Masters of Science in Sustainable Food Systems (Online)

  • NFQ Level 9
  • Credits 90*
  • Course Code SG_SSUST_M09
  • Award Masters (Taught)
  • Duration 2 Years Part-Time On

Course Summary

Our  MSc in Sustainable Food Systems provides learners with the tools and critical thinking skills to lead Sustainability projects within their business. It requires students to pursue research on an appropriate topic in sustainable food systems, develop a research question or test a hypothesis, apply the appropriate research methodology, integrate research findings, and articulate the key considerations of the specific investigation. 

Students will use knowledge skills and competencies acquired at the Certificate and Diploma stages of the programme. The learner will be allocated a supervisor who will advise on the direction of the work through regular meetings. Moreover, students will be given the opportunity to disseminate their findings in oral or written format to their peers. At completion of the module, students will present the findings of their research project by submitting a thesis and by presenting it in a form of an oral presentation. 

ATU Sligo has a long-standing reputation both in food science, providing progression pathways and upskilling opportunities for those working in the Food and Drink industry. We continually build on our current suite of programmes in this area, allowing us to be agile and responsive to the Food and Drink industries’ needs and demands while also being compliant with new policy and regulations in the area of Food Regulatory Affairs. 

“In a constantly evolving and challenging regulatory landscape, it remains essential that Irish Food and Drink businesses continue to prioritise the importance of legislative knowledge and compliance. Understanding, interpreting and applying food legislation is an essential requirement for a diverse range of roles across our industry. This Masters programme has been specifically developed in conjunction with leading experts across the Irish food sector. It not only increases knowledge but also develops the necessary skills of learners to apply these regulations to their business in a practical manner” Aoife Moran Senior Regulatory Affairs Executive Food Drink Ireland

Course Objective 

Develop a thorough understanding of policies, best practice, sustainable tools and theories that shape the world of sustainable food systems along with key skills in systems thinking, critical to evaluating complex food systems and developing sustainable solutions to real-work food systems. 

Modules Include: 

Diploma Level 

  • Sustainable Food Systems and Regulatory interactions (10 Credits) 

  • Research methods in Sustainable Food Systems (5 Credits) 

  • Sustainability and International Markets (10 Credits) 

  • Professional Development in Sustainable Food Systems (5 Credits) 

Masters Level 

  • Thesis/Research Project (30 Credits) 

  • Company focused 

  • Lit Review 

  • Research 

  • Findings 

  • Recommendations 

Key Learnings Outcome 

By the end of this programme, students will be able to: 

  • Develop detailed knowledge and understanding of the facts, concepts, principles and theories associated with sustainability and how industrial activities and human consumption impact on different aspects of society at local, national and international level. 

  • Understand the current limits of theoretical and applied knowledge of global sustainability that underpins our current understanding of what this means to the planet. 

  • Proactively troubleshoot and solve original technical problems relating to the application of sustainable systems. 

  • Think independently and make informed and effective decisions showing their understanding of the issues associated with global sustainability. 

  • Identify gaps in the area of sustainable food systems and source and undertake self-learning to fill the gaps. 

  • Apply advanced skills to constructively criticise, draw conclusions, and offer recommendations within the field of industrial systems and the challenges of transitioning to sustainable processes. 

  • Identify and articulate the key considerations around the transition to a sustainable society 


For more information, or to book your place, please contact Mark Skinner on (01) 6051615 or 

Key Course Information

Course Attendance: 

The programme uses a blend of learning channels to support learning, pre-dominantly live online lectures, supported by face-to-face seminars and self-directed learning. Adobe Connect will be used for lectures, whilst Moodle will be used as the student portal for accessing material, uploading projects and collaborating with staff and other students.  

Lectures will be delivered online. Live lectures normally take place between 6pm and 10pm, Monday to Thursday but this may vary depending on the availability of specific lecturers. If the Live Classroom scheduled times for the live online lectures do not suit you, recordings will be made available through Moodle allowing you to watch back at a time that suits you.  

Whether you are studying part-time online, blended, or full-time online, it is very important that you allocate enough study time to your online course to stay focused, reduce stress and achieve your goals. In terms of time commitment, students would need to allow 7 hours per week, consisting of 2 hours evening lectures and 5 hours independent learning and project work. Workshops are used to bring learners together and facilitate group learning. 



Assessments will have a heavy emphasis on practical application, participants are assessed via Continuous Assessment (CA) forms 100% of the marks for each module – no exams. CA will include the following: Scenario Based-Written Assignment, MCQs, Short Assessments, Quizzes, Presentations, Reflective learning journals, Team based assignments, Group project, Case study analysis, individual portfolio of learning. 

For the Thesis/Research Project, below is a breakdown of the marks: 

  • Research project dissertation (70%) o Research project not exceeding 15,000 words (excluding bibliography). Work submitted will be assessed by two members of the lecturing team.  

  • Oral Presentation (20%) o Students will prepare a presentation to present their work and partake in a viva voce and discuss and answer questions from a two-member panel.  

  • Continuous assessment (10%) o Submission of project plan, draft literature review, draft report and general preparedness during meetings with project supervisor. These meetings will facilitate students in receiving feedback on progress and help feedforward to the higher stakes assessment which is the final dissertation (10%).  

Application Closing Date : 16th August 2024

Entry Requirements

Applications are invited from residents of Ireland employed in the Food and Drink sector, working in technical areas such as quality, food safety, regulatory affairs or R&D, who need to be able to interpret regulations and understand their implications to their business. Participants may have a variety of backgrounds, including food science, food engineering, home economics, micro[1]biology, however, many have not had any formal training in food regulations.

Applicants who should apply for the part-time online Level 9 Masters of Science in Sustainable Food Systems the are those who work in the food and drink industry with full or increased levels of responsibility in sustainability within their businesses. Working in a variety of functions with various 3rd level qualifications, but without a qualification in sustainability. 

Graduates of the Level 9 Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems have the option to progress to the  Postgraduate Diploma/Masters of Science in Sustainable Food Systems. 

This course is open to those with a Level 8 Degree or Level 8 or Level 9 in other areas with sufficient work experience as assessed by Atlantic Technological University. Applicants who do not meet this entry criterion may be considered through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). 

Applicants with other qualifications and with relevant work experience may also be considered through ATU Sligo’s Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) process. RPL is a process that may allow you to gain admission to a programme or to receive exemptions / credit from some parts of a programme based on demonstrated learning that you may have achieved through another programme of study or through your work and career. Further information is available through which our dedicated RPL portal or by contacting our admissions team at 

Career Opportunities

Further Study


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Programme Fees

Academic Year 2024/25 Fees (Postgraduate Diploma)
Total Programme Fee: €7,000

Academic Year 2024/25 Fees (Masters)
Total Programme Fee: €9,900

  • Fees paid directly to Skillnet, Fees not paid to ATU Sligo

For more information, or to book your place, please contact Mark Skinner on (01) 6051615 or 

To help make the payment of fees more manageable for students who are self-funding their studies, tuition fees can be paid through payment instalment plans at ATU Sligo. For further information on instalment plans, please visit our Fees and Funding webpage. 
If you apply and are approved for an online course at ATU Sligo, you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of €250 to secure your place. Your deposit will then be credited against the course fees once you are registered as a student. Students at ATU Sligo are also eligible to claim tax relief at the standard rate for tuition fees.
For further information and guidance about Fees and Funding for online and part-time courses at ATU Sligo, click here.
If you are seeking to take your exams online, and you meet the eligibility criteria (overseas students and those with extenuating circumstances), an additional examinations fee will apply. For further information, please visit our Examinations webpage.