Associate Certification Self Study

Study from anywhere in the world at a time that suits you with the Academy’s eLearning platform.


(34 customer reviews)
  • What you learn
  • What you get
  • Who's it for?

What you'll learn

What you'll learn on this Self Study Course

  • How to describe the key ingredients used in cheesemaking and their purpose
  • Have an overview of the steps involved in cheesemaking and maturation
  • Understand the Academy of Cheese Make/Post-Make (MPM) Model
  • Understand how milk is produced
  • Recognise the condition of a soft mould-ripened cheese in terms of degree of ripeness
  • Understands cheese grading and its relevance
  • Understands the role of maturation and affinage in adding value to the product
  • Knows the different techniques to accelerate and decelerate ripening in soft mould-ripened cheese
  • Understand of how cheese is bought and transported including the term “chill chain”
  • Understand the importance of offering an appropriate range of cheeses for a cheese board
  • Select and use appropriate packaging, to wrap and re-wrap cheese
  • Be able to cut cheese using appropriate tools
  • Understand the importance of caring for, cutting and serving cheeses appropriate to the variety
  • Understands the key descriptors of cheese i.e. country of origin, species of milking animal, vegetarian/animal rennet, raw/pasteurised milk, MPM Model, protected status, age
  • Understands the principles of pairing cheese and drinks
  • An overview of the history of cheesemaking
  • Understand the differences between large scale and artisan production
  • Understand an overview of the nutritional value of cheese
  • Demonstrates good hand-washing techniques
  • Understand how to handle cheese safely
  • Understand the difference between “use by” and “best before”
  • Understands how to use the Academy of Cheese Level 1 Structured Approach to Tasting Model
  • Practical assessment of cheese using the model

At Level One you are required to study and taste 25 iconic cheeses. You will find details on each cheese in your delegates pack and in the online Cheese Library. Whether you attend an online or classroom course you will be expected to have tasted the 25 cheeses on the Level One list by the time of your assessment.

Use the Structured Approach to Tasting Cheese (SATC) sheet to record your tasting notes.

Whichever way you chose to study, you’ll need to take the online exam to become a certified Academy of Cheese Associate. It’s 30 questions in 30 minutes, you’ve got this! 

What you get

Enrol now and get Instant Access to your Level One Learning Road

12 months access to our Learning Road and exam. 

You have 12 months access to the Learning Road and to take the exam. 

Free resources

Exclusive Delegate Resources

Each delegate can download a digital delegate pack with informative visual guides to use alongside the Learning Road. These include the cheese matrix, the simple & complex flavour trees, the classification guide, the step-by-step tasting sheets and the full colour Level One 25 cheeses book. 

A printed version of the delegate pack is also available to purchase.

SATC Tasting Sheet (Colour)

Level One 25 Cheese Profiles

Level 1 Structured Approach to Tasting Cheese

Level 1 Standards & Learning Outcomes

Level 1 Make Post-Make Model

Festival: White Stilton with Mango and Ginger



Rutland Red

Clawson Shropshire Blue

1912 Artisan Stilton

Clawson Blue Stilton

Yorkshire Pecorino

Copy’s Cloud

12 months access to our Academic Cheese Library (over 175 cheeses)

Delegates can access our ever-growing Cheese Library which clearly and accurately catalogues cheese in a user-friendly way. It is a valuable research tool for studying at home, for inspiration ahead of a trip to the cheesemonger and for retailers swotting up on their range or looking to add something new.

Free guided workshops

Access to Online Guided Study Sessions

Self-study delegates are invited to attend a series of online Guided Sessions to help with their studies, enhance their learning journey and involve tasting and discussing a selection of Level One cheeses. Guided Sessions are optional and free to join; they are live, online group sessions, run by an expert tutor and last between 30 minutes to an hour. 

They are small in size, designed to encourage interaction and discussion between the tutor and delegates.

What People Are Saying About The Programme

Who should become an Academy Of Cheese Associate?

Retail professionals


Food Writers


Chef’s & Restaurateurs

Fanatical foodies



Cheese Judges

You are not alone

The purpose of Academy of Cheese is simple, to provide cheese education in support of the industry and those that work within it. 

Delegates enrolled

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely not! The Level One course is the place to start your cheese education, whether you work in the industry or simply love cheese. We start with the basics and expand your knowledge, giving you a new appreciation for cheese and its industry.

