Advanced Master of Science
in Sustainable Food Packaging


Food packaging is omnipresent in our daily lives, making it possible to better protect food and reduce food waste. However, in the past decade, the packaging industry has experienced strong growth, with some notable evolutions: the increased use of plastics to replace other substrates (partly to better serve the end user) and a strong economic growth in emerging countries. Together with the use of single-use packaging, it causes a substantial environmental impact, and makes the management of packaging waste extremely challenging in terms of recyclability. Consumers and governments are therefore increasingly demanding sustainable packaging, driving companies towards more socially responsible packaging strategies.

During those same ten years, the food industry has also undergone a number of evolutions: an increasing attention to reducing additives in food, less intensive processes, such as mild pasteurisation processes instead of sterilisation processes, etc. These evolutions result in higher quality food with better retention of nutrients and sensory properties, but put pressure on the microbiological and chemical stability. In order to guarantee the required shelf life, a suitable packaging system must be used, both in terms of the type of packaging materials and machines, and in terms of the environmental conditions in which the filling takes place. Such a packaging system must be developed or selected specifically on the basis of the characteristics of the food to be packaged, the storage conditions during distribution, and storage further down the food chain. 

Find out more about what to expect on our testimonial page

The MSc in Sustainable Food Packaging brings the three domains described above together and addresses the question of how we can keep food safe and preserve it for the required shelf-life using food packaging systems that are sustainable and balance the ecological footprint with ensuring access to high quality food and maintaining profitable food supply chains. This question is part of the larger (international) challenge to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, by improving environmental and societal sustainability and increasing the circularity in food packaging systems.

Learning outcomes

The MSc in Sustainable Food Packaging delivers experts in sustainable food packaging systems and prepares students to design and/or optimise a food packaging system with a conscious and critical choice of resources and production methods, while at the same time considering the corporate or organisational culture, its mission and vision, and the broad socio-economic context. 

Graduates receive a MSc degree in Sustainable Food Packaging and will be part of a unique international network of specialists in state-of-the-art sustainable food packaging technologies.


The MSc in Sustainable Food Packaging is a one year programme but has a modular structure.

It is divided in five modules, allowing you to spread the programme over several years and study part-time. It does not follow the traditional semester system. Together with online teaching activities and evening classes, it offers you maximum flexibility to combine the programme with a career, family, hobbies, etc. 

You have two or three courses per block which allows you to process the content in a more focused and in-depth manner.
All blocks build upon each other in a logical sequence, but module 2 and 3 are interchangeable. This allows you to complete the programme in two or even three years. 
The exams for these respective courses take place after each modular block.

The full programme can be completed in three different ways:

Module 1
Sept - Oct - Nov

This course deals with the assessment and improvement of the sustainability of processes, products and systems, with a special focus on food and food packaging systems. Attention is paid to how the choice of production technology, ingredients, efficiency, logistics and avoidance of food waste contribute to a sustainable food system, and how far the choice of inputs (resources), process efficiency and avoidance of waste streams and emissions all contribute to sustainable technology.

Other topics include concepts of clean technology, industrial ecology, green chemistry/chemical engineering, pollution prevention and sustainability management.

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This course provides knowledge and insights into three key aspects within food packaging: 1) materials used for packaging focusing on functionality and production techniques; 2) filling machines for food and beverages and 3) filling conditions including hygienic design and guidelines. This course also zooms in on recent advances and trends in food packaging such as in the area of active and intelligent packaging and biobased and compostable packaging.

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Module 2
Nov - Dec - Jan

This course builds on the acquired knowledge from the course ‘Food Packaging Systems’ from a socio-economic perspective and gives students insight into how best put this into practice when developing a packaging strategy. Topics include competitor analysis, packaging supply, communication and branding, packaging strategy analysis, project and stakeholder management, etc.

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In this course the various – microbiological, physiological, chemical and physical – phenomena leading to deterioration of packed foods are discussed, with a special focus on the role of packaging. Topics include basic aspects of food microbiology (microbiological aspects of food preservation with a special focus on how packaging influences the microbial behaviour) and food chemistry (chemical, biochemical and physicochemical processes involved in agricultural raw materials and in foodstuffs, and during the transformation of agricultural raw materials into derived products). Special attention goes to the kinetics of shelf life determining factors.

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Module 3
Feb - Mar

Food contact materials and food packaging materials in particular are not inert. Due to their interaction with the food matrix, substances are migrating from the contact material to the food. This may affect food safety and the sensorial quality of food. In this course, the factors impacting the transfer of substances from the contact material to the food are presented. Various types of materials are included: plastics, elastomers and rubbers, metals, glass, paper and board. There also is a focus on methodological approaches to evaluate the transfer of (volatile and non-volatile) substances from food contact materials, including chemical analytical approaches and the mathematical prediction of the migration from plastic food contact materials using dedicated software.

