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Food Chain Systems MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Full-time/Part-time

Food Chain Systems

Increasing consumer awareness and demand regarding food quality, nutrition and safety issues, coupled with intensifying competition within the rapidly changing food industry, has created a demand for individuals who are able to drive success in the management of key food chains in a modern global economic market.

Cranfield's Food Chain Systems MSc has been developed as a result of extensive industry-led research. It represents a unique offering within the UK and Europe in that it examines the whole of the food chain from pre-harvest to market through the integration of science, technology and management.

The holistic approach of the MSc responds to the increasingly integrated food supply chain ('farm to fork') and will equip you with the relevant knowledge, skills and practical experience needed to pursue a wide variety of career opportunities in today's food industry.



  • Course overview

    Food Chain Systems MSc is part of the Agriculture and Food Programme. It provides a critical appreciation of the issues concerned with the production and supply of safe food in the modern world. Through the integration of scientific, technological and managerial factors students will learn how to use food resources more efficiently to achieve higher quality and safer food production.

    The holistic approach of the MSc will provide you with a detailed understanding of the whole of the food chain system including:

    • Diagnostics
    • Food microbiology
    • HACCP
    • Logistics
    • Postharvest technology
    • Predictive modelling
    • Risk assessment of food
    • Supply chain management.

    Food Chain Systems MSc is made up of three components:

    • A formal taught component comprising eight modules
    • Group Project
    • Individual Research Project.
  • Group project

    Group projects provide students with an understanding of working on real challenges in the work place along with skills in team working, managing resources and developing reporting and presentation skills. Many of the projects are supported by external organisations and the experience gained is highly valued by both students and prospective employers. For part-time students a dissertation usually replaces the group project. 

    This element constitutes 20% of the overall mark.

  • Individual project

    The four-month individual research project can be carried out within industry or academia and for part-time candidates it can be undertaken in your place of work. This key part of the course allows you to apply the research skills acquired during the taught phase of the course to a practical problem in health science and acts as an opportunity for you to meet potential future employers.

    This element constitutes 40% of the overall mark.

  • Modules

    The formal taught component of this course comprises eight compulsory modules. Each module is two weeks in duration, consisting of one week of lectures, practical work, site visits and one week for private study. Part-time students attend the first week of each module but may continue with coursework assignments at a suitable time and location. This element constitutes 40% of the overall mark.

    Core

    • Food Bacteriology and Mycology
      Module LeadersProfessor Naresh Magan - Professor of Applied Mycology, Dr Angel Medina-Vaya - Visiting Academic, Dr David Aldred - Senior Lecturer
      Aim

      To provide an introduction and overview of the bacteria, viruses and parasites that are relevant to food, together with the laboratory methods that are used to detect them. To provide a thorough understanding of the ecology and physiology of yeasts and moulds in key food chains and the methods for detecting and controlling contamination, mycotoxin contamination, and use of hurdle technology for improving shelf life.

      Syllabus

      The module covers:

      • Introduction and taxonomy of micro-organisms; micro-organisms in food production and spoliage
      • Food-borne pathogens and pathogenicity; natural toxins; laboratory methods
      • Fungal ecology: concepts; fungal contamination in different food chains (e.g. cereals, bakery fresh produce, cured meats and beverages); heat resistant moulds; mechanisms of survival and control
      • Ecology of mycotoxigenic moulds; legislative drivers for mycotoxin control
      • Practicals/case studies
      • Industrial visit.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Categorise the various groups of micro-organisms relevant to food, and appraise their relative roles and importance
      • Identify the main bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins responsible for food related human disease
      • Demonstrate a conceptual and critical understanding of laboratory methods used for the identification of food-borne micro-organisms
      • Participate in the discourse on the importance of food-borne micro-organisms and food poisoning in modern society
      • Carry out a range of microbiological techniques
      • Critically appraise and apply sampling and monitoring techniques used in the microbiological analysis of food and food production facilities
      • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and recognition of the key groups of fungi responsible for spoilage fungi in key food chains
      • Demonstrate a critical ability to integrate knowledge and thinking on mycology problems in the context of the entire food supply chain
      • Demonstrate a conceptual awareness of fungal ecology and mycotoxin contamination and apply this to situations relating to food safety and quality
      • Apply the approaches presented in the module to industrial situations.
    • Mathematical Foundations
      Module LeaderDr Ronnie Lambert - Reader in Applied Microbiology
      Aim

      To develop competencies in the use and understanding of statistical analysis and its applications.

