Sustainable Food Systems

BSc (Hons) (NFQ Level 8)

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Curricular information is subject to change.

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Why is this course for me?

The course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the entire food chain, from on farm production to human consumption and the scientific principles underpinning it. It will explore the complex challenge of sustainably producing food to meet the nutritional requirements of a growing world population while protecting the planet’s limited natural resources. Students will develop knowledge of food production systems, policy, principles, practices and technologies alongside developing their understanding of the three pillars of sustainability and the impacts on food production and consumption. Skills to analyse and evaluate sustainable food systems will be developed and how to apply knowledge learned to a practical real-world industry setting through engagement with peers, lectures, guest lectures and professional work experience. Whether interested in farming, food processing, human nutrition, or food policy, this course will provide students with the tools they need to make a real difference to the future of how we produce, distribute, and consume food in a sustainable way.

Course Pathways
What Will I Study

Over the 4 years of the course students will study a range of modules which will develop skills in the basic sciences, food production, processing, packaging, food and agri-policy and the three pillars of sustainability (environment, economics and social). Students will also have opportunities to take option and elective modules.

First Year

Modules include:

  • Introduction to Chemistry
  • Information Skills
  • Mathematics for Agriculture I
  • Introduction to Sustainability
  • Land Use and the Environment
  • Introduction to Agricultural Economics and Business
  • Animal Biology and Evolution
  • Plants and People
  • Introduction to Sustainable Food Systems
  • Introduction to Animal Science
  • Food Diet and Health II – Making Healthy Food Choices

Second Year

  • Applied Biostatistics
  • Food Systems – Industry
  • Social science, food culture and traditions
  • Soil Science Basics
  • Genetics and Biotechnology
  • Business Management
  • Principles of Crop Science
  • Sustainability Challenges and Solutions
  • Forests, Climate and Carbon
  • Health, Welfare & Safety in Agriculture
  • Sustainable Animal Production

Third Year

  • Environmental Data and Modelling
  • The Circular Bioeconomy
  • Knowledge Transfer for Farm Innovation
  • Food Poverty and Policy
  • Agri-Environmental Issues and Policy
  • Professional Work Experience
  • Agrichemicals and the Environment
  • Climate, Carbon and Soil
  • Scientific Writing and Review
  • Sustainable food packaging and waste management

Final Year

  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Developments in Food Systems
  • Food Chain Integrity
  • Dairy and Meat Products
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Agri-Environmental Nutrient Management
  • One Health: Plants, Animals, Humans, Environment
  • Sustainability in the Human Diet
  • Sustainable Food Systems Project
Internship Opportunities

A 16-weeks period of structured professional work experience takes place in third year. Assisted by a dedicated lecturer, students arrange this industry placements themselves. This placement may be taken abroad if a suitable placement can be secured. The industry placement is an excellent opportunity get new experiences, make industry contacts, and put theory from classes to practical use.

Career & Graduate Study Opportunities

Graduates may end up in roles such as:

  • Sustainability managers
  • Food policy analysts
  • Sustainability advisers/consultants
  • Related roles across the global Agri-Food industry and the public sector
  • Semi-state or government agencies

Research opportunities to Master’s and PhD level are available.

Other Entry Routes
Contact Information

Dr. Zoe McKay,
Assistant Professor of Grass and Forage Science,
School of Agriculture and Food Science,
University College Dublin,
Belfield, Dublin 4.

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