Food science is the study of the fundamental science behind food and nutrition – it applies chemical, biological, and physical sciences to solve challenges within the food system. This also involves aspects of sociology and psychology, integrating societal, consumer-based behavioural studies into the process. As such, it’s a multidisciplinary approach to::
- designing and engineering innovative food
- enhancing texture, taste and nutrition
- developing sustainable ingredients and processes
- making food safe and affordable
A levels – ABB including one or two core science subjects (chemistry, biology, physics, maths).
Some providers may ask for one science-related subject such as applied science, food technology, economics, geography, statistics and psychology if there is not a second core science. This can include the WJEC Level 3 Diploma Food Science and Nutrition qualification too. BTEC Applied Science may be suitable with certain grades.
There are other more applied degrees (usually without the term ‘food science’ in the title, e.g. food technology or food and nutrition) with a lower proportion of scientific content. These have a broader range of entry requirements from ABB to BCC at A level or equivalent.
Scottish Highers – typically ABBB including required science subjects.
Vocational courses – some providers may begin accepting T Levels for entry – contact them direct for advice. Currently, it's not usual for vocational courses to be accepted on a food science degree programme.
You may also need to attend an interview as part of the application process.
- Apply by the January deadline
- Submit a personal statement
- You may need to attend an interview
- Submit a portfolio
- Audition for a place
- Pass an entry test
- Show work experience
Food scientists are at the forefront of ensuring adequate supply of food products which support healthy diets and meets the preferences and needs of a growing population in a sustainable way.
Some modules you might study include:
- Quality and safety across the food chain
- New product development
- Sensory science
- Human nutrition
- Food chemistry and biochemistry
- Sustainable agriculture and ingredient sourcing
- Food microbiology
- Food processing
- Research techniques and final year project
There is commonly an option to undertake an industrial placement (part or full year) as part of your degree, usually in the middle of the overall programme (at the end of year 2). This is an ideal point to gain valuable knowledge and skills, as well as providing work experience to support your career development after graduation.
You use and develop skills in all the science fields when studying a food science degree.
You're likely to be taught through lectures, seminars, laboratory classes, and industrial placements. Problem-based and team-based learning are often used to give you an opportunity to work on complex challenges, from real-life examples where possible.
A wide variety of assessment methods are used such as written reports, oral presentations, group projects, a dissertation, and exams.
There are numerous directions you could take in the field of food science, and the market is very healthy for new graduates across a diverse range of business and fields.
Graduates work in sectors including manufacturing, retail, marketing, consumer research, food safety and regulation, policy development, research and development. Find out more on the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) website.
In their July 2021 report – ‘What Technical Skills does the UK Food & Drink Sector Need?’ – The National Food Strategy and the IFST/KTN highlight that:
- “recent statistics show that a third of the UK food and drink industry workforce is due to retire by 2024, leaving the industry facing a shortage of about 140,000 recruits... these are not jobs that can be filled by unskilled school leavers: one third of jobs within the food industry require a degree or postgraduate degree/PhD”
- “the UK food and drink sector is a significant and successful part of the UK economy, employing 14% of the national workforce and contributing over £120 billion to the national Gross Added Value (GVA)” with “the success of the sector relying on it being able to continue to innovate and improve productivity”
This emphasises the growing value of degrees for food and drink professionals.
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)
- Food industry technical professional (integrated degree)
- Dietitian (integrated degree)
- Environmental health practitioner (integrated degree)
- Research scientist
Discover more about apprenticeships in natural sciences
Our guide has all the info you need to know about doing an apprenticeship in this industry. Find out what it's really like from current apprentices and decide if it's the right route for you.