Food Microbiology

University College Cork

Food Microbiology

Course Outline
In addition to its role as a source of pleasure, food is necessary for human survival. Food is fundamental to our existence and plays an enormous role in the global economy. Microbes play an essential role in food preservation and safety, food for health, and food biotechnology and these are growing areas for all global economies. The School of Microbiology at UCC has established a global reputation in food microbiology, based on its research profile and the impact of its graduates in the food industry.

The MSc in Food Microbiology at UCC covers the breadth of classical and modern food microbiology, including food safety and spoilage; food fermentation; food biotechnology; hygienic production of food; the impact of diet on health; the molecular mechanisms of infectious microbes and the role of the gut microbiota in human health.

Course Practicalities
Lectures and workshops are conducted between 9am and 6pm (Monday to Friday) and you can expect up to 138 lecture hours with approximately 70 additional directed study/reading hours. There are 38 hours of laboratory practicals/workshops, which may be carried out as half-day or full-day workshops. Students also complete a six-month lab-based research dissertation on a topic in the area of food microbiology, performed under the supervision of a member of staff and in some cases co-supervised by collaborating research centres. The project aims to enhance your laboratory skills and critical abilities in identifying, analysing and solving problems in scientific research and to develop your skills in communicating your results.

Why Choose This Course
UCC is one of Ireland's oldest institutions of higher education and Microbiology can trace its history to 1924; we are now the leading microbiology academic centre in Ireland (based on publication output).

Our programme is delivered by active research staff who are global leaders in a number of food microbiology fields (microbiological safety of foods, food/milk fermentation, probiotics, and bacteriocins). Our first-rate facilities include extensive, well-equipped laboratories with state-of-the-art analytical/technology platforms.

Placement or Study Abroad Information
Research Opportunities
Candidates generally carry out their research in the laboratories of the University. It may be possible, with the prior approval of the Programme Co-ordinator, to undertake the research project in another appropriate academic or industrial setting.

Subjects taught

The programme is a structured one-year full-time course that includes a six-month lab-based research dissertation. Our aim is to educate you to an MSc level in food microbiology, emphasising areas in which UCC engages actively in research, e.g. food biotechnology, food fermentation, food safety, and food for health. In addition we will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to both Irish and international food industries. The 90-credit programme is taken in two parts as detailed below:

Part I (55 credits)
Core Modules (30 credits)

MB6006 Library project in Food Microbiology (5 credits)
MB6027 Research Frontiers in Food Microbiology (5 credits)
ML6005 Molecular Techniques in the Life Sciences (5 credits)
PG6001 STEPS - Scientific Training for Enhanced Postgraduate Studies (5 credits)
MB6010 Analytical Food Microbiology (10 credits)
Elective Modules (choose 25 credits)

FE6110 Food Markets and Policy (5 credits)
MB4110 Food Fermentation and Mycology (5 credits)
MB4111 Microbial Food Safety (5 credits)
MB4113 Food Biotechnology (5 credits)
MB6114 Hygienic Production of Food (5 credits)
MB6003 Functional Foods for Health (5 credits)

Part II (35 credits)
MB6011 Dissertation in Food Microbiology (35 credits)
Learning outcomes include:

Advanced theoretical education and practical training in the area of food microbiology;

A greater knowledge and understanding of current issues in food microbiology;

Laboratory research practice in food microbiology;

Knowledge from different aspects of food microbiology and formulation of appropriate judgements on scientific research;

The ability to survey scientific literature at a professional level;

The knowledge, understanding and problem-solving skills to address practical issues in the food industry and work there at the management level.

For further information see the Postgraduate College Calendar.


Further details on the modules listed above can be found in our Book of Modules. Any modules listed above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course but are subject to change from year to year.

University Calendar

You can find the full academic content for the current year of any given course in our University Calendar.

Entry requirements

Candidates must be holders of a minimum Second Class Honours Grade II in a primary honours BSc degree (NFQ, Level 8), or equivalent qualification, in a discipline with a significant element of laboratory science. However, candidates with equivalent academic qualifications may be accepted subject to the approval of College under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). The number of places is limited and selection will be made on the basis of the candidate's performance in his/her primary degree or interview.

English Language Requirements
Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Please visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

For applicants with qualifications completed outside of Ireland
Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants
For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.

Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.

Application dates

The closing date for non-EU applications is 30 June 2023

How Do I Apply
1. Check Dates: Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

For Irish and EU applicants we operate a rounds system and you can check the rounds closing dates here.
Note that not all our programmes are subject to the rounds system so check the opening and closing dates for your specific programme in the fact file boxes above.

2. Gather Documents: Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply Online: Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements
Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme.

You will be asked to enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

You will also be required to upload your CV.

Assessment Info

The course uses a variety of assessment methods. Most modules are assessed by in-term continuous assessment and/or end-of-year examinations. In-term exams can be either multiple choice type questions (MCQs) or written papers (normally 1.5h duration). Most modules include assignments, dissertation and reports as part of the assessment methodology. Modules that contain workshop/practical components are also assessed using written reports/assignments. The laboratory research project is assessed by a combination of laboratory performance, written report and oral presentation. The research project (MB6007) is written up in the form of a dissertation and approved by an external examiner.


1 year full-time.

Enrolment dates

Start Date 7 September 2020

Post Course Info

Skills and Careers Information
The MSc in Food Microbiology is designed to equip graduates to work in a range of management, research and innovation roles within the Irish and international food, beverage and associated industries.

Our graduates will be in a position to support new product development, innovation and quality assurance functions in the dairy, meat, consumer foods, soft and alcoholic beverages and food ingredients sectors. Graduates will also be equipped to work in a range of other areas such as contract food-testing laboratories, the regulatory and consumer protection sectors or proceed to further studies at PhD level.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider