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UCC Undergraduate courses

Food Science

Course Fact File
Duration4 Years
Teaching ModeFull-time
QualificationsBSc (Hons)
NFQ LevelLevel 8
FeesStudent Contribution + Capitation: €3,138. See Fees and Costs for full details.
CAO Points2023: 407
CAO Points Range2023: 407-613

Course Outline

If you are interested in developing new innovative food products to meet the demands of the modern consumer, be it in the areas of healthy eating, athletic performance and disease prevention, the BSc in Food Science is the perfect course for you.  The diverse scope of subjects covered provides students with a unique blend of scientific and technical skills designed to meet the needs of careers in the food industry, ranging from research and development to food processing and production. 

The production and distribution of food is the single most important economic activity in the world and food scientists are an essential part of this activity as their work considers the very nature of food itself. Studying food science immerses you in the dynamic world of science, technology and food. It is the study of the structure, behaviour and interactions of key food components, alongside the microbiology and processing of food. At a macro level, food scientists are at the forefront of developing new food products in order to meet the demands of society for high quality, safe, and nutritious food. Emerging challenges in food science include the nutritional needs and food preferences of health conscious consumers, elite athletes, and aging populations; the sustainability and environmental impact of food production; and the development of innovative technologies with potential applications in foods. These issues are catalysts for exciting new discoveries and developments in the area of food, and food scientists play a crucial role in these developments.

A six-month work-placement period forms an integral part of the course and will give you the opportunity to work in industry, thus gaining real-world experience and acquiring key transferable skills in communication, management, and organisation.

Our four-year programme places strong emphasis on enhancing your employability and to this end you will take courses on developing your professional skills including team-working skills, communication skills, time management and project management

Year 1 Modules

The first year of the programme recognises that students coming into the programme have taken different science subjects for their Leaving Certificate so all students are required to take introductory courses in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, along with Mathematics and Food Science: 

  • BC1001 Introduction to Biochemistry and the Biological Basis of Disease (5 credits)
  • BL1004 Physiology and Structure of Plants and Animals (5 credits)
  • CM1005 Introductory Chemistry for Food and Nutritional Sciences (15 credits)
  • FS1005 Food Technology, Culture, and Ethics (5 credits)
  • FS1006 Success Skills for Food Scientists (5 credits)
  • MA1001 Calculus for Science Part 1 (5 credits)
  • MA1002 Calculus for Science Part 2 (5 credits)
  • MB1003 Microbiology in Society (5 credits)
  • PY1008 Physics for Biomedical, Environmental, Food & Nutritional Sciences (10 credits)  

In Year 2, your studies will be focussed on applying biological and chemical sciences to foods in multiple areas such as food analysis, food chemistry, food quaity and legislation and food microbiology. 

In Years 3 and 4, you will become familiar with the components, properties and nutritional aspects of food systems. You will cover a wide range of modern processing technologies and strategies used to produce high-quality foods including sensory science, food safety, and food packaging.

A six-month work placement in Year 3 will give you an excellent opportunity to work in the industry.

Project work in Year 4 includes teamwork to develop innovative food products, taking your ideas from concept to actual products. You will work on all aspects of your product from design, development and testing to packaging and marketing. These final-year projects help you to develop skills in critical thinking and independent research.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year-to-year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

  • Year 1 will consist of approximately 300 hours of lectures, 100 hours of practicals, and 58 hours of tutorials in Biology, Chemistry, Food, Mathematics, and Physics.
  • Year 2 will consist of approximately 264 hours of lectures, 138 hours of practicals, and 16 hours of tutorials in Biochemistry, Food Chemistry, Microbiology, Process Engineering, and Statistics.
  • Year 3 will consist of approximately 234 hours of lectures, 126 hours of practicals and factory visits, plus a 24-week work placement.
  • Year 4 will consist of approximately 240 hours of lectures, 60 hours of practicals and a team project over Semesters 1 and 2.

Why Choose This Course

The practical nature of the course and its applicability to so many areas ensured I did not limit my career prospects.

Dr Sinead Fitzsimmons, PhD Food Science

If you are interested in understanding the science of food – which makes up a critical part of our everyday lives – then this is the course for you. The BSc in Food Science takes you on an academic journey into the science of food and considers how you might develop new, innovative food products to meet the complex demands of the modern consumer, be it in the areas of healthy eating, athletic performance or disease prevention.

Our course is the first programme outside of the UK to be accredited by the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST), which is the leading professional body for those involved in all aspects of food science and technology. The broad scope of subjects covered in the programme provides you with a unique blend of scientific and technical skills designed to enable you to develop an exciting and rewarding career in food in a variety of areas, ranging from research and development to food processing and production.

UCC has state-of-the-art food processing facilities including pilot-scale brewing, dairy processing and manufacturing, meat processing, bakery technology and packaging equipment. You will be uniquely placed to experience a blend of practical and lecture-based learning, while being taught by internationally-recognised academic staff.

We also have strong links with past graduates, some of whom occupy key positions in national and international companies, and throughout the programme these graduates return to act as guest speakers and share their experiences with you.

