QMU to offer new Gastronomy degree in Italy

By Press Office

Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh is to join forces with an Italian university and a foundation for food excellence to offer a Masters Degree in Gastronomy which will be delivered in Italy.

It is believed that the exciting new course, which will be taught in English, will attract both an Italian and international audience.

QMU will partner with the University of Cassino, Lazio and the I’Ciacca Foundation to deliver the MSc in Gastronomy.  Students of the new course will be taught on the tranquil organic farm of I’Ciacca in Picinisco, an ancient town located in Val di Comino between Rome and Naples.

The farm buildings, where teaching will take place, are set within a vineyard and are currently being renovated. They will accommodate a Masterchef style kitchen with TV transmission capabilities, classrooms and accommodation.

The new MSc Gastronomy will be targeted at an international market, particularly the Italian diaspora around the world. Students will study Gastronomy - food from the field to both the market and the table - in relation to the environment, sustainability, production, nutrition, anthropology, politics, communication and culture, and the course will draw on the expertise of farmers, producers and academics.

The area surrounding the farm is a fitting location for the study of Gastronomy. It is situated in a natural uncontaminated area where organic farming is a way of life and is surrounded by olive groves, herbaceous plants, vines, fruit trees and livestock.

Due to its environment and dedicated organic farming methods, the area of Picinisco is bursting with superb local produce including wines, fruit, olive oil, honeys, grains, cheese, sweet meats and cured meats. 

Dr Richard Butt, Deputy Principal of Queen Margaret University, explained: “This course builds on our university’s rich history of food, which dates back to 1875, when we were set up to help improve the diets of the urban poor. What was initially established as the Edinburgh School of Cookery has now developed into a modern ambitious university with flagships in Sustainable Business, Health and Rehabilitation and Creativity and Culture. In relation to food, the University has significant expertise in the teaching of dietetics, nutrition and biological sciences, as well as commercial expertise in the area of food and drink. In 2014, we launched the Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation which supports food and drink SMEs in Scotland and beyond. We were the first to offer a Masters in Gastronomy in Scotland, and our new Gastronomy course, delivered with the University of Cassino, is being adapted to the Italian landscape. It aims to be an excellent fit for both Italian and international students.

“Our partnership with the University of Cassino, allows us to offer an education programme that will contribute to the economic regeneration of the local region by promoting local food production and expertise, and generating international interest in Italian gastronomy and food culture.”

The development and delivery of the new course is being facilitated by I Ciacca Foundation, which will provide access to local food production facilities that use traditional techniques. The Foundation, a not-for profit organisation, is enforcing its historical links by building a collaboration with institutions in Scotland and Italy relating to food and learning. It was founded by the Di Ciacca family, which is based in Scotland but has ancestral roots in the region. The family is restoring the farm - its home for over 500 years before its move to Scotland – which will be the location for the delivery of the new MSc Gastronomy.

Dr Butt continued: “There are existing links between the Di Ciacca family and QMU in relation to food and gastronomy and we are delighted to strengthen that partnership with this exciting international venture in gastronomy. We are also enthusiastic about our collaboration with the University of Cassino due to its expertise in business, enterprise and entrepreneurship and its track record of successful international partnerships.”

Giovanni Betta, Rector of the University of Cassino, said: “The collaboration with Queen Margaret University will add to our university’s programme of internationalisation. It is an important agreement which will enhance the profile of gastronomy in our region, thereby contributing positively to the area’s economic regeneration.”

Consul General of Italy, Carlo Perrotta:  The agreement reached between Queen Margaret University and the University of Cassino for the launch of an MSc in gastronomy is testament to the strong bonds that have been forged between the Italian and Scottish communities.  It is an initiative that will benefit both communities as well as encourage the regeneration of an area where many Italian Scots have their roots.”

The new MSc in Gastronomy will begin in Italy in September 2018 with graduates of the programme gaining an award jointly from Queen Margaret University and University of Cassino. It is ideally suited to people with either academic qualifications in a related subject or significant industry related experience; or mature students who are able to evidence their interest and passion for food and food culture.  Queen Margaret University and the University of Cassino will also be offering a new Masters in Family Business which will begin in 2017.


Notes to Editor

  • Prue Leith, writer, restaurateur, cookery expert and judge on the hit TV show ‘Great British Menu’ was recently appointed to the role of Chancellor of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
  • I Ciacca Foundation is a not-for profit foundation wishing to “build a collaboration between institutions in Scotland and Italy relating to food and learning - from field to table and to market - involving growing, gastronomy, cooking, hospitality and business skills.” It was founded by the Di Ciacca family, who are based in Scotland but have ancestral roots in the region. The farm, where the MSc Gastronomy will be taught, was abandoned for over 50 years. The design for restoration won the URSA award in 2015 for ‘The Best Project for a Better Tomorrow’ in Italy. 20 hectares of land have been brought back into production over the last 4 years. 
  • University of Cassino is a public university in Italy. It was established in 1979. It conducts research in:
  1. Economics and Law
  2. Electrical and Information Engineering
  3. Civil and Mechanical Engineering
  4. Humanities and Philosophy
  5. Human Sciences, Society and Health. 


For further media information contact Lynne Russell, Marketing Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: lrussell@qmu.ac.uk  T: 0131 474 0000, M: 07711 011239 and Jon Perkins, Press and PR Officer, E: jperkins@qmu.ac.uk T: 0131 474 0000.

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