BSc (Hons) Brewing and Distilling and Diploma in Industrial Training

The course

UCAS code
5 years
Delivery type

This programme offers the unique opportunity to study Brewing and Distilling at undergraduate level, and learn from academics and staff working at the forefront of industry. You'll apply your theory to practice during your industrial placement.


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BSc Brewing and Distilling provides you with the unique opportunity to gain a grounding in engineering and science and explore the mechanisms behind brewing and distilling at an undergraduate level. This is the only undergraduate programme of its kind in the UK, in which you can tailor and develop your STEM knowledge, skills, and background to the drinks and beverage industry and complete an industrial placement.

During your undergraduate studies, you’ll learn from a broad curriculum from a wide range of disciplines, including brewing and distilling, biology, process engineering, mathematics, beverage microbiology and biochemistry, food microbiology, bioprocessing, quantitative and qualitative analytical skills, with optional modules in business, accounting and finance, operations management, enterprise, and sustainable development. To develop your brewing and distilling subject knowledge, you’ll explore fundamental topics including, but not limited to, cereal science and technology, yeast science, microbiology, biochemistry, process technology, business studies, management, food safety, quality control and quality assurance, flavour assessment and analytical chemistry.  

You will develop a sound basis in fundamental scientific and technological principles and learn to apply this in the context of malting, brewing, and distilling. You’ll explore the underlying principles, relevant defining concepts, theories and methods, the current state of knowledge and future development possibilities of the industries, whilst grasping the global, regional, and local contexts of malting, brewing and distilling. You’ll develop knowledge of policy, legislation, ethical, health and safety issues relating to the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of alcoholic drinks which will provide you with a plethora of knowledge and skills which you can directly apply to various roles in industry upon graduation.  

The drink and beverage industry is continuously growing, and is becoming an increasingly important part of GDP. In Scotland alone, more than 11,000 people are directly employed in the Scotch Whisky industry, with a further 42,000 people indirectly employed by the industry. The growing demand for graduates with an understanding of brewing and distilling, will make you highly employable upon completion of the course.     

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 

Your learning will be informed by the expertise of our research-active brewing and distilling scientists and academics. 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 

Beyond their academic careers, your teaching staff hold various positions of responsibility and authority throughout the industry, including roles on global and local drink companies’ boards and management teams, and on governmental bodies. As a result, your learning will be informed directly by the conversations staff are having both within the university, and outwith in the national and international beverage markets they represent. The teaching staff external roles will further help to improve the industry relevance of the programme, as they will adapt the course content accordingly based on current and predicted industry changes.  

The research and industry focused nature of this undergraduate programme ensures your studies remain innovative and up to date with current and emerging trends.  

Your learning environment  

The BSc 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 assessed by a variety of coursework, exams, and your dissertation, 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. 

In your fourth year, you will complete a placement year within industry. This allows you to apply your knowledge of brewing and distilling science, and develop skills and experience within the workplace.

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.  

Upon graduation, you will become a member of your own branch of Heriot-Watt’s graduate club, 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. This offers you an excellent and informal opportunity to meet alumni working in the industry, grow your connections, and set you up for life after graduation.

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 a mix of mandatory courses and optional courses from a range of relevant specialist courses, throughout your five years of study. In your fourth year, you will complete an industrial placement with a company working within the malting, brewing, distilling and allied industries. Upon successful completion of your year in industry, you will be awarded a Diploma in Industrial Training (DIT). 

In your final year, 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 honours research project. 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.  This comes together to ensure that you gain the right blend of knowledge, practical skills, and soft skills to set you up for life after graduation.   


The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) offers honours 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. Students from the programme can join the IBD at a reduced student rate and can access continuing professional development and networking opportunities organised by the IBD.  

Image of male graduate in a flat cap, smiling towards camera

My brewing and distilling degree at Heriot-Watt gave me an end-to-end and deep knowledge of brewing science and technology, centred on current industry needs. Its recognition has helped me in securing and succeeding in my current role as a brewer at Tennents.

William Warriner, BSc Brewing and Distilling Graduate and Watt Club Medal recipient, Brewer at Tennent's Lager

Course content

Year 1

During your first year, you'll take seven mandatory courses, including Introduction to Process Engineering which you'll study in both Semester One and Semester Two.

