MSc Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture
Full time 1 year
Part time 2 years
Dr Dan Bebber discusses our MSc Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture programme based on our Streatham Campus
Food security: a global concern
There has never been a more urgent need to train food security researchers who are equipped with skills in agronomy, plant pathology, plant disease and plant genetics, and knowledge of modern agricultural systems and agricultural policy. It is of vital importance that we increase crop yields significantly over the next 50 years, while also decreasing our dependency on chemical intervention and fertilizers.
Meeting the challenge of sustainable agriculture
This interdisciplinary programme was developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, including: the agricultural industry, government agencies (including Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA)), and farmers and food manufacturers. Research-led teaching in molecular plant pathology, plant sciences, and microbiology is strongly supplemented by Rothamsted Research, North Wyke expertise in grassland management, soil science, and sustainable farming systems. The combination of expertise in both arable and pastureland systems ensures a truly rounded learning experience. Leading social scientists also provide valuable input on land use and economic practices in rural areas.
The curriculum is designed to address critical shortages of experts capable of working in government agencies, agriculture, and the food industry as researchers, advisers, policy developers, and managers. The programme provides opportunities to gain industrial and practical experience and observe food security issues first-hand during field trips.
"I particularly enjoyed the Crop Security module as it was very challenging. It looked at how food production could be increased sustainably given that land is limited and global population is continuously increasing."
Donaldrich, MSc Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. Donaldrich
The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.
Learning and teaching
Teaching is enriched by expert contributions from a broad cross-section of the industry. Scientific staff from the Food and Environmental Research Agency (Fera) provide specialist lectures as part of the Crop Security module, members of the Plant Health Inspectorate cover field aspects of plant pathology, and a LEAF1 farmer addresses agricultural systems and the realities of food production using integrated farm management. In addition, teaching staff from the University and BBSRC Rothamsted, North Wyke will draw on material and experiences from their academic research and scientific links with industry.
Industrial and practical experience
All students will have opportunities to gain industrial and practical experiences. Teaching visits will be made to the Plant Health Inspectorate in Cornwall to see quarantine management of Phytophthora, and to a local LEAF farm to review the challenges and approaches to food production in integrated farm management systems. You will gain specialised experience in practical science or policy making through a dissertation or project placement with external agencies. Defra and Fera, for example, are offering five dissertation and/or project placements annually.
Structure and learning style
The programme consists of core modules that provide you with a theoretical and applied learning framework for directed student-centred learning in which you will develop skills of synthesis, critical analysis, and interpretation. In addition, you will receive professional skills training tailored to the areas most relevant to your academic and professional development.
You will be taught through lectures, workshops, seminars, and some group work and discussion forums. Within modules there is scope for you to direct your learning towards areas of particular interest; this is especially true of your choice of research project or placement.
Taught modules are assessed through essay examinations, individual and group-based coursework assignments, oral presentations, in-module tests and reports or essays. A significant proportion of the marks are based on your substantial research project and the associated paper submitted in September.
Advice and support
You will be allocated a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. There is also a postgraduate tutor available to help with further guidance and advice. In addition, the programme director will offer every student a meeting each term to review academic progress.
Addressing a skills shortage to tackle global food security
The MSc Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture curriculum has been designed in collaboration with the agricultural industry to tackle the skills shortage that exists in this vital interdisciplinary area. This programme will provide the highly trained individuals required in government agencies, agriculture, and food industries for critical roles in scientific research, advice, evaluation, policy development, and implementation.
Because food security and sustainable agriculture are a global concern, there are opportunities for specialists in the areas of agronomy, plant pathology, plant disease, and plant improvement around the world. As a graduate of our interdisciplinary programme, you will be prepared to take on the global challenges of food security and sustainable agriculture, identify cross-disciplinary solutions to local agricultural problems, and adapt them to farming systems in a variety of ecosystems worldwide.
Learning enhanced by industry
The programme is enriched by expert contributions from a broad cross-section of the industry, with specialist lectures, teaching visits to observe the practical application of techniques, and industrial placement opportunities for project work or dissertations in practical science or policy making.
Find out more about our career support schemes for postgraduate students.
Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates of our Biosciences postgraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2016/17. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.
Recent graduates are now working as:
Assistant Ecologist/Fieldwork Co-ordinator
Conservation Project officer
Ecological Planning advisory intern
Employability and Field Course Assistant
GIS and Social Technician
Graduate Research Assistant
Impact Support Assistant
Impact Tracker Intern
|King Cobra Telemetry Project Intern
Marine and Environmental Consultant
Medical Writing Intern
Procurement graduate (graduate buyer)
Programme Assistant, Conservation Science and Design
Research Field Assistant
Research Leader, FEMBE Project
Recent graduates are now working for:
Bayer Crop Science
Bournemouth and Poole College
CSa Environmental Planning
Devon Wildlife Trust
Field Studies Council
Gibraltar Vet Clinic
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
Greengage Environmental LLP
Institute of Zoology
|John Wenman Ecological Consultancy Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute (MRCI)
Oxford Scientific Films
Seamarc Environmental Consultancy and Engineering
Somerset Wild Life Trust
Sustainable Restaurant Association
The Civil Service
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
Wiley and Sons
Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from our Masters programmes. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by recent graduates. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2016/17.
PhD investigating the effects of species interactions on species distributions
PhD Sustainable Agriculture
Doctor of Philosophy
PhD Institute for Bee Health
PhD Environmental Sciences
PhD in Biological Sciences
PhD Structural/Molecular Biology
PhD Dispersal at Low Densities
PhD Crop Biology
PhD Ontogeny of foraging behaviour in grey seals
PhD Diversity and Evolution of Wasps and Bees Along an Altitudinal Gradient in NW Ecuador
Further information is available through the Careers pages of the University’s Postgraduate Study website.
Fungal Biology Research Group
Across the University we have a wide range of expertise in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. Through our participation in the Food Security and Land Research Alliance, our researchers are working to help secure global food security and ensure resilient land management.
Key areas of research include:
Crops: Molecular pathology, genetics, breeding and protection
Soils: Protection and management
Land and water: Ecosystem services and management
Animals: Health, welfare and veterinary public health
Society: Consumption, production, culture and policy
- Stewart Barr
- Paul Brassley
- Henry Buller
- Paul Cloke
- Rob Fish
- Henry French
- Steve Hinchcliffe
- Emma Jeanes
- Jo Little
- Matt Lobley
- Steve McCorriston
- Duncan Russel
- Michael Winter
Fish: Aquaculture, fisheries and marine science
Normally at least a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a biological or agricultural relevant subject.
Consideration may be given to appropriate professional background on a case-by-case basis involving an interview. A strong interest in food security and/or sustainable agriculture is required.
Requirements for international students
If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.
English language requirements
Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.
Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.
Pearson Test of English (Academic)
58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.
Other accepted tests
Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.
Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.
Fees and funding
Tuition fees per year 2019/20
- UK/EU: £10,900 full-time; Pro-rata (credit based, where available)
- International: £20,600 full-time
Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.
UK government postgraduate loan scheme
Postgraduate loans of up to £10,609 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.
The Funding website has information on all available options for funding open to prospective students of taught Masters programmes. You can also use the searchable database of all Scholarships and Bursaries to find funding for which you are eligible.
Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP)
Applicants to the MSc Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture are eligible to apply for the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) offered by The Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Global Excellence Scholarship
We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2019.