Applications open for second intake of MSc students in Food and Nutrition Security at Stellenbosch University

Apply now for 2018 intake of postgraduate programme about food provision, food security and policy

A developer of new food products, a teacher at a youth prison and a nutritionist are among those breaking new ground as the first group of students to follow the MSc programme in Food and Nutrition Security at Stellenbosch University (SU). The programme sets out to help policy makers and practitioners in different sectors make better decisions on questions about food provision and food security. The course also considers of good health and the role that adequate nutrition plays therein.

The first group of nine students started their two-year studies at the beginning of 2017. Applications are now being received for the 2018 intake.

Food and nutrition security studies are complex and multidisciplinary by nature, and have human livelihoods at its core. The course provides an overview of socio-economic conditions, the various needs of rural communities versus city dwellers, and cultural differences in terms of food preference. In the health component of the course, students learn about the importance of certain foodstuffs in a healthy diet, the role of epidemics, and about functional and genetically modified foods.

It is presented jointly by the SU Faculty of AgriSciences’ Departments of Food Science and of Agricultural Economics, along with the SU Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences’ Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (Human Nutrition Division). The programme comprises twelve theoretic modules and a research project.

“Nutrition and food security is not only about making sure that no one goes hungry, but also about ensuring that the right kinds of food are produced and that all citizens of the country have access to healthy options to eat,” says Prof Gunnar Sigge of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Food Science. “This is easier said than done, because poverty and unemployment play their part in how affordable and easy it is for people to eat so-called ‘healthy foods’ ”.

One of the 2017 MSc students, Hlanzeka Mpanza, decided to follow the programme to get a better idea about the broader decisions about food that also influence sustainable change. “I am also hoping to build multidisciplinary networks and to contribute to the very necessary multidisciplinary conversations around what and how we eat in South Africa,” says this nutritionist, who works for a multinational food company.

For Daniella Stephen, a food technologist who helps develop new products, one of the benefits of the course is that she can complete it while still pursuing her career. Students are required to attend certain block courses at Stellenbosch, but otherwise receive lectures and support thanks to telematic broadcasts and video streaming. “This course is incredibly informative and covers a large scope of subjects that are inter-related in the understanding of food and nutrition security,” she says.

Carmen Loxton, a teacher at a youth prison, is especially interested in matters related to agriculture and food production. The course allows this lifelong student to get to grips with policies and issues that have an impact on it.

More about the MSc programme in Food and Nutrition Security:

  • To qualify for selection, you need a relevant BSc degree in the Science (3 years) and an Honours degree, OR a BSc Agriculture degree OR a four year degree in Health Sciences with a minimum pass mark of 60%, OR a Bachelors or Honours degree that has been approved by the Senate on level 8 of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), with the same pass mark as mentioned above.
  • For more information, view this brochure.
  • For more information about the programme content, contact Prof Gunnar Sigge at or Prof Xikombiso Mbhenyane at For general inquiries, contact Mrs Julia Harper