IFSTAL comprises a number of different parts, think of them as groups of people and activities.


Together these groups make for an interactive community, from different disciplines but with a common interest in bringing together their insights on issues facing the food system. 

Academics and Education Coordinators (EC): within each of the participating institutions there is a lead academic and one or two (where it is a job share) education coordinators. This team develops the curriculum, writes content on the IFSTAL portal, and delivers the IFSTAL programme. The academics and ECs also look to make relevant research, talks and contacts at each institution more accessible to students from other universities.

Students: any postgraduate student across the participating institution’s departments can get involved, whether that be attending lectures or workshops, away days or the summer school, and engaging in the IFSTAL online portal.

Workplace: workplace partners help us develop our skills-based element – through participating in away days and the summer school, offering dissertation placements and post-graduation internships.

Alumni: this is an important community for IFSTAL. Our value lies in those who go out and put into practice all that IFSTAL has taught them, and who take advantage of the community they are now a part of. To date we have engaged more than 1400 students. We have an active LinkedIn network. Many former students have returned as guest speakers at IFSTAL events and workshops.


Workshops: Delivered at each university, these are focused on a specific method or approach. Students work together in multi-disciplinary groups to learn and reflect on these methods. There are two of these in each of the first two terms. Each of the workshops is linked to an online unit – delivered through the portal – focusing on background theory and knowledge. See here for dates and locations.

Portal: The IFSTAL portal is our programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a platform through which anyone involved in IFSTAL can gain access to our subject units and their associated resources. It also enables our students to interact with other IFSTAL members through the forums. The portal is accessible to students through their institutional VLE (virtual learning environment).

Interactions include discussion forums, presentations with Q&A, blogging, commenting and working together to create new material.

Dissertation opportunities: IFSTAL is working to develop opportunities for dissertation study by seeking organisations who can offer short research projects, or data for analysis.

Summer school: Held annually for a week in June or July, the IFSTAL summer school is open to a limited number of students from participating universities, it involves more in-depth engagement with some of the ideas developed in IFSTAL. Real-life challenges and workplace engagement are central, including field trips to local farms, food manufacturers and retailers. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 summer school was held online.

Internship opportunities: IFSTAL has linked up with a number of organisations to help develop post-graduation internship opportunities. While these are not offers exclusive to IFSTAL participants, we hope that by engaging in IFSTAL the chances of securing an internship are improved.