Semester One

Mandatory courses
  • Introductory Biology 1
  • Practical Skills in Biology
  • Shaping Tomorrow Together A
  • Introduction to Process Engineering

Semester Two

Mandatory courses
  • Introductory Biology 2
  • Chemistry for the Life Sciences
  • Shaping Tomorrow Together B
  • Introduction to Process Engineering

Year 2

Semester One

Mandatory courses
  • Research Methods in Biology 
  • Science and Exploitation of Plants
  • Bioprocess Engineering for Brewing and Distilling A
Optional courses

You'll choose one course from the following options:

  • Management in a Global Context
  • Mathematics for Scientists 1 
  • Introduction to Accounting and Finance

Semester Two

Mandatory courses
  • Introduction to Microbiology
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Bioprocess Engineering for Brewing and Distilling B
  • Industrial Practice for Brewing and Distilling

Year 3

Semester One

Mandatory courses
  • Concepts in Beverage Science
  • Beverage Microbiology and Biochemistry
Optional courses

You'll choose two courses from the following options:

  • Introduction to Food Microbiology 
  • Molecular Biology
  • Introduction to Process Technology
  • Biotechnology
  • Sustainable Development and Engineering Management

Semester Two

Mandatory courses
  • Advanced Industrial Practice
  • Bioprocessing
  • Research Studies in Malting, Brewing and Distilling
Optional courses

You'll choose one course from the following options:

  • Operations Management
  • Process Health and Safety 
  • Enterprise: Concepts and Issues

Year 4

In your fourth year you will complete your industrial placement. 

Year 5

Semester One

Mandatory courses
  • Advanced Brewing and Distilling 1
  • Advanced Brewing and Distilling 2
  • Honours Research Project - Execution
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Analytical Skills 1

Semester Two

Mandatory courses
  • Advanced Brewing and Distilling 3
  • Advanced Brewing and Distilling 4
  • Honours Research Project - Dissemination
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Analytical Skills 2

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Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements
  • Highers ABBB (including B in Chemistry or Biology and Mathematics at C)
  • A-Levels BBC (must include Maths and either Chemistry or Biology, with a minimum of a B in one required subject)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 29 points (with Higher Level Chemistry or Biology at 5 and Higher Level Mathematics at 5)
  • BTEC DMM (must be in a relevant science subject including sufficient Maths and Chemistry/Biology)
  • HNC A in graded unit (of an appropriate HNC)
Minimum entry requirements
  • Highers BBBC (Highers must include B in Chemistry or Biology and C in Maths)
  • A-Levels BCC (Must include C in Chemistry or Biology and C in Maths)
  • IB 28 points (must include HL maths and Chemistry or Biology)
  • BTEC MMM (must be in a relevant science subject including sufficient Maths and Chemistry/Biology)

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for some Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

  • live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20), or
  • are care experienced.

We can also make exceptions for some Scottish students with grades above minimum but below standard. Read more about our Minimum and standard entry requirements

Year 2

  • Advanced Highers BB (plus Highers ABBB including Higher Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology)
  • A-Levels ABB (including Biology, Mathematics and Chemistry)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 33 points (with a science and Mathematics at Higher Level 6)
  • HND AA in graded units (in an appropriate HND)

Year 3

We only accept entrants to Year 3 with appropriate Associate Degrees

Additional information

English language requirements

  • If English is not your first language, you have to show that your English is good enough to succeed on your course. Please see our English language requirements.


Tuition fees for 2024 entry
Status* Scotland England / Wales / N Ireland / Rep of Ireland International**
Fee Paid by SAAS £9,250 £24,048

* Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.

** 'International' includes applicants from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in UK. (This does not include students from the Republic of Ireland - see above). Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your studies at Heriot-Watt over and above tuition fees in an academic year. Depending on your programme of study, these may include: protective equipment, field trips, professional memberships, studio fees, required course texts or other study resources.

Scholarships and bursaries

Featured scholarships

Bursaries for students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible undergraduate students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales:

  • Heriot-Watt University Bursary (up to £3,100 per year)
View details about the Heriot-Watt University Bursary

View our full range of undergraduate scholarships.