Global Food Security - Food Safety

The Global Food Security (Food Safety) programme is an online distance learning course delivered by leading research active staff within the internationally recognised Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) based at Queen's University Belfast.

This is a unique postgraduate level part-time programme with awards available at Certificate, Diploma and Master's level.

The programme offers a flexible study pathway to those already working in the agri-food industry and related sectors who wish to develop their skills and knowledge to a postgraduate level.

Global Food Security (Food Safety) highlights
World Class Facilities
•The Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast plays a major role in delivering safe, sustainable and authentic food to the world's population, and has become globally recognised for it's excellence in research and was ranked number one for research intensity in the UK for agriculture veterinary and food science (Times Higher Education Research Intensity Ranking/REF, 2014).

Student Experience
•The distance-learning format is particularly suitable if you are in full or part-time employment as you can organise your studies around your work and family commitments. Furthermore, the flexible format permits study breaks between academic years if required. In addition, employers support our distance learning format as staff do not require regular leave to attend on-campus.

Course Structure
Course Delivery
Each module is available online for a specified 20 week period each academic year. Online material will be released over a 15 week content delivery period with a further 5 weeks for completion and submission of the final
assessment element. Module content will be opened up on a block-by-block basis every 3 weeks and students will work at their own pace through content completing continuous assessment tasks to agreed schedules.

Students download their study materials, participate in course discussions, test their learning, watch video presentations and participate in webinars delivered by food security experts via the University's Online distance learning delivery platform.

Estimated student time required to complete each module is between 15–20 hours per week.

Learning and Teaching
Learning opportunities associated with this course are outlined below:
At Queen's, we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable student to achieve their full academic potential.

Entry requirements

Entrance requirements
Normally a 2.2 Honours degree or above in a relevant area of science or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

Applicants with qualifications below 2.2 Honours degree standard (or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University), will be considered on a case by case basis, if they can demonstrate appropriate experience, acceptable to the School.

The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). Please visit for more information.

International Students
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements
Students wishing to apply to distance learning programmes offered by Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study. This evidence may include an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Alternatively, applicants who have previously studied a degree through the medium of English can use this as evidence of English language proficiency. (*taken within the last 2 years). Applicants who have not provided appropriate evidence of their English proficiency in their online application may be requested to provide additional supporting information and/or undertake a formal English language assessment (oral and written) conducted by the School. This assessment will seek to determine if the applicant has sufficient proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from a distance learning course of study.

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:


1 year full-time, 2 years part-time.

Careers or further progression

Career Prospects
This flexible online programme has been designed specifically for anyone who wants to know more about this subject of increasing global importance, and who is seeking new opportunities or career advancement and progression in food safety related organisations and the wider agri-food industry sector including:

• Food production
• Agri-Food focused companies
• Processing and Retail Sectors
• Regulatory and governmental control agencies
• Research organisations
• Further PhD level study

Further enquiries

Dr Mark Mooney 
Senior Lecturer
Global Food Security

Subjects taught

Students can study the Masters part-time over a period of 3 years, the Postgraduate Diploma part-time over a period of 2 years and the Postgraduate Certificate part-time over a period of 1 year.

Students have the option to enroll initially for a 1 year Postgraduate Certificate and upon successful completion advance to the Postgraduate Diploma and /or Masters programme.

Year 1 Modules
The Food Safety and Health module provides a solid background in various aspects of food safety evidencing links to health and disease.

Key thematic topics will include: Food safety and health and the consumer; Natural toxins; Environmental chemical contaminants; Man-made chemical contaminants; Microbiological risks.

The module will explore various chemical and microbiological risks associated with animal feed and human food safety, and examine reported links to health defects/ disease progression. The entry route of hazards and contaminants into the agri-food supply chain and the potential health impacts associated with the consumption of contaminated foods will be described. Examination of the acute and chronic effects of exposure to natural (e.g. mycotoxins), environmental (e.g. metals) and man-made toxins (e.g. dioxins) and
contaminants (e.g. drug residues) which can occur, persist or bioaccumulate in the food chain will be presented.

Microbiological (e.g. food-borne diseases) and related issues (e.g. antimicrobial resistance) will be examined and the impact on future food security discussed. Perceptions of what the concept of food safety refers to will be assessed and the impact that this has on consumer behaviour and food risk control measures will also be processed.

In this module, examples of highly varied, internationally relevant and difficult to detect incidences of food fraud and compromised food traceability will be examined.

The range and types of food fraud will be discussed and the means of detecting such incidences to ensure that food is safe, wholesome and authentic demonstrated. Regulatory requirements and associated challenges to the maintenance of food quality/safety will be elucidated highlighting the need for sensitive analytical techniques which can assist in such tasks.

The economic consequences of food product recalls due to food contamination incidents will be assessed highlighting the need for traceability across the whole food supply chain, together with an exploration of consumer willingness to pay for improvements to aspects of food safety and traceability.

Year 2 Modules
This module examines the principles behind current and emerging monitoring technologies for rapid and early detection of feed/food contamination incidents and disease.

Overviews of applications of various screening and confirmatory test platforms for food security analysis will be delivered. These will include bioanalytical and immunoassay methods incorporating biosensor-based (micro- and nano-technology) techniques, and UPLC and mass spectrometry (QqQ and ICP MS) approaches.

The Global Food Standards and Legislation module will introduce international food standard setting, with a focus on the Codex Alimentarius Commission standards processes and will describe its impacts on international
trade and World Trade Organisation agreements related to food.

Trends of modernisation of food safety legislation internationally, such as the introduction of the Food Safety Modernization Act in the United States and the changes in China's food safety regulatory system will also be explored.

Assessment method

A variety of written coursework, case study and online assessment is used. These will include multiple choice questions, essays, reports, short exercises, case studies, activity logs and presentations. There will be no formal examinations.

Coursework and online assessments are completed according to a timetable provided at the beginning of each module.

Application date

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year 2020

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