Diploma in Speciality Food Production

NOTE: Applications are still being taken - start date is the 11th October 2022.

Contact Dr Angela Sheehan - a.sheehan@ucc.ie for information

This course will be delivered using a blend of face-to-face and on-line delivery methods.  The next course will begin on 11th October 2022. Three of the face-to-face sessions will be delivered in the UCC IMI campus in Dublin. 

Funding (64% of the fee) is available for eligible applicants as bursaries from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Angela and Orla with PJ Coogan

Click on the link below to listen to Dr Angela Sheehan, Programme Manger, of the Diploma in Speciality Food Production, and Orla McAndrews, Owner of Orla McAndrew Catering and Events, also former graduate of the course, discussing the upcoming course for 2022/23, with PJ Coogan of Cork's 96fm


Please click Diploma in Speciality Food Production Brochure 2022 2023 for more information on this course.

Click Diploma in Speciality Food Production Application Form 2022 to apply for this course. 


In recent years, Ireland, as elsewhere in Europe, has witnessed considerable growth in the small food enterprise sector. This sector is characterised by craftmanship and a high “hand-made” element, producing low volume but high quality food. Amongst the product range are numerous varieties of farmhouse cheeses, smoked fish, fresh and specialist meats including charcuterie, poultry and pork products, honey, sauces, condiments, confectionery and fresh organic produce may also be included here. This course is for individuals who are starting a speciality food business and also for those involved in this sector including producers, retailers, culinary specialists, buyers, food designers and journalists.

Who Should Attend

The Diploma is intended for those who are interested in developing speciality foods as a commercial venture or as a way of adding value to agricultural commodities. The Diploma is also for those currently in the speciality food sector as well as suppliers, buyers and retailers.

Aims and Objectives

  1. To provide a broad understanding of the growing differentiation of the food market in which a significant segment of consumers are motivated by characteristics of taste, traceability, quality, sustainability and proximity.
  2. To encourage a more reflective analysis of the wider social, historical, cultural and economic changes that have led to the emergence of this new food culture.
  3. To provide an insight into the challenges of creating a small food enterprise and the skills required to make a successful business.
  4. To provide essential scientific background in the field of food science and technology, including elements of food microbiology, food safety, food chemistry, process technologies, nutrition and sensory food science. Traditional methods of food manufacture will also be covered during the course.
  5. To provide an introduction to small business management, financing and marketing.
  6. To provide workshops on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, Taste Evaluation, Information Retrieval and Regulations/Legislation.

Course Content

 The syllabus is designed to integrate theory and practice across nine different modules:-

  • Module 1 - Local Food Production Systems
  • Module 2 - Food Chemistry and Packaging
  • Module 3 - Food Processing Technology
  • Module 4 - Nutrition and Sensory Science
  • Module 5 - Speciality Food Marketing and Distribution
  • Module 6 - Food Microbiology
  • Module 7 - Risk Analysis
  • Module 8 - Managing Speciality Food Enterprises
  • Module 9 - Speciality Food Production Assignment
  • Module 10 - Food Production and the Environment

Academic Director: Professor Alan Kelly, UCC

Diploma students engage with Prof Alan Kelly and Dr Eoin Lettice

Pictured are students with Professor Alan Kelly and Dr Eoin Lettice during Diploma sessions in UCC. Topics under discussion above include the importance of heat treatment for food safety, and how agriculture and food production impact on the environment

Duration and Assessment

Lectures, practicals and workshops take place on a part-time basis, typically on Tuesday & Wednesday (9:00 - 5:00), every 3 weeks or so, over a period of approx. 9 months. Site visits are an integral part of the course. Performance is assessed on a continuous basis and participants are required to sit an assessment on completion of each module. On completion of the lectures, practicals, site visits and workshops, students are required to submit a work-related project assignment. The objective of the assignment is to integrate and apply the knowledge and skills obtained on the course in a practical way. Due to COVID 19 restrictions the course delivery methods may change.


norma dsfp 16/17 video testimonial thumbnail

Click here to see some short video clips from graduates on their experience of the Diploma

Sarah Cremin from Good Fortune Cookies

Sarah Cremin with her Fortune Cookies DSFPFollowing a relocation to Cork from the UK, I began my journey in food business by studying Dip. Speciality Food Production in UCC. The course covered a broad range of subjects from Microbiology, Food Packaging and Food Culture to the essentials like HACCP and overall gave a rounded knowledge for those in business or looking to do so. Upon completion of the course, I felt I had the necessary skills and confidence to start up my own food business, a seasonal cafe in a winter event which I did for two winter seasons.

The following year led me into the food production side of things when I started Good Fortune Cookies, a cookie business in Cork City & suburbs. We bake the cookies, package them up nicely, write the card and deliver them to the door. We get orders from all over the world from those wanting to send freshly baked goodness to their loved ones in Cork which they can order so simply from our website.

I am so proud and delighted to have won bronze in Blas na hEireann in our first year in business (2021) - something I remember well being discussed with such high esteem when I was in UCC.

We are looking forward to extending our range soon and excited for what the future holds!

The Diploma in Speciality Food Production Video

The Diploma in Speciality Food Production

Please click the image to view our video on the Diploma in Speciality Food Production

The ingredients for success in speciality foods

Click on the following link to read an article in the Farming supplement of the Irish Independent The ingredients for success in speciality foods

Course Fee

The course fee is €2800 and there is funding available for eligible applicants, from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Course numbers will be limited to twenty participants


Please contact Dr Angela Sheehan, Tel. 021-4901423 Email: a.sheehan@ucc.ie for further information.

You may also download and complete the Application Form (above) and forward to Dr Angela Sheehan, Room 246, Food Science building, University College Cork.

Isabella swops Jimmy Choos for farmers boots!

isabella food truck

Isabella Rowatt moved from busy Glasglow and a life of music, rock and fashion to become a goat herder in Donegal.

She is currently completing the Diploma in Speciality Foods and spoke to Dublin Q102 today about her move to Ireland from Scotland, where she was the lead singer in a Rock Band, and now spends her days with goats!

Listen to her amazing story here.

Food Industry Training Unit

University College Cork , Western Road, Cork