Food Security MSc

In this century, food security and the need to develop sustainable agriculture will become dominant issues affecting the whole world. The global population is projected to increase dramatically from 7 to 9 billion in the next 30 years, causing an unprecedented demand for food and increased pressure on land. The aim of this Food Security Degree is to provide you with knowledge and skills relating to the broad topic of food security, incorporating socio-economic, animal and crop aspects.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • This exciting Food Security MSc is taught through collaboration between academics with world class expertise in diverse aspects of food security.
  • It discusses the demographic, social and economic issues, the challenges of achieving sustainable agriculture and presents the factors affecting food production from crops and animal sources.
  • The programme will include guest lectures on a range of topics and site visits.
  • Students will acquire knowledge of technology transfer and commercialisation.
  • Students will gain practical laboratory skills in molecular biology and in genetic modification.
  • Students will undertake a project that will develop their investigative skills and their ability to critically appraise and integrate information from different sources. 
  • A key feature of this Food Security Degree is that it provides a very broad perspective on Food Security. 

Programme structure

We welcome students from diverse educational backgrounds and we anticipate that many will be unfamiliar with all the topics in this Programme. We have therefore designed the Programme so that it provides you with both a broad understanding of the major issues in food security and the opportunity to selectively focus on aspects of particular interest.

The Programme is made up of courses totaling 180 credits. The Programme starts with 3 compulsory courses (total 60 credits) that introduce fundamental issues in food security. You then choose from a range of optional courses (usually 10-credit) that expand on key topics, including production of food from animal sources and crop improvement. Some courses provide practical skills and there is an opportunity to learn about commercial issues relating to food production. Finally, you will undertake a 60-credit investigative project, which will allow you to focus on a selected topic.

The Programme comprises the following courses:

Compulsory courses (total 60 credits):

  • Introduction to Food Security
  • Food Security Fundamentals: food of animal origin
  • Food Security Fundamentals: crops

Optional courses (total 60 credits*) selected from:

  • Role of Insects in Food Security
  • Global Animal Production
  • Hygienic Production of Food (subject to approval)
  • Animal Ethics
  • Policies for Sustainability and Development
  • Technology Transfer and Commercialisation
  • Plant Genetic Engineering
  • Crop Biotechnology Applications
  • Molecular Lab Skills
  • Omic Technologies
  • Quantitative Methods

    *Most of the optional courses are 10-credit courses

Food Security Project (60 credits)

Teaching Methods

Most courses are taught through lectures and tutorials, in which there will be discussion of key concepts, and training in the critical appraisal of published information. In addition, some courses include guest lectures and site visits. The course on Technology Transfer and Commercialisation of Bioscience Research will include workshop sessions. Two courses provide training in laboratory skills: Molecular Lab Skills and Plant Genetic Engineering. The project will involve an independent investigation of a selected topic in food security under supervision from an expert in the field.


Compulsory courses:

Introduction to Food Security (20 Credits)

This course will introduce you to the major issues in global food security. It will include topics such as changes in demographic and consumption patterns, waste, socio-economic and political aspects of food security, biodiversity and climate change. The course is taught through lectures, seminars and tutorials and is assessed through an oral presentation and an essay.

Food Security Fundamentals: food of animal origin (20 Credits)

This course highlights important issues in animal food production, including nutrition, breeding, health and welfare, food processing and preservation. For assessment, you will produce a poster presentation and a ‘food portfolio’, discussing a range of aspects associated with production of a selected food of animal origin.

Food Security Fundamentals: crops (20 Credits)

Crop production is a key topic in food security and this course will introduce you to fundamental issues limiting crop production, such as disease, nutrition and water availability, and the prospects for crop improvement. Assessment is through an oral presentation and the production of a ‘crop portfolio’, focusing on a selected crop.

Optional courses:

Role of Insects in Food Security (10 Credits)

This course introduces you to the positive and negative contributions of insects to food security, considering their role in crop production and animal agriculture. For assessment, you will produce and discuss a poster on an aspect of the topic.

Global Animal Production (10 Credits)

The aim of this course is to provide you with knowledge and understanding of systems of food animal management, production, marketing and tracing, including recognition and control of diseases of major relevance to food security. The course includes site visits and assessment is through written assignments.

