Food Safety, Hygiene and Management Masters/MSc/PG Diploma/PG Certificate

Develop your career in a field that has worldwide application. Access to safe food is of universal concern. However, industrial methods of food production and the globalisation of the food chain increase the potential for contamination, resulting in larger and more serious incidents, as well as providing opportunities for emerging pathogens and economically motivated adulteration.

The control of food contaminants requires a multidisciplinary approach and cooperation between government authorities and the food industry. On this course students have the opportunity to develop an understanding of the relationship between food and public health, and to explore the scientific, technical, managerial, political and legislative factors that influence food safety and security.

The course differs from other postgraduate food courses in that it focuses on the mechanisms of Food Control and Food Safety Management (eg, HACCP).

Kostas Vassos

Kostas Vassos

MSc Food Safety, Hygiene and Management, 2012

“"I decided to undertake postgraduate studies in the UK because I was seeking a new academic challenge, I wanted to increase my knowledge, professional expertise and skills and also to develop my research skills, and finally I wanted to experience life in a different country at a university abroad."”

This programme provides advanced academic training in food safety and food control. You will consider the relationship between food and public health, and examine the scientific, technical, managerial, political and legislative factors that influence food safety.

Aristeidis and Ernie talk about the course

The course is particularly suitable for those with relevant food related knowledge and/or experience including:

  • Hygiene managers or supervisors already working in the food industry
  • Staff working in competent authorities or enforcement; for example, Environmental Health Officers or Food Safety Officers
  • Staff in diagnostic or food microbiology laboratories
  • Students who have completed relevant undergraduate degrees such as Food Technology and wish to find employment in the food industry or local government
  • Food hygiene and management trainers or consultants

Programme content

The MSc in Food Safety Hygiene and Management consists of 180 credits. There is a taught element (120 credits) and a research element (60 credits). The taught element is organised into modules, some of which are compulsory. The taught modules are either of 10 or 20 credits in value.

The Postgraduate Diploma is 120 credits and consists of only the taught elements. Students who successfully complete the requirements for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma may be permitted to transfer their registration to the degree of MSc. Permission depends on the standard of work.

The Postgraduate Certificate is a 60 credit award and consists of only taught elements. Candidates on the Postgraduate Certificate may choose from the compulsory or optional modules. Students who successfully complete the requirements for the award of the Postgraduate Certificate may be permitted to transfer their registration to the Postgraduate Diploma or MSc, depending on the standard of their work.

Food Safety

Access to safe food should be a basic human right. Unfortunately food borne illness is universal. Changing methods of food production and the globalisation of the food chain increase the risk that food borne contaminants will cause larger and more serious outbreaks, as well as providing opportunities for emerging pathogens.

The MSc in Food Safety Hygiene and Management differs from other postgraduate food courses in that it focuses on the mechanisms of Food Control and Food Safety Management. All Food Control and Safety Systems seek to prevent food safety hazards from causing illness; microbiological hazards are considered to be some of the most significant food safety hazards in the food chain and the content of the course reflects this viewpoint. 

Food Control

One of the main mechanisms of Food Control is the implementation of food hygiene and food standards legislation. Together with the relevant food microbiology, this legislation forms the basis of the course, underpinning the study of processes and management systems commonly used by industry and the competent authorities.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)

Food safety - thermal measurementThe course also covers HACCP, Risk Assessment, Quality Assurance, Integrated Pest Management, premises and equipment design and other aspects of control in a national and international context. The research projects conducted by the students as part of the MSc reflect these priorities and may be laboratory or practice based.

Food Chain Security

The emphasis on implementation and enforcement of legislation and safety standards is a novel approach and, by offering a comprehensive picture of food chain security, provides progression for those from undergraduate degrees such as food technology, veterinary medicine or microbiology. This legal perspective qualifies successful candidates to work in enforcement or advisory positions for UK competent authorities such as the Food Authority (Local Authority). The course is accredited by the Environmental Health Registration Board.

The legislation considered is EC based and the course welcomes many students from other member states, some of whom return home to work in their own Competent Authorities or to represent their country on specialist food committees at national, EU and international level. Several have also taken up lectureships in food safety. The course has also become increasingly popular with overseas students, especially those from countries wishing to accede to the EU or to trade with it.

Related links

Why study this course

Why choose Birmingham?

It provides an opportunity to:

  • Learn from a multidisciplinary team of leading specialists having applied knowledge and strong links with the government authorities and the food industry
  • Develop transferable skills that can be used for many aspects of food safety and security
  • Study in a School with a first class reputation in learning, teaching and research, based in a vibrant multicultural city
  •  Study a programme accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

We'll let our students speak for us:

Food industry

Some of the graduates from the Msc Food Safety Hygiene and Management programme find work in the food industry after completing the course. Graduates work in the UK and in many other countries.

Patricia, from Spain, feels ‘If you are interested in the food industry the course is definitely useful because you learn how it all works and realise how all the steps in the food chain are very important.’

Sandrine came from a microbiology background and works in the food industry in the UK. She writes: ‘I did use and still will be using most of the modules, especially the safety and HACCP because now we have to be proactive (in the food industry) and try to foresee what could go wrong before it happens.’

Food and Microbes was identified by Mohammed, a dietician, as a significant module. He says ‘it was very important and I think this module is the base of food hygiene.’

After graduation Amee started work as a Manager in Quality Assurance (Food Safety Management Systems) for Amul (the biggest dairy in India). She says ‘The course has helped me immensely to acquire in depth knowledge about food safety.’

Harry Zhang is employed by a  major manufacturer in China. He says ‘The four taught modules are very helpful for my current work at Heinz as a technical service specialist. You can learn everything from them that is practical to the actual food industry. The research course and major project are very good attempts for a student to challenge himself. You can improve a lot in ways of thinking, ways of organizing project during that time. This has proved useful in my actual work after graduation.’

He continues: ‘It is definitely of great value learning here. The teaching team of Food Safety, Hygiene and Management are no doubt one of the best teams I’ve ever met during my decades of academic career. They make every effort to make you better no matter what background you were in the past.’




Food Control

The course emphasises legislative aspects of food control as well as technical and scientific matters. Andrew works as an Environmental Health Officer in a UK Local Authority and he comments: ‘I moved from being a general EHO to a specialist Food Safety Team during the course and have remained there since. I am now the team leader for 9 EHO/FSO and 4 EOs. The course content was very comprehensive and useful for the work which I am involved with at the moment.’

Elli originally studied Biotechnology in Greece. She wrote ‘My experience at Birmingham University, besides being very enjoyable both on a personal and academic level, has definitely provided me with the knowledge and the analytical way of thinking, which have been invaluable tools not only for job interviews but mainly for my everyday job. These valuable skills and of course the University's reputation played a role as a "door-opener”. Currently, I am working for the Food Standards Agency as a Scientific Officer.’

Eleni also originated from Greece. A qualified vet, she came to work in the UK in meat hygiene and says of the course: ‘On a number of occasions this MSc has been a plus for my professional development e.g.

  • Being selected as a food safety expert in the European Commission, DG SANCO
  • Acquiring a teaching job in a Food Technology College.

Now I’m a candidate student for a PhD in the University of Thessaly, Medicine Faculty.’

Past students can also be found working in food control outside the UK including Greece,  China (Hong Kong), Turkey, Korea, Brunei Daruusalam and Saudi Arabia.

Further Study

About 10% of graduates continue in higher education and acquire a doctorate. One graduate who has followed this route has the following remarks about the course:
"My name is Ihab Habib. I am an Egyptian, and I obtained the MSc degree over the academic year 2003/04 with merit grade. I am a veterinarian by education and choose to focus my work on food safety and microbiology. I find the MSc in food safety, hygiene and management in Birmingham a great opportunity for anyone who wants to study food safety with a great sense of practicality. The training modules cover all the aspects you need to be well equipped for starting or enhancing your career in food safety. Now I have almost finished my study in Belgium (Ghent University) for a PhD in Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety. Also I obtained a lecturer position in Alexandria University in my home country Egypt.”

Ding Luo, from Shanghai, completed her PhD in molecular microbiology. She says of the course: “it’s very useful in terms of introducing people to the food safety related matters regardless of what background they are from, and ideal for people having or seeking careers in industrial or governmental environment. Also, obtaining a HACCP certificate is very valuable.”

Other students have continued to study directly related fields and have embarked on PhD research on areas such as the implementation of HACCP or other aspects of food safety and control.

Other opportunities

Several students have decided to work advising businesses on food safety and HACCP. Some have joined existing companies and others have set up as independent consultants, offering training as well as advice. Other candidates have decided to use their knowledge working in food microbiology labs while some have remained in academic life as researchers. Three past students have acquired lectureships at Universities and are themselves teaching food safety while several more act as examiners or have visiting lectureships.


A final comment from Ihab sums up the opinion of many of the students: ‘My Birmingham experience was amazing; a high level of science, in a multicultural city and a world class university. So keep up the hard work and enjoy Birmingham.’


Course Structure

The MSc in Food Safety Hygiene and Management consists of 180 credits. There is a taught element (120 credits) and a research element (60 credits). The taught element is organised into modules, some of which are compulsory. The taught modules are either of 10 or 20 credits in value.

The Postgraduate Diploma is 120 credits and consists of only the taught elements. Students who successfully complete the requirements for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma may be permitted to transfer their registration to the degree of MSc. Permission depends on the standard of work.

