Analytical Science - Food Analysis, Authenticity and Safety MSc

1. Overview

This programme is designed to meet the proven demand for analytical scientists in a wide range of industries such as diverse as food and drink, the environment, biochemistry, drug, pharmaceutical, oil, and forensic analysis.

The essential purpose of the programme is the production of professional, competent, knowledgeable practitioners in Analytical Sciences. There are three courses within the programme and the student will choose either:

  • Environmental Analysis
  • Drug Analysis and Toxicology
  • Food Analysis, Authenticity and Safety

The course has been designed to produce graduates who are eminently equipped with the skills and knowledge required for subsequent employment in a variety of workplaces including areas such as research, project management and technical services associated with a range of industry including analytical chemistry, pharmaceutical, oilfield chemistry, food / drink analysis and environmental science.

Student Satisfaction

Student satisfaction for this course on average 95-100%. This is monitored by the Student Evaluation Questionnaire (SQE).

2. What you will study


Semester 1

Each course has a common first semester although the extensive laboratory module is tailored to emphasise analytical techniques most relevant to the course chosen.

Semester 2

At the beginning of the second semester the students take part in a group problem-solving mini-project within the discipline of their chosen course in the programme. This builds on semester one study and emphasises the groups' ability to correctly apply appropriate instrumental techniques and methodology to solve the analytical problem posed. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), Ethics and Project Planning are introduced to the group and provides students with valuable experience for their individual MSc Research Project Preparation which is carried out in the final 2-3 weeks of semester two. The project titles are released at the beginning of semester two but not allocated until week 3 or 4. Allocation is often based on a competitive basis.

Semester 3

In the third semester the MSc Research Project practical work begins in a specialist area of application relevant to the course chosen. This encourages the student to develop initiative, innovation, interpersonal skills, and a high level of autonomy, critical judgement and the application of appropriate and relevant principles. Ultimately the student will produce a thesis for assessment and defence.

Exit Awards

  • PgC in Analytical Sciences - This requires 60 credits (e.g. semester 1) or if studying part time the student must have successfully completed 60 credits not including their elective (i.e. (ASM020 or ASM031 or ASM032)
  • PgC (named award according to elective) - The student  must have completed the elective (ASM020 or ASM031 or ASM032) to get PgC Analytical Sciences (Food Analysis, Authenticity and Safety or Environmental Analysis or Drug Analysis & Toxicology). In addition they must have successfully completed 60 credits at SCQF11 from within the course.
  • PgD in Analytical Sciences (named award according to elective) - The student must have completed the elective (ASM020 or ASM031 or ASM032) and have successfully completed every module except the project. (i.e. 120 credits at SCQF11)
  • MSc in Analytical Sciences (named award according to ASM020, ASM031 or ASM032) - The student must have successfully completed all modules in their course and have 180 credits at SCQF level 11. 


Modules and delivery order may change for operational purposes.

The University regularly reviews its courses. Course content and structure may change over time. See our course and module disclaimer for more information.


Semester 1

Semester 2

Choose 1 option module from the following group:

  • Food Analysis, Authenticity and Safety
  • Environmental Analysis
  • Drug Analysis And Toxicology

Semester 3

Part-time - Year 1

Semester 1

  • Instrumental Analytical Sciences

Semeter 2

  • Food Analysis, Authenticity and Safety
  • Environmental Analysis
  • Drug Analysis And Toxicology

Semester 3

Part-time - Year 2

Semester 4

Semester 5

Semester 6

3. How you will learn

In semester one, students will undertake 3 core modules: Professional Skills, Laboratory Work and Instrumental Analytical Sciences. These modules concentrate on the application of analytical science, and as such, the students have access to state-of-the-art analytical equipment; and experienced and research-active staff help facilitate these modules. A typical week in this semester includes a whole day of laboratory work where students use a large variety of analytical instruments, the rest of the time is divided among formal lectures, tutorials and workshops.

In semester two, students undertake two core modules: The Elective module (i.e. Environmental Analysis, Drug Analysis & Toxicology or Food Analysis, Authenticity & Safety) and Project Preparation. Typically for the elective module the student will spend five days undertaking a group problem-solving exercise or 'mini-project' and a sixth day where the group will present their findings via a PowerPoint presentation. Approximately 25 hours of lectures, workshops, case studies and tutorials accompany this module.

