Key facts

Course Dates
Three intakes per year
Up to 7 years
Entry Requirements
Graduate level or relevant experience
IFST Membership
Your course enrolment also entitles you to one year of free membership to the IFST (Institute of Food, Science and Technology).
CQFW Level
Course Provider
Aberystwyth University
Course Arrangements
Full joining instructions will be confirmed by the course provider.
Course Location
Aberystwyth University, Online
AFTP Cohort
Course Logistics
Part I is the MRes which is undertaken for a minimum of two years and comprises two taught modules from the below menu, a taught ‘Research Methodologies’ module; and a portfolio of work or a research thesis (approximately 20,000 words in length). The short Part 1 thesis should involve analysing existing data from the candidate’s workplace. Participants may exit here with an MRes. Part II is undertaken for a minimum of three years and comprises a longer portfolio of work or a research thesis (up to 60,000 words). It will involve experimentation and must embody the methodology and results of original research. It should, ideally, be built upon the Part 1 thesis.

Marty Spittle



Course overview

The time is ripe to develop low carbon alternatives to petroleum-based products both in terms of what society wants and what economics demand. This makes it’s an exciting time to be part of the rapidly developing Biotech Industries.

However, biorefining is a highly technical field and the successful growth of the industry is resulting in a lack of sufficient staff with the technical knowledge necessary to support its expansion.

Completing this course results in a postgraduate qualification. See Our Qualifications for more information.

Learning outcomes

While the primary academic focus is on the completion of an advanced piece of research, the collaborative route provided by a work-based research project provides an ideal opportunity to embed new knowledge in the work place and ensure that research is relevant to industry.

Course Structure

Biobased Product Development

Start Date: Starts Sept 2019
Location: Aberystwyth University, Online
Credits: 20 credits

The Biobased Product Development course examines the potential end-products from bio-refineries, such as biodegradable plastics, biocomposites and biofuels. All these products come from biomass, which is renewable and sustainable, unlike fossil oil-based conventional products.

Our knowledge of how to refine organic biomass has improved and we are able to extract new molecules (or bioproducts) that can only be made from biomass, and hence dictate availability and price of that product. Following governmental policies on banning the landfilling of recyclable plastics, single-use plastic waste and the trouble of recycling contaminated fossil-based plastics, biodegradable plastics are an important topic for the agrifood sector, not to mention using biobased items is more sustainable and thus applicable to ‘green tax’.

The course focuses on both industry standard and newly emerging technologies. This includes the product innovation chain including commercial elements, life-cycle analysis and regulatory considerations.

The course is aimed at the postgraduate level (Masters). This qualification will be of great benefit to Construction industries, any industry using plastic packaging, any industry that produces a waste stream that could be valorized.

Previous participants who benefited from the module have been involved in several biotech industries, from teaching in China to farm management and technicians based in an anaerobic digestion plant.

Biorefining Technologies

Start Date: 10 Jan 2018
Location: Aberystwyth University, Online
Credits: 20 credits

The Biorefining Technologies course provides a detailed examination of  current and emerging technologies. You will examine the validity of mining for value added minor components whilst leaving large quantities of biomass for secondary processing; and take a comprehensive look at layered approaches to valorisation within diverse feedstocks e.g. from micro-algae to agricultural waste.

This module can be taken as a stand-alone course or as an option in the following courses:

Biorenewable Feedstocks

Start Date: TBC
Location: Aberystwyth University, Online
Credits: 20 credits

The Biorenewable Feedstocks course focuses on research into a range of feedstocks including dedicated feedstock crops grown for energy and for the biopharmaceutical chemical industry. Biorefining of agricultural waste and food waste streams will also be investigated for valorisation. This course is driven by on-going biorefining and bioenergy research at Aberystwyth University in collaboration with  partners from the chemical industry.

