We are no longer accepting applications to this course for 2023 entry.
Gastronomy - MSc
This innovative MSc in Gastronomy course will be of interest to those who are looking to gain a better understanding of food and its complex linkages to identity, culture, communication, environment, employment, economics, activism, and more. This is not a cookery course!
The course will help you gain a better understanding of the complex role that food plays in shaping our lives and the world around us. We promise you that, after studying the course, you’ll never eat the same way again!
Building on the definitions of gastronomy as ‘having knowledge of what and how we eat' and ‘all things concerning the nourishment of humankind’, students are exposed to a wide range of topics and debates, from fields as diverse as anthropology and sociology, history and culture, media and communications, physiology and microbiology, economics and geopolitics, agriculture and fisheries, sustainability and environment, ethics and philosophy, public policy and public health, science and systems, and more. Understanding how all of these topics and issues are connected and influence each other is the basis of QMU’s ‘gastronomic’ approach.
This course is delivered both full and part-time and offers varied and interesting learning experiences.
- Unique in the UK: This is the only course of its kind in the UK. It takes a multidisciplinary approach to examining, and better understanding, how food works in our world. Many other food-related studies, whether in health sciences, hospitality, agriculture or social sciences, approach food from a single particular viewpoint. Our MSc Gastronomy recognises that none of these areas of interest operate independently, and that the cross-cutting and inter-connected nature of food is one of its most important, and most over-looked, characteristics.
- Variety in learning experiences: The tutors aim to make the course lively and varied, to reflect the many different ways that we interact with food through pre-production to post-consumption. Where possible, your studies will be brought to life with expert guest speakers (including alumni), seminars and case studies, as well as field trips and site visits, which allow students to meet a range of food system actors and experience what they do first-hand.
- Industry input and relevance: We have developed and validated the course in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders involved and engaged in the wider world of food, so students can expect unique opportunities to make interact with, for example, food producers and processors, regulators and researchers, farmers and fishers, campaigners and chefs, and others. Through input from these experts, students gain exposure to the diverse influences that affect how we produce, process, consider, represent, practice, consume and think about food. Scotland is often the showcase for this, but we retain a global outlook and the concepts covered in the course are transferable to other cultures and countries.
- Long history of food expertise: The course, which is now in its tenth year, builds on QMU’s history as an innovative provider of food-related educational and social activities and it continues to break new ground in this growing field.
Studying MSc Gastronomy
Who is this course for?
Students may already be working in the food sector, looking to break into it, or even to leave it! You may see food as a problem, or as a potential means of solving a problem. You may have an overwhelming passion for food and want to engage with it on a more learned basis. The course accepts students from a variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of experience, from hospitality workers to campaigners, parents and carers, environmental activists to entrepreneurs, and more. If you have an interest in food that goes beyond the ordinary, or want to engage with food in a more meaningful way, then this is the course for you.
Gastronomy (MSc): More information and what you will achieve
The MSc in Gastronomy course allows students to explore how food touches and influences all parts of our lives, examining the multiple and varied roles food plays in the complex interconnections between culture and communication, systems and science, production and politics, environment and ethics, and more.
Students gain invaluable insight into the many different ways that food shapes the world around us, as well as examining how a better understanding of food can help to address not just food-related problems but many of the world’s most pressing social, public health, environmental and economic issues.
It is increasingly recognised that reductionist approaches to tackling food-related issues are ineffective and that a more comprehensive and holistic approach is required if we are to understand the many ways that food influences our lives and effectively address the many injustices and inequalities that are manifest in the food system. This course allows students to take an engaged, critical and broad-ranging approach to examining the many ways that food ‘nourishes’ us, how it shapes who we are, and how it can be used as a tool for positive social and environmental purposes.
Students benefit from a choice of three ‘capstone’ project modules (Business Consultancy, Business Incubation or Dissertation), each of which is designed to round off the course and allow students to graduate with a completed, practical research project in an area of specific interest or relevance to them and their future career plans.
You will be in the enviable position of gaining exposure to a wide range of food-related experiences and contacts, and a broad range of connected contemporary food issues. You will graduate with the ‘gastronomic’ skills required to gain relevant employment, develop new ideas and projects, and make interventions and transformations in a wide variety of areas.
How will I be taught?
Structure and exit awards
You can opt to study for the full MSc (180 credits), a PgDip (120 credits) or a PgCert (60 credits).
You can also register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD. On completion of a single module, you may wish to complete further modules and progress your studies to a named award.
Those available are Food and Culture (20 credits), Food Communication (20 credits), and Food and Drink in Scotland (20 credits). Contact the Gastronomy team for more information on single module study.
Teaching, learning and assessment
All modules involve a mix of face-to-face and online lectures and seminars, self-directed study, research, group work, assessments, and more. Where possible and practicable, they will also involve site visits and field trips. Class sizes are normally between 15-25 students. This ensures that students receive dedicated support from tutors and benefit from sharing experiences with a close-knit cohort.
While there are no placements on this course, the out-of-classroom learning experiences will, where possible and practical, allow you to meet a wide range of contacts in the food industry and food system. Students electing to engage in the Business Consultancy in Practice or Business Incubation Programme projects will have the opportunity to work directly with existing or nascent businesses on practical tasks, potentially ranging from research projects to business development plans.