The Project Preparation includes applying for and being successfully allocated a project of the students’ choice. Subsequent risk assessment, COSHH, Ethics, Costings, Plan and Critical appraisal are undertaken on the proposed work. This work is supported by tutorials/workshops to guide the student.

In semester three the students dedicate their time solely to practical work on their MSc project and ultimately produce a thesis which is assessed and defended by means of an oral presentation and subsequent questions.

Activity summary

Approximately 20 students per group

  • Lectures: ten hours per week
  • Seminars: one hour per week
  • Tutorial: two hours per week
  • Project Supervision: five hours per week
  • Practical class or workshop: seven hours per week
  • External Visits: one hour per week

Independent study summary

The student will develop substantial initiative and autonomy through lectures, tutorials and laboratory exercises which will demand an equal, if not greater, amount of independent learning from the student to complete coursework and assessments. The MSc project is a significant piece of self-directed work which tests the student's higher cognitive skills in problem solving and analysis, synthesis, evaluation and selectivity and ability their independent ability to learn.

Staff Delivering on this course

Most of the staff delivering on the MSc Analytical Sciences programme are research active. This means that the modules offered in the programme will benefit from up-to-date theory and practice. MSc Projects will often fit within existing research groups or where possible, carried out in industry in the UK or Europe. In addition, students are encouraged to attend the Schools weekly research seminar in which they can ‘taste’ current research and analytical trends. Some teaching material will be delivered by guest lecturers and industry experts.

Our Staff feature in the annual Support and Teaching staff with Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) awards voted by the students and organised by RGU:Union. 

Study Skills and Library Staff brief the students at induction to encourage students to may make use of their facilities and workshops. E-learning advisers undertake a series of workshops on Word, Excel and Plagiarism applications. Practical work carried out will be supervised by academic staff and supported by our very able technical staff.

Additional information 

All courses within the programme entail the involvement of industry in the design of the course. Furthermore, a limited number of industrial based projects maximise employment prospects. All students benefit from the use of modern instrumental analytical equipment, study visits, guest lecturers and workshops. Research activities within the University commonly underpin coursework and project work.  

A built-for-purpose learning environment fully supports and develops the student experience in analytical science. The students are given extensive use of state-of-the-art analytical equipment, e.g. GC-MS, LC-MS, LC-MS-MS, ICP-AES, SEM-EDXA, CE, DSC, TGA, PCR, NMR and tuition from research active, expert staff. Much focus is placed upon the developing students who can work autonomously and problem solve in analytical environments.

Industrial and/or professional involvement in the course ensures ongoing currency and appropriateness. The School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences has a unique relationship with, for example, Aberdeen's environmental industries, Scottish Food and Drink producers and the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and these commonly provide students with industrial visits and guest lectures and external MSc projects. The school also collaborates with the Scottish Police Authority on the profile analysis of seized and surrendered abused drugs.

The MSc project might also be undertaken abroad in one of the EU countries, maximising employment prospects and further enhancing the students' learning experience. The School also benefits from its many eminent visiting Professors and lecturers from other academic institutions and industry, these links enable students to gain a unique insight in to the opportunities available within the analytical chemistry sector.


  • Clean Room Suite
  • Forensic Imaging Suite 
  • Microscopy Suite 
  • Food Handling and Preparation Labs 
  • Analytical Science Labs
  • University Library
  • Student Support Services


We aim to provide you with feedback within 20 working days of hand-in for all written exams, coursework and practical exams.

Academic Support

The Disability & Dyslexia Centre advises and supports students who disclose a sensory or mobility impairment, chronic medical condition, mental health issue, dyslexia and other specific learning differences. Applicants are encouraged to arrange a pre-entry visit to discuss any concerns and to view the facilities.