We will explore how and why research programmes in dedicated crops can improve biorenewable feedstocks and how this drives the bio-economy. We will begin with an overall introduction to biotechnology, crop breeding in the chemical industry and biorenewable feedstock improvement and look at the societal drivers and impacts of this sector.

Participants will gain understanding and appreciation of the technologies used to identify variation in feedstocks and to improve yield and composition including: trait analysis, imaging and spectral analysis, conventional breeding, GM and association genetics. Participants will also gain knowledge of funding sources and business innovation to ‘make biotechnology happen’.

This module can be taken as a stand-alone course or as an option in the following courses:

Climate Change

Start Date: Sept to Dec 2018
Location: Bangor University, Online
Credits: 20 credits

This module will provide participants with a detailed assessment of the current state of knowledge on climate change – the science, its impacts, adaptation and mitigation, and crucially how it is perceived by the public. After introducing the science and the effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere it will assess how the climate has changed historically, and look at the most recent predictions for future change both globally and for the UK. As climate change will impact upon UK food security both directly and indirectly (through effects elsewhere in the world) a global perspective on potential impacts will be taken. How agriculture can adapt to the consequences of, and mitigate its effect on, climate change will be discussed.

The module will provide practical examples of how farming systems can adapt to, and also mitigate, climate change, using wherever possible case studies based on the research experience of the module lecturers.  It will not have in-depth coverage of climate models.

This course is a core module in the MSc in Food Security in a Changing Environment, and an optional module in the MSc Sustainable and Efficient Food Production and the MSc in Industrial Biotechnology. 

It is delivered by Bangor University entirely online through distance learning.

Drivers of the Bioeconomy

Start Date: starts May 2019
Location: Aberystwyth University, Online
Credits: 20 credits

The biobased economy encompasses much more than our need to find renewable substitutes for oil in the face of climate change and the finite nature of fossil fuels. It is a global issue encompassing sustainability, food production, economic growth and public health.

This module examines the societal drivers that shape the bio-economy and looks at what makes production viable. The need for energy efficiency will be highlighted, along with vertically integrated production pipelines. There will be a focus on global policies and economic trends and we will look at the implications, restrictions and opportunities they present to biobased industries, and we will consider the approaches used to underpin and evaluate them, such as LCA and the application of green chemistry to conversion processes.

Genetics & Genomics in Agriculture

Start Date: 15 May to 20 August 2019
Location: Aberystwyth University, Online
Credits: 20 credits

The Genetics & Genomics in Agriculture course is designed to give those with little understanding of genetics a practical knowledge of the principles and technologies that underpin breeding programmes. It will focus on the challenges facing land-based production in the 21st century and on the role of emerging technologies such as Genetics & Genomics in meeting these challenges sustainably.

After initially detailing the broad objectives and methods involved in breeding programmes it will allow you to follow a specific crop or animal breeding pathway. It will give you an understanding of the methodologies applied in molecular and population genetics as well as in related disciplines such as proteomics and metabolomics, allowing you to conceptualise and apply these concepts to further agricultural production.

The Genetics & Genomics in Agriculture course is an optional module in the MSc Sustainable and Efficient Food Production  and in the MSc in Food Security in a Changing Environment.

The course is delivered by Aberystwyth University, entirely online through distance learning.

Waste Stream Valorisation

Start Date: May 2019
Location: Aberystwyth University, Online
Credits: 20 credits

Organic waste arising from many biotechnological industries can be processed to extract useful products or sources of energy. Much waste therefore has a value, determined by extraction costs and by the market value of its metabolites. 

This module explores the potential to valorise a range of waste streams and will include case studies of exemplary waste streams as well as from participants’ own chosen areas of interest.  The methods, technologies and equipment used to separate and fractionate waste, both downstream and upstream, will be discussed, as will the biotechnologically important metabolites that we can expect to be in demand in the future.

My AFTP training course has given me greater confidence day-to-day and more insight into the impact of new techniques and technologies.
Andy Russell - Fresh Produce Technologist, Bakkavor

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