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Food Security, Sustainability and Biodiversity

Food Security, Sustainability and Biodiversity

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Please note the deadline to apply for this course is 1 June 2022. Find out more.

This programme is currently under development and may be subject to change

Key information

Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees: £9,800

International/EU fees: £18,800

The course

Food Security, Sustainability and Biodiversity (MSc)

This degree is run in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

From pollution in the air and water, climate change and unsustainable farming and food supply chains, to population growth and concerns about hunger, obesity, or eating too much meat  -  the challenges of sustainable living are all around us.

The MSc in Food Security, Sustainability and Biodiversity is an exciting new partnership between Royal Holloway and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Students on this degree will study at Royal Holloway and at Kew, learning from world leading experts at both institutions and spending approximately equal time at our main campus in Surrey and Kew’s main site at Richmond, south west London.

This one year course covers a range of topics at the intersections of environmental health and human health, addressing the crucial link between biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods and food security.

You will examine some of the most pressing issues affecting our planet, from deforestation and climate change to pollution and the threats from extinctions, intensive agriculture and a growing human population. You will learn about new, innovative solutions in food security such as AI, drones, robotics, and next generation sequencing and you will learn about innovative farming approaches, such as silvopasture, vertical farming and hydroponics. You will also consider crop histories, indigenous knowledge and the links between our environment, culture, economy and the health and livelihoods of people around the world, through our international network of partners in science, conservation, business and policy.

You will develop your understanding and ability to blend ecological, biophysical, political and socioeconomic factors, and acquire a strong skill set through practical training in a range of transferable skills including communication, team working, science writing, data visualisation, statistical analysis, and GIS. Students will also spend time on a residential course in term 2 *  at Kew’s Wild Botanic Gardens, Wakehurst in Sussex, learning from researchers in the laboratory and field, and working collaboratively to complete a group research project.

* Please speak with the course leader to discuss your requirements if you need to return home in the evenings.

Through interdisciplinary learning and hands on activities in a range of associated topics, our graduates will be better equipped to become the next generation of scientific researchers, policymakers and business leaders, ready to solve global sustainability challenges.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience, and this is particularly the case as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as we can.

Core Modules

Term 1 and 2
  • Biodiversity and agricultural ecosystems
  • Sustainable food production and human livelihoods
  • Innovations in food security
  • Science writing, communication, media and leadership
  • Data analysis and research skills
  • Wakehurst Research Project
Term 3

Taught modules are followed by a four-month Independent Research Project in term 3 worth 60 credits. Students will work with supervisors from both Kew and Royal Holloway, and either develop their own project or select from a list of pre-determined cutting-edge projects. Student projects will be written up in the style of an academic paper.

Optional Modules

  • All modules are core

The course will be delivered in a range of teaching approaches, from lectures, to workshops, study visits, field trips, practicals, group projects, quizzes and debates. These will be complemented by skills training, from communication, writing and science in the media, to hands on data visualisation and statistical analysis, mapping, and research skills. Students will also develop transferable skills in team working, time and project management, and leadership.

Eligible degree subjects include (but are not limited to) Agricultural Science, Archaeology, Biochemistry, Biological Science, Biomedical Science, Chemistry, Conservation Science, Earth Science, Ecology, Environmental Science, Food Science, Genetics, Geography, Health Science, Human Biology, Horticultural Science, Plant Science, Soil Science, Zoology.                                                                                                                                                                      

Normally applicants will possess a UK 2:2 (Honours) or international equivalent in the eligible degree subjects listed above. Applicants holding other degree subjects, such as social sciences and economics, should contact the Course Lead to be considered, especially if they can demonstrate relevant training and/or professional vocational experience.

International & EU requirements

Our graduates will have an exciting future as the next generation of scientists, policymakers and business leaders, ready to solve global sustainability challenges.

There will be many future opportunities in this space for graduates with knowledge and skills to develop innovative solutions to generate multiple benefits for social, ecological, and economic development.

Students will have the opportunity to network with future PhD supervisors and employers, through seminars with scientists, policymakers and entrepreneurs, and during study visits.


A masters in Global Health develops a wide range of employability skills. They include:


  •     Communication skills: through writing essays, social media articles, project reports, and the final research project, as well as workshops on communicating science to the public and media.
  •     Presentation skills: from your participation in presentation skills workshops, to presenting your ideas at seminars and tutorial groups, as well as responding to and framing questions.
  •     Analytical skills: developed through your engagement with a range of materials including scientific evidence, government reports, academic literature and media sources.
  •     Research skills: interpreting and locating information from a variety of sources, and using appropriate methodologies whether it is interviewing people, carrying out measurements in the field or analysing and mapping your data.
  •     Time management skills: organising your studies and fulfilling work-related commitments as part of your course.
  •     Team working: developed during field trips, workshops and collaborative projects.
  •     Worldly experience: as a student of global health, you will gain extensive experience of different cultures and environments.



Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,800

EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £18,800

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.

All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the course via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information, please see our terms and conditions. Please note that for research courses, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.

** The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2022, we will award a fee reduction scholarship equivalent to 60% of the difference between the UK and international fee for your course. This will apply for the duration of your course. Find out more

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2022/23 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included. 

In partnership with

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Mark Lee

Senior Lecturer in Global Health, Department of Health Studies

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