Global Food Security and Nutrition
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.
About this programme
The MSc in Global Food Security and Nutrition 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) and climate change. UoE and SRUC 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 FAO, World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Federation of Red Cross/Crescent.
What is food security?
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 and 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.
Our students include those 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. Experience of a broad range of food and nutrition related topics is also considered when applying.
The flexibility of the course allowed me to fit studying around my existing work and lifestyle. It was well organised and staff were always available to answer questions. The content was interesting and well delivered and there was scope within the assignments to tailor them to my own area of interest. Alongside the formal teaching, the opportunity to connect with other students, in discussion boards and in particular during group exercises, proved a very valuable learning experience. With students from all around the world, the range of views and experiences expressed helped put the subject into a truly global context. I have gained a solid understanding around the topics of food security and nutrition that I hope to build on in a professional context.
Free online course
Our free online course 'Sustainable Global Food Systems' is available now on edX.
How do we feed 11 billion people? Discover the importance of sustainable food systems globally with our new online course Sustainable Global Food Systems on edX.
Learn for free or upgrade for the opportunity to earn a certificate.
MSc, PGDip, PGCert, PPD
The programme would be most suitable for those with an undergraduate Honours Degree (first or 2:1 or its equivalent) in biochemical or biological science. In circumstances where the background is not specifically related to these disciplines, we may also consider applications from those who have relevant work experience. Applicants can contact the programme team to check before applying. They may be admitted to certificate level only in the first instance.
Once successfully on the programme, completion of core courses (modules) is a pre-requisite for progression to subsequent courses.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, we will also need to see evidence of your English language proficiency before we can offer you a place.
Alongside the subject content, the programme will also enable the acquisition of a range of transferable skills, such as computer skills, report writing, giving online presentations and time and project management.
Programme learning outcomes
The programme aims to enable students 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 problems in food systems.
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, make informed judgements about the complex problems connected to global food security and nutrition.
This programme is delivered part time through online learning, over a period of between three and six years.
This MSc programme is modular in structure, offering a flexible student-centred approach to the choice of courses studied. You can exit with the award of post-graduate (PG) Certificate (60 credits), PG Diploma (120 credits) or MSc (180 credits). The programme is composed of 180 credits . For the MSc you will complete a (60 credit) dissertation project.
You may undertake the programme by Intermittent Study (flexible progression route), accruing credits within a maximum time limit of six years for the MSc which will include a maximum period of 12 months from the start of your dissertation to it being completed. If you wish to study for the PG Diploma by intermittent study, the maximum time period for this is 4 years and for the PG Certificate only, the maximum time period is 2 years.
In summary, times for completion are as follows:
Master of Science: 36-72 months
Postgraduate Diploma: 24-48 months
Postgraduate Certificate: 12-24 months
Each course (elsewhere often called ‘modules’) of the taught element is delivered in 2 blocks of 5 weeks of study with a week of independent study and reflection time in between.
The courses are delivered in three 11-week terms from September-June.
Nutrition for Food Security (20 credits)
Sustainable Food Production (20 credits)
Frameworks to Assess Food Security (20 credits)
Interrelationships in Food Systems (20 credits)
Food Policy (10 Credits)
Innovation in Sustainable Food Systems (20 credits)
Research Methods and Data Analysis (10 credits)
A selection of elective courses available from other MSc programmes at the University of Edinburgh.
The course "Research Methods and Data Analysis " (10 credits) is compulsory for students progressing to the dissertation.
Years 3 - 6
Dissertation element (must be written within a 12-month period)
Although all courses are offered, we will not be able to guarantee that all courses will be available to all students, each year. This will be dependent upon numbers of students and availability of places on non-programme owned courses.
In this post, two of our Richard Davidson scholarship students share the impact being part of this programme has had on them and their work.
As a trained chef and culinary instructor, I have always tried to get the ‘best’ food for the customers but did not fully appreciate what happens beyond the restaurant. This programme provides a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of food security and explores the delicate interrelationships between food systems, the impact of our eating habits and the drivers of food policies.
If you have questioned the food beyond your plate and wanted to know more about biodynamic farming, climate change, food policy and innovative technology that could support smart city development, this programme will help answer those questions.
The professors from different areas of expertise offer insight and help you to analyse information so you can create an informed opinion. The content is pertinent to what is happening in the world today and assignments are varied and relevant. Throughout my experience, I have found the support from the university to be nothing short of excellent.
Please note that you can pay for the programme on a course (module) basis. Each course is 20 credits and the dissertation year is equivalent to 60 credits.
Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding
The University of Edinburgh subscribes to a funding database specifically for those looking for funding to support postgraduate studies. The guide contains a huge database of funding opportunities, comprehensive guidance and tools to help you prepare a winning grant application including.
It is recommended that you conduct your own research on this, but you can refer to the University Scholarship website to view suggestions on Scholarships.
Get up to £200 towards the cost of a training course with an SDS Individual Training Account (ITA).
You could use the money to build the skills you need for a job. Or get some training to take your career to the next level. Whatever you want to do, there is a wide range of ITA approved courses on offer.
UK government postgraduate loans
If you are planning to study with us, you could be eligible for a postgraduate loan towards your fees. From this year, online programmes are also eligible for this funding (please note, restrictions apply)
This funding is available for UK nationals, those with settled status, and in some cases, EU nationals not resident in the UK.
Mastercard Scholars Foundation Scholarships 2020-21
There are up to 15 Mastercard Scholars Foundation scholarships available for postgraduate study for selected programmes at the University including MSc Global Food Security & Nutrition (online). These online scholarships are only available to students who have been a previous Mastercard Foundation Scholar in a Mastercard Foundation partner institution.
Online applicaton form
Applications must be submitted through the University’s online application service, EUCLID. Offers cannot be made without a fully completed online application.
If you would like more information on applying for this programme please contact our team using the address below:
Programme Team: Food.SecurityNutrition@ed.ac.uk
The University has established a new interdisciplinary institute, the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), bringing together academics and students from the social sciences, engineering, business, law, policy, computer science, humanities and the arts, along with people from industry and other organisations.
The EFI is setting up a portfolio of new, interdisciplinary programmes offering students new ways of studying. One of these new programmes will be an MSc in Future/Planetary Health, which the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security is currently involved in developing and would like to seek your views on.