Associate Certification.

For individuals new to cheese study, this certification provides a hands-on introduction to the world of cheese. You’ll explore the main types and styles of cheese through sight, smell, and taste, while also gaining the skills to describe them (and much more). Upon successful completion you will receive an Academy certificate and lapel pin.​

About this Certification

Want to learn more about cheese? Then Level One is for you! Becoming an Associate of the Academy of Cheese is the first step to developing a greater understanding and appreciation of cheese.

The course will introduce you to the Academy’s own Structured Approach to Tasting and you will discover a range of tools to help you communicate more effectively about cheese. You’ll learn how cheese is made, how to assess quality, understand the provenance and range of cheese available. You will study and taste 25 iconic cheeses before you’re ready to sit your online exam and gain your first Academy of Cheese certification.

What will I learn?

In this course, you’ll learn everything you need to know to take your Level 1 exam and become an Academy of Cheese Associate. You will learn the correct way to taste cheese, how to present it, how it’s made and much, much more.

Here are the 9 modules which structure the 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.


How to Study

There are three ways you can study for your certification:

Assessment criteria

The online examination can be taken after you have completed 6-8 hours classroom study and 12-24 hours of home study (including cheese tasting!). The Learning Road contains ‘knowledge check’ questions which test your progress as your study and help prepare you for the exam. Accreditation is awarded to delegates that achieve 24 marks and above (from a possible 30 questions) in our multiple choice, 30 minute exam. If you fail fear not, you can always try again for a small retake fee of £15.

The multiple choice questions are taken from the nine standards of learning outlined above.  The current pass rate is 91%.

Why should you get certified?

If you’re working in the cheese industry…

As an industry recognised course, exam and accreditation, it is a must-have for cheese professionals looking to enhance their career or get started in the cheese industry. You will benefit from:

  • An expert knowledge of cheese and its industry
  • Access to educational resources including cheese library access
  • Networking opportunities
  • Be part of the fastest growing professional cheese network
  • Enhance your career (or start a new one)
  • Distance yourself from the competition

If you’re a cheese lover …

Studying cheese will increase your enjoyment and appreciation of cheese by broadening your knowledge of cheesemaking and your understanding of provenance and variety of cheese. So, if you want to:

  • Gain a greater appreciation for cheese
  • Increase your enjoyment of cheese
  • Expand your skill set
  • Explore cheese more widely
  • Communicate about cheese more confidently
  • Joining a global cheese community

Who should get certified?

Frequently asked questions

In this course, you’ll learn everything you need to know to take your Level 1 exam and become an Academy of Cheese Associate. You will learn the correct way to taste cheese, how to present it and more…

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, Level One is open to all!

Absolutely. You can study online with the self guided eLearning platform, anytime that suits you. You could also study live with a Training Partner in their virtual classrooms, just check the time zones work for you!

You will need access to a computer and internet to access the Learning Road and take the exam.

If you are studying in a classroom, yes it will include a cheese tasting. If you are studying in a virtual classroom, you can choose to either have a cheese delivery or shop for your own, simply select the best option for you at checkout. If you are studying via the eLearning platform then you will need to source your own cheese, the perfect excuse for a trip to the cheesemonger!

You have 30 minutes to take the exam and there are 30 multiple choice questions.

Of course. If you aren’t successful first time, you can retake the exam for a small fee of £15.