Postgraduate study
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Food Security MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Accreditation

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Food Security

Access to good and healthy food is a basic human right.

However, in 2022, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that about 29.6% of the global population is food insecure. In recent years, the prevalence of food insecurity has increased globally due to a global food shortage.

Several challenges are generating this complex situation, such as:

  • climate shocks
  • finite resources
  • political crises
  • globalisation
  • the Covid-19 pandemic
  • cost of living crisis
  • urbanisation

This MSc programme explores important issues related to food security. It is designed with specific attention on the social and economic aspects of food security. For example, the intersection of food production, distribution, consumption, agriculture, environment, nutrition-related policies, and human behaviour.

What will I learn?

Our interdisciplinary MSc will provide you with knowledge and problem-solving skills on the broad topic of food security. You will receive training on quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques that will help you to understand and measure the effect of the drivers of food insecurity. In addition, you will learn how to design effective policies to improve people's food security in developed and developing countries.

Through this programme, you will explore issues such as:

  • social demographics
  • diet and nutrition
  • the transformation of the food system
  • food supply chain
  • trade
  • technology and innovation
  • conservation
  • climate change

You will also learn about the role of genetics 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.

Is the MSc for me?

We welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds, from agricultural and environmental science to economic or political science, among others. This programme is suitable for students who want to better understand how to analyse food security at local and global levels and are interested in developing skills to work towards reducing food insecurity and making the food system more sustainable.

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.

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 is it really like to study with us?

No one knows what it is like to study here better than the students themselves.

Our students are sharing their experiences - from studying to living in Edinburgh and everything in between.

Get social with us:

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.

Accreditation

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 courses and option courses
  • dissertation

Courses are delivered by lecturers who are active researchers and experts in food security-related fields (for example, the sciences of crop and animal production, food supply chains, and food policy.) You will also benefit from the knowledge and expertise of selected guest speakers from non-academic organisations (for example, the food industry, government and non-governmental organisations).

Dissertation

We will work with you throughout your studies to prepare you for your dissertation project. This will be your opportunity to explore a topic of your choice related to food security.

Your dissertation will also be a fantastic opportunity to put into practice the empirical and methodological research knowledge you will learn during the course to successfully study the chosen dissertation topic. Your dissertation is also a powerful tool to demonstrate (such as to potential employers) that you have mastered research skills, have a good knowledge of your field and an understanding of academic conventions.

We also work with our wide network to find opportunities for dissertation projects with external organisations, enhancing the real-world relevance of your degree.

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.

Changes to teaching and learning

We are committed to offering high-quality education to all our students. However, please be advised that there may be changes to course options and delivery. All decisions are made to ensure we can provide the highest standards for your 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

You may study this programme part-time as we are committed to helping people into education while continuing to work or managing family and personal commitments.

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 2023/24
MScFood Security2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2023/24
MScFood Security3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

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 contributing to the policy and development on food production, food consumption 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 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
  • NGO agencies
  • international bodies
  • research and education
  • private businesses
  • multinational corporations

Roles have included:

  • government analyst
  • communication officer
  • marketing analyst
  • researcher

Examples of the organisations our graduates have gained employment with include:

  • Kantar
  • USAID
  • Soil Association
  • The Trade Council of Denmark in Indonesia and Malaysia
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • NIRAS
  • AECOM
  • UPSIDE Foods
  • Shrub Coop
  • Ocado
  • Eating Better Alliance
  • Lufa Farms
  • The Food Think Tank

Networks

Through this MSc, you will meet a range of researchers who offer their perspectives on taught courses. You will also be invited to seminars to listen and ask questions to food and drink stakeholders.

We maintain an alumni network on LinkedIn where jobs, PhD studentships, other opportunities, and announcements are shared.

SRUC also 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.

Further study

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.

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

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.

Field trips

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

Our field trip 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 trips included visits to international organisations, government institutions, local universities, and key stakeholders involved in the food supply chain within the relevant country. The countries previously visited have been Malaysia, Kenya, Italy, and Peru.

You may also take part in a day trip during induction week to give you a chance to get to know your fellow students and staff.

Our compulsory field trips or field courses are free, including travel and accommodation.

Changes to 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.

Accessibility on field trips

We are committed to making our degree as accessible and inclusive as possible. In the event that you cannot attend a fieldwork trip, we will provide alternatives with comparable learning outcomes where necessary.

Where you will study

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

You will have access to student facilities at both:

  • Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
  • University of Edinburgh

Many of your courses will be delivered at the Kings Buildings Campus. You may also have access to SRUC's lab facilities through elective courses or if your dissertation involves lab work.

As a student of this MSc, you will also have access to the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI) Masters Hub.

University of Edinburgh

You will have access to the University's facilities across all University sites.

For example:

  • laboratories
  • libraries
  • study spaces (some of which are open 24 hours)
  • computing facilities
  • social spaces
  • leisure facilities

Depending on the option courses you choose, you may study at various campus locations in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Climate Change Institute

As a student of this MSc, you will also have access to the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI) Masters Hub. You will have access to the shared 'Masters Hub' study space in ECCI as well as the café and shared working spaces on the ground and first floors. Some of your teaching may take place in the ECCI.

ECCI is also close to many teaching spaces and facilities within the Central Area campus. For example, the Main Library and gym.

King's Buildings campus

The King's Buildings (KB) is the main campus of the College of Science and Engineering.

The King's Buildings campus is around 15 minutes from central Edinburgh. It is easily accessible by bus. You can also cycle (10 minutes) or walk (25 minutes) from the central area.

Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)

You will have access to SRUC's student facilities. These include facilities at SRUC Edinburgh, which is located within the University of Edinburgh's King's Buildings campus.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of GeoSciences and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Discover our city's landmarks, our campuses, accommodation and get video tours - all in one place.

Edinburgh is your ideal base

Edinburgh is ranked 2nd in the UK and 10th in the world in the QS Best Student Cities 2023.

Edinburgh is not only a fantastic city to live in - it is the perfect location to study the subject you're studying. Our vibrant capital is an irresistible blend of history and modern city life. We have rich environmental locations to explore right on our doorstep. Immerse yourself among rugged coastlines, misty mountains, forest glens and sparkling freshwater lochs.

It is no surprise we are regularly voted one of the most desirable places to live in the world!

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

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:

Deposit

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. This may include suitable outdoor clothing and footwear.

Living costs

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

Tuition fees

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

Mastercard Foundation Postgraduate Scholarships

Scholarships are available for this programme. The postgraduate study scholarships for the 2024/25 academic year will accept applications from 23rd October 2023 at 10:00 AM until 7th December 2023 at 5:00 PM (UK Time). Applicants must be residents and citizens or hold refugee status in a Sub-Saharan African country.

For more information and how to apply, visit:

Please note: If the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is the only scholarship you are interested in applying for at the University of Edinburgh, please apply for the Mastercard Foundation scholarship only first. If you receive a scholarship offer from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, then you can apply for the academic programme.

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 15 December 1 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

You must submit one reference with your application.

Please submit a CV/Resume with your application. Find out more about writing a suitable CV:

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