Food Systems and Management at Cranfield

If you are passionate about food and you want to contribute on mitigating major worldwide problems as Food security and Food safety, our MSc course is your gateway for succeeding in this area.

Developed with and for the industry, our graduates are highly valued by different Agrifood businesses and thus we have a very high employment rate of 94.5%* for our School. Hence joining us might be the “golden ticket” you need to boost your careers in the fast and ever changing Agrifood area.

Through the integration of scientific, technological and managerial aspects (teaching shared with our internationally recognised School of Management and industry experts) you will learn how to use and manage food resources more efficiently (agriculture, logistics, food analysis, consumers, food management, certification, food innovation), in order to achieve sustainable, secure and safe food supply chains across the globe.

We have a great commitment with student excellence, from both UK and from around the world, and every year we will offer bursaries to several outstanding candidates.

*(based on those for whom we hold data. Source: DLHE 2017 Collections).


  • Start dateFull-time: October. Part-time: October
  • 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
  • CampusCranfield campus

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 Systems and Management 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
  • Logistics
  • Postharvest technology
  • Predictive modelling
  • Risk assessment of food
  • Supply chain management.

Your career

Specific relevant job roles may includemanagement, food innovation, production, logistics, research or academia, retail sector, food storage.

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.We have been providing Masters level training for over 20 years. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. The increasing interest in sustainability and corporate and social responsibility has also enhanced the career prospects of our graduates.

Employers will exist in a variety of food-related sectors includingFood 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. For professionals already in industry, Cranfield qualifications enhance their careers, benefiting both the candidate and their employer.

Why this course?

Rosa Torrelles-Rafales on studying Food Chain Systems MSc.

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 Systems and Management 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.

Hear from Ida Berg about her experience of studying Agrifood at Cranfield.

Informed by Industry

Our MSc in Food Systems and Management 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.

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.

Course delivery

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

Group project

Group projects provide you 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 you 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.

Cranfield University also actively seeks sponsorship and support for individual thesis projects from the food and environmental sector employers to provide professional experience and development opportunities for students. Thesis sponsors and supporters include: Coca Cola Enterprises, Selva Organic, McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, GreenWay Foods, Giles Foods, Discovery Foods, Edward Vinson Ltd., KWS Ltd., Greenyard Fresh UK, and Whitworth’s.

This element constitutes 40% of the overall mark.


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 compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course

Quality of Food and Beverages

Module Leader
  • Professor Andrew Thompson
    To provide an understanding of how quality (e.g. colour, shape, aroma, taste, texture, nutrition) and value are evaluated in foods and beverages, and how this is influenced by genetic, environmental and management factors.
    • Composition of products used in the food and drink industry
    • Primary metabolites 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: toxicity and human nutrition
    • The role of environment, and crop and soil management, on the quality of plant-based products
    • The role of 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 study the student should be able to:

  • Explain primary and secondary metabolism and comment on its importance in relation to food production
  • Relate biochemical properties of primary food sources to key attributes that are responsible for food quality and value, including environment, management and genetics
  • Evaluate how the processes of breeding and selection can lead to improved quality
  • Develop advanced research skills in literature survey, critical appraisal and oral presentation.

Food Diagnostics

Module Leader
  • Dr M. Carmen Alamar
    To gain an understanding of the concept of food diagnostics and the role of monitoring and analysis in food quality, safety, and management.
    • Fundamentals of food analysis
    • Analytical methods; chemical, biological, physical and molecular techniques.
    • Use of non-destructive techniques (viz.spectroscopy, hyperspectral imaging, electronic noses) 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
    • Practical sessions (every afternoon): food quality and safety concepts will be explored through a hands on/laboratory based approach: students will be exposed to industry which will bring commercial solutions for them to assess.
Intended learning outcomes

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

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

Leading Corporate Sustainability

Module Leader
  • Dr Rosina Watson

    Global sustainability challenges are shaping the way business operates in the 21st century. Businesses are under increasing pressure from multiple stakeholders (for e.g. shareholders, customers, employees, society) to manage their positive and negative impacts with clear responsibility and strategic intent.  Leading firms are choosing to respond to these challenges by generating sustainable value propositions to ultimately drive competitive advantage. For many this has meant re-engaging at the level of purpose and re-addressing their role in wider society and for human well-being.