Hygienic Production of Food (10 Credits, subject to approval)

You will learn about the structure of industry in the production of food of animal origin, the legislation governing food manufacture and the enforcement agencies. This will include discussion of animal welfare and the legislation requirements. You will also learn about the hygienic production of food, commonly encountered diseases and food inspection. Assessment is through written assignments.

Animal Ethics (10 credits)

This course discusses the ethical issues associated with uses of animals by humans, including in farming and food production. You will also learn about the relevant legislation relating to animal welfare. Assessment is through an essay and oral presentation.

Policies for Sustainability and Development (10 Credits)

In this course you will learn about the different policy and economic approaches in use of energy and environmental resources and in seeking sustainable development. Assessment is by an essay.  

Technology Transfer and Commercialisation (10 Credits)

This course discusses the nature of bioscience businesses, including opportunities for innovation, regulatory requirements, intellectual property and ethical issues. Working with other students, you will design and evaluate a market research strategy and business plan for a small company planning to commercialise a recent bioscience discovery. You will be assessed through a report and your group work.

Plant Genetic Engineering (10 Credits)

You will undertake laboratory work to learn skills involved in genetic modification of plants. Assessment is through a written report of laboratory work.

Crop Biotechnology Applications (10 Credits)

This course provides information on the major applications of crop biotechnology, including disease resistance and stress tolerance and discusses aspects of crop genomics, breeding and genetic manipulation. You will be assessed through production and discussion of a poster.

Molecular Lab Skills (10 Credits)

You will undertake laboratory work and associated computer-based analysis to acquire practical skills in molecular biology. Assessment is via a short written test. 

Omic Technologies (20 Credits)

This course introduces genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic technologies and data analysis. The applications of these methods in biological systems will be discussed. Assessment is based on writing a project proposal in which omic technologies are used to answer a selected biological question.

Quantitative Methods (10 Credits)

This course provides you with an understanding of quantitative and epidemiological methods that can be used for investigation of food security questions, including issues of food production, animal health and pest control. Assessment is through written assignments.

Food Security Project (60 Credits)

During the summer, you will undertake an investigative project on a topic in food security chosen through discussion with an academic supervisor. Depending on the topic and supervisor, the project may be partly or entirely laboratory-based, or involve no laboratory element. For assessment, you will write a report, give a presentation on the topic and discuss the project in a viva.

Research projects

Below are examples of possible projects available to you on the MSc Food Security:

Searching for novel insecticide targets

Using metabolomics to elucidate insect function

Functional genomics of insect epithelia

Novel approaches to improve nutrient usage efficiency in crops

Epigenetic manipulation of crop yield

What are the best strategies to improve resistance of oilseed rape to pest attack?

Enhancing the efficiency of water use by plant models and crops

Signalling and ion transport regulation in stomatal guard cells

Biomarkers of disease in livestock: assessment of the diagnostic value of acute phase protein

Proteomics and metabolomics in biomarker discovery for diseases of farm animals

Functional investigation of the comparative biology of plasma proteins in the host defence of farm animals to pathogens

Acute phase proteins in bovine mastitis: production, function and biomarker capacity

Nasal secretion as a barrier to infection in livestock



Research environment

Students who join this Programme will be immersed in an environment of research excellence. Glasgow is one of the top Universities in the world and the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences is a leading international centre for research. Most of the staff who teach on this Programme have research interests related to food security and students will be able to undertake research projects under their supervision. The range of research matches the breadth of the Programme, and spans from molecular studies of plant responses to the environment and crop resistance to pest attack to the molecular genetic investigation of diseases that affect cattle and other livestock. The research is undertaken in the well equipped laboratories of the College’s Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine and the Veterinary School. Students will benefit from exposure to our broad research base and state-of-the-art facilities and from being taught by staff who are advancing knowledge relevant to food security.


What our students say

"I enjoyed the course and learnt more than I expected.  We had access to such a broad range of expertise in terms of the teaching staff, allowing us to gain many perspectives on the subjects and I think this is exceptional for most university courses.  It is really exciting to learn about the techniques and science which will be so important in addressing the issues of Food Security in the coming years, and to have the chance to participate, through the research project, in current ongoing research at the university which may help to address some of these.  The hands on experience definitely helped me develop new skills which I can add to my CV, but more than this the course has really opened my eyes to the way the world works, and this is invaluable."