      Syllabus

      The module covers:

      • Mathematical preliminaries (use of Excel)
      • Experimental design
      • Basic comparisons
      • Parametric
      • Non-parametric
      • Anova
      • Basic relationships
      • Correlation
      • Basic regression
      • Multiple regression
      • Residual analysis
      • Reporting statistical data
      • Introduction to Multivariate analysis
      • Case studies in modelling
      • Modelling error (Monte-Carlo)
      • Modelling growth in foods (Food Chain Systems)
      • Modelling for Health and the Environment
      • Models in toxicology and Epidemiology.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate a critical  awareness of the use of statistics for the design of experiments
      • Demonstrate an ability to use statistics to report the reliability of relevant experimental observations
      • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the use of modelling and its applicability in relevant areas
      • Demonstrate an ability to discriminate between the types of tests required for the analysis of relevant data and experimental designs.
    • Food Diagnostics
      Module LeaderDr Chris Walton - Lecturer in Analytical Technology
      Aim

      To gain an understanding of the concept of food diagnostics and the role of monitoring and analysis in food quality, safety, and management.

      Syllabus

      The module covers:

      • Fundamentals of food analysis: methods, bias, precision and accuracy, expressing and converting concentrations
      • Key analytical parameters in food quality and safety: their significance and measurement
      • Sampling and analysing food: food characterisation and chemistry, heterogeneity, cleanup methods, matrix effect, analysing solids, liquids and gases
      • Analytical methods; chemical, biological, physical and molecular techniques, designing of analytical strategy
      • Reporting data: detection limits, handling uncertainty and statistics for analytical reporting.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Acquire an in-depth understanding of how foods are analysed and interpret analyses in the context of sampling and measurement uncertainty
      • Show evidence of critically evaluating the potential impacts from process technology operations
      • Demonstrate knowledge of the statutory requirements, the significance of these limits and the techniques and reliability of measurement for compliance
      • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the principles and techniques for analysis, monitoring and assessment, with particular reference to foods
      • Summarise the key analytical parameters that describe food characteristics, the typical parameter ranges found in food and use this information to compare these to other contaminant matrices and ambient levels
      • Characterise analytical uncertainty and present valid analytical data by reference to data quality criteria
      • Critically examine analytical data on food and, synthesising knowledge gained elsewhere in the course, design an appropriate and cost-effective sampling and analytical strategy for food.
    • Food Supply Management
      Module LeaderDr Soroosh Saghiri - Senior Research Fellow
      Aim

      To provide an introduction to the concepts and tools of supply chain management in the food and drinks industry and give participants opportunities to apply them through the use of exercises and case studies.

      Syllabus

      The module covers:

      • Strategic Supply Chain Management
      • Managing demand
      • Food manufacturing and organisational resilience
      • Procurement and outsourcing
      • Collaboration and partnerships
      • Food logistics
      • Tools for supply chain improvement.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate an awareness of the role of supply chain management in competitive strategy in the food and drinks industry
      • Have a critical understanding of the buyer-supplier relationship debate
      • Be aware of the challenges involved in identifying, acquiring and managing the various resources required in food supply chains
      • Develop a conceptual appreciation of the key supply chain management processes and their role in satisfying customer demands
      • Be able to follow a process of continuous improvement and have awareness of the main tools and techniques that can help improve food supply chain processes
      • Have the language required to discuss the use of sophisticated supply chain management techniques with functional experts.
    • Postharvest Technology
      Aim

      To provide a conceptual awareness of the key aspects of postharvest technology and the role they play in modern food supply.

      Syllabus

      The module covers:

      • Fundamentals of postharvest physiology; preharvest factors, biochemistry, ripening
      • Preservation methods; cool chain, packaging, ethylene, specialist treatments
      • Postharvest diseases; physiology, pathology, principles of disease control
      • Quality control; biochemical changes, assessment methods
      • Case studies.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate a conceptual awareness of the fundamentals of postharvest physiology, with particular emphasis on the impact of physiological factors on later stages in the supply chain
      • Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the key preservation methods including their advantages and limitations
      • Be aware of the most important postharvest diseases and their impact on raw materials and foods
      • Comment critically on control methods used for postharvest diseases
      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of quality control issues in the postharvest situation, including theoretical fundamentals
      • Participate in the discourse on postharvest technology and the role that this stage plays in the supply of food in the modern world
      • Develop a strategy for assessing quality in fresh produce.
      • Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate scientific publications in the relevant disciplines.
    • GHP, HACCP and MRA
      Module LeaderDr Ronnie Lambert - Reader in Applied Microbiology
      Aim

      To provide a working knowledge of microbiological risk on the basis of the ‘3-waves’ of food safety: Good Hygienic Practice, HACCP and Risk Analysis.

