Sustainable Food Systems MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) relevant subject such as (but not limited to) earth and environment, sustainability, geography, agriculture, biology, food science, nutrition, business and management, sociology, politics or public administration.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£14,000 (total)
International fees
£27,250 (total)

Course overview

People shopping in a market

Food security is providing nutritious, safe and affordable food for all. Being able to do this sustainably is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Food practitioners need to able to respond to food security and safety concerns, shifting attitudes towards food and farming, changing diets and demographics, as well as balancing global economic and environmental pressures.

This course comes at a time when food and its implications on our health and planet are making the headlines. From the food-waste paradox to food’s devastating environmental impact — the need for sustainable food systems couldn’t be more paramount. That’s why organisations across the world are looking for qualified experts in this area, to help resolve some of the greatest challenges we’re facing in food today.

That’s why our MSc in Sustainable Food Systems uses a holistic system thinking approach to understand, evaluate and deconstruct the complexity of the food system, in order to formulate secure and sustainable solutions that address these grand challenges.

The course benefits from expertise from across a wide range of Schools, giving you extensive knowledge and a varying skill set to be able to tackle real-world issues effectively. You’ll also have access to world-leading research in food and other relevant topics, conducted right here on campus. This means, once you graduate, you’ll be fully equipped to pursue an exciting and rewarding career in this industry.

Why study at Leeds:

  • Benefit from interdisciplinary learning and specialist practical and theoretical teaching, with expertise from multiple Schools: Earth and Environment, Food Science and Nutrition, Psychology, Geography, Biology, the Institute for Transport Studies and Leeds University Business School.
  • Learn the latest innovations in relevant topics within food, sustainability and beyond from the impactful, world-leading research conducted across seven different Schools and collaborations with the Global Food and Environment Institute, which feeds directly into the course.
  • Advance your knowledge and skills in key areas like food security, sustainable food production, food supply chains and food consumption.
  • Conduct your own individual research project focusing on a genuine real-world research challenge that suits your interests, provided by the academic supervisory team and our non-academic partners.
  • Join one of our societies, such as SusSoc, where you can meet like-minded people at events such as socials and sports.

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Course details

This course will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to become an effective leader in the transition to a more sustainable, efficient, healthier and fairer food system.

Throughout this Masters, you’ll have the chance to become familiar with the research methods and analytical techniques used in sustainability research, the capabilities individuals require to lead change in the food system, and tools and skills required in the food industry.

During the field trip, you’ll gain first-hand experience of the challenges in balancing the three domains of sustainability (environment, people, and economy) and the implications of a local, regional or global food system. The cost of the field trip is covered in the course fee.

On completion of this course, you’ll be able to:

  • demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of concepts, information and techniques at the forefront of one or several related disciplines investigating food systems sustainability.

  • apply systems thinking approaches to critically and creatively evaluate current and future challenges, research and advanced scholarship in food systems.

  • diagnose and propose solutions to the real-world challenges that food sustainability presents.


On this course, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a number of field trips to food production and consumption sites, including a week-long field trip to a food-producing region. Through these field trips, you’ll be exposed to the interconnected nature of our local, regional or global food systems and the challenge of reconciling competing local and global, environmental, economic and social priorities.

Other off-campus learning opportunities may be offered through collaboration with commercial partners, such as the University of Leeds Farm. The 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.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Sustainable Food Systems MSc in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Introduction to Sustainable Food Systems 30
Sustainable Food Consumption 15
Sustainable Food Supply Chains and Trade 15
Food Systems Fieldtrip 15
Food Systems Research Project 60
Methods and Skills for Sustainable Food Systems 30
Sustainable Food Production and Food Security 15

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Introduction to Sustainability 0

Want to find out more about your modules?

Take a look at the Sustainable Food Systems module descriptions for more detail on what you will study.

Learning and teaching

Our groundbreaking research feeds directly into teaching and you’ll have regular contact with staff who are at the forefront of their disciplines. You’ll often interact with academics through lectures, seminars, tutorials and small group work.

Problem-based learning is at the heart of this programme. All key disciplinary or theoretical perspectives are embedded in each module to encourage innovation and interdisciplinary practise. For example, you’ll work in teams to tackle complex sustainability challenges, such as food security, which require you to incorporate diverse resources, such as existing knowledge, data collection, interpersonal skills, reflections and reasoning ability, in order to meet these challenges.

Independent study is also important to this course, as you develop your problem-solving and research skills through the extended research project which culminates the programme. You’ll produce an original piece of research investigating a real-world challenge that food sustainability presents.

You will be assigned a personal tutor, who will maintain contact with you throughout the year and offer pastoral guidance. They will help you to settle into the university and clarify any procedures, as well as helping you prepare for employment on graduation.

