MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources

Join our new MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources starting this September, and learn how to create the change you want to see.

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.

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.

At CAT, we give our MSc students the knowledge, skills and experience needed to develop rewarding careers with confidence and competence. 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.

Food production at CAT

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.


Group talk in lecture theatre at CAT

The key practical elements of the course will give you direct training in such topics as soil ecology and health, growing and comparative yields, environmental impacts of materials, and design for sustainability, which will bolster theory and provide deep learning. The programme is taught at CAT, the home of sustainability in the UK, either by distance learning or in residential blocks.


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.

This is a flexible degree, taught in blocks taken either with an intensive residential stay of five nights at the Centre, or by distance learning, followed by the dissertation research by distance learning. You are free to choose between these teaching modes separately for each module. There is a choice of modules, taken over one year for full-time or two years for part-time study. The course is designed to give you a high quality – and unforgettable – experience whilst also allowing for the flexibility to fit around the pressures of modern professional and family life.

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 enable students to escape daily life and apply themselves to new learning. Many eminent experts in the topics give guest lectures and hold seminars during these modules, as it is a course that seeks to draw on the best expertise and learning in the sector.

This is an emerging sector, and is the first course in the UK to feature ‘real farming’ and ‘food sovereignty’ as key components of sustainability in the management of natural resources. It has been developed to offer insight and enquiry into how we can make food production and resource management more environmentally sustainable – the question being asked across industry, government and civil society.

Your skills are highly likely to be sought after by organisations seeking to transform our food and land management systems, ensuring the management of natural resources in a post-Brexit UK and in a world where growing populations, changing diets and the power of corporations endanger our natural resources.

The Graduate School of the Environment at CAT now has over 1,000 graduate alumni working in sustainability roles across all sectors including government departments, local authority sustainability departments, large and small energy companies, construction companies, facilities management, journalism, overseas NGOs, environmental organisations and consultancies, with many having set up their own enterprises. When you graduate from the MSc, you too will join this dynamic group of change-makers.

The nature of this Masters degree means it attracts people from a wide range of backgrounds, including new graduates, people already part-way through their career, and those who wish to study sustainability and the meaning of environmental change for the first time. The MSc attracts nutritionists, food graduates, ecologists, landscape designers, planners, social entrepreneurs, geographers, Transition Towners, localisers, campaigners and environmental scientists.

Sustainability and Adaptation student blogs

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