Biotechnologies for Food Science

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In the 2016-2017 academic year, the University of Padova (UNIPD) inaugurated a new Master Degree (Second Cycle Degree, MSc) entitled “Biotechnologies for Food Science" (120 credits in toto). This MSc encompasses two curricula: Biotechnologies for Food Science, taught in English; and Biotecnologie per l’Alimentazione (in Italian). Furthermore, two study plans are available for each curriculum.

The MSc is open to Italian and international undergraduates from the EU and abroad, interested in learning and implementing effective value-added practices for the production of high-quality food products both in the EU and in international markets. English knowledge must be minimum at B2 level (CEFR). Applying students should have a three-year Bachelor’s degree (BSc) in a field connected with the MSc objectives. A good background in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and microbiology is requested.

The MSc is interdisciplinary and research-oriented, and explores how to produce healthier and safer food following a cross-cutting, farm/field-to-fork approach. It focuses on the application of advanced biotechnologies in food production and safety, and it is the ideal trait-d’union between the requests of agrifood sector producers and researchers and, ultimately, of consumers.

The MSc has a strong component on cutting-edge methods such as genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics, metabolomics, nanotechnologies. Teaching include lectures, laboratory activities, practical exercises and seminars by experts. The combination of theoretical lectures with practical training offers hands-on experience in advanced DNA, RNA, and protein analysis together with substantial lab sessions in bioinformatics. Lecture topics deal with food production, hygiene and quality, molecular methods of agro-food analyses, effects of agro-biotech products on human beings and environments. Furthermore, knowledge on environmental stresses, diseases, pathogens and pests will be provided, being essential to understand how to protect crop and food-producing animals, and how food-products may impact on human health. Lectures move across animal infectious disease, immunology, microbiology, plant pests and pathogens as well as abiotic stresses, to show how biotechnology might help preventing diseases and improve food production. Consumers are increasingly worried about the presence of (emerging) food contaminants and on the real origin of what they eat; hence, the MSc includes lectures on food toxicology, food-host-microbiome interactions, traceability for food authentication and food regulation. As a whole, the MSc falls back completely within a One Health concept. Last, but not least, opportunities for intensive tutoring and MSc thesis-related stages (at least six months duration, usually made in the 4th semester) are available at UNIPD, outstanding agrifood companies or other relevant public/private organisations. The MSc assists students to find suitable internship opportunities with qualified laboratories in Italy and abroad (e.g., Erasmus).

The MSc is based at the Agripolis campus in Legnaro (~10 km away from downtown Padua), where are located the four Departments of the UNIPD School of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. These Departments contribute to a varying extent to the MSc academic offer, providing undergraduate students with the best opportunities for a rich, cross-disciplinary experience in a highly qualified scientific environment.

  Course structure

The MSc encompasses two curriculum: Biotechnologies for Food Science (in English), and Biotecnologie per l’Alimentazione (in Italian).

The curriculum Biotechnologies for Food Science encompasses two study plans: Food Production and Nutrition (a), and Food Safety and Food Hygiene (b). These study plans differ each other for two courses (16 credits in toto):

Food Production and Nutrition (a):

  • Biotechnology in Plant Protection (8 credits);
  • Biotechnology in Crop Production (8).

Food Safety and Food Hygiene (b):

  • Epidemiology, Biotechnology and Risk Analysis of Food-borne Diseases (8);
  • Interactions between Nutrients, Host and Microbiota (8).

As to the curriculum in Biotecnologie per l’Alimentazione (in Italian), the undergraduate student can choose between the study plan in Produzione Alimentare e Nutrizione (c), and that in Sicurezza degli Alimenti ed Igiene Alimentare (d).

These study plans differ each other for three courses (26 credits in toto):

Produzione Alimentare e Nutrizione (c):

  • Biotecnologie delle Produzioni Vegetali (6);
  • Biotecnologie Metaboliche dei Prodotti di Origine Vegetale (10);
  • Biotecnologie Fitosanitarie (10).