Our Virtual Learning Environment will help to support your studies: it’s a central place where you can find all the information and resources for the School, your programme and modules.

You can also benefit from support to develop your academic skills, within the curriculum and through online resources, workshops, one-to-one appointments and drop-in sessions.

Active research environment

This Masters degree builds on the success of the University’s interdisciplinary research on the theme of Food. Through strong collaborations with the Global Food and Environment Institute, you will not only be exposed to cutting edge research but also given the opportunity to collaborate with industry, policymakers, non-governmental organisations, and the third sector.

You’ll be exposed to the latest thinking and research in a wide range of disciplines underpinning food sustainability, in order to successfully apply your knowledge and skills to real-world challenges.

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 throughout the course.

Discover our research

Food Safety and Nutrition: A Global Approach to Public Health is a free online course, delivered via Futurelearn, exploring the challenges of ensuring food security faced by researchers, policymakers and individuals worldwide.

Learn how large-scale change, like industrialisation, globalisation, population growth and climate change, affects food safety and understand the consequences for the world’s health and nutrition.

Programme team

The Programme Leader, Dr Effie Papargyropoulou, is an Environment Social Scientist, passionate about sustainability and food, who works within the School of Earth and Environment. She is also a part of the Sustainability Research Institute and has a wealth of experience, both in industry and in academia in Malaysia – meaning that she is able to present a variety of different perspectives throughout her teaching.

This course is innovative and interdisciplinary, bringing together expertise from across the University including the schools of Earth and Environment, Food Science and Nutrition, Psychology, Geography, Biology, the Institute for Transport Studies and Leeds University Business School to make up the wider programme team.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


You will be assessed by a combination of traditional assessment techniques such as essays, presentations, report writing, and assessment techniques for the problem-based, experiential and blended learning elements of the programme such as group work, case studies, reflective reports, e-portfolios, assessed contributions to moderated online discussions.


Entry requirements

A bachelor's degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant subject such as (but not limited to) 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.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information, please contact the Admissions Team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

30 July 2023 – International applicants

10 September 2023 – UK applicants

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Earth and Environment
School of Food Science and Nutrition
Institute for Transport Studies
School of Geography
School of Psychology
Leeds University Business School
Faculty of Biological Sciences

Contact us

School of Earth and Environment Postgraduate Admissions Team



UK: £14,000 (total)

International: £27,250 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with compulsory field trips are covered by the university.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

The food industry is constantly under the spotlight from government agencies to provide more sustainable systems for the future, meaning the demand for qualified specialists in this field are far-reaching.

This course will equip you with both the necessary knowledge and skills, such as systems thinking, problem solving, strategy and policy-making, to become an effective change agent who will lead the transition to more sustainable food systems. Through its interdisciplinary nature, it offers a holistic or systems-based perspective of the food system and balances critical thinking with practical solutions, which is key to enhancing employability prospects.

This programme is ideal for those intending to pursue a range of future employment roles in management and decision-making positions, in a wide range of organisations such as, but not limited to agribusiness, food processing, retail, non-governmental organisations, charities, social enterprises, governmental organisations and policy-making bodies e.g. Defra, WRAP, regulatory bodies, food standards organisations, consultancy, international organisations e.g. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Plus, University of Leeds students are among the top 10 most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2023, High Fliers Research, meaning our graduates are highly sought after by some of the most reputable companies in the field.

Careers support

At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one — that’s one of the reasons our graduates are so sought after by employers. The University’s Career Centre is one of the largest in the country, providing a wide range of resources to ensure you are prepared to take your next steps after graduation and get you where you want to be.

  • Dedicated Employability Officer — gain quality advice, guidance and information to help you choose a career path. From CV and cover letter writing to supporting you with job applications, our School’s dedicated Employability Enhancement Officer is on hand to help maximise your capabilities through a process of personal development and career planning.
  • Employability and networking events — we run a full range of events, including the School of Earth and Environment Careers Fair, with employers who are actively recruiting for roles and a dedicated Industry Recruitment Day, giving you the opportunity to network with industry sponsors. 
  • MyCareer system — during your course and after you graduate, you’ll have access to a dedicated careers portal where you can book appointments with our team, get information on careers and see job vacancies and upcoming events.
  • Opportunities at Leeds — there are plenty of exciting opportunities offered by our Leeds University Union, including volunteering and over 300 clubs and societies to get involved in.

Find out more at the careers website.

Student profile: Ellen Dyson

Being taught by some of these scientists has been amazing and the content of the course has given me hope for the future of society and the planet.
Find out more about Ellen Dyson's time at Leeds