Advance your career in the management of food systems

Developed with and specifically for industry, the Food Systems and Management MSc is a gateway to a successful career for anyone passionate about improving major worldwide problems such as food security and food safety.

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 in order to achieve sustainable, secure and safe food supply chains across the globe.


  • 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 Food Systems and Management MSc is suitable for new science or technology graduates, or professionals already in the food industry who are interested in furthering their career, and offers flexibility and support for full- or part-time students. Moreover, as part of our commitment with student excellence, both from UK and around the world, we will offer bursaries to outstanding candidates every year. The course will equip you with a critical appreciation of the issues concerned with the production and supply of safe food in the modern world.

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

  • Food quality
  • Food diagnostics
  • Food microbiology
  • Logistics
  • Postharvest technology
  • Supply chain management

Your career

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 graduates are very successful in achieving relevant work after the course. For professionals already in industry, Cranfield qualifications enhance careers, benefiting both the candidate and their employer.

Graduates of this course have gone on to work in a range of roles, including Senior Development Technologist, Innovation Manager, Supply Chain Coordinator and Associate Principal Scientist. Companies where our graduates have progressed on to include PepsiCo, Chia Company, Bowman’s Ingredients and MMUK.

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

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 Careers and Employability Service

Our Careers and Employability 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 master's-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.

Why this course?

Hear from Rosa Torrelles-Rafales about studying the Food Chain Systems MSc

Our Food Systems and Management MSc represents a unique offering within the UK and Europe as it examines the whole of the food chain ('farm to fork'), from pre-harvest to market. The course has been developed as a result of extensive industry-led research and integrates food science, technology and management.

You will be equipped with the relevant knowledge and skills needed to pursue a wide variety of career opportunities in today's food industry. Practical sessions and field trips are also an integral part of this MSc. With visits and workshops to, for example, McDonald’s headquarters and G’s Fresh you will get a first-hand insight into how large global companies operate.

In association with our internationally-recognised School of Management, the Food Systems and Management MSc offers a module in Leading Corporate Sustainability. This module will outline the major sustainability challenges faced by businesses, explore how companies can respond positively to them, and how corporate action can be best configured to promote responsible and sustainable business strategies.

This MSc is supported by our team of professional thought leaders, including Professor Andrew Thompson who is influential in the field of Agrifood and integral part of this MSc.

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

I was looking for a way to link my nutrition background with the industry and to have a positive impact. I came across the Food Systems and Management master's and I found out that Cranfield has a lot of links with the industry so that really motivated me. I would say Cranfield is challenging, motivating, sustainability-driven and very friendly.
I would say, overall, I really like the content of the course. I think it is very unique and gives you a holistic overview of the food industry. I think in each module you get to know what the challenges are that the industry is facing right now and how you can actually be an active part of improving the industry. For future students, I would say enjoy as much as you can. You won't know how fast the course is going to go, so enjoy every moment, try to be involved as much as you can, take part in all the activities. These activities are made for you to grow as a professional and as a person.
I chose to study at Cranfield because I had an agricultural background, but I was also interested in the food industry and this was a great way to learn everything you need to know, from farms to fork. You have this great opportunity to collaborate with big businesses, like McDonald’s. I really appreciated not having walls between us and the industry.
We had the opportunity to visit multiple different big UK companies in the food sector. In addition, we met several professionals working in different positions in the food industry.

Informed by industry

Our MSc in Food Systems and Management benefits from the input of an industry advisory panel, with representatives from commercial and non-commercial organisations, who help us to ensure the course is relevant to the current marketplace and industry focused.

Our teaching team are closely involved in industrially funded research, which feeds back into the course and enhances your learning experience.

Many group and individual projects are supported by external organisations. This will expose you to the working environment of food-related companies and their existing challenges.

Course details

The formal taught component of this course comprises seven 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 (with the exception of one module that consists of two weeks of lectures followed by two weeks of private study). Part-time students attend the first week of each module but may continue with coursework assignments (private study) at a suitable time and location. This element constitutes 40% of the overall mark.

Water course structure diagram

Course delivery

Taught modules 40%, group project 20%, individual research project 40%

Group project

The group project provides you with an understanding of working on challenges in real work place settings. You will also gain team working, management of resources, report writing, 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, if you are a part-time candidate, 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 into your own area of specialism; it can also act as an opportunity for you to meet potential future employers.

Cranfield University actively seeks sponsorship and support for individual thesis projects within the agrifood and environment sector. Thesis sponsors and supporters include PepsiCo Plc, Selva Organic, McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, GreenWay Foods, Giles Foods, Discovery Foods, Edward Vinson Ltd, KWS Ltd, Greenyard Fresh UK and Whitworth’s, among others.

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.

Induction module


    Successful completion of a Masters-level course at Cranfield requires you to work independently and to make effective use of the resources available.  The induction week seeks to introduce new students to the resources available at Cranfield, the nature of a Cranfield Masters, the importance of health, safety and ethics, together with an introduction to key elements of the course.


    What is an MSc? - Introduction to the Agrifood MSc programme,

    Course Specific Introductory Presentations,

    Presentation Skills,

    Assignment writing,

    Doing an MSc at Cranfield. What to expect,

    Avoiding plagiarism,

    Personal Development Planning and the Cranfield Competency Framework,

    Statistics refresher,

    Exploring the resilience of food systems,

    Quick Start to the Library & Discovering Quality Information,

    Blog Writing,

    Field trip – Agrifood company.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Describe the requirements of a Cranfield Masters and in particular the need for critical thinking and independent working,
  • Describe how to ensure high levels of health and safety,
  • Explain how to ensure high level of ethical behaviour, for example avoiding plagiarism,
  • Describe how to effectively use library resources,
  • Describe how to use the careers service,
  • Explain the role of Personal Development Planning,
  • Identify how Accreditation bodies can support an individual through a career.


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 effect 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 you should be able to:

  • Explain primary and secondary plant 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.

Postharvest Technology

Module Leader
  • Dr Natalia Falagan Sama

    This module provides you with the principles behind the processes affecting the postharvest physiological and functional quality and to apply this knowledge in ‘real-world’ industrial strategies.

    • 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 you should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate current postharvest technology and methodologies from real-world situations,
  • Autonomously plan postharvest treatments and storage strategies in an industrial relevant scenario, identifying and mitigating sources of postharvest waste,
  • Integrate the new technologies learnt in this module into the current supply chain.

Food Diagnostics

Module Leader
  • Dr M. Carmen Alamar

    During this module you will gain an a comprehensive understanding of food diagnostic tools to monitor and analyse food quality and safety, as well as its impact on the management of the supply chain.

    • Fundamentals of food analysis,
    • Analytical methods; chemical, biological, physical and molecular techniques,
    • Use of non-destructive techniques (viz. spectroscopy, hyperspectral imaging, electronic nose) to assess food composition (quality and safety aspects),
    • 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. You will also be exposed to industry which will bring commercial solutions for them to assess.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Explain 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 discuss the selection of appropriate molecular techniques for the analysis of food components and food microbiological contaminants,
  • Critically evaluate food industry supply chain scenarios and design a diagnostic strategy to overcome quality and safety issues’.

Food Chain Resilience

Module Leader
  • Dr Abhijeet Ghadge
    During this module you will be introduced to key aspects of supply chain (SC) management which are critical to improving the overall resilience of the global food supply network.
    • SC concepts and strategies,
    • Sustainable and circular food SCs,
    • SC risk identification and mitigation,
    • Procurement strategy management,
    • Quality management and Six Sigma,
    • Technology applications for improving SC performance.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Assess the impact of different supply chain strategies on the competitive strategy in the Food and Drinks industry,
  • Analyse the interface with a firm’s suppliers to improve visibility and alignment across the supply chain,
  • Design a successful collaborative initiative through the use of frameworks and tools from industry 4.0,
  • Assess the challenges around managing sustainable food supply chains,
  • Evaluate the risk inherent in the supply chain and mitigate them using resilient strategies.

Leading Corporate Sustainability

Module Leader
  • Dr Annette Yunus Pendrey

    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 to respond positively to them. It will engage you 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?

    This module is 10 credits.

    Watch video: An introduction to the Leading Corporate Sustainability module


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

    The course content is structured as follows:

    Leading Corporate Sustainability

    Part 1: Setting the context

    Context setting

    • Managing corporate sustainability
    • Social and environmental trends

    The role of business

    • The role of business
    • Challenges and opportunities for business

    Exploring possible futures

    • Playing an interactive future sustainable scenario board game

    Part 2: Developing the capabilities

    • Setting a purpose
    • Formulating and implementing strategy
    • Working with stakeholders
    • Innovating
    • Collaborating
    • Valuing
    • Leading
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  1. Identify global environmental and social trends and assess how these present both challenges and opportunities to business and analyse the capabilities businesses need to manage these.
  2. Classify the potential stakeholder groups businesses can work with to develop and implement their sustainability strategies and evaluate collaborative approaches.
  3. Assess the role of personal leadership in an organisation’s values, strategic direction and ability to execute its sustainability strategy.
  4. Critically assess the content and reporting of businesses’ sustainability strategies.
  5. Design and recommend a sustainability-oriented innovation for a selected business.

Agrifood Business Innovation

Module Leader
  • Dr Andrea Patriarca
    This module will be delivered in collaboration with our industrial partners and Agrifood MSc alumni with successful careers in the industry. External speakers will deliver presentations to you with regard to their main challenges and innovation projects in different industrial sectors. The aim is to provide you with a direct contact with industrial challenges explained and solved by the industry themselves. Emphasis is also given to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of industry in achieving these.


    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,
    • Innovation in the food industry,
    • UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
    • Pitching innovative business ideas.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • 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,
  • Evaluate different industrial strategies in the context of the UN SDGs,
  • Participate in the current discourse with regard to food production by arguing and criticising the different industrial situations presented during the module using the acquired knowledge systemically and conceptually,
  • Develop a pitch for an innovative business idea.

Food Safety

Module Leader
  • Dr Carol Verheecke-Vaessen

    This module will provide you with an overview of the main hazards encountered along the food chain and the food safety and quality regulatory framework. Special attention will be paid to microbiological hazards (bacteria, viruses and fungal pathogens) relevant to food.

    The first part of the module aims to provide you with 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 second part of the module will focus on the current food policy and legislation and the implementation of quality and safety standards in the food industry. This part contains examples of their application to industrially relevant cases.

    The teaching will be supported by practical work that will complement the theory covered during the lectures. 


    Introduction to food safety and the main hazard types able to enter different food chains,

    Introduction and taxonomy of micro-organisms in food production and spoilage,

    Food-borne pathogens and pathogenicity and natural toxins,

    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,

    Legislative drivers for mycotoxin control,

    Hurdle technology: Use of ecophysiological knowledge to increase product shelf-life. Available food processing techniques,

    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),

    ISO45000 (Health and Safety risk),

    ISO14000 or EMA (Environment).

    Specific Production areas:

    Field Production (GAP, Red Tractor),

    Food Industry (HACCP, Certification: BRC, IFS).

    Practical's/case studies including key microbiological and chemical protocols and the associated calculation used. 

Intended learning outcomes

Differentiate and explain 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 and evaluate their impacts,

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 


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

Click on the ‘Apply now’ button below to start your online application.

See our Application guide for information on our application process and entry requirements.