Our Food Chain Systems MSc has been developed as a result of extensive industry-led research. The course examines the whole of the food chain from pre-harvest to market with the overall aim of enhancing the quality and safety of food. 

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At a glance

  • Start dateFull-time: October. Part-time: throughout the year
  • DurationOne year full-time, two-three years part-time
  • DeliveryTaught Modules 40%, Group Project 20%, Individual Research Project 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time

Who is it for?

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.

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 as well as successfully understand and manage food supply chains.

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.

Why this course?

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.

Our 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. This involvement by industry makes successful students highly sought after in the employment market.

Your teaching team

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

Course details

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.

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.

Assessment

Taught Modules 40%, Group Project 20%, Individual Research Project 40%

University Disclaimer

Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the core modules and some optional modules affiliated with this programme which ran in the academic year 2016–2017. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2017 entry. All modules are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

Core modules

Plant-Based Food Quality

Module Leader
  • Professor Andrew Thompson
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.

Food Diagnostics

Module Leader
  • Dr M. Carmen Alamar Gavidia
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
    • Fundamentals of food analysis
    • Analytical methods; chemical, biological, physical and molecular techniques
    • Use of non-destructive techniques (spectroscopy, hyperspectral imaging,…) to assess food composition and quality
    • Food adulteration and current techniques to identify fraud
    • Analytical identification of chemical components to evaluate food safety and quality
    • Bioinformatics approaches: Integration of datasets to predict food quality and safety
    • Design of appropriate analysis strategies to solve industrial questions related to food components or contaminants
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an independent critical awareness of the principles and techniques currently available for food analysis, monitoring and assessment
  2. Understand and critically compare the different destructive and non-destructive techniques used to assess food quality parameters
  3. Evaluate and argue the choice of the appropriate molecular techniques for the analysis of food components and food microbiological contaminants
  4. 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

Postharvest Technology

Module Leader
  • Dr Sofia Kourmpetli
Aim

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

Syllabus
    • Fundamentals of postharvest physiology; pre-harvest 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
    • Food waste management
    • Case studies
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Evaluate the impact of postharvest physiological factors on later stages in the supply chain
  2. Critically appraise key preservation methods of fresh produce, including their advantages and limitations
  3. Identify the most important postharvest diseases, evaluate their impact on raw materials and foods and propose appropriate control methods
  4. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of quality control issues in the postharvest situation and propose strategies for assessing quality in fresh produce
  5. Debate the role of postharvest technology in the supply of food and the reduction of food waste in the modern world
  6. Critically evaluate scientific publications in the field of postharvest technology

Food Safety

Module Leader
  • Dr Angel Medina Vaya
Aim

    To provide an overview of the main Hazards encountered along the food chain. Special attention will be paid to microbiological hazards (bacteria, viruses and fungal pathogens) relevant to food.

    The module aims to provide a thorough understanding of the ecology and physiology of bacteria, yeasts and moulds in key food chains and the methods for detecting and controlling spoilage , mycotoxin contamination, and the use of hurdle technology for improving shelf-life. The practical work will compliment the theory covered during the lectures.

Syllabus
    1. Introduction to food safety and the main hazard types able to enter different food chains
    2. Introduction and taxonomy of micro-organisms in food production and spoilage
    3. Food-borne pathogens and pathogenicity and natural toxins
    4. Fungal ecology: concepts, fungal contamination in different food chains (e.g., cereals, bakery, fresh produce, cured meats and beverages), heat resistant mould, mechanisms of survival and control
    5. Legislative drivers for mycotoxin control
    6. Hurdle technology: Use of ecophysiological knowledge to increase product shelf-life. Available food processing techniques.
    7. Practicals/case studies
Intended learning outcomes

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

Knowledge

  1. Categorise the various groups of hazards in different food chains, and appraise their relative roles and importance
  2. Identify the main bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins responsible for food related human disease
  3. Critically appraise and apply sampling and monitoring techniques used in the microbiological analysis of food and food production facilities


Skills

  1. Critically apply the approaches presented in the module to industrial situations

Food Quality Management and Certification

Module Leader
  • Professor Naresh Magan
Aim

    This module intends to provide the students with an overview of the food quality legal framework and examples of its application to industrially relevant cases.

Syllabus

    This module explores the main legislation framework under which food production facilities and industries should work. The students will gain an understanding on the general framework and then we will narrow down to particular areas and sectors. Some important food chains will be used as examples.

    The content will focus on:

    • ISO9000 (Food Quality)
    • ISO22000 (Food Safety)
    • OSHAS 18000 (People risk)
    • ISO14000 or EMA (Environment)

    Specific Production areas:

    • Field Production (GAP, Red Tractor)
    • Food Industry (HACCP, Certification: BRC, IFS)
Intended learning outcomes

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

Knowledge

  1. Differentiate and understand the different Food Quality, Safety and related regulatory frameworks
  2. Critically appraise and apply the HACCP methodology and understand its relationship with further certification

Skills

  1. Demonstrate an independent critical ability to think systemically and conceptually by comparing and distinguishing among the different quality management approaches and diverse certification options. Design and develop the most appropriate option for specific production/processing sectors.
  2. Apply the gained knowledge to solve practical industrially relevant cases

Management for Technology: Energy

Module Leader
  • Stephen Carver
Aim

    To provide a knowledge of those aspects of management which will enable an engineer to fulfil a wider role in a business organisation more effectively.

Syllabus
    • Engineers and Technologists in organisations: The role of organisations and the challenges facing engineers and technologies.
    • People management: Understanding you. Understanding other people. Working in teams. Dealing with conflicts.
    • The Business Environment: Understanding the business environment; identifying key trends and their implications for the organisation.
    • Strategy and Marketing: Developing effective strategies; Focusing on the customer; building competitive advantage; The role of strategic assets.
    • Finance: Profit and loss accounts. Balance sheets. Cash flow forecasting. Project appraisal.
    • New product development: Commercialising technology. Market drivers. Time to market. Focusing technology. Concerns.
    • Business game: Working in teams (companies), students will set up and run a technology company and make decisions on investment, R&D funding, operations, marketing and sales strategy.
    • Negotiation: Preparation for Negotiations. Negotiation process. Win-Win solutions.
    • Presentation skills: Understanding your audience. Focusing your message. Successful presentations. Getting your message across.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • To understand the importance of teamwork in the performance and success of organisations
  • Recognise the contribution which they can make to the performance of a team, and to be able to help others to improve the overall performance of a team
  • Understand the basic operation of a business and recognise the commercial aspects relevant to the manufacture of a product or provision of a technical services
  • Understand the role of key functional areas in the performance of an organisation, with particular focus on understanding the business environment, strategy and marketing and finance
  • Improve their skills in making effective presentations
  • Improve their negotiating skills.

Food Chain Resilience

Module Leader
  • Dr Denyse Julien
Aim

    To introduce the participants to key aspects of supply chain (SC) management which are critical to improving the overall resilience of the global food supply network.


Syllabus
    • Supply Chain strategy and concepts
    • Sustainable Supply Chain management
    • Supply Chain risk identification and mitigation
    • Procurement strategy
    • Supplier relationship management
    • Quality management
    • Supply Chain collaboration approaches and types of partnerships

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this study you should be able to (in the context of Food and Beverage networks):

  • To assess the impact of different SC strategies on the competitive strategy in the Food and Drinks industry.
  • To categorise the interface with a firm’s suppliers to improve the visibility and alignment across the SC.
  • To design a successful collaborative initiative through the use of frameworks and tools.
  • To examine the challenges around managing sustainable supply chains.
  • To evaluate the risk inherent in the SC through the application of tools and techniques learnt.

Agrifood Business Innovation

Module Leader
  • Dr Angel Medina Vaya
Aim
    This module will be delivered in collaboration with our industrial partners and members of the Agrifood Industrial Advisory Panel. Different external speakers will come and speak with the students with regard to their main challenges and innovation projects in different industrial sectors. The aim is to provide the students a direct contact with industrial challenges explained and solved by the industry themselves.

Syllabus

    This module explores current and future challenges that different sectors of the food chain are facing. The content will thus be flexible and 50% of content will depend on the different speakers. On the other hand, some common areas will be covered including:

    • Intellectual property and food business
    • Product development and continuous improvement
    • The role of technical managers in food industries


Intended learning outcomes

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

Knowledge

  1. Identify and understand the different managerial roles and related tasks within different food production businesses from different sectors
  2. Critically assess the main industrial challenges presented by the industrial speakers.
  3. Appraise the importance of Intellectual Property and its protection in a food production environment.

