This course will provide you with an in-depth specialisation in organic farming and food production systems and it is currently the only specialised MSc in organic and ecological farming in England. You will learn and test the latest approaches in the integrated delivery of soil, crop and livestock, and food supply chain management.
Through a combination of lectures, field trips, seminars, practical classes and research projects you will develop advanced knowledge and skills in:
-Managing organic farming and food production units or businesses in different macroclimatic, agronomic and market contexts
-Agronomic approaches used in organic/biological/ecological/sustainable food production systems
-Underlying principles and standards of organic/biological/ecological/sustainable food production, processing and retailing/marketing systems
-Applied and strategic research underpinning the development of organic and other sustainable farming and food production systems
-A wide range of analytical laboratory methods
You will have the opportunity to attend a 10-day field trip as part of the module on Mediterranean perennial crop production systems in Crete, Greece. The trip is organised in collaboration with ecological farming experts from the Greek National Science Foundation (NAGREF).
As part of your studies you will also undertake a major project, similar to one you might experience in the workplace. You will be supported through training in designing and delivering a laboratory project or field-based investigation. You will collect, analyse and interpret data to produce a thesis reporting your investigation and results in a critical manner.
This research project and thesis may be undertaken at the University, in industry, in Crete as part of existing Nafferton Ecological Farming Group research and development projects, or in another country.
You will benefit from being taught by lecturers who are industry experienced and research active. Our research in integrated agricultural production focuses on soil science, plant science and ecology, spanning a range of scales from: pot – plot – farm – landscape.
Strategic research embraces work on:
Applied research addresses issues of:
-Climate change mitigation (including biofuels)
-Ecological (organic) farming systems
-Low-input crop systems
Professor Carlo Leifert is the Degree Programme Director for MSc in Organic Farming and Food Production Systems. Carlo is a member of the Food Security Network in the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS) and is part of the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group (NEFG). He currently manages EU and DEFRA funded projects focused on improving resource efficiency, productivity and food quality and safety in organic and 'low input' crop and livestock production systems.
The course is taught in a block format with a six-week block and then two-week teaching blocks.
You will be taught through:
-Practical and field classes
-Small group discussions
You will be expected to undertake independent study outside of these structured sessions. Your knowledge and understanding will be assessed through written examinations, coursework, presentations and your final major project.
You can also study through the Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme (CATS). This allows us to award postgraduate level qualifications using credit-bearing stand-alone modules as 'building blocks' towards a qualification. This means that the credits from modules undertaken within a five-year period can be 'banked' towards the award of a qualification.
Our multi-purpose farms provide demonstration facilities for teaching purposes and land-based research facilities (especially in the area of organic production). They are both viable farming businesses.
Cockle Park Farm is a 262ha mixed farm facility that includes the Palace Leas Plots hay meadow experiment and a new anaerobic digestion plant that will generate heat, electricity and digestate - an organic fertiliser - from pig and cattle manure.
Nafferton Farm is a 300ha farm with two main farm units covering conventional and organic farming systems. The two systems are primarily focussed upon dairying and arable cropping.
Both also operate beef production enterprises as a by-product of their dairy enterprises, although the organic system is unique in maintaining a small-scale potato and vegetable production enterprise.
Our modern laboratories provide important teaching and research environments and are equipped with analytical equipment such as High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLCs), GCs, CNS analyser (Carbon and Nitrogen analysis), centrifuges, spectrophotometers and molecular biology equipment. Our specialist research facilities include:
We operate closely with other schools, institutes and the University's central scientific facilities for access to more specialist analytical services.
For work with human subjects we use a purpose built Clinical Research Facility which is situated in the Royal Victoria Infirmary teaching hospital and is managed jointly by us and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The NU-Food Food and Consumer Research Facility has undergone a £700,000 refurbishment and now boasts a culinary training suite, a sensory laboratory and food handling facility, all supported by multi-functional rooms and a reception.
It is increasingly recognised that reductionist approaches to tackling food-related issues are ineffective and that a more comprehensive, holistic approach is required if we are to better understand the many ways that food affects and shapes our lives, and effectively address the many injustices and inequalities that are manifest in the current food system.
The MSc Gastronomy provides an opportunity to study food in a more complete sense. The course, the first and only one of its kind in the UK, acknowledges the complex nature of food and takes an interdisciplinary approach to shed light upon the often unseen links between food culture and communications, science and systems, production and politics and more.
The course takes an experiential approach, with field trips to a diverse range of food related businesses and organisations - from food banks to Michelin starred restaurants, large-scale agri-businesses to food processors. Through input from a wide range of specialist and expert speakers, students gain exposure to the diverse dynamics that affect how we produce, consume, represent and understand food.
Scotland is most often the showcase for this, however the concepts covered are transferable to other countries. Whether you’re looking to enhance your career in the food industry, interested in cultivating a broader understanding of food, or are looking for a new direction, please contact us. We’re more than happy to discuss the course with you and help you discover if our unique brand of gastronomy is for you.
Modules will involve elements of inquiry (problem) based learning, report writing, visual presentations, essays and viva voce interviews. Learning therefore will be diverse and teaching will happen anywhere that there is a relationship to food and drink or ancillary industries. This may be in the University, on the streets of Edinburgh, the hills of the Scottish Borders or in a Michelin starred restaurant. The course will therefore embed research-led learning, by requiring students to examine information from a diverse range of sources including academic books/journals, online blogs/ wiki’s relating to food and drink agendas, and primary and secondary data. The importance of working closely with industry colleagues cannot be underestimated.
Opportunities to interact with for example, farmers, North Sea fishermen, and cooks and producers at all levels will enhance the learning experience. Class sizes are normally around 15-20 students. This ensures that students receive fantastic support from tutors and benefit from sharing experiences with classmates.
Each module consists of 60 hours of teaching time over a 10-week period. There are two core modules planned for each semester, plus a research module that spans the first two semesters. You will be required to carry out independent work and also complete a dissertation.
This course has been developed in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders involved in the food and drink industries.
30 credits: Food & Drink: The Relationship to People and Food/ Science of Food/ The System: From Field to Market/ Food Communications
15 credits: Research Methods
If studying for an MSc, you will also complete a dissertation (60 credits).
Graduates will place themselves in the enviable position of having had exposure to a range of industry experiences and contemporary food issues that will enable them to make interventions and transformations in a wide variety of areas. These may range from education or community work, to advocacy and policy work within the non-profit sector.
There are several routes to entry.
- Applicants may have a first degree in an associated subject, for example, a BA (Hons) in Hospitality, Culinary
Arts, or Nutrition.
- An honours degree (or equivalent) in a different discipline but where the applicant has a demonstrable passion for food and drink.
- An applicant may potentially be a mature student who has spent a considerable period of time in industry and wishes to formalise their education.
All shortlisted candidates will be interviewed as part of the application process
International: Where your honours degree has not been studied in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 with no individual component score below 5.5
-This is the first MSc in Gastronomy in the UK.
-The course has 15 funded places available for potential students resident in Scotland and the EU.