UCC Postgraduate courses

Food Microbiology

Course Fact File
Duration1 Year Full-time
Teaching ModeFull-time
NFQ LevelLevel 9
Closing DateRolling deadline. Open until all places have been filled. Early application is advised.
Non-EU Closing DateOpen until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

In addition to its role as a source of pleasure, food is necessary for human survival. Food is fundamental to our existence and plays an enormous role in the global economy. Microbes play an essential role in food preservation and safety, food for health, and food biotechnology and these are growing areas for all global economies. The School of Microbiology at UCC has established a global reputation in food microbiology, based on its research profile and the impact of its graduates in the food industry.

The MSc in Food Microbiology at UCC covers the breadth of classical and modern food microbiology, including food safety and spoilage; food fermentation; food biotechnology; hygienic production of food; the impact of diet on health; the molecular mechanisms of infectious microbes and the role of the gut microbiota in human health.

The programme is a structured one-year full-time course that includes a six-month lab-based research dissertation. Our aim is to educate you to an MSc level in food microbiology, emphasising areas in which UCC engages actively in research, e.g. food biotechnology, food fermentation, food safety, and food for health. In addition we will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to both Irish and international food industries. The 90-credit programme is taken in two parts as detailed below:

Part I (55 credits)

Modules (30 credits)

  • MB6006 Library project in Food Microbiology (5 credits)
  • MB6027 Research Frontiers in Food Microbiology (5 credits)
  • ML6005 Molecular Techniques in the Life Sciences (5 credits)
  • PG6001 STEPS - Scientific Training for Enhanced Postgraduate Studies (5 credits)
  • MB6010 Analytical Food Microbiology (10 credits)

Plus choose 25 credits:

  • FE6110 Food Markets and Policy (5 credits)
  • MB4110 Food Fermentation and Mycology (5 credits)
  • MB4111 Microbial Food Safety (5 credits)
  • MB4113 Food Biotechnology (5 credits)
  • MB6114 Hygienic Production of Food (5 credits)
  • MB6003 Functional Foods for Health (5 credits)

Part II (35 credits)

  • MB6011 Dissertation in Food Microbiology (35 credits)

Learning outcomes include:

  • Advanced theoretical education and practical training in the area of food microbiology;
  • Greater knowledge and understanding of current issues in food microbiology;
  • Laboratory research practice in food microbiology;
  • Knowledge from different aspects of food microbiology and formulation of appropriate judgements on scientific research;
  • The ability to survey scientific literature at a professional level; 
  • The knowledge, understanding and problem-solving skills to address practical issues in the food industry and work there at the management level.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search 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

Lectures and workshops are conducted between 9am and 6pm (Monday to Friday) and you can expect up to 138 lecture hours with approximately 70 additional directed study/reading hours. There are 38 hours of laboratory practicals/workshops, which may be carried out as half-day or full-day workshops. Students also complete a six-month lab-based research dissertation on a topic in the area of food microbiology, performed under the supervision of a member of staff and in some cases co-supervised by collaborating research centres. The project aims to enhance your laboratory skills and critical abilities in identifying, analysing and solving problems in scientific research and to develop your skills in communicating your results.


The course uses a variety of assessment methods. Most modules are assessed by in-term continuous assessment and/or end-of-year examinations. In-term exams can be either multiple choice type questions (MCQs) or written papers (of normally 1.5h duration). Most modules include assignments, dissertation and reports as part of the assessment methodology. Modules that contain workshop/practical components are also assessed using written reports/assignments. The laboratory research project is assessed by a combination of laboratory performance, written report and oral presentation. The research project is written up in the form of a dissertation and approved by an external examiner.

Who teaches this course?

Each lecturer teaches in his or her area of research specialisation. Students on this course also benefit from the input of a variety of invited lecturers from the Irish food industries and regulatory authority.

Why Choose This Course

UCC is one of Ireland’s oldest institutions of higher education and Microbiology can trace its history to 1924; we are now the leading microbiology academic centre in Ireland (based on publication output).

Our programme is delivered by active research staff who are global leaders in a number of food microbiology fields (microbiological safety of foods, food/milk fermentation, probiotics, and bacteriocins). Our first-rate facilities include extensive, well-equipped laboratories with state-of-the-art analytical/technology platforms.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

Research Opportunities 

Candidates generally carry out their research in the laboratories of the University.  It may be possible, with the prior approval of the Programme Co-ordinator, to undertake the research project in another appropriate academic or industrial setting.

Skills and Careers Information

The MSc in Food Microbiology is designed to equip graduates to work in a range of management, research and innovation roles within the Irish and international food, beverage and associated industries.

Our graduates will be in a position to support new product development, innovation and quality assurance functions in the dairy, meat, consumer foods, soft and alcoholic beverages and food ingredients sectors. Graduates will also be equipped to work in a range of other areas such as contract food-testing laboratories, the regulatory and consumer protection sectors or proceed to further studies at PhD level.


Applicants must have a Second Class Honours Grade I in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) in a discipline with a significant element of laboratory science.

Consideration under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) may also be given to applicants who do not meet the above entry requirements but who have other relevant experience. To demonstrate other relevant experience, applicants will be assessed on the following criteria and an interview may also be required.

  • Academic achievement
  • Relevant professional experience
  • Personal statement
  • Reference
  • Interview (as required)

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements 

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme:

  • You will be asked to enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

  • You will also be required to upload your CV. 

The closing date for non-EU applications is Open until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact