This course aims to provide a detailed critical awareness of the risks, challenges and opportunities of providing a sustainable supply of food to the world’s population, as we move into the future.

Study Agrifood at Cranfield video

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% (dissertation for part-time students), individual project 40%.
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time

Who is it for?

This course is applicable for graduates from around the world wishing to pursue a career in food sustainability at a technical or strategic level. 

This course is concerned with a fundamental challenge of enormous importance that we all face today; in essence, the many problems of feeding a rapidly growing global population in the future given finite resources, added uncertainties such as the effects of climate change, and a general acknowledgement that our current methods for producing food are not fit for purpose. But it does more than simply describing the challenge - it sets about bringing together the diverse threads that could present pragmatic and practical answers. As such, it is designed to respond to urgent industry, institutional and government needs for individuals who can meet the complex, multi-factorial issues of global future food supply.

Why this course?

Many food companies have identified the need for a focus in their own business areas on future food sustainability, and have acknowledged a need for trained individuals, both in the form of new graduates and also in re-training  professionals already established in the food industry. However, it is not just food companies that are concerned with the sustainability of future food supply;

  • government departments are concerned with food sustainability in terms of policy making and governance
  • research institutes are actively involved in the development of improved animal and plant production systems
  • various NGOs are involved  in influencing policy, attitudes and communication to the public.

All of these diverse groups have an urgent need to recruit individuals with the skills set to address these challenges. This course is taught using the expertise and facilities of two Cranfield University Schools; the School of Water, Energy and Environment and the School of Management.

Maria Moya Garcia

This experience has been enriching and I am sure it will help me in my future career.

Ana Maria Moya Garcia, Current student

Informed by Industry

Our MSc in Future Food Sustainability 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.

Accreditation

This course is accredited by the Institution of Agricultural Engineers.

IAgrE logo

Course details

The course comprises eight compulsory assessed modules, a group project and an individual research project. The modules include lectures, practical sessions and tutorials.

Group project

The group project experience is highly valued by both students and prospective employers. It provides students with the opportunity to take responsibility for a consultancy-type project, working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. For part-time students a dissertation usually replaces the group project.

Individual project

The individual thesis project, usually in collaboration with an external organisation, offers students the opportunity to develop their research capability, depth of understanding and ability to provide solutions to real industry and institutional challenges in the wider area of future food supply.

Assessment

Taught modules 40%, group project 20% (dissertation for part-time students), individual 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 2017–2018. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2018 entry. All modules are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

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

Principles of Sustainability

Module Leader
  • Dr Paul Burgess
Aim

    Human population growth and increased resource use per capita is placing unsustainable demands on the global ecosystem. This module explores sustainability using three approaches.  The “Ecosystem Service” approach provides a framework for society to address key environmental issues such as food production, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, and water use.  The “Circular Economy” approach refers to the development of “restorative” industrial systems that are grounded on the lessons of non-linear, feedback-rich ecosystems.  The third approach is to explore the nexus between renewable energy, food, and other ecosystem services using per capita energy and food consumption. This module introduces and critiques the three approaches and examines their application to resolve real-world problems and create commercial opportunities.   

Syllabus
    • Moving from an “Empty World” to a “Full World”
    • The Ecosystem Service Approach (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and UK National Ecosystem Assessment)
    • Ecosystem processes and succession; the role of energy; feedback systems; biodiversity and system restoration
    • Using an ecosystem approach: quantifying trade-offs and synergies; improving water and nutrient management, reducing greenhouse gases emissions, enhancing stability, resistance and resilience
    • Introduction to the circular economy: opportunities for businesses; opportunities for consumers.
    • How design, manufacturing practice and management can contribute to a circular economy
    • Case study: trade-offs, synergies, and opportunities to enhance well-being and ecosystem service provision in terms of energy, food, feed and wood for a case study area.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Critique the “ecosystem services”, “circular economy”, and “per capita energy use” approaches
  • Critique associated terms such as “human well-being”, “sustainability”, and “biodiversity”.
  • Explain the role of energy and feed-back systems in natural systems
  • Explain how an ecosystem service approach can help society to identify and make decisions regarding the use of ecological resources, with a focus on biodiversity, greenhouse gases, nutrient loss, and water use.
  • Explain how we can enhance the stability, resistance and resilience of natural systems.
  • Explain how the “circular economy” provides commercial opportunities
  • Explain how industrial activities such as design and manufacturing can promote a circular economy
  • Use a per capita approach to explore the synergies between food, feed, wood, and renewable energy production to guide decision making and identify opportunities in the context of a case-study. 