The Postgraduate Certificate is a 60 credit award and consists of only taught elements. Candidates on the Postgraduate Certificate may choose from the compulsory or optional modules. Students who successfully complete the requirements for the award of the Postgraduate Certificate may be permitted to transfer their registration to the Postgraduate Diploma or MSc, depending on the standard of their work.

Compulsory Modules

There are three 20-credit core modules and one 10-credit core module. To complete the MSc or Postgraduate Diploma in Food Safety Hygiene and Management you must successfully complete all four modules. A research module is also part of the core programme.

Optional modules

The remaining credits can be selected from a list of 10-credit modules. Optional modules must have a minimum number of students registered before they will be delivered. Any module with less than five students registering on it will not be run and you will need to select an alternate module. Example optional modules are listed below:

  • Food Fraud
  • Sustainability in the Food Industry
  • Chemical Contamination of Food and Water
  • Food Chain Security
  • Food Inspection
  • Food Standards
  • Novel Food Processing
  • Principles of Nutrition
  • Applied Food Microbiology
  • Investigating Food Borne Outbreaks
  • Water and Health


  • Taught modules are assessed through either a combination of examination and coursework or by coursework alone
  • The research project is assessed through a written research report and a viva.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods.

Related staff

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for UK/EU students 2019/20

MSc:  Full-time £9,540. Part-time £4,770
Postgraduate Diploma: Part-time £3,180
Postgraduate Certificate: Part-time £3,180
For further information please view the fees and funding page. 

Tuition fees for International students 2019/20

MSc: Full time £21,690
For further information please view the fees for international students page. 

Scholarships and studentships

We offer a range of postgraduate scholarships for taught programmes and research opportunities to ensure the very best talent is nurtured and supported at postgraduate level.

Additional scholarships can be found in the funding database.

Contact the department for further information.


For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant science (eg, biology, microbiology, food science, environmental health etc,). Candidates holding other qualifications may be admitted to the programme after an interview and submission of evidence of academic competence and experience in a relevant field. Learn more about entry requirements

International students:

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about  international entry requirements

English language

For students whose first language is not English, one of the following English language qualifications are required:

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall, with 5.5 minimum band score
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • PTE Academic: 51 in all four skills

Further information about postgraduate English language requirements, including alternative qualifications considered and Pre-Sessional English.

How to apply

International applicants requiring visas

Monday 01 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date; a new application should be made for 2020. Applications will reopen for 2020 in October 2019. We will close applications as soon as the programme is full, early applications are encouraged.

UK/EU and non-Tier 4 applicants

The application deadline is Thursday 12 September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2020 on Monday 30 September 2019.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

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

Apply now

Postgraduate study at the University of Birmingham is a chance to learn from world leaders in their fields. The MSc in Food Safety Hygiene and Management is managed and delivered by specialist staff having extensive industrial and enforcement

External experts from other institutions and from industry also contribute to the modules as visiting lecturers.
The programme takes a global view of food safety but uses European legislation and UK systems to demonstrate the principles of food control.

Consequently the course welcomes many students from other member states, some of whom return home to work in their own Competent Authorities or to represent their country on specialist food committees at national, EU and international level. 

Learning, teaching and assessment

Various learning and teaching methods are used on the programme, including traditional lectures, computer-based learning, student-based learning such as case studies and directed learning, laboratories and visits. The programme is assessed using both traditional unseen examination and coursework. The MSc requires candidates to complete a research project and submit a thesis.

Skills gained

Apart from a high level of technical knowledge, students will also gain the ability to critically analyse data and published information, apply scientific principles and legislation to practical situations and become experienced at locating and interpreting government guidance. Successful candidates will also develop an advanced understanding of common food safety management systems such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).

Employment prospects for candidates who successfully complete the MSc in Food Safety, Hygiene and Management are wide ranging. 

A significant number of alumni work for government authorities as food safety specialists where they participate in the delivery of official food controls. Some have also chosen to work in food laboratories (private or public) as official food examiners. Other graduates prefer to find employment in the food industry where their grounding in legislation and safety give them an advantage over pure science graduates.

The MSc fulfils the requirements for qualification of food examiners as listed in Schedule 2, part 1 (2) of The Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) (England) Regulations 2013. It can also help demonstrate the criteria for competency of Food Lead officers employed within Local Authorities (as mentioned in Food law Code of Practice 4.3.1).

Graduates who wish to remain in academic life can progress on to a PhD after finishing the course, typically pursuing laboratory based projects or applied areas of research such as food safety management or food security.

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Professional accreditation

The Postgraduate Diploma and MSc are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and therefore very appropriate for anyone wishing to work as a food premises officer in a food authority or competent authority.

Past students have found work in a variety of areas, including NGOs, competent authorities in the UK and overseas, academic institutions and the food industry.