Study Skills Support

The Study Support Team provides training and support to all students in:

  • Academic Writing
  • Study Skills (note taking, exam techniques, time management, presentation)
  • Maths And Statistics
  • English Language
  • Information Technology Support

More on Study Support

4. Entry Requirements

  • To be considered for entry onto the programme applicants must have an honours degree in a relevant science. Chemistry at SCQF level 8 is a minimum requirement.
  • Other qualifications and experience will be considered subject to the University's judgment that the applicant has a reasonable expectation of being able to fulfil the requirement of the award.

English Language

Applicants whose first language is not English should have an IELTS of 6.0 overall, with no component lower than 5.5, or an equivalent.

We accept a variety of in-country and secure English language tests, find out more:

English Language requirements

* All entry requirements listed here should be used as a guide and represent the minimum required to be considered for entry. A small number of courses require higher levels, but this will be stated explicitly on your offer letter.

5. Placements and Accreditations

An optional 3 month unpaid placement is available. Depending upon availability and academic performance, students may have the opportunity to undertake their MSc Research Project in an industrial setting. The industry places may be in the Aberdeen area or further afield, e.g. other parts of Scotland, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, France etc.

We have a Placement Office to support you in securing a placement, however most students achieve placement from their own independent networking.

More on Placements

6. Student Funding

Fully funded places

RGU is pleased to announce the SFC offers a limited number of fully funded full-time MSc places for Scottish/EU applicants, for courses starting September 2017.Find out more.

Postgraduate Living Cost Loan

Eligible (Scottish domiciled)  full-time postgraduate on an eligible course can apply to SAAS for a living cost loan up to £4,500.

To be eligible for the living cost loan, in addition to meeting the eligibility conditions above, students must:

  • be under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course (normally 1 August). If you change course and are aged 60 or over on the relevant date of your second course, you will not be entitled to a student loan for your second course.
  • The living cost loan is not available to part-time postgraduate students or EU students.

Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan

Eligible (Scottish domiciled and EU) students can now apply for a Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan (PTFL). Full-time students can apply for a PTFL up to £5,500.

The funding available is a loan to help you pay all or some of your tuition fees up to a maximum of £5,500 for full-time courses.

Part-time students can apply for up to a maximum of £5,500 to cover your entire course. The tuition fee loan is only available to part-time students who are undertaking at least 50% of a full-time course, and therefore, complete their qualification in 2 years.

Students can apply now by downloading an application form from the SAAS web site.

Financial Information for Postgraduate Students

7. Course Fees

For Academic Year 2018/2019

Scottish/EU Students


  • £5,500 entire course


  • £2,750 for year 1
  • £2,750 for year 2
  • No fee for year 3

Rest of UK Students


  • £6,750 entire course


  • £2,750 for year 1
  • £2,750 for year 2
  • £1,250 for year 3

International Students


  • £14,520 entire course


  • £5,450 for year 1
  • £5,450 for year 2
  • £3,620 for year 3


Course fees are reviewed periodically and so are subject to change for new applicants. All tuition fees are fixed for the duration of a course at the rate confirmed in your offer letter. You will also be liable to pay a graduation fee of £40 before receiving a University award.

For further information see Student Finance pages


8. How to apply

Information for Postgraduate Applicants

Terms and Conditions of Admissions

The Terms and Conditions of Admission describe to applicants holding an offer of a place to study at RGU, the principal rights, duties and obligations of both the applicant and the University prior to enrolling on a course of study.

Terms and Conditions of Admissions (PDF 142KB)

9. Prospects

Graduates gain employment in a wide range of areas such as research, project management and analytical services associated with a range of industries including: - distilleries, pharmaceutical, oilfield chemistry, food/drink analysis and environmental science.

Graduates may also go on to further their academic career by seeking doctoral studies either within Robert Gordon University, when funding and suitable vacancies are available, or the rest of the UK, EU or internationally.


Of those graduates contacted (usually > 87%); approximately 12% had continued to PhD study, and 85% were in analytical science employment. 

10. Additional costs

The following course-related costs are not included in the course fees:

Other Fees and Charges

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Start Date


Course Length

Full-time - 1 year, Part-time - 2 years

Mode of Attendance

Full-time, Part-time

Academic School
School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences
More Information:
Postgraduate Admissions +44 (0) 1224 262209