant country.

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.

In recent years, our students have taken part in a two-day trip with accommodation provided at an SRUC research farm in the southern highlands of Scotland.

There are no additional charges for compulsory field trips.

Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including the health and safety of our students, staff and communities, and to ensure we can maintain the highest standards for your educational experience. 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. We will announce any changes as soon as possible.

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023..

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

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

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:


If you receive an offer of admission you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £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. The programme fees will cover costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence on compulsory field trips. 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

School of GeoSciences scholarships

Scholarships and student funding

You can find funding opportunities, tuition fees and costs of living for prospective UK and international postgraduate students on the University website.

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

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) alumni discount

The SRUC alumni discount aims to encourage SRUC graduates to take up opportunities to study taught masters (MSc). SRUC may provide a financial contribution towards tuition fees for eligible applicants for SRUC programmes delivered in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh.

SRUC will notify 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 get in touch with the Programme Administrator.

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 for this programme, we operate on a series of selection deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications may close earlier than the published deadlines if there is exceptionally high demand.

We may make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis. However, the majority of applications will be held until the advertised deadline.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within eight 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
  • your application is still being considered, it will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline, and we’ll be in touch once a decision is made

The final deadline may be extended if any places remain on the programme.

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 31 January 31 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

*(Revised 11 November to update selection deadline dates and clarify when decisions on applications will be made.)

Failure to submit all required documents will prevent the Admissions team from considering you for a place on the programme. It may also delay the decision on your application beyond the stated deadline.

We advise you do not apply to more than one programme. Where possible, we may make an alternative programme offer if you have been unsuccessful in your chosen programme.

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