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The purpose of this course is to provide students with insights into the wide range of physicochemical techniques to process end-of-life food packaging, with a focus on reuse, materials reuse (recycling), energy recovery and disposal. The technical and organisational aspects of waste prevention, transformation and disposal are dealt with from an environmental, legal and economical perspective. Special attention is paid to specific material streams which constitute a challenge in society’s transition towards a circular economy, such as plastic end-of-life packaging. The course aims to empower students to tackle the food packaging and material reuse challenges that today’s and tomorrow’s food industry encounters.

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This is an advanced course on setting up a quality management system, dealing with multiple perspectives of the definition of quality (e.g. safety, customer requirements, sustainability, physical-mechanical characterisation, etc.) towards a Total Quality Management System. Different standards applied in production and trade of food contact materials are discussed (e.g. BRC, ISO). Building blocks in quality management such as traceability, good practices, quality assurance and quality control (including product and process control, sampling plans) are explained. Technical quality of paper, cardboard and plastic packaging materials/concepts are studied hands-on.

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Module 4
Apr - May

This course focuses on the design of food packaging and problem solving approaches in packaging creation. The vulnerabilities of the product to be packed are used to determine the requirements that will lead to possibilities for a solution. The process of decision making is viewed from the perspective of all stakeholders, and stage gate models are introduced to go through the different steps in the process. Aspects like the influence of design on choice behaviour, convenience and sustainability are part of the design process. 

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In this course, an internship is performed at a company or other stakeholder within the food packaging chain regarding sustainable food packaging. The student will contribute to the design and/or optimise a food packaging system, taking into account functionality and the embedding in the food and packaging chain, with a conscious and critical choice of resources, production methods and the end-of-life of the packaging system (circularity). During the internship, attention will also be given to soft skills such as professional and interdisciplinary communication.

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Module 5
Deadline: mid-June

The master’s dissertation is industry based, in collaboration with an external organisation. Students have the opportunity to not only enhance their research skills, but also their employability by tackling a real-life research question. Although students are expected to start their dissertation projects from the very beginning of the programme and continue during all modules, the fifth module leaves room to write the document. Dissertations must be handed in at the end of the third module and defended at the end of the programme.

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Tuesday & Thursday

16:15 – 20:30

online educational activities: the student is free to choose to follow the lesson ‘live’ or deferred


08:30 – 17:30

compulsory ‘on campus’ with a focus on applying and integrating knowledge during active educational activities

Rest of the week± 1,5 days per week

master’s dissertation (in a company or other external organisation)


The programme aims at three types of students;

  • recent graduates,
  • international students, and
  • professionals.

In general, any highly motivated candidate with a master’s degree, a keen interest in Sustainability, Food and Packaging, basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel, and sufficient background in chemistry and mathematics can be admitted. 

If you hold a master’s degree in an entirely different field of study, your application will still be considered if you can demonstrate the necessary academic requirements.

Students with certain minor gaps in their educational background will be provided with extra learning materials (for example in microbiology or biochemistry).

Want to find out whether your background in chemistry and mathematics is sufficient? Test yourself with this self-evaluation.

Each application file is evaluated by the programme committee irrespective of the diploma obtained, and has to be approved by the registrar’s office.

  • Applicants must have a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree of minimum 4 years from a university or recognised equivalent. Good overall scores are recommended.
  • Applicants are expected to have a basic science training (e.g. demonstrable in the transcripts) in (i) Mathematics and Statistics; and (ii) General and/or Organic Chemistry.
  • Applicants are expected to add a short letter of motivation.

If you do not yet hold a master’s degree but expect to graduate before the start of the programme, you should submit your application package before the deadline. Instead of the legalised diploma and final transcripts/diploma supplement, you are required to submit upon application:

    • an official declaration from your school/university confirming the expected graduation date and the exact name of the diploma that will be awarded
    • your most recent transcript

The applicant must be proficient in English.
Students who do not have a diploma Secondary or Higher Education from an institution recognised by the Flemish Government, can meet the language proficiency by providing a certificate (not older than 5 years) of one of the following tests:

  • a TOEFL TEST, with a score ranging from at least 510 up to and including 559 (paper-based), or ranging from at least 72 up to and including 94 (Internet-based) or above. Participants are to specify “institution code” 2643 if they want the test results to be communicated directly to Ghent University
  • an original ‘Academic Test Report Form’ (TRF) from IELTS, with an overall score of at least 6.0
  • a B2 ITACE for students certificate awarded by the Ghent University Language Centre (Universitair Centrum voor Talenonderwijs, UCT), Linguapolis (University of Antwerp), the Leuven Language Institute (Instituut voor Levende Talen, ILT), or the Academic Language Centre (ACTo -VUB)
  • a B2 certificate awarded by a university language centre
  • the final test certificate for the course Practical English 5 or English for Written Academic Purposes, issued by the Ghent University Language Centre
  • a B2 First certificate Cambridge Assessment English (former First certificate in English(FCE))
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), with a score of 59 up to and including 75
  • International Baccalaureate in English B (SL, level 5, 6 & 7); International Baccalaureate in English B (HL, level 5 & 6); International Baccalaureate in English A (SL, level 5 & 6); Baccalaureate in English A (HL, level 5 & 6)

TOEFL/IELTS predictive tests and TOEIC will not be accepted

The following are exempt from submitting a certificate B2 English: 

  • Students who have a diploma (Secondary Education, Academic Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree) issued by an institution officially recognised by the Flemish Government
  • Students who have successfully completed programme units in higher education with a minimum of 60 ECTS-credits where English was the language of instruction. A certificate that the language of instruction was English has to be submitted for institutions in countries where English is not the national language.

