Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Programme Catalogue

MSc Sustainable Food Systems (Changing title to MSc Sustainable Food Systems and Food Security from 2024/25)

Programme code:MSC-EV/SFSUCAS code:
Duration:12 Months Method of Attendance: Full Time
Programme manager:Effie Papargyropoulou Contact

Total credits: 180

Entry requirements:

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in a relevant subject such as earth and environment, sustainability, geography, agriculture, biology, food science, nutrition, business and management, sociology, politics or public administration. Applicants with a 2.2 will be considered on a case by case basis where applicants can demonstrate relevant work experience or aptitude in a relevant specialist field. Graduates from other disciplines and those with professional experience in the sector will also be considered.
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.

School/Unit responsible for the parenting of students and programme:

School of Earth and Environment

Examination board through which the programme will be considered:

School of Earth and Environment

Programme specification:

On completion of the programme students should have provided evidence of being able to:
1. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of concepts, information and techniques at the forefront of the different disciplines investigating food systems sustainability
2. Apply systems thinking approaches to critically and creatively evaluate the complexity, current and future challenges, research and advanced scholarship in food systems
3. Apply new analytical frameworks to understand and evaluate food as a socio-technical system
4. Diagnose and solve the real-world challenges food sustainability presents, incorporating diverse resources such as existing knowledge, data collection, interpersonal skills, reflection and reasoning ability
5. Demonstrate competence in crossing disciplinary boundaries in the pursuit of sustainability solutions in the food system
6. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques (e.g. stakeholder engagement, knowledge co-production) applicable to food systems sustainability practice, research or advanced scholarship
7. Take a proactive and self-reflective role in working, and develop professional relationships with stakeholders across the food systems to achieve sustainability outcomes
8. Proactively formulate ideas and research questions, and develop, implement and execute plans by which to evaluate these.

The programme is designed to provide a holistic understanding of food system issues and to promote interdisciplinarity. The modules are not designed according to a thematic/ disciplinary structure (i.e. a module on natural science, followed by a module on food science, a module offering a human geography/critical perspective, followed by a module on the business perspective etc.). Instead the first two 30 credit modules (Introduction to Sustainable Food Systems and Skills for Sustainable Food Systems) offer the ‘big’ picture perspective and demonstrate that the different elements of the food system are interconnected and they do not work in isolation. Then the modules on food production and food consumption go into detail on the issues more relevant to the first and latter parts of the supply chain. Finally, the synoptic modules on Sustainable Food Supply Chains and Trade, Food Systems Fieldtrip and Food Systems Research Project, link production with consumption to illustrate that strong sustainability outcomes are achieved through integration of food production and consumption. All key disciplinary or theoretical perspectives are embedded in each module and explored within the context of that given module.

Providing nutritious, safe and affordable food for all in a sustainable manner is one of the greatest challenges of our times. Food specialists need to able to respond to food safety and security concerns, shifting attitudes towards food and farming, changing diets and demographics, as well as balance global economic and environmental pressures.
This programme comes at a time when food and its implications on our health and planet is making headlines:
• The double burden of malnutrition: 1 in 3 people are undernourished, while 1 in 3 people are overweight
• The food waste-hunger paradox: 820 million people go hungry, while one third of our food gets wasted, representing nearly a trillion US$ global economic loss;
• Food’s devastating environmental impact: global food consumption and production accounts for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, making our food choice the most effective way to address climate change
Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability; however, transforming our food system is not an easy task. Our food system is highly complex; it works across different scales, from the local to the global, it involves a wide range of interconnected actors, it has environmental, social, economic and political drivers and implications.
This programme uses a systems thinking approach to understand, evaluat e, and deconstruct the complexity of the food system, in order to formulate sustainable solutions addressing the grand challenges we are facing, such as food security and global environmental change.
The programme introduces students to a wide range of disciplines underpinning food sustainability, and helps them successfully apply their knowledge and skills to the real-world challenges food sustainability presents. The programme is unique and innovative; it brings together expertise from across the faculties of the University of Leeds for example from the schools of Earth and Environment, Food Science and Nutrition, Psychology, Geography, Biology, the Institute for Transport Studies and Leeds Business School. The programme’s strength lies in its interdisciplinary nature and the integration of concepts, approaches, and perspectives from different disciplines in each module, offering a seamless narrative across the programme. The interdisciplinary nature of the programme ensures that the students build a deep appreciation of the contribution, strengths and limitations of each approach, and develop the ability to cross over disciplinary boundaries in order to form viable and constructive propositions.
The programme builds on the success of the University’s interdisciplinary research on the theme of Food. Through strong collaborations with University of Leeds Food Theme and the Global Food and Environment Institute the students will not only be exposed to cutting edge research but also given the opportunities to collaborate with our non-academic partners (e.g. industry, policy makers, non-governmental organisations, third sector) .
The programme offers a range of teaching and learning methods which take account of a variety of student learning needs and patterns.
Experiential learning is delivered in the form of a number of fieldtrips to food production and consumption sites. Through these fieldtrips students are exposed to the global nature of our food system, and the challenge of reconciling competing local and global, environmental, economic and social priorities. Other off campus learning opportunities are offered through collaboration with commercial partners such as the University of Leeds Farm ( The University of Leeds Farm is operated as a commercial business, which also hosts research and innovation projects and can provide a platform for collaborative research and innovation with industry, government and public research organisations.
The programme is based on a sequential delivery model. This allows the students to have concentrated periods of on-site, face-to-face learning and focus on one module at a time, followed by more self-directed and collaborative learning periods. The programme offers blended learning opportunities by integrating face-to-face with on-line learning activities.
Problem based learning is at the heart of this programme. The programme confronts students with complex sustainability challenges that require them to incorporate diverse resources such as existing knowledge, data collection, interpersonal skills, reflections and reasoning ability in order to meet these challenges.
Ultimately, this programme equips students with the necessary knowledge and skills (such as systems thinking, problem solving, strategy and policy making) to become effective change agents that will lead the transition to more sustainable, efficient, healthier, and fairer food system.

Year1 - View timetable

[Learning Outcomes, Transferable (Key) Skills, Assessment]

Compulsory modules:

Candidates will be required to study the following compulsory modules:

FOEV5100MIntroduction to Sustainable Food Systems30 creditsSemester 1 (Sep to Jan)
FOEV5103MSustainable Food Consumption15 creditsSemester 2 (Jan to Jun)
FOEV5104MSustainable Food Supply Chains and Trade15 creditsSemester 2 (Jan to Jun)
FOEV5105MFood Systems Fieldtrip15 creditsSemester 2 (Jan to Jun)
FOEV5106MFood Systems Research Project60 creditsSemesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun)
FOEV5107MMethods and Skills for Sustainable Food Systems30 creditsSemester 1 (Sep to Jan)
FOEV5108MSustainable Food Production and Food Security15 creditsSemester 2 (Jan to Jun)

Optional modules:

This module is elective and non-assessed, primarily designed to introduce post-graduate students to ‘Sustainability’ as a contested term, as well as providing some core knowledge surrounding its history and real-world application to apply and develop as you study your other modules at Leeds.

SOEE5282MIntroduction to Sustainability  creditsSemester 1 (Sep to Jan)

Last updated: 23/02/2024 11:12:23


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019