University of Chester

Programme Specification
Public Health Nutrition PGCert
2017 - 2018

Postgraduate Certificate

Public Health Nutrition

Public Health Nutrition

University of Chester

University of Chester


Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year or 2 years part time

3 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Clinical Sciences and Nutrition

Standards in Public Health - specialist PHN

Clinical Sciences and Nutrition

Wednesday 13th January 2010

The programme aims to: 

1. Promote critical appraisal of the theory and the application of public health nutrition in policy planning and practice to improve the health of the population;

2. Enable students to identify nutrition-related public health problems at local and national level and fully understand the relevant aetiology;

3. Provide students with opportunities to explore and evaluate strategies that will contribute to the promotion of health through the medium of nutrition;

4. Provide students with an opportunity to develop further their critical skills and scientific understanding to enable to become reflective practitioners;

5. Promote inter-professional collaboration through academic debate and team-working approaches to learning;

6. Enable students to advocate appropriate public health policy from an evidence base and apply theory in health improvement;

7. Develop professional Public Health Nutritionists.

Knowledge and Understanding (XN7055; XN7064; XN7063; XN7065; XN7054; XN7062; XN7068)

Students will have an knowledge and understanding of:

  • Principles and practice in nutrition;
  • Relationships between food, nutrients, diet and health;
  • Connections between disease and diet;
  • The need for population-wide nutrition interventions;
  • Public health (in terms of physical activity, built environment, food and health) at biological, social and policy levels;
  • Research methodologies – study design, skills and techniques (from anthropometry and information on dietary intake to broader analytical skills, including literature search strategies, statistics, epidemiology, qualitative research methods, computing and information retrieval

Cognitive Skills (XN7055; XN7064; XN7063; XN7065; XN7054; XN7062; XN7068)

Students will be able to:

  • Consider ethics and values;
  • Work through problems as a basis for learning;
  • Problem solve analyse problems and make decisions;
  • Design, implement, manage, evaluate and report research projects;
  • Demonstrate advanced conceptual thinking;
  • Critically appraise published research and grey literature;
  • Evaluate critically the findings of scientific studies of public health;
  • Select and apply a range of appropriate research skills and techniques, from assessing impact of various exposures on food choice to anthropometry and information on dietary intake to broader analytical skills, including statistics, epidemiology, qualitative research methods, computing and information retrieval.

Practical and Professional Skills (XN7055; XN7064; XN7063; XN7065; XN7054; XN7062; XN7068)

Students will be able to:

  • Identify problem areas in the public health domain;
  • Conduct data analysis and make reasoned theoretical judgements;
  • Apply academic learning to simulated professional settings;
  • Apply theory in health improvement;
  • Engage in academic debate from an informed (evidence-based) viewpoint;
  • Improve health through support for healthier lifestyle choices or community development to improve access;
  • Design and deliver skills based educational sessions

Transferable Professional Skills

All the above skills are transferable skills and can be used in relation to the professional aspects of PHN within a framework of the Professional Codes of Conduct of a public health nutritionist (Association for Nutrition

Communication Skills (XN7055; XN7064; XN7063; XN7065; XN7054; XN7062; XN7068)

Key Skills

  • Communication
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology
  • Improving own learning and performance
  • Working with others
  • Problem solving

Students should be able to:

  • Work independently and self-manage learning; engage with others in small group/teamwork;
  • Communicate findings effectively both orally and in written scientific prose;
  • Take in information by reading and listening;
  • Provide information by speaking and writing. Handle information – application of numbers using scientific information;
  • Produce and interpret data;
  • Be confident about using, interpreting and manipulating numbers quickly and accurately. Work through data in a systematic and critical way;
  • Competently interact with and confidently use information technologies;
  • Work with others – playing a full part in a team and being clear about own responsibilities;
  • Improve own learning and performance – being able to plan and monitor own work and learning;
  • Plan and organize plan research on a short-term.

Each module comprises 200 hours of total student study time which incorporates:

  • An intensive course of lectures, seminars, group discussions, laboratories and practical activities
  • Support tutorials
  • Self-directed study

Preparation of an assignment using the module resource pack, on-line learning resources, textbooks and primary research journals. The specific assignment requirements are set out in the module descriptors.