Students with a Chinese diploma need to obtain the APS certificate.

An APS certificate is a condition for obtaining a student visa at the Belgian Embassy or Consulate General in PR China.

For all information, please visit

Application process

Please upload all documents and scans in PDF format.

  1. Diploma(s) and transcripts of academic records
  • The Programme Committee reserves the right to ask for official or certified hard copies of transcripts (or diplomas) if required for the evaluation of the application.
  • If your documents are not in English, Dutch, French or German, please arrange for these documents to be translated by a registered translator. The translated documents must also be certified by the educational institution that issued them.
  1. English Proficiency Certificates and/or other supporting documents (if applicable)
  • See language proficiency requirements for all details.
  1. The identity page of your passport (or national ID card for EEA citizens)
  2. If applicable and already available: Belgian Residence Permit (both sides)
  3. Motivation letter (max. one A4 page)
  4. CV (max. four pages including the names and contact details of minimum three referees)

Because of the automatic link with the Flemish Higher Education database (Databank Hoger Onderwijs (DHO)), candidate students holding a Flemish degree, will be redirected to a second online location to upload CV and motivation letter after registration in OASIS. This can take up to two working days.

If you encounter any problems, please contact

Applicants who meet all requirements will be invited for an interview. The interview might include a practical test to evaluate applicants’ necessary level of knowledge.
At the same time, applicants will be able to demonstrate their interest in the programme.

The next (online) interviews will take place

  • For non-EEA citizens: in the second week of April 2024
  • For EEA citizens: in the second week of June 2024 (first round)
  • For EEA citizens: in the first/second week of September 2024 (second round)

Applicants who fail to demonstrate the necessary level of knowledge or proficiency in English during the interview, will not be accepted.

Applicants will be informed about the final decision by the Programme Committee by the end of June or mid September, depending on your interview round. If your application was successful, you are accepted at Ghent University and you will receive a letter of admission. This letter will mention that you will be required to submit a legalised copy of your diploma upon enrolment. 

  • 1 April (non-EEA citizens)
  • 1 June (EEA citizens and non-EEA citizens with a valid residence permit, first round)
  • 1 September (EEA citizens and non-EEA citizens with a valid residence permit, second round)


The tuition fee consists of four parts which are subject to annual indexation.

There is no application fee.

The tuition fee includes:
  • extracurricular activities
  • digital course materials
  • student card and benefits
The tuition fee does not include:
  • meals
  • housing
  • physical course materials
Tuition fees for the academic year 2024-2025

Administrative fixed amount: €288,00
Fixed amount per credit (60 x 13,80): €828,00
Extra amount per credit (60 x 92,70): €5.562,00
Exceptional tuition fee: €840,60

There is a waiver of €50,10 per credit (€3.006,00 in total) for EEA citizens who are applying for the one year programme, no later than two years after obtaining a master’s degree.

Administrative fixed amount: €288,00
Fixed amount per credit (60 x 13,80): €828,00
Extra amount per credit (60 x 42,60): €2.556,00
Exceptional tuition fee: €840,60

A reduced tuition fee is only possible for the one year programme.

Waiver requests are evaluated in combination with the admission file.

Two or three year programme

Students who choose to spread the programme over two or three years, only pay the exceptional tuition fee in the first year, the indexed administrative fixed amount per year, and the indexed fixed and extra amount per credit per year.

For more information about tuition fees at Ghent University, please visit

Financial support

The Flemish Government offers financial support to entrepreneurs for this programme through the SME e-wallet (in Dutch: kmo-portefeuille).
More information can be found on the Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship website in English or in Dutch.
Registration number Ghent University: dv.o103193

Food sector association ALIMENTO financially supports entrepreneurs and employees active in the food industry in Belgium (PC 118 and 220) who take part in this master’s programme.
Please visit the ALIMENTO website for more information (in Dutch).

Employees in the private sector are entitled, under certain conditions, to Flemish training leave (Dutch: Vlaams opleidingsverlof/VOV). They may be absent from work in order to follow a training course, while their salary continues to be paid. The employer can obtain compensation in the form of a fixed amount.

The MSc in Sustainable Food Packaging is registered in the database of Flemish Training Incentives, with registration number ODB-X10129.

  • Master Mind scholarships awarded by the Government of Flanders to academically outstanding students for master programmes in Flanders and Brussels.


You can only use this application system to submit the requested documents.

You will be asked to select either the full year programme or one of the modular trajectories, after successful registration.