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Programme Description

Foodborne diseases are a growing public health concern worldwide. The contamination of food with microorganisms or chemicals may occur at any stage in the process from food production to consumption (“farm to fork”) and as a result of environmental contamination, including pollution of water, soil or air. The global burden of foodborne diseases worldwide is very high affecting every year around 600 million people with 420,000 deaths. Therefore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted the importance of producing safe food that saves human lives, saves resources and has a positive impact on the economy of every country.

This is an online learning programme aimed at students with relevant agricultural and food related background keen to acquire in-depth knowledge on food safety. The MSc is specifically designed to provide a true holistic food safety approach to the food chain that incorporates to the pre and post-harvest stages of food production, crop safety, animal welfare and economics of the supply chain.

This programme would be suitable for those with an undergraduate degree in agricultural sciences, biological science, food systems, veterinary medicine and human medicine, as well as professionals from agriculture, rural industries, the food industry, government officials, international organisations, researchers in food safety and the third sector

Online learning

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh's excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

The programme has been designed to use a range of assessment tools, both formative and summative, with multiple feedback. opportunities across the programme. Summative assessment and feedback has been designed to help students develop the key skills associated with the learning outcomes and tied to practical applications such as report and grant writing. Formative assessment (e.g. MCQs and discussion groups) will be included in each course to provide opportunities for feedback before assessment deadlines. Opportunities will be provided for formative feedback on assessment drafts.

Programme structure

Year 1 will consist of 4 core courses: Food Supply Chain and Food Safety, Data Analysis for Food Safety, Food Safety Hazards and Food Safety Management Systems, Food Production Systems. These courses will be developed and delivered by specialists in the field from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (RDSVS), the Roslin Institute and the Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Students successfully completing Year 1 and exiting the programme will be awarded a PG Certificate (PG Cert) in Food Safety.

Year 2 will consist of 2 core courses: Food Processing and Waste Management, and Research Methods and Statistics. You will also choose 2 to 3 elective courses (10 or 20 credits) from the Postgraduate Taught (PGT) portfolio of courses. These include: Zoonotic Disease, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Animal Welfare and Food Production and Food Security.

Students successfully completing Year 1 and 2 and exiting the programme will be awarded with a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Food Safety.

Year 3 will consist of a final dissertation to gain the award of MSc.

Postgraduate Professional Development

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout a year you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Additional professional qualifications

Over the three year MSc programme (60 credits per year), students will undertake SCQF level 11 core courses (90 credits compulsory, with 30 credits elective) of specialist training with a final dissertation (60 credits). This credit load and the syllabus allow the programme to align and contribute to the current European College of Veterinary Public Health (VPH) approved specialist standard residency training programme that occurs at the RDSVS. However, there will not be any overlap in assessment or awards.

The European College Diplomas are awarded following independent examinations run by the relevant College at the end of the residency. Credentials to sit the examinations vary between the Colleges but typically involve a minimum number of time spent in VPH activities and at least three papers accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Courses of the MSc in Food Safety, once accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), can be used by veterinarians towards the RCVS Certificate or Diploma in VPH.

Career opportunities

This programme aims to equip students with the fundamental knowledge and expertise to be able to influence and promote food safety at different levels of their organisation.

It gives solid grounds to enhance their career or to secure a position or to pursue a different career in food safety related organisations. Whether for the government, for the industry or in research (e.g. to prepare for a PhD in Food Safety or to have a more hands-on experience).


Visit the Food Safety (Online Learning) (MSc/PgDip/PgCert/PgProfDev) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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