Each taught module is worth 20 Level 7 academic credits.

Students study six compulsory core modules, covering essential knowledge, skills and concepts relating to Public Health Nutrition. Credit is awarded for the achievement of the learning outcomes of the modules. Modules are closely linked to the research and practice expertise of the staff concerned with delivering them. There is a commitment to the development of transferable skills within the curriculum and personal profiling as an aid to personal development supported through the Professional Perspectives Seminar programme. Key skills are incorporated in each module and also developed in a progressive fashion in keeping with national expectations of post-graduate capabilities. Benchmark statements (although limited in use for PG programmes) have been used to guide the content of the modules and mapping has been done. The following reference point was used in designing the programme: University of Chester teaching and learning policies, staff research and appropriate public health nutrition policy. In addition the Association for Nutrition UK Voluntary Register for Nutritionists criteria for Registration as a Public Health Nutritionist was used as a reference point and the ten competencies are mapped against the modules. 

The following module is optional and may be taken as Continuing Professional Development for those who do not have a science background. This does not form a core part of this programme:

  • XN6128 Physiology and Biochemistry of the Metabolism

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
XN6128 6 Physiology and Biochemistry of Metabolism 10 Optional
XN7054 7 Professional Perspectives 0 Comp
XN7055 7 Key Concepts of Nutrition 20 Optional
XN7062 7 Public Health Promotion and Policy 20 Optional
XN7063 7 Nutrition in Health and Disease 20 Comp
XN7064 7 Sociology and Psychology and Public Health 20 Optional
XN7065 7 Research Methods and Data Analysis 20 Optional
XN7068 7 Developing Healthier Communities 20 Optional

The PGDip comprises six core taught modules
The PGCert comprises three taught modules to include XN7063 Nutrition in Health and Disease, which is core to the PgCert
The PGDip and PGCert are all available as entrance awards (as well as exit awards)

Science degree (minimum 2:2) or non-science degree and experience (minimum 2:2)

Relevant experience in public health will be considered for all applicants in relation to non-standard entry. A route for those with a non-science degree exists and further information is available on request. Candidates are required to have studied biochemistry and physiology.

Candidates who do not have this background are provided with guidance relating to relevant study which can be undertaken, the successful completion of which will enable students to gain admission. 


Although no subject benchmark statement is available for PHN the curriculum has been developed with FHEQ indicators for outcomes at Masters level and has considered two key documents - Nutrition Task Force Project Team on Nutrition: Core curriculum for Nutrition in the Education of Health Professionals and the Public Health Nutrition Accreditation Guidance Notes (Association for Nutrition, 2013). In addition the launch of the Public Health Skills and Career Framework in 2009 (refreshed in 2013

The Programme will be delivered by a number of different methods.

Knowledge and understanding will be developed by the use of:

Plenary lectures to review current theory and practice, underpinned by research;

Independent, guided learning on key issues or scenarios to assist fundamental understanding;

Seminars and presentations to develop and demonstrate communication skills;

Critical debate - to engage in defending argument and develop the ethos of evidence-based practice.

Throughout, the learner is encouraged to undertake independent reading both to supplement and consolidate what is being taught/learnt and to broaden their individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.

Intellectual skills are developed through the teaching and learning programme. Each module, whatever the format of the teaching, involves discussion of key issues, practice in applying concepts both orally and in writing, analysis and interpretation of material, and feedback for learners on work produced.

In particular:

Intellectual skills are developed through lectures and group-work sessions, particularly illustrating data analysis, synthesis, evaluation and interpretation. Learning to apply intellectual skills to specific areas of nutrition achieved principally through practical and workshop sessions;

Plenary lectures underpinned by evidence-base, delivered to stimulate the student;

Group-based activity to assist with group working and decision-making;

Laboratory practical session to assist with scientific approaches to analysis;

All learners receive initial guidance on how to identify, locate and use material available in libraries and elsewhere. Comprehensive bibliographies are provided for each module at the outset, as are guidelines for the production of coursework and examinations.

Practical skills are developed by:

Nutrition laboratory classes where food and data handling is a key component;

Task-based learning;

Group work;

Research training (Excel, SPSS and NVIVO).