Teaching hours and attendance
This is a demanding course that requires students to commit to, and deliver, a level of work commensurate with study at masters' level.
If studying full-time over one year, you can expect to spend at least two days each week attending face-to-face and online classes, with self-directed, independent study on at least two further days each week.
If studying part-time over two years, you can expect to spend at least one day each week attending face-to-face and online classes with self-directed or independent study on at least one further day each week.
The tutors also encourage students to attend third party food-related events like talks, book launches and conferences, as well as opportunities for commensality and community building, such as shared lunches and social events.
We expect approximately 15-25 students to enroll for this course each year. Numbers are often limited to allow students to interact and engage closely, and to allow the tutors to both take an experiential approach to teaching, but also to work closely with students.
You can read more about the teaching staff on this course at the bottom of this page. Please note that teaching staff is subject to change.
- Food and Culture* (20 credits): This module will provide a multidisciplinary examination of the many ways that food can be linked to all forms of ‘culture’, from bacteria in soil, fermented foods and the human gut, through the expression of taste, identity, class and gender, to the ways in which people act and consume. It will provide students with a broad understanding of the relevance of food to all parts of human life.
- Food Production (20 credits): This module will provide a broad, multidisciplinary overview of the past and present methods used to produce the food we eat. It will provide students with the knowledge and skills to make informed judgements on the sustainability, equity and security of current food production and supply, and to critically consider potential future means of food procurement, production and processing.
- Food Communication (20 credits): This module will provide a multidisciplinary examination of the ways that food is communicated and consumed. It will provide students with a critical understanding of the role food plays in the mass media, art and philosophy, manners and space, marketing and other public discourses.
- Food and Drink in Scotland* (20 credits): This module offers a comprehensive and interdisciplinary overview and insight into food and drink in Scotland, incorporating historic, social, cultural, economic and political perspectives. Utilising specific examples of Scottish food and drink, students will explore and develop their understanding of key contemporary issues within Scottish food and drink.
- The Food System (20 credits): This module will provide a broad, multidisciplinary overview of the food system, including its structure, the relationships it contains, the factors that influence it, and the impacts it has on wider society. It will provide students with knowledge and skills to help develop possible solutions to food system problems, inequalities and injustices.
- Research Methods (20 credits): This online module is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to carry out successfully a dissertation at master’s level. Topics include the philosophical underpinnings of research, good research design, data collection and analysis methods, and research ethics.
If studying for an MSc, students will also complete a ‘capstone’ project module (60 credits). This takes the form of either a 12,000-word Dissertation, a Business Consultancy in Practice project, or a Business Incubation Programme.
- Business Consultancy in Practice (60 credits): This is a hands-on practical project where you will develop project management skills and reflect on your learning experiences. The aim of this is to critically evaluate the consultancy role and practice and to research, develop and deliver a live consultancy project with a business. Students electing to engage in this option will have the opportunity to work directly with existing or nascent businesses on practical tasks potentially ranging from research projects to business development plans.
- The Business Incubation Programme (60 credits):The aim of this module is to critically evaluate a range of nascent, micro and family businesses and to develop, through inception, investigation and planning, a new start-up business or social enterprise of your own choice. You will work with mentors, QMU’s Business Innovation Zone (BIZ) and the on-campus Business Gateway.
- Dissertation (60 credits):To enable students to develop, plan and critically evaluate a piece of research in the relevant degree subject related area, written up in the form of a dissertation. This offers the opportunity to conduct a substantial academic research project around a topic of choice, often one related to the student’s own interests or career development plans.
NB The modules listed are correct at time of posting (October 2022) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.
There is no single career area for graduand gastronomers, rather, gaining the MSc opens new insights and opportunities across all sectors and fields.
Students graduating from the course regularly go on to fill, or create their own, jobs and roles within the food system, many which aim to mitigate or tackle issues which food is connected. Former students have entered a wide variety of fields, from running a campaigning organisation promoting organics to establishing an organisation involved in emergency food provision; from studying for a gastronomy-related PhD to completing a Postgraduate Diploma in teaching to become a Home Economics teacher; from running a consultancy advising and servicing the hospitality industry to establishing a successful artisan food business.
Gastronomy (MSc): Entry requirements and application information
There are several routes to entry:
- Applicants with a UK honours degree or equivalent.
- Applicants will also be considered with qualifications below UK honours degree level or as mature students who can exhibit relevant work and life experience gained through their employment, professional activities and/or significant and relevant personal interests.
International: You will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 with no individual component score less than 6.0.
Fees for this course incorporate all transport, accommodation and activities on UK-based field trips, as well as practical classes. See Fees and Charges page.
Applying for this course
We are no longer accepting applications to this course for 2023 entry.
Terms and Conditions
The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2023/24 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).
More information and QMU contacts
Contact Stan Blackley or contact Donald Reid (Programme Leaders), contact the Gastronomy team or Contact Admissions
Opportunities to meet us
MSc Gastronomy: That's not Gastronomy!
Queen Margaret Business School - Hands on Experiential Learning