A strong emphasis is placed on applied aspects of food science, and the work placement allows you to get a taste of what working in the food industry is like at an early stage in your career. Many companies that host students as part of the work-placement programme recruit those students when they graduate.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

Work Placement

In your third year you will have a six-month work placement in the food industry. This highly regarded placement allows you to make a significant contribution to a relevant project, under the supervision of mentors from UCC and a food-related industry. Our work placement manager coordinates the placement of students in food companies and will liaise closely with you during your first three years to prepare you for this module. This experience is a key part of the course and gives you the opportunity to gain industry experience and acquire key transferable skills in communication, management, organisation and presentation. It will provide you with a great advantage for employment and career development. Year after year, our students rate this work experience module as a highlight of their course.

Skills and Careers Information

Graduate Study Options

There are many options for further study in food science and you will have a large number of courses to choose from including:

It is also possible to pursue a PhD in Food Science and Technology, or related subjects.

Career Opportunities

This degree programme will provide you with a unique blend of scientific and technical skills, workplace experience and food innovation skills. Our graduates from this course have excellent employment prospects and are highly sought after by national and international food companies. The Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) notes that the food sector is crying out for well-qualified and experienced specialists.

Our course places strong emphasis on your employability and many companies who host students as part of the work placement programme recruit those students when they graduate. Graduates from this course have a strong track record of acquiring senior positions in national and international food companies.

Graduates are equipped to work in a wide range of positions such as food production and management, quality assurance, food research and food product and process innovation and development. Our graduates develop careers as scientists, technologists, and innovators in food and related industries, such as the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector. Job titles of recent graduates include: customer service technologist, product development scientist, product innovation manager, quality control analyst, quality manager, regulatory technologist, research manager, stability and validation analyst, technical analyst and technical and development scientist.

Our graduates have a strong track record of acquiring senior positions in national and international food companies. A 2020 study by the UCC Career Services indicated that 70% of Food Science graduates had gone straight to employment. Recent employers of our graduates include: Abbott Ireland, Kerry Group, Glanbia, Dairygold, Irish Distillers, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Carbery Group, Danone, Diageo Baileys, and O’Brien Fine Foods.


Leaving Certificate Entry Requirements

At least six subjects must be presented. Minimum grade H4 in one subject, minimum grade H5 in one subject and minimum grade O6/H7 in four other subjects. English and Irish are requirements for all programmes unless the applicant is exempt from Irish.

The following are considered Lab Science subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physics with Chemistry and Agricultural Science.

Applicants will need to meet the following minimum entry requirements:

EnglishIrishMathsLab ScienceNote
O6/H7 O6/H7 O6/H7 or H4* O6/H7 or H4* H4 in either a Lab Science subject, Maths or Applied Maths or Computer Science*

* If the H4 is in Maths, Applied Maths or Computer Science an O6/H7 in a Lab Science subject is also required.

EU/EFTA/UK Qualifications

EU/EFTA/UK applicants presenting an equivalent school-leaving qualification should review the EU/EFTA/UK Applicants page for information on equivalent grades and how to prove their level of English.

Mature Students

To compete through the mature entry route, applicants must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the application year and apply online via the CAO by 1 February. The application should include a statement of interest. Applicants may also be called for interview.

Applicants must have studied a Lab Science subject at second level or QQI FET or demonstrate involvement in Science related areas.

Further information on applying as a mature student is available on the Mature Applicants and Mature Student Entry support pages. 


Applicants who meet the required level of distinctions in required subjects can apply for entry to this course using specific QQI FET qualifications. Please review the Programme Requirements on our Information for QQI FET Applicants page for information on related QQI courses, and visit Access UCC’s QQI/FET Entry section for further support. 

Non-EU Applicants

Non-EU applicants are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to the Irish Leaving Certificate. In addition, where such applicants are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language.

To verify if you meet the minimum academic and language requirements visit our qualification comparison page and refer to our International Office page for more information.

Fees and Costs

  • Whether you are an EU or Non-EU student will affect the course fees applicable to you. See more information on EU Fees, Non-EU Fees, or Free Fees Status.
  • The State will pay the tuition fees for EU students who are eligible under the Free Fees Scheme. The annual student contribution and capitation fees are payable by the student.
  • See the Fee Schedule to find out the course fee.
  • Check out scholarships that may be available to you.
  • Explore our Nurturing Bright Futures free online course (Module 5) to learn about managing your money as a student and budgeting for university life.

How To Apply

Irish and European (EU/EFTA/UK) Applicants

Apply via the CAO. See the CAO Handbook for useful information on applying through the CAO. 

Mature Applicants 

Apply via the CAO by 1 February. To apply for a place as a mature student, you must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the year of entry.

QQI/FET Applicants 

Apply via the CAOSee our QQI/FET Applicants page for information on the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Further Education and Training (FET) application process. 

Non-EU Applicants 

If you are from outside the EU/EFTA/UK, apply online via the UCC Apply portal. See our International Office page for more information. 

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact