Join a sustainable food systems course that puts you on the path to a Masters degree.

Find out how sustainable diets have a vital role to play in tackling some of our biggest global challenges, including:

  • poor dietary health
  • climate change
  • environmental degradation, and
  • achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In this interdisciplinary course, you’ll explore the complex nature of sustainable diets and how we can achieve them within a global food system.

Live online debate

You’ll have the chance to take part in a live debate between two world leaders in climate change and environmental sustainability.

Who is this global food systems course for?

This distance learning course is designed for graduates interested in sustainable diets, food sustainability, food systems, and the impact on the environment.

It’s ideal for health professionals, researchers, and government policymakers.

100% online and flexible, it’s designed to fit around full-time work.

Professor Jennie Macdiarmid

Outstanding expertise

Meet your course coordinator, Professor Jennie Macdiarmid.

Jennie is a world-leading expert in nutrition and environmental impacts of the food system.

She co-authored the joint World Health Organisation/Food and Agriculture Organisation guidelines for sustainable healthy diets.

Jennie’s work has influenced governments around the world.

Read more about Jennie’s expertise

Build credits towards a Masters degree

This online course is part of:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards this Masters degree.

What you’ll study

You’ll investigate the many facets of sustainable diets, including nutrition, environmental impact, socio-cultural contexts and economics.

We take an interdisciplinary approach to this important topic.

And you’ll look at the drivers and challenges presented in trying to create sustainable diets around the world.

Topics you’ll cover

Elements of sustainable diets and associated global challenges

Global health and nutrition security

  • Global burden of disease
  • Nutrient requirements and dietary guidelines
  • Food safety

Environmental impact of the food system

  • Climate change
  • Land, water, and biodiversity
  • Food waste

Social, cultural and economic aspects of diets

  • Socio-cultural aspects of eating
  • Determinants of food choices
  • Access and affordability

Sustainable diets: synergies and trade-offs

  • Nutritional, environmental and social trade-offs
  • Development and description of sustainable diets (eg, WWF Livewell and EAT-Lancet projects)

Drivers and opportunities for change for achieving sustainable diets

  • Role of stakeholders
  • Potential opportunities and solutions

External influences on the global food system and implications for sustainable diets

  • Shocks to the food system
  • Resilience of the food system and trade

Live online debate

“Environmental impact of livestock: Should we eat less meat?”

The course includes a live debate between two world leaders in climate change and environmental sustainability. You’ll be able to ask questions to both speakers about the science being presented.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…

  • Explain what a sustainable diet is.
  • Describe the need for sustainable diets, both nationally and globally.
  • Explain the complexity of sustainable diets, their different attributes, and how they combine into a single entity (synergies and trade-offs).
  • Identify some of the drivers and challenges of achieving sustainable diets.
  • Understand external influences of a global food system in delivering sustainable diets.
  • Apply an interdisciplinary approach to food systems research.

Why study global food systems online with the University of Aberdeen?

How you’ll study

Online learning

Our distance learning sustainable food systems course is delivered flexibly, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

This course is taught at Masters level.

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • recorded lectures
  • videos
  • reading materials
  • discussion boards with your colleagues and tutors
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from a team of internationally recognised nutritionists, health researchers and academics from the Rowett Institute and University of Aberdeen. Plus, you’ll have guest lectures from academics from other UK universities and organisations.

The Rowett Institute is one of Europe’s most prestigious nutrition research centres. It’s a market leader in the provision of online education in nutrition and health in the UK. Read about the Rowett Institute.

Your course coordinator

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this distance-learning course. You can use these credits towards our:

Build your learning

Keep building your skills and earn more university credits with our range of online nutrition short courses.

Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications, including Masters degrees:

Postgraduate nutrition and health degrees

You may also be interested in developing your skills and qualifications in this area further with these on-campus options:


The interdisciplinary nature of this course provides a great base for a career in this or related fields.

Your learning could help you progress in or work towards a career in this area within:

  • academia
  • industry
  • government and policymaking
  • the third sector.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for CPD hours. Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Entry requirements

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:2 (second-class) undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences or Life Sciences
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

Start date
23 January 2023
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