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Certificate of Higher Education in Food Safety & Food Legislation

Duration
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Continuing professional development
Fees
We charge an annual tuition fee.
2022: £6,400 full-time,
£3,200/year part-time.
Normally UK students only. Overseas students should email the programme lead to discuss eligibility.

We offer both a full-time and part-time Certificate of Higher Education in Food Safety & Food Legislation at undergraduate level. This qualification provides the academic learning required to gain the Higher Certificate in Food Control awarded by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

Inspection of food premisesThe Certificate of Higher Education in Food Safety and Food Legislation is a qualification issued by the University after successful completion of 120 credits of work in approved modules.

It follows the syllabus provided by the CIEH and is a route to qualify as a food safety officer. 

Below is a list of some the subjects covered over the 2 years part-time or 1 year full-time.

  • The main hygiene laws that apply to food businesses
  • The powers of enforcement officers
  • Food premises inspections
  • HACCP
  • Food microbiology
  • Food identification and judgement of fitness
  • Advanced food legislation & enforcement
  • Hygiene management
  • Food technologies
  • Food Standards, labelling and composition.
  • Advanced food microbiology

Once you have completed this course, if your aim is to become a food officer working for a local authority, then you will need to complete a Competency Development Portfolio (CDP) which demonstrates some practical experience.  This is easiest done by gaining some work experience with a local authority.  Then finally you will need to attend an interview with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).  The portfolio and interview are administered by the CIEH and cost an additional £650.  The CIEH’s website contains further details of the CDP and interview.

Successful completion of the 3 elements will result in you being granted the Higher Certificate in Food Control which is the formal qualification mentioned in the Food Law Code of Practice.  This will allow you to be authorised as an officer to carry out official controls such as inspections. 

Not all students who attend the course however go on to work for local authorities.  Some recent students have found work with independent auditing companies, and many find the course useful in their jobs within the food industry too.

The Certificate of Higher Education in Food Safety and Food Legislation provides specialist learning opportunities in food safety to practitioners in the food industry who are in supervisory, training or management positions and to Local Authority Inspectors. The programme will be of interest if you: 

  • Own or manage a food business
  • Supervise a catering section or food production unit
  • Are a head chef in a large catering kitchen
  • Manage a housekeeping, catering or food production section
  • Are responsible for writing or implementing food safety systems such as HACCP
  • Provide advice or training on food safety, food hygiene or law
  • Are a technical officer in a Local Authority with responsibility for food
  • Have a particular interest in food safety and food law.

Why study the Certificate of Higher Education in Food Safety & Food Legislation at Birmingham?

  •  To increase your knowledge of common food legislation and the general framework in which it functions;
  • To gain a fundamental understanding of the principles of Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessment (HACCP) in relation to food safety;
  • To learn about the common food borne pathogens and their significance in terms of food safety;
  • To be able to critically assess current issues in food safety;
  •  To cover the academic syllabus for the Higher Certificate in Food Control.

Modules

This two-year course is arranged as a combination of distance learning and block release. Each year comprises 60 credits of study. This equates to approximately 600 hours (100 days) of student effort. 

Some of this takes place at University of Birmingham (lectures, tutorials and laboratory practicals), but a large proportion must take place in the students own time (distance learning and private study). Attendance at the university in the first year is concentrated mainly between September and May (on average, 3 days (Mon-Wed) per month during term time). In the second year attendance requirements consist typically of one, three-day block per month. Total contact time in each year is approximately 24 days.

Year One

Year One has been designed to cover the fundamentals of Food Safety and Food Law. Basic microbiology is covered, and the emphasis is on the Food safety Act 1990 and associated EU directives and domestic legislation. This year consists of three modules:

  • Module 1: Food Inspection
    This module covers the identification and examination of the common foods; food sources and judgment on their fitness for human consumption. Assessment is via completion of a workbook; a practical identification exam and an online exam.

  •  Module 2: Introduction to Food Law, Food Safety & Risk Assessment 
    Introduction to food microbiology, basic food hygiene legislation, including sources of law, the interpretation and application of food safety legislation, and HACCP. Assessment is via an examination and four case studies.

  • Module 3: Inspection 
    The final module will be a study based on a food inspection / audit. It will draw together all the principles from modules 1 & 2 and may involve use of techniques such as sampling, evidence gathering, auditing, developing systems, and comparison inspections etc. Assessment is via a food inspection report and an interview.

Year Two

Year Two develops the principles of food safety further and concentrates on the application and understanding. The product specific legislation is dealt with in more depth. There is an emphasis on current trends and future issues. There are five modules. 

  • Module One: Food Microbiology 
    The common microbes associated with food, including methods for sampling and enumeration and control of food-borne illness. This module will consist of lectures, directed reading and self assessment questions, laboratory practicals, case studies and web based assignments. 

  • Module Two: Food Legislation 
    The main food hygiene legislation, including sources of law, the interpretation and application of food safety legislation, evidence gathering and legal procedure as they relate to contravention of food law. This module will comprise lectures, directed reading with self assessment questions, case studies and some visits. 

