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 experience.
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.
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.
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)
The 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.
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.
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).