No, not one entry requirement! The Level One is open to all and its the place to start your cheese education. 

No problem. You can study online with the self guided eLearning platform from anywhere in the world - at anytime that suits you . 

The virtual classroom courses are taught live by a Training Partner across Zoom or a similar alternative platform. You will still receive access to the online Learning Road (think of this as your digital course book) to swot up on your knowledge and take the exam.

The self study eLearning option uses only the online Learning Road to take you through the course materials, there is no tutoring from a Training Partner. It is 100% self guided online study.

Regardless of which teaching method you choose, you are studying the same certification and will take the same online exam.

34 reviews for Associate Certification Self Study

  1. Nicholas Soul

    Having attended a Level 1 course with Paxton and Whitfield, which was a fantastic day, I was able to continue my cheese learning journey with the AoC. I successfully completed the Level 1 Associate training online, which was well-structured and informative, and enjoyed using the SATC to taste my way through as many of the 25 cheeses as I could before taking the exam. Alongside the brilliant team at P&W, the AoC Learning Road provided me with all of the knowledge that I needed, backed up with a variety of online resources to help me through the learning and it obviously worked, because I passed at my first attempt! I’d thoroughly recommend this course to anyone with an interest and passion for cheese and am now giving serious consideration to moving on to the Level 2 training.

    • Rachel

      Thank you for your review Nicholas – we’re delighted you enjoyed both the classroom and online learning aspects of the course and look forward to helping you with your Level Two studies.

  2. Philip Johnston

    Informative, engaging, entertaining – and tasty! I’m a “consumer” and it was perfect.

    • Rachel

      Thank you Philip, so pleased you enjoyed the course.

    • Rachel

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the course Philip. Thank you for your review.

  3. Adrian Howells (verified owner)

    I love cheese, but primarily eating it. I decided to do this course as I wanted to gain a better appreciation for cheese gained by understanding more about it.
    The course has been very informative. The tasting aspects for me, even though I completed the course online, forced me to really bring together all of the other elements. It has made me think more about how to pair cheese, especially thinking about the location and the process by which it is made into account.
    The course structure for me was perfect. Short sharp sessions with assessment checks just ensured I did not rush through the course without thinking.
    Overall, this was a great introduction to the broader potential of cheese. With the rise of the Fromagier and a personal desire to produce this was an excellent time to do the course.

  4. Tanny Gill

    Wow , Simply amazing and very well structured …
    I have spent over 20 years in the cheese industry , over the years, I have made cheese , worked in retail , wholesale and importing and exporting , I have judged at various competition local and abroad. I thought I knew enough about the cheese world, but after speaking to Tracey when I started the course, it was absolutely amazing and just what i needed !! the structured way of the course and the layout of the modules has helped me put all my years experience in a more systematic way and helped me uderstand the cheese world lot better , looking forward to level 2 …
    I do recomend anyone who loves cheese to do the course …

    • Tracey

      I am glad you enjoyed the course Tanny, and yes it is the structure that really helps to concrete all the knowledge gained over many years experience AND then always more to learn about cheese! See you on Level 2!

  5. Tracey (verified owner)

    This course is very comprehensive. As a cheese educator looking to plug any gaps in my knowledge it was exceptionally good value for money and a good use of my time. The quizzes along the way were helpful and the tasting guide and wheel were easy to use. I would like a black and white large print version of the wheel as some of it was difficult to read with my eyesight.
    Over all a great course I highly recommend. I would go on to further study but finding some of the cheeses needed for the later modules is impossible in the middle of nowhere, Canada – where I live.
    As a Cheesemaker I found the information on coagulation particularly useful. I know that it happens but was missing the why. Thank you.
    Tracey from

  6. Nick Fordy

    I had a great time being taught Level 1 on line with Charlie Turnbull. He was engaging and enthusiastic and full to the brim with interesting cheese stuff just bursting to come out! I was a little apprehensive at first about studying and tasting cheese over the ether via the internet but I needn’t have worried, being able to taste the actual cheeses that Charlie had too was as straightforward as it could possibly be. Thoroughly enjoyed the two hour sessions each week, learning and trying cheeses…what is not to like?! Highly recommend Charlie Turnbull’s course as a way of studying for the Level 1 exam or just learning more about cheese from someone who really knows.

  7. Ian (verified owner)

    I’m really glad I decided to embark on this course. I have been making cheese for nearly three years and have made over 60 with an increasing rate of success. The technical aspects of level 1 therefore held no unexpected challenges but it was very useful to gain a broad overview of the process from milk to retailer, presented in an exemplary way with useful testing as you go. The documentation for the course is first class and the cheese profiles are the clearest descriptions of cheeses I have yet to find. I am now on a roll and I really want to get level 2 and maybe even level 3. At the age of 73 it could be said that I have left it too late, but the acquisition of a passion can energise and rejuvenate. Bring it on !!

    • Rachel

      Thank you Ian for your in-depth review. Best of luck with your Level Two studies and wishing you all the success with your future cheesemaking. If you ask us, it’s never too late to study something you have a passion for!

  8. andrusca78 (verified owner)

    As a food blogger and writer I often wanted to write about cheese as I love it so much, but never had the words for it. My blog is in Romania, a country with tradition in cheese making, but no actual school in cheese making or cheese tasting and with a lot of consumers interested in artisan cheeses from all over the world. In the last 2-3 years cheese shop have emerged in big towns and cheesemongers (schooled in UK, France or Switzerland) started their own small artisan cheese business. I haven’t lost time thinking twice when i found the courses! I have just pased my Level one and can’t wait to enrol for the next step. I work as a chef in UK so my schedule is all over the place, but the way the study is thought is absolutely amazing! You can fit it around a busy life and busy work environment. The courses are such a great way to gain all the knowledge you need in the cheese tasting and pairing universe! The support and guidance is fantastic, the cheese library, masterclasses, reading recommendation, everything is amazing! For me is just a tiny step on this road, but now I know what I am talking and writing about 😊😬. I am definitely more confident in writing about cheese for my blog. 🧀🧀🧀❤️❤️❤️

    • Rachel

      Thank you Andreea for your review. It’s great to hear how our courses are helping students around the world. Good luck in your food service career and with your blog also! We look forward to helping you with the next stage of your cheese studies.

  9. Deborah

    As a food and travel writer with a love of cheese, this course was fabulous, I now know so much more about how cheese is made and the processes that the different cheeses go through to become their unique selves. Learning the skill and vocabulary of cheese tasting has been hugely informative and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my first 25 cheeses. I now converse with cheesemongers in an entirely different way. Patrick’s online teaching style was a balance of friendly on-topic talk and nitty gritty information which aroused my curiosity to learn more. Thoroughly recommend.

    • Rachel

      Thank you Deborah, we’re really pleased you enjoyed the course, and hope it will help with your writing.

  10. Clive (verified owner)

    Having just completed my level 1 exam, I have already signed up for the level 2 course!
    That surely speaks volumes on how highly I rate the course.
    Offering a cheese selection in the farm shop I work in, learning more about cheese seemed a no brainer to me. The knowledge gained though the course has enabled me to offer more informed information to my customers and as such our sales of cheese has increased.
    The contents and resources were fantastic, well structured to guide you through each step.
    I’m so looking forward to level 2

    • Tracey

      Thank you Clive, it is fantastic to hear your sales of cheese have increased too!

  11. Rebecca

    Really enjoyed the in person session at the Paxton and Whitfield cheese shop (May 2022), as well as the self study elements.

    I feel that the quizzes throughout the course material were almost too easy, so they didn’t accurately reflect the level of difficulty of the exam questions, which was much higher. I was also disappointed not to be able to review the questions I’d gotten wrong from the exam.

    • Tracey

      Thank you for your review Rebecca. We really appreciate your feedback on the knowledge check questions. It’s our policy not to give out the exam questions however we can tell you what modules they were from. Congratulations on passing!

  12. simontakashina1223

    I completed this course in just 2 days! I was passionate about cheese before I started, but I came out of it with more love and curiocity about cheese than before. I can`t wait to start Level 2.

  13. john (verified owner)

    Already signed up for level two :). It was a great start to understanding and appreciating cheese.
    It was a treat to taste the 25 recommended level one cheeses 🙂 ( all but one which i am looking for the usa 🙁 ) A+

  14. Laura

    Very enjoyable course. The classroom day at No. 2 Pound Street was brilliant – I learnt such a lot, and gained a huge appreciation of the wide variety of cheeses and how to taste them. Thanks so much!

