Course overview

The Professional Doctorate in Sustainable Food Quality for Health (DAgriFood) programme offers industry professionals the opportunity to develop their professional roles and to implement an independent programme of research within the workplace. The DAgriFood programme provides an award at doctorate level that is distinct from a traditional PhD award and is directly relevant to the needs of the individual’s professional work setting.

A flexible pathway delivers training that crosses traditional skill disciplines within the fields of food and agricultural science and the doctoral programme brings the opportunity to engage in critical reflection upon existing scientific literature and current state-of-the-art research findings towards the planning and execution of original industry-based research. Graduates of the programme will acquire cognitive, practical, professional and transferable skills to enable them to assume leadership roles within the industry.

The DAgriFood programme consists of a flexible taught component of postgraduate training coupled with a doctoral level research project conducted in the workplace.

Part 1 – Taught Component

The taught component aims to provide a depth of understanding at the cutting edge of current knowledge across a broad base of disciplines relevant to the modern food industry. The programme has been designed as flexible, modular training to allow for part-time and online study to enable participants to balance study with work.

Part 2 – Research Component

To link the taught and research elements of the programme, participants will have the opportunity to produce a reflective portfolio of professional practice of research to demonstrate the relevance of learning and skills development to their own professional context.

The research components are core to the DAgriFood programme, for which participants will design and conduct an independent research project leading to the production of a thesis

The project is conducted within the participant’s workplace with additional access to facilities and expertise within the EPTH. The project will be supervised by at least one academic supervisor (a permanent member of academic staff (University of Reading) and one company-based supervisor.

Learning outcomes:

This programme has been designed with maximum flexibility in mind: you study part-time and follow a modular structure which allows you to progress at a rate to suit your own personal and professional situation. You will need to study 3-4 modules in the first three years to progress to the doctorate. There is only one compulsory module and you are able to discuss study options with the course leader. You will be expected to complete your course of study in no more than six years.

Taught Element – Modules

Core module

The Research Methods course will introduce you to the principles of scientific research, and methods relating to qualitative and quantitative research undertaken in relation to food quality and health. Through a series of online lectures and seminars, you will explore the principle components of undertaking research, from the development of research plans, the practical steps in implementing these plans, and the statistical tools available for assessing the collected data. The aim is to provide you with all of the knowledge, methods and skills necessary to design, carry out, and assess a research project, whether in a higher education or professional setting.

Optional modules

Participants select their optional modules from those delivered by the partner Higher Education Institutions from within the Education & Professional Training Hub.

Optional Modules are grouped into the following thematic pathways:

  • Sustainable Practices in Food Production
  • Nutrition, Food and the Consumer
  • Managing Risk and Food Safety
  • Food Structure for Health and Quality

Course Structure & Dates:

The DAgriFood in Sustainable Food Quality for Health has Flexible start dates. Taught modules are scheduled once per year, you choose the modules you wish to complete, and in which order you want to achieve them.

Taught element:

120 credits (core module 10 credits; optional modules 110 credits)

(a) Core module – Reserach Methods (compulsory for doctorate programme)
(b) Optional modules which you choose to suit your area of interest and personal commitments.

Literature review and research plan:

This requires participants to write a literature review for the general research area proposed, in consultation with a University project supervisor(s). The literature review should be a critical review of the current research relevant to the project and provide a focussed account of the previous work leading up to the current state of knowledge on the questions to be investigated. This will require finding appropriate literature from library/electronic sources and bringing together related aspects of the work into a cohesive overview.

The second task is to complete an initial 10-12,000 word research plan. The research plan should include a clear statement of the problem to be investigated (the overall aim), the resources available and the rationale behind the design of the study.

Research and thesis phase requires candidates, in consultation with their project supervisors, to undertake original research in an approved topic in a relevant field and complete a 50,000-60,000 word thesis.

Support and guidance:

Following acceptance on to the course, each participant will have the opportunity to discuss their individual needs with members of the course team resulting in an agreed plan of study. All participants will be allocated a Personal Tutor who will provide academic and pastoral support throughout the course. Information on University provisions for student support will be given to each participant.

Knowledge and understanding:

  • Advanced concepts and techniques in scientific disciplines relevant to the food and agricultural industries
  • Global food security issues and their impact on the food and agricultural industries
  • Background scientific, technical, commercial and policy literature
  • Research methods and study design
  • Project planning and management
  • Current professional developments within field of work

Intellectual Skills:

  • Think logically and evaluate critical research and advanced scholarship in their discipline
  • Plan and implement tasks at a professional level to solve problems related to their discipline
  • Relate systematic evidence to issues arising in professional practice
  • Plan, conduct and write a report on an independent research project

Practical Skills:

  • Apply, or adapt, experimental methodology safely and accurately
  • Interpret quantitatively the results of experiments undertaken by themselves or others
  • Devise experimental methods appropriate for tackling a particular problem
  • Use statistical and related methods to objectively evaluate data and draw conclusions
  • Access a wide range of literature and data using bibliographic and IT skills
  • Communicate scientific ideas and conclusions to different audiences across disciplines

Transferable skills:

  • Monitor own learning
  • Communicate orally and in writing with scientific rigour
  • Critically evaluate information from a variety of sources to develop understanding and make decisions
  • Project planning and management
  • Data analysis
  • Report writing

Key Facts:

Course Dates Flexible
Type/Duration Part-time up to 6 years
Entry Requirements The applicant has obtained an undergraduate honours degree in the 1st or 2nd class range, or international equivalent, in a relevant pure or applied science, technology or engineering subject. A minimum of one year of relevant full-time work experience. Applicants who do not meet the academic requirement, but can demonstrate commensurate professional experience will be considered for admission to study toward a PgCert from which they may then transfer to DAgriFood/MSc/PgDip status given satisfactory performance.
Credits 540
Cost £0.00
Fee info No upfront fees.  Total programme fee varies with module options selected.
Taught module fees payable on a flexible module-by-module basis.
Research element fee: £10,000 (payable in instalments)
Course Provider University of Reading
Provider Reference Number PPRZFQHGENFR
Course Location Online, University of Reading
Cohort EPTH Cohort


Professor Carol Wagstaff – University of Reading, AFTP Director

Dr Jane Parker – University of Reading, Flavour Centre

Dr Lisa Methven – University of Reading, Sensory Science Centre

Dr Caroline Rymer – University of Reading, Agriculture Policy & Development

Dr David Jukes – University of Reading – Food & Nutritional Sciences

Dr Emma Bennett – University of Reading, Food & Nutritional Sciences

Dr Andrew Ainslee – University of Reading, Agriculture Policy & Development

Contact details:

Contact Name for Enquiries: Fiona Lee or Cathy Crips

Email address:

Telephone Number: 0118 378 3312 or  0118 378 8722