Postgraduate taught

MSc Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture - 2021 entry

Please note: The below is for 2021 entries. Click here for 2020 entries.
UCAS code 1234
Duration 1 year full time
2 year part time
Entry year 2020

Programme Director: Dr Dan Bebber
Web: Enquire online 
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725818

Entry requirements

Normally at least a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a biological or agricultural subject.

View full entry requirements

Campus Streatham Campus
Discipline Biosciences


  • Addressing the urgent need for trained food security scientists
  • Provides multi-disciplinary training in sustainable agriculture and global food security
  • Developed in collaboration with the agricultural industry, government agencies, farmers and food manufacturers
  • Offers opportunities to gain industrial and practical experiences, including field trips

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View 2020 Entry

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7th in the world for Ecology

ShanghaiRankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2019 

Top 10 in the UK for world-leading and internationally excellent research

Research Excellence Framework 2014 based on the percentage of research categorised as 4* and 3*

2nd in the Russell Group for Biosciences in the National Student Survey 2019

92% of Biosciences students agreed they were satisfied with the quality of their course in the NSS 2019

10th in the UK for Biological Sciences

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020

Entry requirements

Normally at least a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent in a biological or agricultural 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.

Entry requirements for international students

English language requirements

  • Pearson

Please visit our entry requirements section for equivalencies from your country and further information on English language requirements.

Course content

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 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)), 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 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.

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. We also had the opportunity to visit Rothamsted Research Farm on a field trip to study grassland livestock systems.

The student cohort on my programme was quite small and this made the teaching and interaction very engaging. The lecturers were also very supportive as they encouraged us to discuss any issues we had regarding the course during their office hours.

My research project was on the Assessment of Biological Control Usage in Ghana. I had great support from my supervisor and was guided every step of the way, both on campus and collecting my primary data back in Ghana. The plan after I graduate is to help provide solutions to real world problems, for instance how we could reduce world hunger.

If you have a desire for challenges, want to have a sense of belonging and be part of a Russell Group family known for its outstanding teaching and research, then Exeter is definitely the place for you.

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MSc Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture


UK/EU fees per year:

£10,900 full-time; £5,450 part-time

International fees per year:

£21,100 full-time

Teaching and research

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Group discussion
  • Independent study

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.

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, for example, are offering dissertation and/or project placements annually.

Tutorial 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.


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.

Learning from experts

Teaching is enriched by expert contributions from a broad cross-section of the industry. 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.

Our research

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

Fish: Aquaculture, fisheries and marine science

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Employer-valued skills this course develops

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.

Global horizons

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.

Careers services

Our careers teams at the Career Zone can help guide you through a wealth of information to match your skills and interests to a career that will suit you. Our staff work with regional, national and international employers to develop new work placement, project and graduate opportunities.

Graduate destinations

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:

  • Communications Assistant
  • Conservation Project officer
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental consultant
  • Impact Support Assistant
  • Marine and Environmental Consultant
  • Project Assistant
  • Researcher
  • Science Researcher
  • Technical Assistant

Recent graduates are now working for:

  • Bayer Crop Science
  • Biosphere Magazine
  • Blackdown Environmental
  • CSa Environmental Planning
  • Greengage Environmental LLP
  • Institute of Zoology
  • John Wenman Ecological Consultancy Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute (MRCI)
  • Oxford Scientific Films
  • Seamarc Environmental Consultancy and Engineering
  • Sustainable Restaurant Association

Further study

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
  • PhD Institute for Bee Health
  • PhD Environmental Sciences
  • PhD 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

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