Food Design and Innovation

PgCert, PgDip, MSc

2023/24 Part-time Postgraduate course


Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Master of Science


Ulster University Business School


Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management


Belfast campus

Start date:

September 2023

This course is now closed for International applications for September 2023


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 behaviour 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 can 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.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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 - 5.30pm 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

  • September 2023

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.

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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).

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) by Advanced HE - 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.

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 2021-2022.

Belfast campus


High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.

Find out more - information about accommodation  

Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

Find out more - information about student wellbeing  

Belfast Campus Location

The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.

Find out more about our Belfast Campus.

Campus Address

Ulster University,
2-24 York Street,
BT15 1AP

T: 02870 123 456


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.

In this section

Year one

Food Choice, Culture and Environment

Year: 1

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 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 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 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

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 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 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 must:

(a) have gained

(i) an Honours or non-Honours degree from a University of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which is recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or

(ii) an equivalent standard in a Postgraduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate or an approved alternative qualification;


In addition, applicants must have at least one year's work experience within the Food and Drink industry.

(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent).

In exceptional circumstances, as an alternative to (a) (i) or (a) (ii) and/or (b), where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

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.

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.

Professional recognition

Institute of Hospitality (IoH)

Accredited by the Institute of Hospitality that academic, vocational and professional standards achieved are appropriate and programme content and delivery meet international Institute of Hospitality benchmark standards.


Start dates

  • September 2023

Fees and funding

Important notice - Tuition fees for this course may vary

Visit Tuition Fees 2023/24 for more details on the price of this course.

Fees (total cost)

Where the postgraduate course selected offers multiple awards (e.g. PG Cert, PG Dip, Masters), please note that the price displayed is for the complete Masters programme.

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas are charged at a pro-rata basis.

Find out more about postgraduate fees

Additional mandatory costs

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information visit


  1. 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.
  1. 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.
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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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