    This module outlines the major sustainability challenges and explores the capabilities organisations require need to respond positively to them. It will engage students in gaining a better understanding of how corporate action can be best configured to promote responsible and sustainable business strategies. In doing so, it will demand management students (as future business managers and leaders) to reflect on the long-standing debate about whether or not ‘the business of business, is still business?

    Watch video: An introduction to the Leading Corporate Sustainability module

    Leading Corporate Sustainability

    The content is organised around the sustainability management ‘compass’ below:

    Leading Corporate Sustainability

    The course content is structured as follows:

    Part 1: Setting the context

    Context setting

    • What is managing corporate sustainability?
    • Social and environmental trends

    The role of business

    • What is the role of business?
    • Challenges and opportunities for business

    Exploring possible futures

    • Playing ‘The Game of Life 2050;’ an interactive future sustainable scenario board game

    Part 2: Developing the capabilities

    • Creating a vision
    • Formulating and implementing strategy
    • Innovating
    • Working with stakeholders
    • Collaborating
    • Valuing
    • Leading

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Identify global environmental and social trends and relate how these present both challenges and opportunities to business
  2. Explain why businesses need to respond to these challenges and opportunities and assess the capabilities they require to do so
  3. Classify the potential stakeholder groups businesses can work with to develop and implement their sustainability strategies and compare collaboration approaches
  4. Consider the role of personal leadership in an organization’s values, strategic direction and ability to execute its sustainability strategy
  5. Critically assess the content and reporting of businesses’ sustainability strategies
  6. Design and recommend a sustainability-oriented innovation for a selected business.

Postharvest Technology

Module Leader
  • Dr Natalia Falagan Sama
    To provide a conceptual awareness of the key aspects of postharvest technology and the role they play in modern food supply.
    • 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:

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

Food Chain Resilience

Module Leader
  • Dr Abhijeet Ghadge
    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.
    • SC strategy and concepts
    • Sustainable SC management
    • SC risk identification and mitigation
    • Procurement strategy
    • Supplier relationship management
    • Quality management
    • SC collaboration approaches and types of partnerships.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able  (in the context of Food & 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.

Food Safety and Quality Management and Certification

Module Leader
  • Dr Angel Medina Vaya

    To provide an overview of the main hazards encountered along the food chain and the food safety and quality legal framework.

    Special attention will be paid to microbiological hazards (bacteria, viruses and fungal pathogens) relevant to food .


    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. Food legislation framework under which food production facilities and industries should work. 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)
    8. Practicals/case studies. 

Intended learning outcomes

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


  • Differentiate and understand the different Food Quality, Safety and related regulatory frameworks
  • Categorise the various groups of hazards in different food chains, and appraise their relative roles and importance
  • Identify the main bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins responsible for food related human disease
  • Critically appraise and apply sampling and monitoring techniques used in the microbiological analysis of food and food production facilities
  • Critically appraise and apply the HACCP methodology and understand its relationship with further certification.


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

Agrifood Business Innovation

Module Leader
  • Dr Sofia Kourmpetli
    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 deliver presentations to 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.

    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
    • Potential career paths after finishing an MSc
    • Product development and process improvement
    • The role of technical managers in food industries.
Intended learning outcomes

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

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


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

Teaching team

Dr Angel Medina Vaya is Programme Director and Dr M. Carmen Alamar Gavidia is Course Director. In addition, students benefit from a programme of visiting lecturers from industry. One of the modules will be fully taught by industrial partners with confirmed speakers like: Professor Mark Berry - Head of Plant Science & Biochemistry, Unilever PLC Dr Bizhan Pourkomailian - Global Restaurant Food Safety, McDonald’s Corporation Terry Donohoe - Visiting Fellow at Cranfield (formally head of risk at the FSA) Ian Puddephat - Senior Director Agro Discovery, PepsiCo plc.


The MSc of this course is accredited by Institution of Agricultural Engineers and Institute of Food Science and Technology.

IAgrE logo IFST approved degree logo

How to apply

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.

Food Chain Systems MSc student Cécile Greuillet

We had the opportunity to visit multiple different big UK companies in relation with the food sector. In addition, we met several professionals working in different positions of the food industry.

Cécile Greuillet, Food Chain Systems MSc