  15. Lindsay

    I learned so much from this course. The information (and the cheese) was easily digestible, and the assessment questions helped benchmark where I was with my knowledge base. I will definitely be signing up for level 2!

  16. Karen

    This course is easy to navigate and really enjoyable. I learnt more than I expected and now have more confidence to move ahead with my new venture of opening a cheese shop!

  17. Natalie

    I completed this course in person at Quicke’s, trained by Sam Wilkin who imparted his great knowledge and passion for cheese throughout the day. We walked around the farm and observed the cheese being made which really helped to bring the theory to life. Great educational course with good supporting material.

  18. Игорь (verified owner)

    Interesting course.

  19. Cátia

    Great course. I did an in-person session, and I’m grateful to be able to taste a different cheese that I don´t know. It’s an interesting course, with information about all the steps of processing to selling and conservation. I recommend it.

  20. ROBBY (verified owner)

    I took this course online.The theory was well presented in modules with quizz questions to make sure you understood the material.I found the cheese library for level one to be very helpfull.Tasting notes could be improved perhaps.i found the tasting part of the course to be quite a challenge since some of the cheeses arent available here in Israel.i hope to continue with level 2…but will have to figure out how to get 80 more cheese types.😃…i recommend level one to all cheese lovers around the globe.

  21. Loanna (verified owner)

    Fantastic course! Easy to access and to study. Material and library well organised. I have studied new cheeses that I’ve never heard and tasted.

  22. Sarh

    Fantastic course, easy to study online between and after the Zoom classes. It has added so much to my knowledge of cheeses so thank you!

  23. Andrew

    Very informative. Covers a broad spectrum: history, production methods, attributes & tasting. An excellent cross section of cheeses were provided for tasting and analyzing. Also of note is the good documentation and excellent on-line materials

  24. Paul

    I really enjoyed doing this course and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in cheese, whether they be professional or just a cheese enthusiast. The cheese we had to taste certainly takes you through a range and the notes that came with them were comprehensive. The way the course is put together allows for different styles of learning so even if you don’t take it all in in one go, you can go back over it as many times as you need. Seriously thinking about doing level two!

  25. Sarah

    Fun, engaging and incredibly informative – can’t wait for the next level!

  26. Dan

    Thank you for Creating AOC online course!
    So happy to see that cheese can be recognised as much as wines is!
    The AOC Associate onlines modules are very clear and understandable.
    The 12min video is very interesting and gives a great explanation about cheese making.
    Thank you again and looking forward studying Level 2!
    From Dan, French living in Singapore.

  27. Tracey

    Such a good introduction to the professional world of cheese. Really useful learning; with Patrick Mcguigan imparting his knowledge in a way that was easy to remember. Great course mates from around the world which gave the course an added dimension. Looking forward to Level 2.

  28. Alvaro

    A very complete and educational course. Very happy to learn every time more about this wonderful world of cheese. Greetings from Peru!

  29. Tom

    Very well presented.
    I’ve been away from working with cheese for a few years and this course has reignited my interest..will definitely be doing Level 2.
    Thank you.

  30. Boris (verified owner)

    Thanks to the academy for an interesting and exciting course.🧀

  31. Garth

    Fantastic to see all the hard work the Academy has put into this course. I work in the cheese industry and have been keen to get certified through AOC for a few years now. Very happy to be on my way.

  32. Svein Erik

    I took the course over a year ago with Charlie Turnbull as instructor. The intention was then to see how you did the courses since I hold many courses in Norway. The course was very good and a slightly different approach than what we normally have in Norway.
    It has become an example to follow. Now I sign up for Level 2

  33. Priscilla

    I took this course to learn more cheese. Being an Asian, cheese consumption is not native. Through this course, I am better to understand the world of cheese. The systematic tasting approach is very helpful in me to better appreciate cheese and communicate effectively about cheese. Thank you Academy of Cheese, whilst not yet an expert, I am certainly not a noob!

  34. Alicia

    I studied this course during lockdown and it was so helpful and informative it is a great start for anyone who is wanting to learn about cheese even if you are not in the industry itself. Very effective learning plan I love how the modules are all laid out and how there is no time limit so I could study at my own pace throughout the course. I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who has a keen interest or passion for cheese.

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