Sicurezza degli Alimenti ed Igiene Alimentare (d):

  • Interazioni tra Nutrienti, Ospite e Microbiota (6);
  • Tossicologia Alimentare, Tossicogenomica e Patologia Tossicologica (10);
  • Epidemiologia e Biotecnologie Applicate alle Zoonosi Alimentari (10).

Furthermore (and interestingly), two “alternative” courses (8 credits each) are available within each curriculum: Genetics and Molecular Biology of Agrifood Products (Genetica e Biologia Molecolare dei Prodotti Agroalimentari); and Agrifood Microbiology (Microbiologia degli Alimenti, Sistemi di Produzione e Igiene e Controllo delle Filiere Alimentari). These alternative courses are useful for undergraduate students with a BSc in Food Science and Biotechnology or similar. Graduates in Food Science or similar are suggested including the former course in their study plan; however, the second one is suggested for graduates in Biotechnology. Being both of 8 credits, the course left free can be selected as elective subject.

Common to all the study plans is the course in Communication Skills/Abilità Comunicative (3 credits). Furthermore, twenty-four credits (the whole 4th semester) are attributed to the Final Dissertation/Prova Finale (i.e., thesis work).

To reach the 120 credits, the undergraduate must choose and insert in its study plan an elective subject for a minimum of 8 credits. This subject can be chosen within this same MSc academic offer or, alternatively, in that of other UNIPD MSc, active either in Agripolis than in other UNIPD Departments. Noteworthy, the syllabus of this elective subject must be pertinent to our Msc objectives and (most important) not related with topics covered in some of our MSc compulsory exams.

  What will you learn

Course details a.y. 2023/24

As to the educational objectives of our MSc, the undergraduate students will improve their communication skills and competences on animal and crop genomics, including most recent and advanced methods for high-throughput genomic analysis and selective breeding. In parallel, they will learn how to apply bioinformatics to management of large biological data sets, how these databases are organized and how to link different types of data. The knowledge on molecular bases of pathology, host-response to infection, diagnostics and epidemiology of transmissible diseases will be provided, too. Food-borne pathogens and the positive role of microorganisms in food processes, including the interactions among food, host and microbiota will be addressed in integrated microbiology courses. Courses on plant biotechnologies will introduce the molecular and physiological basic concepts of crop production and the information on best approaches to improve crop yield and reduce the impact of abiotic stresses. In parallel, how to implement the control of crop disease and pest management. Information on molecular tools for food traceability, -omics technologies (proteomics, metabolomics, nanotechnology) and their application to food production, together with the knowledge on food toxicology and EU and extra-EU food regulation will also be provided to undergraduates. Worth of mentioning, a specific training in bioinformatics, an intensive practical lab in DNA/RNA/protein analysis applied to food control as well as significant thematic lab sessions will be offered in dedicated lab practicals. The second semester will be completely dedicated to lab internship (thesis work). It will be possible to join a research lab in the campus, abroad (e.g., Erasmus) or to have a working stage in the private sector.

  Career opportunities

As advanced biotechnologies increasingly move from research to production, the job market demands professional profiles that have a strong technological background and, at the same time are able to move across a variety of other specialized disciplines, and interact with all the different actors of the agrifood sector.

The broad cross-disciplinary expertise offered by our MSc will open job opportunities in private and public research centers, in public institutions dealing with animal health and food safety, in the private agrifood sector, at various levels from animal and crop production, food processing and up to large food retail chains.

  International mobility (Erasmus+)

A number of destinations are available for students' exchanges in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme.

For further information: Erasmus office

  Application procedures and admission requirements

If you have an international entry qualification, please follow the instructions available on HOW TO APPLY

If you have an Italian entry qualification, please refer to the Italian website - INFO ON ENGLISH REQUIREMENTS (B2 LEVEL)

Check the admission requirements here.

  Scholarships and other facilitations for students

The University of Padova offers different types of scholarships and fee-waivers to international students.

For detailed information:

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