Taught course

Brewing and Distilling

Heriot-Watt University · School of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Entry requirements

For MSc entry, candidates must hold a First or Second Class Honours Degree, or equivalent qualification from a British or overseas university, in a science or engineering subject (for example, Biological Sciences, Chemistry or Chemical/Mechanical Engineering).

For Diploma entry, candidates must hold a degree, preferably at Honours level, in an appropriate subject as defined above. Candidates who do not necessarily fulfil the above criteria may wish to apply to the Diploma programme. All such cases are given individual consideration.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we'll need to see evidence of your English language ability. The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:

  • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)

Months of entry


Course content

Overview of Programme

MSc Brewing and Distilling provides you with the unique opportunity to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to enter the malting, brewing or distilling industries, or conduct related research. You’ll learn a broad range of subjects, from malting, brewing and distilling science and chemical engineering to optional units in business studies and production management, to set you up for a variety of careers including malting, brewing, and distilling production, sales, marketing, and technical sales.

Through the master’s programme, you’ll learn the underlying principles, relevant defining concepts, theories, and methods of the malting, brewing and distilling industries whilst understanding the current and emerging characteristics of and problems faced by industry. You’ll explore the global, regional, and local contexts and structure of industry, and be made aware of the political, legal, ethical, health and safety issues in producing, selling, and marketing alcoholic drinks and beverages.

You’ll have the opportunity to learn from a comprehensive course structure, whilst also choosing optional courses to customise your learning based on your interests and goals. You’ll develop a broad spectrum of expertise, covering topics in cereal science and technology, yeast science, microbiology, biochemistry, process technology, business strategies, management, food safety, quality control and quality assurance, flavour assessment, and analytical chemistry. You’ll explore policy, legislation, ethical, health and safety issues of concern as they relate to the design, manufacture, marketing, and sale of alcoholic drinks within the brewing and distilling industry.

You’ll gain hands-on experience by utilising our on-site brewery, distillery, and rectification laboratory to support your in-depth scientific learning. This will ensure you build the skills and expertise to perform successfully in industry and make you highly employable in all sizes of brewing, distilling and allied industries.

Our Expertise

Teaching in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt began in 1903, which led to the establishment of the highly reputable International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) in 1989. The ICBD has established itself as an excellent research centre, with close ties with the professional and industrial world of science, engineering, and technology.

The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling is a unique teaching and research facility which meets the needs of the brewing, distilling and malting industries worldwide. You will learn directly from academics involved in this world leading research, whose work focuses on promoting excellence across five main research themes across the brewing and distilling industries:

  • Raw materials
  • Malting
  • Process improvement
  • Sustainability
  • Biochemistry and microbiology

Your learning environment

The MSc Brewing and Distilling programme is taught though a combination of lectures, tutorials, and laboratory practicals, allowing you to get to know and build relationships with your teaching staff, academics, and peers. You will be evaluated by a variety of assessments, including coursework, your dissertation, and in some cases exams, and will receive support and feedback throughout the programme.

During your studies, you’ll benefit from and have access to our specialist equipment, software and laboratories used by industry, including our on-site nano-brewery (2 HL), distillery, and rectification laboratory. You will have the opportunity to work on research addressing real-world problems, and work across disciplines to deliver practical solutions with global impact.

Outside of the classroom, there are various Brewing and Distilling related societies which provide the opportunity to meet likeminded people, gain insights into industry and career opportunities, and get involved in regular social events and networking events, including Brewing Society for those who enjoy brewing, drinking great beer or just like a good chin wag with fellow beer enthusiasts, Cocktail Society, and Whisky Society to enjoy regular tastings, listen to special guest speakers from industry and learn more about Scotch whisky.

Graduates of the programme will become members of their own branch of The Watt Club, known as The Watt Club: Brewing and Distilling. This group of alumni were established in 1958 as Heriot-Watt University Former Brewing Students Association, and still gather annually in Edinburgh to network and to meet with new students providing an excellent but informal opportunity to meet alumni working in the industry.

Customise your learning

You’ll have the opportunity to focus on the areas of brewing and distilling, and bioscience that interest you the most. You can customise your degree to match your specific interests or desired career pathway by studying five mandatory courses and choosing three further options from a range of relevant specialist courses, including beverage microbiology and biochemistry, foundations of energy, chemistry of food, management in the food and beverage industries, and food processing.

In semester three, you’ll have the opportunity to further customise your learning, by analysing a particular brewing and distilling industry-based problem or topic in depth through your research project/dissertation. You’ll be required to demonstrate your mastery of the subject area by designing, planning, and conducting a piece of original research applied to the brewing, distilling, and allied trades sector. You may also have the option to work with an industrial collaborator on your dissertation, and many recent MSc Brewing and Distilling projects have been collaborations between industry and students.


We work closely with industry through our Industrial Advisory Board which contains members of the malting, brewing, distilling, and allied industries. This helps us to ensure our course content is up-to-date and reflects the current and emerging needs of industry and employers. We also are often able to offer research projects which are carried out in collaboration with industrial partners such as the highly successful Natural Selection Brewing project with local brewery Stewart Brewing. Throughout the year you will have the opportunity to hear from and meet guest speakers from various parts of the industry through our ICBD After Hours lecture series.


The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) offer MSc graduates the opportunity for exemption from the Diploma in Brewing, or Diploma in Distilling should they, later in their career, wish to undertake the IBD Master Brewer or Master Distiller qualification through the IBD.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Scholarships and Bursaries

Our Postgraduate Scholarship for Academic Excellence in MSc Brewing and Distilling offers a £1,000 tuition fee reduction.

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • PGDip
    full time
    9 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Enquiries Team