Water and Sustainable Agrifood Systems

Module Leader
  • Professor Tim Hess
Aim

    Water is an essential factor of production in agrifood systems; whether for growing crops, supporting livestock or food manufacture. Globally, 70% of freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture, but increasing demand for food means that this figure is likely to increase dramatically in the future. At the same time climate change is affecting supply and other demands on water are increasing. Mismanagement of water for food production has led to social and environmental problems in many places. Water is therefore a significant global risk to sustainable food production. This module will consider the water requirements of crop and livestock systems; the evaluation of the water related impacts and risks in producing locations; and management and technological solutions to minimise water related impacts and risks in food supply chains.

Syllabus
    • Introduction: Water for food; Water and risk in Agrifood systems
    • Water requirements for Agrifood systems: Irrigation systems (Surface, overhead and localised irrigation); Calculating irrigation water requirements*; Water requirements for livestock; Water requirements for food industry
    • Water governance and stewardship: Abstraction licencing and regulation; Water storage & reservoirs; Working together and abstractor groups; Water trading.
    • Water footprinting: Water inventory; Weighting for impact; Hotspot identification
    • Managing water consumption: Irrigation system performance evaluation*; Irrigation scheduling; Precision irrigation.
    • Future challenges: Impacts of drought and water scarcity; Climate change, water risk and adaptation. 
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the role of water in crop and livestock systems
  • Design and evaluate management and technological solutions to minimise the water-related impacts and risks to crop and livestock production systems in food supply chains.
  • Critically appraise the role of water in future challenges to food sustainability

Soil Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr Jacqueline Hannam
Aim

    Food security, environmental protection and landscape restoration depend upon effective management of soil, plant and water interactions in the environment.  This module will focus on a fundamental understanding of the science of soil systems and how decisions in land management affect the soil functions related to food production and land restoration.

Syllabus
    • Soil functions, ecosystem goods and services
    • Plant responses to solar radiation, temperature, drought and aeration stress
    • Soil texture, , bulk density, soil moisture t, porosity and structure
    • Soil chemistry: Nutrients, pH, CEC, salinity and the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles
    • Soil organisms: diversity and functional importance
    • Soil sampling and soil diversity in the field and landscape (LRR)
    • Soil-based concepts of ecological restoration and principles of Agricultural Land Classification (LRR)
    • Land capability for agricultural production, inputs and yields (FFS)
    • Innovations for agricultural production (FFS)

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the role of soil systems in the context of soil functions and ecosystem services
  • Explain the principal responses of plants to the climatic environment.
  • Quantify key soil physical properties
  • Assess the role and contribution of soils in nutrient availability and cycling
  • Describe  the functional role of soil biology in soil systems.
  • Evaluate the impact of soil management and agricultural innovation in agricultural production (FFS)
  • Create a soil assessment in the context of land restoration (LRR).

Financial and Economic Appraisal

Module Leader
  • Dr Paul Burgess
Aim

    Financial (or investment) appraisal is a decision making process used by institutions and individuals to compare the efficiency of competing projects.  Economic appraisal (or social cost-benefit analysis) is the process of identifying, measuring, and comparing the societal costs of an investment project or programme.  Projects can be judged in terms of their relative monetised net benefits (total benefits minus total costs), including environmental impacts or enhancement; the project with the largest benefit: cost ratio is considered to deliver the most social benefits from the options under consideration.  This module explains the principles of financial and economic appraisal and students will acquire the knowledge and skills in the application of such appraisals.  

Syllabus
    • Welfare economics and pareto-efficiency; compensation principle and the role of equity.
    • Market failures and the role of cost benefit analysis
    • Principles and practice of financial and economic appraisal
    • Case study application for an afforestation project in a spreadsheet environment
    • Efficient provision of environmental goods and services.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Explain how economic efficiency and equity can be assessed and used in financial and economic appraisal
  • Critically evaluate different financial and economic appraisal metrics such as benefit: cost ratio, net present value, equivalent annual value, and internal rate of return.
  • Critically evaluate the choice of an appropriate discount rate
  • Undertake a financial and an economic appraisal in a spreadsheet environment
  • Use techniques such as sensitivity analysis and Monte Carlo simulation. 

Agricultural Informatics

Module Leader
  • Professor Ronald Corstanje
Aim

    The purpose of this module is to provide students a set of practical applications and tools for developing, managing and analysing ‘Big Data’, to better deliver food security. A secure, reliable and sustainable food production system will increasingly rely on advanced technologies, such as real-time field sensing, model data fusion and advanced forecasting. It will need to operate effectively within new and changing environmental constraints and so will need to consider and be represented within (eco)systems goods and services models to ensure food security that is both economic and environmentally sustainable. The proposed course will introduce and develop core skills in data acquisition, data and information management, using numerical and statistical modelling approaches that form the basis of information driven sustainable agriculture. It will incorporate ground, aerial and space borne sensing and sensor techniques for predictive mapping within the context of modelling agricultural ecosystems goods and services.

Syllabus
    • Introduction to Information Rich Agricultural Systems
    • Sensing and sensors in Agricultural Systems
    • Spatial interactions of food production
    • Data and Information Management  
    • Big data: what can the past tell us about the future?
    • Ecological Agriculture in the Digital Age
    • Informatics- based decision making
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Formulate a comprehensive understanding of Agricultural Informatics
  • Critically evaluate the potential of sensor systems (remote/near etc.) to measure and monitor the agri-environment
  • Manage, manipulate and interrogate large agri-environmental datasets
  • Formulate a conceptual understanding of the inter-relationship between the ecology and agriculture and the ecosystem goods and services that agriculture within its landscape provides
  • Develop systematic and creative problem solving skills, and demonstrate the ability to interpret and obtain meaningful outcomes
  • Communicate conclusions effectively, including assumptions and methodologies, to both specialist and non-specialist audiences 

Plant-Based Technologies

Module Leader
  • Professor Andrew Thompson
Aim
    To provide a critical appraisal of the role of the main plant-based technologies which can be used to advance sustainable crop production and food security. This includes a consideration of the importance of crop breeding, seed technology and crop protection with particular emphasis on future needs.
Syllabus

            Seed industry:

    • Basic principles of genetics as applied to representative crop species
    • Plant breeding strategies including conventional selection and marker assisted selection.
    • Genetic modification of crop plants.
    • Seed production and seed treatment technologies.

            Agrochemicals:

    • Discovery and design of novel agrochemicals: screening, computer aided molecular design, formulation.
    • Insecticides, fungicides and herbicides: importance in food security - past and future, modes of action, regulation.
    • Biocontrol agents – principles and case studies.
    • Phytohormones and crop enhancers: agrochemicals to control plant growth and development.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the main strategies and technologies in producing new, improved varieties of crop plants
  • Critically appraise the role of plant breeding and seed technology in delivering global food security
  • Describe the process of developing a new agrochemical, and the main classes of agrochemicals currently and previously in use.
  • Critically appraise the main methods of biocontrol as an alternative to fungicides and insecticides
  • Evaluate the contribution of research in developing plant-based technologies. 

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
    • 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.

Strategic Foresight

Module Leader
  • Fiona Lickorish
Aim

    Strategic foresight research refers to a range of methods that can be used to identify, analyse and communicate insights about the future. Standard methods include horizon scanning, trend research, and scenario planning. Outputs include emerging issues, trends, visions, scenarios, and wild cards. The methods employed and insights produced are used by both private and public sector organisations to inform a wide range of policy, risk, strategy and innovation processes. Foresight research is a truly inter-disciplinary ‘science’, covering and combining developments in society, technology, economy, ecology, politics, legislation and values.

    Crucially, foresight research is as much about analysing the past and present, as it is about looking to the future. Once we understand how a system developed and works today, we can explore how it may evolve and look in the future. Strategic foresight techniques consider ranges of possible, plausible futures so that planning can be put in place to adapt to and mitigate against various conditions. It is designed to add resilience, adaptability and flexibility to organisations in an increasingly complex and fast changing world.

    This module will explore how:

    • Horizon scanning can act as a method of gathering new insights that may point us towards affirming or discrediting existing trends and developments, as well as identifying new and emerging trends and developments that are on the margins of our current thinking, but which will impact on the future.
    • Other foresight methodologies (e.g. scenario planning, visioning, back-casting) can be used to help us to use the trends identified from horizon scanning to identify how the future might develop.
Syllabus

    In exploring strategic foresight research in relation to its utility by environmental organisations, this module will combine formal lectures with interactive practical exercises that will cover:

    • An overview of the reasons why organisations engage in foresight research.
    • An overview of the aims and objectives of foresight research
    • An overview of the different types of foresight research methods including, but not confined to horizon scanning, trend research, scenario building, visioning and back-casting
    • An overview of where different types of foresight research methods are best applied depending on the issue to be explored, the time available for research and the output required.
    • A practical training exercise in horizon scanning (what is does; why it’s used and how it’s done)
    • A practical training exercise in scenario building (what are scenarios, what they can be used for and how they are developed)
    •  A group project on developing a vision, back-casting and windtunnelling to achieve the desired outputs of the vision (describing a preferred future (the vision) and setting out the steps to make it happen).
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Explain why organisations engage in foresight research;
  • Describe what foresight research aims to achieve - and what it cannot do;
  • Evaluate the utility and application of different foresight research methodologies;
  • Examine the role of foresight research evidence in the environmental context;
  • Identify and apply the tools of foresight research in the environmental context; and
  • Apply foresight research methods to support a convincing case and use foresight research evidence effectively

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 £8,500
MSc Part-time £1,635 *
PgDip Full-time £6,500
PgDip Part-time £1,635 *
PgCert Full-time £3,250
PgCert Part-time £1,635 *
  • * The annual registration fee is quoted above and will be invoiced annually. An additional fee of £1,340 per module is also payable on receipt of invoice. 
  • ** Fees can be paid in full up front, or in equal annual instalments, up to a maximum of two payments per year; first payment on or before registration and the second payment six months after the course start date. Students who complete their course before the initial end date will be invoiced the outstanding fee balance and must pay in full prior to graduation.

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2018 and 31 July 2019.
  • 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 £19,000
MSc Part-time £19,000 **
PgDip Full-time £15,200
PgDip Part-time £15,200 **
PgCert Full-time £7,600
PgCert Part-time £11,310 **
  • * The annual registration fee is quoted above and will be invoiced annually. An additional fee of £1,340 per module is also payable on receipt of invoice. 
  • ** Fees can be paid in full up front, or in equal annual instalments, up to a maximum of two payments per year; first payment on or before registration and the second payment six months after the course start date. Students who complete their course before the initial end date will be invoiced the outstanding fee balance and must pay in full prior to graduation.

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2018 and 31 July 2019.
  • 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 in finding and securing appropriate funding we have created a funding finder where you can search for suitable sources of funding by filtering the results to suit your needs. Visit the funding finder.

GREAT China Scholarship
The GREAT Cranfield University Scholarship China is jointly funded by Cranfield University and the British Council. Two scholarships of £11,000 each for Chinese students are available.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship

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

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.

Delta Foundation Chevening Scholarships Taiwan

The Chevening/Delta Environmental Scholarship Scheme is designed to promote environmental awareness and increase future activity to tackle environmental issues, in particular climate change, by offering two joint scholarships for students from Taiwan.

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

Candidates must normally possess, or be expected to achieve, a first or second class UK Honours degree in a relevant science or social science-based discipline; or the international equivalent of these UK qualifications. Other relevant qualifications together with industrial experience may be considered.

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

Successful, motivated graduates from this course are expected to move swiftly into positions within food businesses, government, NGOs and research companies/institutes to engage in roles involving research, management, governance, communication and social responsibility. Specific relevant job roles may include; technical managers, sustainability managers, technical development managers, product technologists, resilience officers, supply chain/logistics analysts, commodity analysts, regulatory affairs advisers, and policy officers.

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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