MSc Sustainable Food Systems

Entry year
Course code
School of Applied Sciences
One year full-time; two years part-time
Full-time; part-time; starts September
Programme leader
Dr Angelina Sanderson Bellamy

This course is open for applications

Page last updated 7 December 2023


Study our practice-focused masters in Sustainable Food Systems and gain the specialised skills needed to become a leader in the food sector. Learn how to drive policy and institutional changes in sustainability and climate change to transform local food systems.

Why study MSc Sustainable Food Systems?

Climate change is increasingly recognised as the major threat for humanity. Extreme weather events, likely caused by climate change, are already decimating crop yields. We're also battling a biodiversity crisis and a health crisis of obesity and malnutrition, while we're faced with increasing food insecurity due to rising living costs.

Many civil society organisations (CSOs), funding bodies and academics are demanding policy and institutional changes to address the inefficiencies of the current food system. To meet these growing demands, our MSc Sustainable Food Systems aims to produce diverse change makers to champion a transformation of the food system.

Why UWE Bristol?

Our masters in Sustainable Food Systems is the only course of its kind in the UK. The content offers a unique focus on food justice and shifting local food systems through community-scale actions. From growth to consumption, you'll learn how to transform complex food systems to achieve sustainable, healthy and accessible outcomes for all.

Designed in consultation with external food system stakeholders, you'll study practice-oriented modules with real-world impact. Our content is strengthened by support from the Food Policy Alliance Cymru, which includes a wide range of organisations working across food policy and practice in Wales.

An interdisciplinary course with broad applications

Due its interdisciplinary nature, our MSc Sustainable Food Systems will appeal to students from a broad range of undergraduate disciplines. These include public health, environmental science and ecology, business, psychology, education, geography and the creative arts.

To deepen your understanding of complex local food systems, we'd also encourage those employed in entry level roles in public service bodies and CSOs to apply. After completing our masters in Sustainable Food Systems, graduates will have the specialised skills to become sustainability leaders in government, public bodies, businesses and CSOs.



You'll study

Agroecology and Sustainable Farming Systems:

  • Sustainable food production
  • Land and resource management
  • Non-food crop production
  • Ecosystem service provision
  • Agroecological principles.

Co-production and place-based methods:

  • Research ethics and power
  • Co-production best practices
  • Theory of change
  • Field sampling methods
  • Social science methods
  • Lab techniques
  • Scenarios and futures mapping
  • Digital innovation in methods.

Creating Healthy food systems:

  • Introduction to healthy food systems at different scales (local, national, international).
  • Central concepts with regard to health and wellbeing in relation to sustainability, food, diet, and nutrition.
  • Critically evaluating contemporary issues in health, environmental and social aspects of food systems.
  • Theories of system and behavioural change with regard to health, sustainability, social action and food systems.
  • Social and environmental justice in the context of food system problems and solutions.
  • Critically assessing and developing actions, interventions and policies for healthy food systems.

Food security and food policy:

  • Food sovereignty versus food security
  • Food governance
  • Food colonialism and migrant food cultures
  • Political agroecology
  • Anthropology of Food.

Sustainable food system supply chains:

  • Aligning supply chain performance to organisational strategy
  • Logistics and distribution systems
  • Inventory control
  • Sourcing, Purchasing, and procurement/Supplier Relationship Management
  • Value chain and risk analysis
  • Capacity management
  • Applications of digital technologies for strategic improvements, such as provenance and traceability
  • Just-in-time and lean management         
  • Quality management; delivering sustainability and regulatory standard
  • Contemporary issues in supply chains.

Research in practice

  • Research in partnership with one or more relevant stakeholders, which may include academics, those in professional practice and external partners.
  • A robust data-driven enquiry, which may be laboratory, field or desk- based.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we'll inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Your modules will include lectures delivered by external stakeholders, who will also co-supervise dissertation projects. This input from our professional connections incorporates a practice-oriented approach to your course content, enabling you to apply your new skills to real-world problems.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.


