Food Challenges for the 21st Century

One of the most significant challenges currently facing humankind is to make enough food, for an active healthy lifestyle, available to a population which will probably rise beyond 9 billion within the next 30 to 40 years.

Extra food must be produced against a changing climate and with reduced usage of a range of resources required for crop production, nearly all of which are already in short supply (land, water, fertilisers, energy, labour). As economies in many countries grow, people want to eat more and they want to eat differently, often aspiring to a more meat-rich and resource-demanding diet. More and more people now live in cities and these social changes constitute significant challenges for those committed to supply more good quality food to more people.

There are many factors that combine to impact food availability and the access that people have to food. Food production is prominent among these factors but we can also feed more people if we distribute food more effectively and waste less food. In addition there is much concern over the deleterious effects of the food production system on the environment and we must work to make more food available in an environmentally responsible fashion.

In recognition of the importance of the challenges faced in providing food in a sustainable way, Lancaster University, in partnership with Waitrose, has developed a Professional Training Programme: Food Challenges for the 21st Century.


Course details

Our programme will equip you with the specialist skills and knowledge to engage with the challenges of making and supplying enough food to sustain an active healthy lifestyle for a growing population.

Taught at Certificate, Diploma and Masters level, our Postgraduate Programme is designed for people with an interested in the global food system and for professionals in the food supply industry. This exciting course explores important issues related to food security, including production, distribution, and waste.

Our programme is highly flexible so that you can fit study around your day job, as a distance learner.  Teaching is done largely online, all materials are supplied and you can work around them at your own pace.  You will also have the opportunity to meet us and your fellow students at short workshops during the year. 

You can select the level of Postgraduate qualification you wish to study from the following:

1) Postgraduate Certificate: Food Challenges for the 21st Century.  This is made up of 60 credits of assessment (4 x 15 credit modules), which equates to 600 learning hours, studied part-time over a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 3 years.

2) Postgraduate Diploma: Food Security.  This is made up of 120 credits of assessment (8 x 15 credit modules), which equates to 1200 learning hours, studied part-time over a maximum of 4 years.

3) Masters: Food Security.  This is made up of 180 credits of assessment i.e. 1800 learning hours, studied part-time over a maximum of 5 years.  It includes a 60 credit dissertation project and 8 x 15 credit modules. 

If you initially enrol at PG Certificate level, you may apply to upgrade to the PG Diploma on completion of 4 modules at an average equivalent of a pass grade (>50%), or the MSc on completion of 4 modules at an average equivalent of a Merit grade (> 60%).  Alternatively, you may apply for direct entry onto the PG Diploma or MSc in Food Security, subject to satisfactory progress as described above, and may exit early with an interim award.


Module choices

A choice of modules is offered, starting at three different times during the year (usually commencing January/February, May/June and September).  Each 15 credit module will normally be of 12 weeks duration. 

Our programme starts with a compulsory introductory module, currently run every February.  This module covers a broad range of issues related to food security.  After that, you can select from a number of more specialist modules, taking between 1 and 3 per year. Some modules are only available at MSc or PGDip level, and some are compulsory if you are studying to MSc level (see table below).

Current modules (all 15 credits unless advised otherwise):
LEC.450   Food Challenges for the 21st Century: The Impending Storm.
       (Compulsory Introductory module).
LEC.451  Crop Production Science.
LEC.452  Environmental Stress and Crop Production.
LEC.453  Plant Defence and Crop Protection.
LEC.454  Ethical Food Systems.
LEC.455  Soil Science.
LEC.456  Literature Review (PGDip and MSc only. Compulsory for MSc)
LEC.505b Dissertation Project (MSc only.  Compulsory for MSc) 60 credits.

New modules proposed (all to be confirmed):
LEC.567  Experimental Design and Statistics
       (PGDip and MSc only. Compulsory for MSc)
LEC.458  Biotechnology
LEC.459  Postharvest Physiology

Module information is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRB) requirements, staff changes and new research.

A timetable of modules for the coming year is available on request by emailing foodchallenges@lancaster.ac.uk

Time commitment and assessment
In line with standard University Postgraduate courses, each 15 credit module comprises 150 learning hours. This includes time for study, taking part in discussion forums, completing module assessments and attending short face-to-face workshops.

Assessments are submitted online and for each 15 credit taught module is typically comprised of: two short answer questions, discussion forum contributions and a final 2500 word essay. 

Fees and expenses
Fees for 2017/18 are £675 Home/EU and £1,575 Overseas per 15 credit module.  Fees are subject to annual increase and are invoiced on a module by module basis.  Costs in respect of travel, accommodation and food for the face-to-face workshop elements are additional.

Applicants connected to the Waitrose UK supply chain should contact us for further details.

Entry requirements
We recognise prior learning and experience, including professional experience of working in the food chain.  You don’t necessarily need a degree to apply.


How to apply

If you would like to apply for the PgCert Food Challenges for the 21st Century, or the PGDiploma or MSc in Food Security, you need to use the University's My Applications website.  The following three items must be supplied to the online admissions website in order for your application to be considered:

  1. Curriculum Vitae (CV) containing full details of your experience pertinent to the PgCert Food Challenges for the 21st Century programme.
  2. A Personal Statement stating why you wish to study for this programme
  3. Two full references

Relevant certificates and/or degree transcripts may be included. Please note that these requirements differ from those of the MSc programmes within LEC as stated on the general LEC Postgraduate webpages.  Applications for a February start must be received by 31st December the previous year. 

To submit an application, simply create an account on the My Applications website and then select Create a new application from your homepage once you are logged-in. Using your account on the My Applications website, you are then able to submit applications for your chosen level of study (PgCert Food Challenges for the 21st Century PG Certificate, PG Diploma in Food Security or MSc in Food Security).  You should upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees.

The Director of Studies for this Programme are: Professor Bill Davies and Professor Jane Taylor.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the course in more detail, please contact the Programme team on foodchallenges@lancaster.ac.uk.