Course: MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources

Centre for Alternative Technology

Machynlleth, Powys, Wales
September 2020 01654 705953 Alis Rees

Cost: UK/EEA: £6,840 International: £8,185 (+ optional £2,000 full board food and accommodation)

Sectors: food, farming & horticulture, sustainability

Masters in Sustainable Food and Resources

How is the course taught?

Taught at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), which pioneered sustainability practice and theory in the UK, this is the first MSc course to properly integrate the social, political, economic and practical aspects of sustainable food and natural resources production. This Masters degree tackles these themes through a combination of academic study, discussion and hands-on practical work. Our MSc programme is taught either by distance learning or through residential blocks in one of the most innovative environmental buildings in the UK, or via a mixture of the two.

A flexible Masters degree designed to develop a rigorous understanding of transformational responses to the pervasive effects that economic structures and environmental change are having on diet, health, sustainability and community empowerment. The course will cover globalisation, corporate and economic control, increasing global population and the effects of industry-scale agriculture and materials production on ecosystems and our environment.

We give our MSc students the knowledge, skills and experience needed to develop a career in the environmental sector and make an impact. The programme draws on our expert staff and a wide selection of academics and specialist guest lecturers – people who have made exceptional contributions to environmental thinking and action.

What qualification will you receive?

Every postgraduate science course at CAT has been made intentionally flexible so that you can study to the level and depth that suits you. All these courses are written, delivered and taught through CAT and start in September.

Awards available: Masters in Science (MSc) or Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip.) or Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert.)

  • MSc award: five core modules of 15 credits each (75 credits) + three optional modules of 15 credits (45 credits) + a compulsory dissertation (60 credits).
  • PGDip. award requires: five core modules of 15 credits each (75 credits) + three optional modules of 15 credits (45 credits)
  • PGCert. award requires: The core module 'Adaptation and Sustainability Concepts Planning' (30 credits) + two optional modules of 15 credits (30 credits)

Full or part time study

Full time study will take you between 6 months and 18 months dependent on which award you choose. All new students start in September.

Part-time study starts in September with the core September and November double-credit module. Part-time students are then encouraged to complete a further two modules in their first academic year and the remaining chosen modules in their second academic year. You must achieve a minimum of 45-credits (max 75) in your first academic year, and the remainder taught modules in the second year, or following years, followed by your dissertation. To receive the Postgraduate Loan (link) you must complete the course within double the amount of the full-time option.

Distance learning

You can choose to study the entire course by distance or attend an on-site study week in each each module and study by distance between on-site study weeks. You can also choose to blend the two of these. More information here.

MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources at the Centre for Alternative Technology leads to the award of Master of Science (MSc) by Liverpool John Moores University.

Modules include

The programme uses the concepts of sustainability and transformational adaptation to frame an understanding of sustainable food and resources management across scales, including cities, communities, farms, industry and the individual.

You will study aspects of food and natural resource management in a broad sustainability context through focused, intensive module weeks that will help you understand:

  • ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • land and resources in cities;
  • sustainable materials, supply chains and energy provision;
  • the science of food and growing;
  • political and economic aspects;
  • sustainable food management, diet and health.

This course isvalidated by the Liverpool John Moores University.

Who is the course for?

This Masters degree is aimed at graduates who want to effect change in the way our natural resources are managed, produced and distributed.

It will include key inputs from eminent practitioners such as Professor Tim Lang (Centre for Food Policy), Colin Tudge (Campaign for Real Farming) and Peter Harper (a pioneer of sustainable growing and resource management), and will empower you with the tools to find employment in environmental NGOs, government bodies, consultancy, forestry and land management, or to launch your own environmental enterprises.

The MSc programme provides the opportunity to develop deep understanding, confidence, aptitude and critical thinking in the management of nature and its resources. The course has a strong emphasis on the practical application of theoretical learning, with students given the opportunity to develop their own practical projects.

MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources students will develop into rounded, self-reflective learners who can work with others with confidence and clarity.

Why study at CAT?

Studying at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is a truly unique experience. For the past 40 years CAT has been at the forefront of the environmental movement, pioneering low-carbon living and renewable technology. At the Graduate School of the Environment (GSE), students benefit from our extensive practical and academic knowledge, graduating with the skills needed to become leading players in the sustainability sector. Find out more about our facilities here.

Hands-on learning

At CAT, hands-on learning takes place side by side with academic study. Residential on-site block learning weeks are taught at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), a truly unique and inspiring learning environment. Nestled in a disused slate quarry on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, CAT is a living laboratory for practical, sustainable solutions. It contains some of the most innovative and renowned environmentally conscious buildings in the country, as well as one of the most diverse range of installed renewable technologies, on site water and sewage treatment, sustainably managed woodland and acres of organic gardens.


It is a flexible degree, taught in blocks taken either with an intensive residential stay of five or six nights at the centre, or by distance learning. MSc students are free to choose between these teaching modes for every module. There is a choice of modules, taken over one year or two – meaning the degree can be part time. It is a masters degree designed to give you the best possible experience whilst also meshing neatly with the pressures of modern professional and family life.

Immersive learning environment

Optional residential module weeks include lectures, seminars, group work and practicals. Applied work tends to dominate later in the week once we have laid the theoretical groundwork. These module weeks provide a truly immersive environment to escape daily life and apply yourself to new learning. Many eminent experts give guest lectures or hold seminars during these modules, as it is a course which seeks to draw on the expertise and learning of the whole environmental sector.

Is this the course for you?

Come to an open day, visit us another time or contact us by

Visit the MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources page on the Centre for Alternative Technology website for more details!

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