      Syllabus

      The module covers:

      • Food-borne illness – a review
      • Good Manufacturing and Hygiene Practice
      • HACCP: Principles and Application
      • Microbiological Risk Analysis: Basis and Application.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Synthesize the knowledge provided in this module with other material to gain a conceptual understanding of a systems approach to food safety
      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the current tools and practices used in the food industry to ensure the overall microbiological safety of the food chain
      • Design a HACCP study in a model system and demonstrate how this can be of immediate value to industry
      • Demonstrate a conceptual awareness of how microbiological risk assessment is intertwined with HACCP and the safety of the food chain, and extend this into an operational environment.
    • Soil Plant Environment Science
      Aim

      Food security, environmental protection and mitigation of climate change impacts depend upon effective management of soil, plant and water interactions in the environment. This module will focus on how decisions in land management and water resource management are informed by a fundamental understanding of the science of soils and plants driving the water, carbon and nitrogen cycles in terrestrial systems.

      Syllabus
      • Soil systems, soil functions and ecosystems goods and services
      • Soil plant environment and the hydrological cycle
      • Plant responses to solar radiation, temperature, drought and aeration stress
      • Water potential, flow and rates of movement and infiltration; water release characteristics
      • Physical properties: 3-phase soil model, bulk density, soil moisture content, porosity
      • Soil chemistry: pH, CEC, salinity and the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles
      • Soil biology: diversity, and functional importance
      • Soil diversity in the field and landscape
      • Agricultural soil management, diffuse pollution and soil erosion
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Describe the role of soil systems in the context of ecosystem services and soil functions
      • Explain the principal responses of plants to solar radiation, temperature, drought and aeration stress
      • Measure and quantify the key features of the soil physical environment (i.e. soil texture and structure, bulk density, porosity and volumetric and gravimetric water content).
      • Explain the transport of water through soil, plants and the atmosphere in terms of differences in water potential
      • Assess the role and contribution of soils in the cycling of nitrogen and carbon in the environment
      • Describe the main classes of organisms in soil and their functional importance in soil systems
      • Evaluate the impact of land management decisions on soil functions for agricultural production and environmental protection
      • Assess how soil properties change in the landscape and evaluate the implications of the spatial variability on soil functions.
    • Plant-Based Food Quality
      Module LeaderDr Andrew Thompson - Reader in Molecular Plant Science
      Aim

      The module shall provide an understanding of how the biochemical composition of plant-based foods and beverages determines quality (e.g. colour, shape, aroma, taste, texture, nutrition) and value.

      Syllabus

      The module covers:

      • Composition of plant products used in the food and drink industry
      • Primary metabolites in plants in relation to food quality and diet: oils, carbohydrates and proteins
      • Secondary metabolites and bioactives in plant-based products: their importance in quality, value and human health
      • Mineral content of food plants: toxicity and human nutrition
      • The role of crop breeding and cultivar selection in improving quality traits
      • Survey and critical appraisal of relevant literature
      • Oral presentation practice.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

      • Demonstrate a conceptual awareness of plant primary and secondary metabolism and comment on its importance in relation to food production
      • Relate biochemical properties of plants to key attributes that are responsible for food quality and value
      • Participate in the discourse on plant breeding and cultivar selection, demonstrating how this can lead to improved crop quality
      • Develop advanced research skills in literature survey, critical appraisal and oral presentation.
  • Assessment

    Modules - coursework which may take the form of a portfolio, debate, lab report or presentation. Group Project - written report and presentations. Individual Research Project - combination of a submitted thesis, oral presentation and application and initiative shown during the project.

  • Start date, duration and location

    Start date: October

    Duration: One year full-time, two-three years part-time

    Teaching location: Cranfield

  • Overview

    Increasing consumer awareness and demand regarding food quality, nutrition and safety issues, coupled with intensifying competition within the rapidly changing food industry, has created a demand for individuals who are able to drive success in the management of key food chains in a modern global economic market.

    Cranfield's Food Chain Systems MSc has been developed as a result of extensive industry-led research. It represents a unique offering within the UK and Europe in that it examines the whole of the food chain from pre-harvest to market through the integration of science, technology and management.

    The holistic approach of the MSc responds to the increasingly integrated food supply chain ('farm to fork') and will equip you with the relevant knowledge, skills and practical experience needed to pursue a wide variety of career opportunities in today's food industry.

  • Informed by industry

    Our MSc in Food Chain Systems benefits from input from an industry advisory panel (with representatives from commercial organisations and non-commercial organisations) who help to ensure the course maintains its real-world relevance to the marketplace and industry focus, making successful students highly sought after in the employment market.

  • Your teaching team

    In addition students benefit from a programme of visiting lecturers from industry.

  • Facilities and resources

    Course specific facilities

    Cranfield houses one of the largest postharvest, microbiology and mycology laboratories in Europe. The laboratory includes a wide-range of analytical equipment for the analysis of quality attributes of fresh produce and analysis of mycotoxins in food.  

    Health and Bioscience facilities

    Part of a £30 million investment by the University and on a par with those found in the commercial sector. Our state-of-the-art laboratories are used for contractual research that we do for companies, which feeds into our own forward-thinking research, and in turn, informs our cutting-edge teaching programmes.

    University facilities

    Library Services

    The Cranfield Library and Information Service on campus offers an extensive collection of books, journals and as well as access to nearly 200 databases and over 8,500 electronic journals.

    Computer Access

    There is 24 hour access to a fully networked personal computer centre on site with cutting edge equipment and fast broadband connections.

    Distance Learning Support

    24 hour distance learning support is provided to all students via ‘Blackboard’, a virtual learning environment to which all students on the course are automatically registered. Blackboard is the primary means of contact by all University staff for information (including course handbooks, timetables and lecture materials). In addition, the Course Director can provide you with email and telephone support, if required.

  • Entry Requirements

    A first or second class honours degree from a UK university, or equivalent, in a scientific discipline such as a food science, food technology, microbiology or other science or technology related subjects or candidates with appropriate professional experience.

    The course is suitable for new graduates from a science or technology background who are interested in a career within the food industry. The course is also ideal for professionals already working in the industry who would like to train to further their careers. Available on a full and part-time basis the course offers flexibility and support for those who wish to train whilst remaining in employment.

    English language

    If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification.  The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

    IELTS - 6.5

    TOEFL - 92 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    TOEIC - 800 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    Pearson PTE Academic - 65

    Cambridge English: Advanced - C

    Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

    In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test.  We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score if too low.

    We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

    Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa will also need to meet the UKBA Tier 4 General Visa English language requirements.  The UK Home Office are not currently accepting TOEFL or TOEIC tests for Tier 4 (General) visa applications. Other restrictions from the UK Home Office may apply from time to time and we will advise applicants of these restrictions where appropriate.

  • Fees

    Home/EU student

    MSc Full-time - £6,800

    *

    The annual registration fee is quoted above. An additional fee of £1,080 per module is also payable.

    MSc Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgDip Full-time - £5,000

    PgDip Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgCert Full-time - £2,500

    PgCert Part-time - £1,070 *

    Overseas student

    MSc Full-time - £16,250

    MSc Part-time - £8,500

    PgDip Full-time - £12,000

    PgDip Part-time - £6,250

    PgCert Full-time - £6,000

    PgCert Part-time - £4,500

    Fee notes:

    • Fees are payable annually for each year of study unless otherwise indicated.
    • The fees outlined here apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 and the University reserves the right to amend fees without notice.
    • All students pay the annual tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
    • Additional fees for extensions to registration may be charged.
    • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) pay international fees.
  • Funding

    Bursaries may be available, however please be aware that funding will, in most cases, only be discussed once you have secured a firm offer of a place on the course. Please contact the Enquiries Office for further details.
  • Application process

    Application form and, where feasible, a face-to-face or telephone interview.

  • Career opportunities

    Upon successful completion of the course graduates will be able to pursue or enhance careers in a variety of key areas such as:

    • Logistics
    • Production
    • Research
    • Retail
    • Storage
    • Supply.

    Employers will exist in a variety of food-related sectors including:

    • Food manufacturers and production companies
    • Food retailers
    • Government agencies
    • Logistics and supply chain
    • Management companies
    • Research institutions.

    Cranfield graduates are very successful in achieving relevant work. Some 93% are in relevant employment or further study six months after graduation. For professionals already in industry, Cranfield qualifications enhance their careers, benefiting both the candidate and their employer.

    Cranfield Careers Service

    Our Careers Service can help you find the job you want after leaving Cranfield. We will work with you to identify suitable opportunities and support you in the job application process for up to three years after graduation.

    Cranfield Alumni

    Thousands of graduates continue the ‘Cranfield experience’ after they leave by keeping in touch with colleagues and friends through free membership of Cranfield Alumni.

  • Natalia Brzezina

    Natalia Brzezina graduated in Cranfield University's MSc Food Chain System in 2013. Her degree helped her to secure her dream job at the European Commission.

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  • Maite Iriondo

    Maite Iriondo graduated in Cranfield's Food Chain Systems MSc in 2013. Maite talks about her time at Cranfield.

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  • Sheng Li

    Sheng Li completed her MSc in Food Chain Systems at Cranfield University in 2013. Her degree played a significant role in helping her to secure a position as R&D engineer at Wilmar International. 

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  • Shuqing Zhang

    Shuqing Zhang completed her MSc in Food Chain Systems at Cranfield University in 2013. Her MSc taught her how to solve technical problems in the microbiology laboratory - requirements of her new role.

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