"It was so amazing to participate in the MSc Food Security programme, which combines theoretical knowledge and practical experiences effectively. I enjoyed the research project very much. It not only let me learn scientific techniques but also the way of thinking. I never regret choosing this programme, which gave me more than I can imagine."

Career prospects

Food security is a major challenge of this century and hence there will be opportunities to develop careers in several areas. Career prospects includeworking in Agri-industry, research institutes, government advisory, international advisory, media and research positions.

The breadth of knowledge, understanding and skills you will acquire in this Masters Programme will help you obtain employment or undertake research in the food security sector.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes are a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification:

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 90; no sub-test less than:
    • Reading: 20
    • Listening: 19
    • Speaking: 19
    • Writing: 23
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English):  176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's English for Academic Study Unit offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2017-18


Home and EU
Full time fee£7250
Full time fee£19500

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only


International applicants (from beyond the EU) are requested to pay a deposit of £1000 when an offer is made.

Deposits terms & conditions

The University requires a deposit to be paid by International (beyond the EU) applicants in receipt of an offer to this programmes and who require a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the University in order that they can apply for a student visa. This is required where the programme is competitive and the deposit is required in order to demonstrate your commitment to attend the programme should you meet all the conditions of your offer.

If you are made an offer for this programme the University will write to you and request a deposit with information on how to pay your deposit and the deadline for making the deposit payment. Please note that if you are unable to pay a deposit because you are planning to fund your studies through an official financial sponsor then you should upload a copy of your scholarship application or award letter to your application by the deadline date.

The following guidelines will apply in determining whether or not a deposit will be refunded. Where the deposit is refunded, a 10% handling fee will be deducted.

Deposits WILL be refunded to applicants under the following circumstances:

  1. Where the University is unable to offer you a place.
  2. Where the applicant has personal circumstances such as illness, bereavement or other family situations that has prevented them coming to the UK. Medical or other proof may be requested.
  3. Applicant can prove that they have applied for a visa to attend the University of Glasgow, but the VISA has been refused. The applicant must have shown ‘real intent' to study at the University of Glasgow but has been unable to obtain their visa.
  4. Applicant does not meet his / her conditions of offer: this may be academic or language test requirements. Satisfactory evidence must be uploaded to the student’s online application to prove that they have not met the conditions of their offer (note that applicants who do not meet the language condition of their offer must show reasonable attempt to meet this, i.e. they must provide a language test which was taken after the date that the deposit was paid).

Deposits WILL NOT be refunded to applicants under the following circumstances:

  1. Applicant decides to go to another institution.
  2. Applicant cannot be released from work to study at the University of Glasgow.
  3. Applicant does not send completed documentation as requested in the condition of the offer: this may be required in order to prove that the offer has not been met for academic or language test conditions - failure to respond to requests for this information will result in no refund.
  4. Applicant has not secured funding to attend the University of Glasgow: this may be as a result of not being successful in applications for scholarships, OR simply not having sufficient funds in bank at time of visa application. This condition will apply unless it can be proven that there are clear mitigating circumstances which have significantly changed the applicant’s position since the time of application.
  5. Applicant has decided to defer – in this situation the University will retain the deposit and credit it against the applicant’s account for securing their place for the following year of entry. 

Refund requests must be made within 60 days of the programme start date stated on your offer letter: requests made after this date will be subject to discretion.

Additional fees

  • Fee for submission by a research student: £460
  • Fee for re-assessment of a dissertation (PGT programme): £300
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work: £1,000
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed: £200
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship: £680
  • Research students registered as non-supervised Thesis Pending students (50% refund will be granted if the student completes thesis within the first six months of the period): £260
  • Registration/exam only fee: £110
  • General Council fee: £50

Alumni discount

A 10% discount is available to University of Glasgow alumni applying to the MSc. This includes graduates and those who have completed a Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School at the University of Glasgow. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.

Funding opportunities

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Postgraduate Admissions
Marketing, Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU): 21 July 2017 
  • UK and EU applications: 25 August 2017

Classes start September 2017 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now