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Food Politics and Sustainability (MSc)

The full-time MSc Food Politics and Sustainability is aimed at students wishing to gain expertise on contemporary food geographies.

The MSc in Food Politics and Sustainability will prepare you to pursue an academic career in food studies; enhancing the skills of those already working in the sector and developing prospective practitioners and policy-makers to understand more deeply the interplay between food security, justice and sustainability. The course is specifically aimed at those wishing to gain expertise in contemporary food geographies.

You will gain insights into the ways in which food-related problems are defined, and the scope for applying cutting-edge policy and practical solutions to the challenges that an increasingly complex food system is raising for governments, researchers and regulatory bodies.

The course links together theoretical debates about food at different spatial scales with the practical dimensions of policy formulation and implementation. Based on your detailed knowledge of key tensions and debates related to food security, justice and sustainability, you will be able to develop suitable approaches to analysing and explaining trends and developments as well as to discuss appropriate policy responses.

The course addresses three key dimensions:

  • Principles and processes - how policies may (or may not) achieve more sustainable food systems;
  • Comparative case studies - comparative and in-depth analysis of food sustainability, justice and security issues in different geographic and governance contexts;
  • Research training - the development of methodological skills for undertaking both independent and team-based research on food.

Distinctive features

  • You will study with leading academics from the field of food research in the UK and worldwide.
  • The course brings an interdisciplinary approach to the study of food – one of society’s grand challenges.
  • The course focuses on the latest social science research around food, and the teaching team includes staff involved in live research projects.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration1 year
QualificationMSc
ModeFull-time
Other ways to study this course
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Admissions criteria

Applicants should normally hold a first or second class Honours degree in an appropriate subject.

This MSc is suitable for graduates in subjects such as geography, sociology, politics or economics, and/or those with appropriate professional qualifications in planning. Applicants with a background in other subjects, and relevant work-based experience, will also be considered.

If English is not your first language a minimum standard of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent will be required. Pre-course English Language tuition is available.

If your offer to study at Cardiff University is conditional on IELTS, we recommend that you take the ‘IELTS for UKVI’ test at an approved centre. This will give you greater flexibility regarding how to meet the English Language conditions of your offer. Please note that ‘IELTS for UKVI’ is the only test outside the UK that can be accepted for entry to Pre-sessional English Language programmes.

You will be expected to demonstrate an interest in the field, and some familiarity with contemporary food issues.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

The course is divided into two parts:

  • Part one comprises a teaching programme of six core modules over two semesters.
  • Part two comprises an individual dissertation on a topic selected in consultation with members of staff. Whilst there are few constraints on the choice of topic, it must address the core course themes of food security, sustainability and justice.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars.

Lectures take a range of forms but generally provide a broad structure for each subject, introduce key concepts, and convey relevant up-to-date information.

In seminars you’ll have the opportunity to discuss particular themes or topics, to consolidate and get feedback on your individual learning and to develop skills in oral presentation

You will practise and develop intellectual and presentational skills by participating in diverse learning activities, such as, small-group discussions, debates, oral presentations, independent research tasks and written assignments.  You will also enhance your team-working skills.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor who will help you reflect on your performance on the course and advise you on study techniques, module selection and career planning (in conjunction with the University’s Career Service). They will also provide a first point of contact if you experience any difficulties.

A programme of careers lectures and workshops is delivered within the School.

A range of staff are available to provide further support, including a Course Director, Director of Postgraduate Studies, Postgraduate Administrator, specialist IT support and subject librarians. A member of academic staff acts as a designated Disability and Diversity Officer and ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities.

All modules within the Programme make extensive use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including links to teaching and related materials, reading lists and podcasts, and where you submit and access assessed work.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment methods used include essays, reports, project work and verbal presentations.

Essays and reports will allow you to employ knowledge generated during the modules in, for example, pieces of policy evaluation or sustainable development in action.

Seminar presentations and debates are used to encourage you both to develop and clarify your understanding of contemporary food sustainability issues (in order to defend a debating position) and give you the opportunity to enhance your oral presentation skills.

Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is feedback that does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment. Formative feedback is embedded into all modules and will be provided continuously throughout the year. More specifically, formative feedback helps you to:

  • improve your understanding of the taught material

  • identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work;

  • help staff to support you and address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

Summative Feedback

Summative feedback is feedback that contributes to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a Module or Programme and will enable you to identify any action required in order to improve. All feedback is directly linked to the Module grading / assessment criteria.

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will acquire a range of skills in the analysis and critical appraisal of theory and policy, in the construction and presentation of written arguments, and in the oral presentation of your work. You will also be introduced to relevant professional skills in the assessment of projects and policies. Throughout the course, you will acquire skills in a variety of social science research methodologies.

91% of the School’s graduates were in employment or further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2017).

This course offers the knowledge and expertise for developing a research career or taking advantage of the increasing professionalisation of  food-focused environmental and sustainability jobs in the private and public sectors, including government departments and environmental agencies; the business sector; consultancy, and non-governmental organisations.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£8,350None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

EU students entering in 2019/20 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course. Please be aware that fees may increase annually in line with inflation. No decisions regarding fees and loans for EU students starting in 2020/21 have been made yet. These will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its membership of the EU and we will provide further details as soon as we can.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDepositNotes
£18,650£1,000

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

The programme offers the knowledge and expertise for developing a research career or taking advantage of the increasing professionalisation of food-related jobs in the private and public sectors, including: government departments and environmental agencies; the business sector; consultancies, NGOs and advocacy groups.