Food Design and Innovation MSc Part-time at Belfast 2021/22


Create the products that consumers want.


Do you have a passion for the food and drinks industry? Do you have big ideas that you want to turn into reality? In today’s fast-moving world, product life cycles are getting shorter and new product and process development is needed to remain competitive. Enrich your understanding of consumer behaviours and design innovative solutions to give customers what they want on the MSc Food Design and Innovation course.

You will gain access to cutting edge consumer insight data and facilities allowing you to bring your ideas from conception to reality. Tackling current challenges facing the food and drinks industry, this extremely practical course has the potential to add unrivalled value to your business by enhancing your innovation and management capabilities.

You will discover first-hand how consumers shop and what this means for your future products and business with our virtual shopping Consumer Insight Lab. You will also have access to our award winning Academy restaurant and Food and Consumer Sensory Testing Suite (FACTS) with 14 development kitchens and 20 sensory booths using world leading Compusense sensory software to allow you to determine consumer preferences for a product or service. You will also gain access to key market reports, for example Mintel and Passport Euromonitor helping you to use consumer trends to shape future innovations.

Designed in collaboration with key industry thought-leaders, by taking part in this course you will gain membership to the Institute of Hospitality and become part of a network of professionals whilst being supported and educated by industry experts and researchers.

Armed with insight, facilities and expertise and with practical assessment aimed towards your own unique business scenarios this course will help you to find solutions to your problems, get a step ahead of competitors in your business development and ultimately future proof your business. It’s time to adapt, it’s time to innovate, it’s time to develop the products that consumers want.

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About this course


This course is taught on a part-time basis over two years and each module is delivered by block teaching (3 days), typically from 9.30am – 5pm allowing you to fit in study around your working hours. In total the course requires up to 12 weekdays of attendance each academic year for years 1 and 2.

The course is taught via a mix of online and onsite teaching primarily at the Belfast campus with visits to and Coleraine campus so you can have access to a range of state-of-the-art facilities.

Start dates

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This course is 100% coursework and includes a variety of assessment methods used to enable you to effectively demonstrate knowledge, understanding and skill. The course is assessed in a number of ways to allow us to provide you with valuable feedback on your progress including, professional conversations, a live design project, videography, information audits, sensory trials, presentations and reports.

Teaching is delivered primarily through virtual and class-based lectures, with presentations from the Food and Drink Business Development Centre staff and industry professionals. Relevant modules will include the use of facilities like the Food and Consumer Sensory Testing Suite and the Consumer Insight Lab. Where appropriate, masterclasses from industry specialists and field trips may be organised. One-to-one sessions with the tutor are also provided and course materials are available online, offering you the flexibility to study at your own pace, any place and time.

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    The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

    Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

    Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements – usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.


    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.

    Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff – 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) – the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

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    The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

    Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

    Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

Year one

Food Choice, Culture and Environment

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module provides an in-depth understanding of the key theoretical concepts relating to consumer food choice and decision-making. It introduces students to the wide range of factors impacting on consumer food choice. Focusing on the social and cultural aspects of food choice students will be required to understand food choice at an individual and population level.

Food Policy and Sustainable Food Systems

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module examines the effects of food policy issues on the consumer, the environment and the food industry as a whole. The module draws on the knowledge and experiences of participants and relates them to global and local food issues. A number of contemporary food policy and food issues are discussed and their implications for the consumer and the social, economic, business and political environment are outlined.

Sensory and Consumer Evaluation

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module provides an introduction to important elements in sensory assessment and consumer behaviour. The knowledge and skills gained in this module have global application and will equip students with a sound bases for future roles linked to food quality, sensory science and product development.

Data Driven Design Decisions

Year: 1

This module is optional

This module provides the student with a solid understanding of data driven principles, applications and value in modern organisations. Particular attention is awarded to business process improvement techniques including knowledge management and business intelligence. The opportunity to construct a simple data analytics dashboard system is provided. On completion of the module students will be equipped with the skills necessary to evaluate their own personal information management skills and an understanding of the skills required in a sustainable learning organisation for enhanced evidence-based business decision making.

Year two

Food & Drink Design Project

Year: 2

This module is optional

The Food and Drink Design project enables students to develop research, consultancy, technical, business and project management skills. The project builds upon all other modules offering students the opportunity to design a new innovative food and drink concept, process, product or application. Through the project students apply the practical and theoretical concepts encountered on the course to a relevant food and drink issue. In doing so they choose appropriate research methodologies, gather data and make conclusions and resource based recommendations to a potential investment panel in a reliable and valid manner.

Food and Drink Innovation

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides an in-depth understanding of the key elements of innovation underpinning the development and marketing of successful new food and drink products/services. It will introduce students to key management and marketing concepts and apply these to the food industry. The module will cover the key steps in developing new food and drink products and processes and the importance of analysing consumer data and market trends.

Food Design and Digital Communications

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module examines the various digital communication channels and tools used to effectively promote food and drinks to the consumer. Based on knowledge acquired during lectures, students will be afforded the opportunity to apply this range of literary techniques in designing a content marketing plan. As part of the content marketing plan, students incorporate the practical element of food promotion where they evidence creativity and entrepreneurial skills of food styling/photography, blogging and video production.

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should normally possess a second class honours degree or better in any discipline, or an equivalent qualification, or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL). They must also possess a level of English language competency acceptable to the University.

In addition, applicants must have at least one year’s managerial/executive/owner position within a Food & Drink company.

Depending on background and relevant experience, where further evidence of suitability to undertake the programme is considered necessary, applicants may be required to attend for interview.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

United States of America flagAdditional information for students from United States of America


Typically we require applicant for taught programmes to hold the equivalent of a UK first degree (usually in a relevant subject area). Please refer to the specific entry requirements for your chosen course of study as outlined in the online prospectus. We consider students who have good grades in the following:

Typically, we require applicants for taught programmes to hold the equivalent of a UK first degree. 

Please refer to the specific entry requirements for your chosen course of study as outlined in the online prospectus.

The comparable US qualifications are as follows:


UK 2:1 Degree – Bachelor degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 out of 4

UK 2:2 Degree – Bachelor degree with a cumulative GPA of 2.6 out of 4

Financial Information

In addition to the scholarships and bursaries open to all international students, US students may apply for Federal and Private US loans

English Language

Level 12 English Lang in HSD

View more information for students from United States of America  

Careers & opportunities

Career options

With an estimated £4.8 billion of sales in 2017/18 and contributing to 32% of total manufacturing sales the Northern Ireland Food & Drinks industry is going from strength to strength (DAERA, 2019).

Whether you are a product developer, marketing manager or business owner this course will help to elevate your career and/or business. With access to insight and industry knowledge, combined with practical testing and experience you will graduate with the expertise to find innovative solutions to current industry challenges adding value and longevity to any businesses you are associated with.

An extremely relevant course using the most up to date research and technology, you will graduate in a position to seek out more senior management roles or start your own business.


  1. The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
  2. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  3. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  4. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  5. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.


I have been working with the team at Ulster for a number of years now and have valued their continued support in the development and testing of new product concepts. We’ve just finished working together on a waste symbiosis project which helped to identify development opportunities for our chickpea waste. The new MSc Food Design & Innovation programme is not only ideally suited to those companies wanting to advance their thinking around npd and marketing but has the potential to support our local industry through its access to cutting edge facilities like the Consumer Insight Lab and the FACTS suite.

Timothy Graham (Sales and Marketing Manager, Grahams Bakery)
Young Agri-Food Innovator Award – (Henderson Group, Fresh Innovation Awards 2018)

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