MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources

Course Structure

To obtain the MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources, students must complete 180 credits of modules comprising the following:

  • Five compulsory modules of 15 credits each (75 credits);
  • Three optional modules of 15 credits each from the choices available throughout the remainder of the academic year (or over two years if studying part time) to a total of 45 credits;
  • A compulsory dissertation of 60 credits.

A typical 15-credit module lasts eight weeks, and students are expected to spend about 150 hours on study and assignments. Unless students are studying the module by distance learning this period includes a residential stay at CAT which lasts from Monday until Saturday (dates are listed below).

The standard course duration for the MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources course is one year full time and two years part time plus the dissertation research period of about six months. On average a full time learner is expected to complete 150 hours of study per month (37.5 hours per week) and a part time learner is expected to complete 75 hours of study per month (18.75 hours per week).


Modules and indicative content

  • September – Sustainability and Adaptation: Concepts and Planning, Part 1 (core)
    Topics covered: environmental change and adaption, introduction to core module themes, future challenges and solutions, local to global.
  • November – Sustainability and Adaptation: Concepts and Planning, Part 2 (core)
    Topics covered: Future challenges and solutions, local to global; group exercises in ‘futuring’ – scenario planning for probable environmental challenges.
  • December – Environmental Politics and Economics (option)
    Topics covered: introductions to economics and politics from the sustainability perspective; climate policy; local social change perspectives; community empowerment; future scenarios.
  • January – Food Production and Consumption (core)
    This module will cover global and local trends in food production, trends in diet and health and the impact of food production on the environment including climate change. It will look at how food can be produced sustainably, the role of consumer behaviour, economics, technology and legislation.
  • February – Land and Resource Management in Cities (option)
    Topics covered: urban environments, energy use, transport, green infrastructure, urban food growing, planning, mobility and access.
  • March – Energy Provision (option)
    Topics covered: environmental and social benefits and limitations of energy provision options, including land use implications, technologies and energy reduction choices.
  • April – Ecosystem Services, Land-use and Waste Management (core): 16/4/18 – 21/4/18. 
    Topics covered: ecosystem science, biodiversity, resources, water issues, food security, land use, flooding, carbon management, sanitation.
  • May – Sustainable Materials in the Built Environment (option): 14/5/18 – 19/5/18. 
    Topics covered: environmental impacts, wider social and health implications, practical (hands-on) experience of building with natural materials, in-use performance and usability of natural materials.
  • June – Applied Project or Work-Based Project (option): 11/6/18 – 16/6/18.
    A practical student-led project and report that will include statistical analyses of ongoing projects.  The ‘Applied Project’ is a group-work project devised and set by the module leader, delivered on-site at CAT or by distance learning. The ‘Work-Based Project’ is only available by distance learning. It is devised by the student in liaison with the module leader and is based on a project that they are undertaking in practice, for example in their workplace or in a volunteer position.
  • July – The Science of Sustainable Food Production (core): 2/7/18 – 7/7/18.
    Topics covered will include the biogeography of crops, the science of GMOs, energy crops, and food growing techniques such as permaculture, forest gardening, organic agriculture and conventional agriculture. The module will analyse the impact of different food production methods on green-house gas emission, carbon sequestration, soil health, biodiversity and ecosystem services and debate key scientific advances, debates and uncertainties in the science of sustainable food production.
  • Dissertation (core)


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Course Dates 2018-2019

Download the Programme Specification

Download the Course Handbook


Successful completion of the programme MSc Sustainable Food and Natural Resources at the Centre for Alternative Technology leads to the award of Master of Science (MSc) by LJMU.


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