Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production MSc
Year of entry 2023
- Start date
- September 2023
- Delivery type
- On campus
- 12 months full time
- Entry requirements
- A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or international equivalent, in a relevant discipline such as biology, environmental science, food science, biochemistry, agriculture or crop and soil science.
Full entry requirements
- English language requirements
- IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any components.
- UK fees
- International fees
Feed the world whilst protecting our planet
Society is dependent on our ability to produce sufficient, nutritious food through agriculture. However farming practices have detrimental impacts on our environments, global biodiversity and climate. The increasing importance of sustainable agriculture and food production is driven by the triple threat of growing global population, rising pressure on our environment and a changing climate.
This is a multidisciplinary programme, which builds on key strengths in sustainable agricultural research within our faculty and taps into the diverse expertise available across the wider University and beyond, including the Global Food and Environment Institute. A significant proportion of the teaching on this course is provided by academics from the Centre for Plant Sciences, a cross-faculty research centre of excellence in plant sciences.
You’ll be taught the fundamentals of sustainable agriculture and food production from a wide range of perspectives, before moving on to cutting edge research topics. This will include an array of agricultural innovations, including environmental management and monitoring, sustainable livestock production, genome engineering and crop biotechnology.
As well as being exposed to the latest research in sustainable agriculture, with a significant component of practical work, field skills and training in relevant techniques, you’ll build a wealth of transferable research skills. This will prepare you for your advanced research project, working under the supervision of a world-leading academic or industrial expert. We also encourage work-embedded research projects with food production-related organisations globally.
The programme will prepare you for both PhD study and employment in a large range of industries that support agriculture and food production, propelling you into roles such as consultancy, policy, scientific monitoring and biotech, to name just a few. More generally, your skills would align strongly with a wealth of opportunities in business and government around sustainability, climate mitigation, decarbonisation and circular economies.
Be empowered to research and change agricultural practices through innovative and environmental solutions
A significant proportion of the teaching on this course is provided by academics from the Centre for Plant Sciences, a cross-faculty research centre of excellence in plant sciences
Learn and undertake research within the University of Leeds and the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) specialist facilities including the research farm, which houses the £11million National Pig Centre
Gain an in-depth understanding of the social and political aspects of sustainable agriculture and food production
You’ll have access to a wealth of facilities during your time at the University of Leeds. We’ve recently invested in a wide range of agricultural facilities at the university’s Research Farm, located just outside of Leeds. The farm houses the National Pig Centre, which was launched in partnership with the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock after an £11million investment in 2019. You’ll also be able to engage with a broad range of crop, soil and plant science research taking place on the farm site, with the option of carrying out your individual research project using the facility.
In your first semester, you will start by focussing on the fundamental, global issues in sustainable agriculture and the food production systems that support humanity. You’ll engage with a number of existing and innovative solutions to these issues across a broad range of topics, from sustainable protein production to field management systems. Both crop and livestock production will be covered in depth, alongside developing the research and data skills you’ll need to recognise the problems in agriculture and begin to apply scientific ideas to finding potential solutions.
In your second semester, you’ll build on this knowledge to gain depth of knowledge and develop a range of skills to prepare you for your future career. You’ll focus on applied research in a wide range of agricultural disciplines, including breeding, biotechnology, agricultural policy and economics. Field skills in agricultural research and environmental monitoring will develop your research capabilities.
In your third semester, you will undertake your individual advanced research project under the supervision of an expert in the field of sustainable agriculture. You’ll be given the opportunity to work with academic supervisors and in some cases industrial supervisors, where possible. You will plan, design and implement a practical, work-based, fieldwork or data-based project, and present your results and analysis in the form of a scientific report and presentation.
This program consists of 180 credits of compulsory modules, giving you an extensive and coherent grounding in sustainable agriculture and food production.
Global Challenges in Sustainable Agriculture (15 credits) - In this module, you will learn about past, current and future challenges for current and future food production. This will include understanding the major drivers for change in food and agricultural systems, UK and global food security, and strategies for increased sustainability, resilience and climate adaptation agriculture. You will work in small groups to produce a science communication output for a relevant non-scientific audience, developing teamwork and leadership skills. This module features a combination of lectures and seminars.
Crop Production in a Changing Environment (15 credits) - In this module, you will learn about past, current and future challenges for current and future food production. This will include understanding the major drivers for change in food and agricultural systems, UK and global food security, and strategies for increased sustainability, resilience and climate adaptation agriculture. The module features a combination of lectures and fieldwork.
Sustainable Diets and Protein Production (15 credits) - You will investigate the challenges of providing people with a sustainable and nutritionally complete diet, with a particular emphasis on different sources of protein. You’ll consider the challenges of providing a diet that is sustainable, whilst taking into consideration the nutritive content, economics and consumer acceptance of food ingredients in a changing world. Learn about different livestock production systems in the UK and consider the opportunities and challenges facing these industries in light of net zero ambitions, climate change and legislative pressures in a move to a more sustainable future.
Research Skills & Data Analysis (15 credits) - This module covers the skills necessary for you to carry out research projects safely, ethically and appropriately. In addition, you will learn how to manage data collection, how to appropriately handle information and how to analyse the data you collect. These skills are invaluable in an academic career and in other graduate positions, and will prepare you for lab-work and field-based research projects.
Crop Science & Plant Biotechnology (30 credits) - In this module, you will address areas of current research related to crop science and sustainable agriculture. You’ll focus on the goals of sustainable agriculture, and how crops can be modified to meet these goals. Topics covered include:
How improved crops are produced through breeding and biotechnological methods
How to improve resource use efficiency in crops
How to improve crop performance and how to improve yield
You will be taught through lectures and practicals on the basics of biotechnology, coupled with seminars and tutorials to develop knowledge of the current research in this area. Major aspects include critical appraisal of the scientific literature and the development of an innovative proposal to create sustainable crops.
Circular Approaches to Sustainable Agri-food Systems (15 Credits) - In this module, you will study the goals of circular agriculture, including minimization of raw materials and inputs, closing nutrient loops, waste valorisation and minimizing environmental impacts. This module will also cover the potential integration of agriculture into the broader industrial and energy sectors, with a focus on the costs and benefits. The module will be taught via lectures, seminars and discussions.
Agri-Environmental Monitoring, Economics & Policy (15 credits) - The module will ensure that you can make a difference to UK farming in real world contexts, applying your knowledge of sustainable food production within the policy and economic frameworks of UK agriculture. You will develop a working knowledge of the environmental, economic and policy considerations of farming sustainably in the UK.
Masters Research Project (60 Credits) - The Masters research project will provide you with the opportunity to pursue your scientific interests in an academic or organisational context, gaining real-world experience of the discipline. You will be allocated to, or find your own, academic or external partner and complete a lab, field, data, or work-based project in a subject relevant to your discipline. This will be taught mainly through one-on-one or group discussions with a supervisor.
Learning and teaching
You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods including formal lectures, interactive workshops, seminars and tutorials, problem-solving, practical classes and discussions. A significant component of the course is delivered via small group sessions. You will also undertake an independent research project under the supervision of an expert in the field. These teaching methods will provide you with the latest knowledge in a range of inter-related fields, as well as the transferable and technical skills needed to excel in future careers.
The course is designed to develop your independent thinking, problem-solving, communication skills and practical ability, making you attractive to employers or providing an excellent foundation for further study (eg, PhD).
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.
The course is 100% coursework assessed. There are a range of authentic assessments in different formats for example practical work, data handling and problem solving exercises, group work, coursework essays, research proposals, posters and oral presentations. The assignments will focus on your ability to demonstrate key intellectual, research and technical understanding, rather than the ability to produce lengthy pieces of written work. Assignments will be flexible where practicable, allowing you to work on topics that you are interested and engaged with. Assessments are designed to develop skills relevant to a future career in the agricultural, academic or scientific sector.
Choose your independent advanced research project from a wide list of topics, which are designed to offer you an immersive individual research experience, as well as the opportunity to contribute to science in an area you are passionate about.
The MSc in Sustainable Agriculture has a number of field work components, taking advantage of the unique geographical and academic situation at the University of Leeds. The University Farm will offer valuable opportunities to apply your knowledge and practical research skills outside of the laboratory and lecture theatre. In addition, Leeds sits between the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks with easy access to the diverse agricultural heritage of both of these landscapes.
Applicants should normally have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2:1 honours degree, or international equivalent, in a relevant discipline such as biology, environmental science, food science, biochemistry, agriculture or crop and soil science.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any components. .
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. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.
You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.
How to apply
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.
It is standard procedure to interview applicants, prior to making a decision on their application, for MRes Neuroscience, MSc Biopharmaceutical Development (Industrial) and MSc Sport and Exercise Medicine. Interviews do not form part of the standard admissions process for other programmes in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.
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.
University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2023
This course is taught by
Faculty of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Biological Sciences postgraduate taught admissions team
UK: £12,750 (per year)
International: £28,000 (per year)
Read more about paying fees and charges.
For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.
Additional cost information
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 about additional costs.
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.
Scholarships for Faculty of Biological Sciences students
The Faculty of Biological Sciences offers a number of Masters scholarships to support and reward students from the UK and around the world. Don’t miss out on available support, visit our dedicated faculty scholarship page to check your eligibility.
The program would align very strongly with the wide range of industries that support agriculture and food production, and with career paths in those industries. This includes (but is not limited to):
Agricultural and/or environmental consultancy
Agricultural advisory and policy organisations (Natural England, Farming Advice Service, DEFRA)
Environmental and agricultural monitoring
Agro-chemicals (Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, etc.)
Plant biotechnology and crop breeding (KWS, Limagrain, RAGT, etc.)
Feed companies (i.e. for livestock)
Agricultural equipment (particularly instrumentation)
More generally, the program would align strongly with a wealth of opportunities in business and government around sustainability, climate mitigation, decarbonisation and circular economies.
Specific job titles might include: agronomist, industrial scientist, farm assessor, academic scientist (i.e. PhD student), agricultural policy adviser, agricultural technologist.
We take your personal development and employability very seriously. We have a proactive Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) who advises us on what they look for in graduates and ensures that relevant employability related skills are embedded within all our courses.
Our dedicated student opportunity team will support you throughout your time at Leeds, making you aware of events and opportunities to increase your employability.
In addition, our Masters Career Development Programme will support you to:
explore career options and career planning
understand the PhD application process and optimise PhD applications
learn how to use LinkedIn and other social media for effective networking and career opportunities
practice interviews for both job and PhD applications.
You’ll have access to seminars and presentations from industry professionals (including our alumni) at Faculty-led career events.
We also host regular research seminars presented by leading academics from around the world on their specialist subjects.