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Global Food Security & Nutrition (Online Learning) (MSc/PgDip/PgCert/PgProfDev)

    Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies Logo
  • Study Type

    Distance learning & Part time available

  • Subject Areas


    Veterinary Sciences

  • Start Date


  • Course Duration

    MSc: 3-6 years; PgDip: 2-4 years; PgCert: 1-2 years; PgProfDev: 2 years

  • Course Type

    MSc, Other, PgDip, PgCert

  • Course Fees

    Tuition fees vary between degree programmes. Find the specific fees for your chosen programme on or website.

  • Last Updated

    03 October 2019

Programme Description

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.

This programme 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. We 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.

This programme would be suitable for students 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.

Learning Outcomes

The aim of this programme is to train students in the breadth of issues relating to food security and give them key skills to understand and critically assess problems across food systems. At the end of the programme students should have an understanding of the global context of food security and nutrition, identify and critically assess the main trade-offs between food security and nutrition and other goals in food systems. The programme aims to give students the ability to carry out independent research, produce reports to a professional standard, and be competent in constricting logically sound arguments.

By the end of the programme students will be able 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.
  • 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.


The programme is composed of 180 credits divided over eight taught courses (6 compulsory and 2 electives chosen from a range of options such as food policy, food safety, global health, conservation, development) plus a Master’s dissertation.

It is designed to be taken part time over three years (20 hours per week), with an option to complete the course in up to six years if required.

Students may exit the programme after completing 60 credits (Certificate) or after 120 credits (Diploma) and courses will also be offered as standalone Continuous Professional Development options.

Programme staff all actively work in food security and nutrition related topics alongside their academic posts.

Programme Director: Dr Fiona Borthwick (Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security) and Deputy Programme Director: Dr Peter Alexander (University of Edinburgh Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security/School of Geosciences)

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.

Career opportunities

This programme is designed to equip graduates with the skills to go on to careers in government and international Non-Governmental Organisations working in a broad range of areas relating to food security.

There are increasing postgraduate research opportunities available in the food security arena, in the UK, EU and internationally.

There are also some positions in the private sector that will be attractive to graduates such as retail, food supply management, or even commodity trading.

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




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