Our MSc Sustainable Food Systems offers a range of assessments that complement and stretch our diverse student cohort. We've designed our assessments to ensure they'll boost your confidence, curiosity and enthusiasm for your subject, while encouraging cross-disciplinary interaction.

You'll complete practice-led assessments, which reflect real-world food system challenges. Examples include debates, field reports, policy critiques and popular science articles. Throughout each assessment, you'll take a problem-based learning approach, empowering you and building your confidence when searching for solutions to global food system issues.

You'll develop your skills and knowledge in food governance, public health, education, agriculture and supply chain management, which are evaluated through examination and case studies. Throughout your assessments, you'll also focus on system governance, power and ethics, which highlight the importance of integrity and human factors in addressing food system challenges.

See our assessment information pages.


Study facilities

You'll find everything you need for your course on our Frenchay Campus, including PC labs for module and self-study, and access to virtual machines and cloud-based environments to build your experience of big data solutions.

You'll have 24-hour access to the UWE Bristol Frenchay Campus library, as well as access to leading resources, specialist journals and publications through our online portal.

Plus, postgraduate students have a dedicated space on campus including teaching rooms and social areas. Each course also has a student adviser available to provide pastoral support and general advice.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE Bristol has to offer.


Postgraduate support

Our support includes access to fantastic facilities, study tools and career consultants, plus practical help to access everything from funding to childcare.


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Health and Wellbeing

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Campus and facilities

Discover our campuses and the wealth of facilities provided for our students.


Careers / Further study

This course will offer you expertise in local food systems and climate change action needed to drive a transformation in this sector. You'll meet a growing demand for professionals who will tackle critical challenges and champion policy and institutional changes, offering you a rewarding and challenging career. After graduating, you'll be equipped with the skills and experience to become a food systems leader within government, public bodies, businesses and CSOs.

Become an expert in environmental sustainability and climate change resilience in local food systems. You'll gain knowledge in a broad range of areas, including food justice, food security and policies, food production and supply chains, and farming systems and agroecology.

Your modules will cover a broad range of disciplines. These subjects include but aren't limited to: Geography, Environmental Management, Environmental Science, Conservation, Business Management and Sustainability, Environmental Studies, Politics, Psychology with Sociology, and Public and Environmental Health.

Our practice-oriented modules are designed in collaboration with external stakeholders in the food systems industry, ensuring you gain applied practical skills with real-world relevance. Through these professional connections, you'll build your network while boosting your employability.

Capitalise on our sustainability strengths across the south west, which could present employment opportunities for you once you graduate. Bristol is one of only three Gold Status Sustainable Food Cities in the UK, so this region is a desirable location to study localised food systems. The city has a strong tradition of food system activism, developing expertise which feeds into our course content to provide you with unique insight.

Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.


Supplementary fee information

See our postgraduate funding pages for more information. 


Entry requirements

Entry is open to those who:

  • hold a first degree (minimum 2:2 honours) in a relevant subject such as (but not limited to) earth and environment, sustainability, geography, agriculture, biology, food science, nutrition, business and management, public health, sociology, politics or public administration or,
  • have other qualifications and/or experience considered to be equivalent by the Programme Manager.

If you do not meet the above grade requirements but have at least 12 months relevant professional experience and/ or equivalent qualifications, we will consider you on an individual basis.

English Language Requirement

UWE Bristol's International College

International students who do not meet the academic or English language requirements to study this course can qualify by completing preparatory study at our International College.

English language requirement

International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).

*The University accepts a large number of UK and international qualifications in place of IELTS. To find details of acceptable tests and the required grades please visit English Language requirements.

If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.

English language support

If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.

Read more about our Pre-Sessional English Programme.

How to apply

Read more about postgraduate applications.

Read more about international applications and key international deadline dates.

For further information