Skills

  1. Demonstrate the ability to participate in the current discourse with regard to food production by thinking, arguing and criticizing the different industrial situation presented during the module using the acquired knowledge systemically and conceptually
  2. Apply the skills explored during the module to solve industrial case studies/or industrially based problems

Fees and funding

European Union students applying for university places in the 2017 to 2018 academic year and the 2018 to 2019 academic year will still have access to student funding support. Please see the UK Government’s announcement (21 April 2017).

Cranfield University welcomes applications from students from all over the world for our postgraduate programmes. The Home/EU student fees listed continue to apply to EU students.

MSc Full-time £7,800
MSc Part-time £1,500 *
PgDip Full-time £6,000
PgDip Part-time £1,500 *
PgCert Full-time £3,000
PgCert Part-time £1,500 *
  • * The annual registration fee is quoted above and will be invoiced annually. An additional fee of £1,230 per module is also payable on receipt of invoice. 
  • ** Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later.  

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • 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 Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

MSc Full-time £17,500
MSc Part-time £17,500 **
PgDip Full-time £14,500
PgDip Part-time £14,500 **
PgCert Full-time £10,380
PgCert Part-time £7,000 **
  • * The annual registration fee is quoted above and will be invoiced annually. An additional fee of £1,230 per module is also payable on receipt of invoice. 
  • ** Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or in a maximum of two payments per year; first instalment on receipt of invoice and the second instalment six months later.  

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • 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 Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

Funding Opportunities

To help students find and secure appropriate funding we have created a funding finder which allows you to filter the results to suit your needs. Visit the funding finder.

Future Finance Scholarship

All students starting a full-time Masters course in 2017/18 can apply for the Future Finance Scholarship worth £5,000 toward course tuition fees.

NFU Mutual Charitable Trust Centenary Award

The award gives an annual bursary of up to 75% of the course tuition fees for postgraduate students in an agricultural related Masters or PhD course.

The Cranfield Scholarship

We have a limited number of scholarships available for candidates from around the world applying for the 2017 intake. Scholarships are awarded to applicants who show both aptitude and ability for the subject they are applying. Find out more about the Cranfield Scholarship

Postgraduate Loan from Student Finance England

A Postgraduate Loan is now available for UK and EU applicants to help you pay for your Master’s course. You can apply for a loan at GOV.UK

Santander MSc Scholarship

The Santander Scholarship at Cranfield University is worth £5,000 towards tuition fees for full-time master's courses. Check the scholarship page to find out if you are from an eligible Santander Universities programme country.

Chevening Scholarships

Chevening Scholarships are awarded to outstanding emerging leaders to pursue a one-year master’s at Cranfield university. The scholarship includes tuition fees, travel and monthly stipend for Master’s study.

Commonwealth Scholarships for Developing Countries

Students from developing countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the UK can apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship which includes tuition fees, travel and monthly stipend for Master’s study.

Future Finance Student Loans

Future Finance offer student loans of up to £40,000 that can cover living costs and tuition fees for all student at Cranfield University.

Erasmus+ Student Loans

This new loan scheme for EU students is offered by Future Finance and European Investment Fund and provides smart, flexible loans of up to £9,300.

Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS)

The Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS) is a funding programme providing affordable tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time UK/EU students studying technology-based MSc courses.

The Gen Foundation

The Gen Foundation provide small grants of between £500 - £5,000 to students in food sciences or food technology.

Agrifood Charities Partnership

The Agrifood Charities Partnership (AFCP) provides a database of charitable organisations that provide grants and funding for studies and research in the area of agri-food.

Conacyt (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia)

Cranfield offers competitive scholarships for Mexican students in conjunction with Conacyt (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia) in science, technology and engineering.

GREAT India Scholarship 

The GREAT Cranfield University Scholarship India 2017 is jointly funded by Cranfield University and the British Council. Five scholarships of £5,000 each for Indian students are available.

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.

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. Our minimum requirements are as follows:

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 is 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 must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.

Applicants who do not already meet the English language entry requirement for their chosen Cranfield course can apply to attend one of our Presessional English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses. We offer Winter/Spring and Summer programmes each year to offer holders.

Your career

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.

Environment and Agrifood

Thanks to Cranfield’s excellent contacts, I carried out my research project at Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd - this provided me with invaluable experience for my CV.

Natalia Brzezina, Trainee at European Commission

Applying

Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at this time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

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