Transferable/key skills are developed through:

Independent guided and non-directed activities;

Professional Perspectives Seminars;

The use of computers to source, select, enter and present text, data and images eg SPSS and CompEat;

Task-based learning for example:

-interpret and synthesise different types of data used to analyse and assess nutritional -problems at population and population sub-group levels;

-disseminate and present findings of research in a range of formats and contexts;

Delivery of some IT skills and methodologies through lectures and workshops. Students are given guidance through personal tutors, and are encouraged to assemble a personal portfolio, providing evidence of key skills achievement complementary to subject mastery and specific skills. Transferable skills are embedded at the modular level and mapped with formative and summative assessments.

The variety of assessment methods employed all place great emphasis (as shown in their assessment criteria) on the learner's ability to demonstrate skills through the production of coherent written and oral responses either to problems or tasks set; Examples include;

Written assignments that critically review and cite key research papers;

Case studies which identify and formulate appropriate responses and intervention strategies to address nutritional issues, taking into account the public health and social policy contexts;

Live assessments demonstrating real life application of skills are used. 

Presentations; Preparation of research proposals;

Specific details are available in module specifications.

The programme content and development of skills base is mapped against the Map of Specialist Competences in Public Health Nutrition which in turn are mapped on the Standards in Public Health UK. Graduate characteristics will reflect these ten key areas and 51 competences. In this way the programme is intended to map against the National Career Framework for Public Health 2013.  The core competency framework developed by the World Public Health Nutrition Association for certification has also been a key document used to design the programme content (For more information see: Hughes, R., Shrimpton, R., Recine, E. & Margetts, B. (2011). A competency framework for global public health nutrition workforce development: A background paper. World Public Health Nutrition Association. Accessible

Graduates gain employment in the local government; health settings i.e. NHS; private industry i.e. Kellogg, Danone; national public health organisations i.e. public health observatories, Health Education England, Public Health England, Department of Health, Food Standards Agency; charities i.e. Children’s Food Trust; voluntary sector; research positions and international public health programmes i.e. UNICEF, World Health Organisation.

The programmes of study in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. The University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students. The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for. At a departmental level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality.

Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.

There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Inclusion Plans.

The induction activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues. Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.  

Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.  

Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking and the blue sticker scheme also enhance equal opportunity to all students. 

In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements. All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.

All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their PAT roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise.

The Chester MSc in PHN has many strengths and has received positive feedback over the years for its innovative and credible programme of study. Students encounter a wide range of teaching and learning experiences across level 7 study as befits the subject matter. Methods of teaching and learning, as indicated clearly in each module descriptor, are both traditional and innovative, providing a range of diverse forms to enthuse and engage the student in effective teaching and learning. Several members of the wider department (Clinical Sciences and Nutrition) contribute to the programme. Members of the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition have many years experience in offering distinctive programmes of study at postgraduate and post-experience levels in the field of Nutrition, Exercise and Public Health.

The programme is designed to take a problem-based approach, which is now recognised as a way of encouraging deep learning in a discipline. The philosophy of problem-based learning is to make the learning student centred that is giving the students responsibility for their own learning.

Modules include practical sessions, which provide the opportunity for students to develop their practical, data handling and analytical skills as well as their manipulative skills (e.g. handling equipment and food). An important feature of the programme is the opportunity it offers for group work, encouraging working with others. This is supported using case studies enabling students to work in a co-ordinated way to solve problems and exercises based on real life application. We have extensive connections with experts and organisations in the field of Public Health and Nutrition, established over the 10 years of the Programme and as new staff join the department.

The University has an intranet available to all students on or off campus. This offers access to a wide range of facilities including Learning Resources, the Library and all modular support materials. Staff use the internal intranet system to make additional support materials available for students. The Department has invested in a variety of research journals and databases which is an excellent additional resource for postgraduates.

Admission to the programme is based on requirements outlined in section 26. Additional modules from the undergraduate programme are available for those who fall short in pre-requisite areas. The programme is evaluated by students at both the module and programme level. The Department has introduced procedures for speeding up the response time to issues raised through these channels.

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