August 26, 2020

Training people to provide food for the future

Wheat FieldLancaster University expands its innovative distance-learning postgraduate courses on global food security to welcome full-time students.

This autumn, as COVID-19 brings a sharp focus on the resilience of our food system, the Lancaster Environment Centre is opening all three of its online Food Security courses to full-time students. This provides an opportunity to join well-established online courses that have already graduated more than 30 part-time students at a time when distance learning is expanding because of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

These PG Cert, Diploma or Masters courses are open to anyone looking to develop a career in the food production and supply industries or in research, including those who have recently completed an undergraduate degree.

The Food Security courses, which have been running with the support of Waitrose over the past five years, also offer professional development for those already working in the sector. Full-time employees, who prefer to study part-time, can still enrol for the 2020-2021 academic year, starting in October.

Learning how to provide nutritious food to a growing population in an environmentally sustainable way is central to the courses, which cover a diverse range of general and specialist topics including:

  • crop growth
  • environmental stress
  • pests and pathogens
  • soil health
  • food distribution
  • biotechnology
  • food spoilage and waste
  • ethical food systems

Students will learn from plant and soil scientists alongside leaders from the food industry, equipping them for employment in a wide range of roles in food production, supply, policy and research.

The international distance-learning format provides students with a flexible way to gain a postgraduate qualification from a top 10 UK University, without needing to relocate themselves or disrupt their lives. Students will benefit from learning alongside peers from all over the globe, including many with valuable experience in the food industry to share.

Professor Ian Dodd, Director of Studies for the courses, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced how vulnerable the whole world, even the UK, is to food shortages. Certain food items have been unavailable to UK consumers, driven by massive shifts in public demand, the availability of labour to harvest UK crops and the challenges of ensuring social distancing during harvest and factory operations. The pandemic has highlighted the global nature of our food system, and how critical it is to understand factors constraining production, distribution and access to food.”

Prizewinning graduate, Tina Todorava, says that the learning she has gained from the course has transformed the way she does her job as a technologist at Primafruit.

“I have gained so much, even the way I talk and I write has changed: I am so confident now. Over the last few months, I have been involved in quite a few meetings with production: the way I give them the facts now, linking them to academic sources, means they listen to me much more and treat me as an authority.”

Entry requirements and module details for the three Food Challenges courses can be found at:

If you’ve any questions or would like to discuss these courses in more detail, please contact the programme team on