  • Module Three: Hygienic Management 
    Systems used to control food hazards, including cleaning, pest control, recall procedures, risk assessment systems and quality assurance. This module will consist of lectures, directed reading and web based assignments. There will be one laboratory practical.

  • Module Four: Food Standards
    This module looks at food standards legislation and application of the law, food labelling, compositional standards and requirements of food, allergens and imported foods. Students will also explore food adulteration and authenticity.

  • Module Five: Food Technology 
    Application of the principles of food preservation and manufacture, to include their importance in food safety and hygiene. This module will comprise lectures, a laboratory practical, directed reading, a workbook and some visits.

Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee

2022:

  • £6,400 1 year full-time,
  • £3,200/year, 2 years part-time study.

Normally UK students only. Overseas students should email the programme lead to discuss eligibility.

Details of these fees are available from the course secretary, whose contact details are at the bottom of the page. In addition, you will need to provide for their living expenses, for instance, accommodation, food, travel, books and leisure.

How To Apply

The closing date for applications is the 31st August in the year the programme starts. 

Early application is advised as there are limited places available. 

Late applications will be considered if places are still available on the programme. 

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

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There are no formal entrance requirements for the Certificate of Higher Education in Food Safety and Food Legislation. However, Candidates will be expected to have either formal or experiential knowledge of the basics of food hygiene and food safety and references are required from previous or current employers.  A reasonable level of written English is also required in order to succeed on this course.

The course attracts many mature students that are currently working in the food industry and looking to advance or change their career.  Alternatively, they may be working for a local authority and need this qualification to carry out particular activities.  For many students, this may be their first experience of higher education, or they have not set foot in a classroom for a number of years.

Typically, candidates might have a City & Guilds plus several years' experience in catering and /or manufacturing role; a Level 3 (Intermediate) or Level 4 (Advanced) Food Hygiene Award from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (or other equivalent). Candidates who are unsure whether their experience will be appropriate should contact the course coordinator to discuss the matter. 

The University reserves the right to limit entry to those whom the programme tutors consider will benefit from and successfully complete the programme.

A number of professionally qualified teaching staff support this programme. They include ex-Environmental Health Officers who have experience in both local authority and the commercial food sectors. The lectures therefore will often introduce real-life examples and situations that may have occurred.  Students are encouraged to apply their knowledge and justify their actions appropriately.

The University will provide the academic learning and theory element of the Higher Certificate in Food Control.  Most of the practical experience should be obtained during the time completing the CDP portfolio for the CIEH.

The course is arranged as a combination of distance learning and block release. For the 2 year part-time course, each year comprises 60 credits of study. This equates to approximately 600 hours (100 days) of student effort or 15 hours per week. Many of our students studying the part-time course over two years are working full time and have to fit in their studies around their work and home life.  It is a challenge but it achievable. 

For the 1-year fulltime version the full 120 credits is studied in a single year. Therefore, students must be able to commit at least 30 hours per week to their studies to stand the best chance of success if they want to take this route.

The University also has a dedicated wellbeing team that are there to help support students with any matters that may affect their ability to study.

Most of the teaching takes place at University of Birmingham (lectures, tutorials and laboratory practicals), but a large proportion must take place in the students own time (distance learning and private study). Most of the lectures are recorded and students are granted access to them so that they can review them again if they wish. Teaching at the university is concentrated mainly between September and May.

For the part-time course there are on average 3 days per month of lecture time. Usually, Monday to Wednesday in the first year and Wednesday to Friday in the second year. Total contact time in each year is approximately 24 days.

For the fulltime version students will complete year 1 and year 2 simultaneously and so will attend the lectures on the days of both year 1 & 2 i.e., 6 days per month.

In between the teaching blocks we provide short 2-hour group support tutorials where we can discuss case studies and any problems students may be experiencing with the course or the assessments.

There is at least 1 assessment for each 10 credits and typically you will have to submit a piece of coursework each month on the part-time course and 2 pieces for full-time.  The course uses a variety of assessments including case studies, reports, exams and practicals.

The Certificate of Higher Education in Food Safety and Food Legislation provides specialist learning opportunities in food safety to practitioners in the food industry who are in supervisory, training or management positions and to Local Authority Inspectors.

The programme will be of interest if you:

  • Supervise a catering section or food production unit
  • Are a head chef in a large catering kitchen
  • Have done level 3 or 4 training in Food Hygiene and want to learn more
  • Manage a housekeeping, catering or food production section
  • Are responsible for writing or implementing food safety systems such as HACCP
  • Provide advice or training on food safety, food hygiene or law
  • Are a technical officer in a Local Authority with responsibility for food
  • Have a particular interest in food safety and food law

Many students who attend this course have the objective of becoming a food safety inspector working for a local authority and successful completion of this course is a step towards that.  In addition to an accredited course such as this one, you also need to complete some practical experience and pass the CIEHs professional interview to gain the Higher Certificate in Food Control.  This is one of the qualifications mentioned in the Food Law Code of Practice that authorised officers must achieve.  

There are however many other opportunities that are available with this qualification.  Many of our previous students have found work in areas such as third-party auditing or to advance their careers in the food industry.

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