University of Chester

Programme Specification
Nutrition & Dietetics BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2015 - 2016

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)

Nutrition & Dietetics

Nutrition & Dietetics

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Campus and participating NHS-based dietetic departments

Undergraduate Modular Programme


Classroom / Laboratory,

4 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Clinical Sciences and Nutrition

QAA for Healthcare Programmes:  Dietetics (2001)

EQuIP Healthcare Education QA Framework (2005)

BDA Curriculum Framework for Pre-registration Education and Training (2014)

Health and Care Professions Council - approval under professional governance standards  

British Dietetic Association - curriculum accreditation

Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition

Friday 1st January 2010

The programme is fully supported by the National Health Service (NHS) and commissioned by NHS North West and in keeping with the philosophy of life long learning that is fundamental to the health professions, the programme aims are rooted in the development of appropriate attitude and skills together with the acquisition of knowledge and understanding.  The student will be enabled to: 

  • acquire an appropriate and relevant knowledge base, as a foundation for the understanding of health and its promotion, and disease and its prevention and/or management, in the context of either the individual or the population at large;
  • develop clinical and other transferable practitioner skills, to assist in the processes related to healthcare delivery or dietary intervention, or to execute research in order to advance the practice of dietetics;  
  • develop necessary attitudes for achievement of high quality dietetic practice, both in relation to delivery of care to individuals and to personal development. 

Theoretical basis for dietary intervention based on research evidence;
Integration of key medical and fundamental sciences;
Relationship between diet and health, and diet and ill health;
Relationship between dietary intervention and clinical outcome or quality of life.


Making a clinical or therapeutic judgement;
Reflecting 'in' and 'on' practice;
Evaluating the basis upon which dietetic intervention rests;
Evaluating the impact of concomitant interventions;
Demonstration of discernment during therapeutic approaches.
Practical Skills

Making competent judgements, based on presenting (case) information;
Making reasoned, and evidence-based approaches in every facet of care;
Handling data and information effectively;
Demonstrating competent practitioner behaviour (attitudes and skills).

  • Application of Number

Nutrition and dietetics requires the management of numerical data relating to individuals' health status and analysis of diet. The research dissertation, for example, epitomises the need for numerical skills, together with the management of personally collected research data and appropriate use of statistical data.

  • Information Literacy and Technology

In the context of nutrition and dietetics, the use of computer-based diet analysis packages together with the use of generic office technologies (word processing, presentations), data management technologies (databases, spread sheets),web-basedapplications and information retrieval technologies (use of the Internet, on-line databases,electronic patient care management systems).

  • Improving own learning and performance

The programme requires students to undertake self-guided and managed learning. This includes, for example, directed reading of named texts and primary research journals as well as personal research around the materials presented in the lecture programme.

  • Working with others

The working life of a dietitian impinges, and indeed in some cases is crucial, on group working skills. Dietetics is a profession that day by dayworks with and alongside other health care professionals and interacts with members of the public. The placements focus attention on the development of this skill area. Group-based activities that facilitate collaborative effort are central to the learning approach for a number of taught modules.

  • Problem solving

Dietetics is a profession that focuses on the provision of nutrition-related solutions to particular health circumstances - thus problem solving is an essential skill. The curriculum is designed to include a number of opportunities for problem-based or task-based learning. The Programme Planning Team favour the term "task-based learning" since this does not imply that a simple solution will be available for all circumstances - this reflects the real world of professional practice.
Transferable Professional Skills

Professional skills are mapped against modules or areas of the programme where they are first introduced and subsequently developed and assessed. The term 'clinical skills' is a composite term to conveythe clutch of skills involvedwithservice userinteraction including conduct of therapeutic interviews, eliciting information, using discernment, evaluation of data and communication of therapeutic information.They may include but are not limited to:

  • Small group work, with emphasis on inter-professional learning;
  • Work independently and manage own time and learning;
  • Communicate effectively with peers, specialists and lay groups;
  • Use of application of number and information technology effectively;
  • Demonstrate reflection as a device to improve self-performance;
  • Be a competent problem-solver anddemonstrate ability to work through principles.

Emphasis is given to communication with different groups (for example hospital patients and health service managers) or communication using oral or written means. The programme is constructed to ensure that students are given the fullest opportunity to develop this skill group in context to the role of dietitian, and using a relevant range of media.

The programme is mapped to the curriculum set by the BDA (2014) and is arranged into level themes which facilitate learning and take students through increasing complexity of subject areas, shifting from biological sciences (Level 4) through applied sciences (Level 5) and into the practitioner domain (Level 6).  The programme is arranged in a modular structure which enables the student to achieve 120 credits at each level; level-related learning outcomes within each discipline-specific module facilitate achievement of HE qualifications (FHEQ, 2008).

Level 4 (from molecules to society) brings together students from a range of backgrounds, providing an introduction to the scientific underpinning which establishes the foundation for study at levels 5 and 6. Core discipline knowledge and competency within the laboratory environment (essential practical techniques) are gained at this level. 

At Level 5 (from pathology to care) the student is taken through behavioural principles of health and processes common to body systems leading to the need for care or management.  Modules consider key concepts in greater detail, building on the foundations established in the first year while promoting development of enhanced practical skills.  The student is encouraged to explore these in depth, to develop beyond basic knowledge and skills, and is expected to attain higher levels of achievement in intellectual and transferable skills, as well as learning style. 

Level 6 (from intervention to clinical outcome) spans the third and fourth years of the programme, with emphasis on integrating key concepts explored in levels 4 and 5, adding breadth and depth of knowledge, and heightened awareness of current advances and practice in the discipline.  Students are expected to demonstrate greater levels of  independence as they become autonomous learners with the ability to apply knowledge, understanding and skills to the real-life situations.

Practice Placements A (Level 5), B and C (Level 6) provide opportunities for students to develop working knowledge and enhanced practical skills in context.  Progression of learning and achievement at these junctures are facilitated by a competency-based framework for assessment.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
BI4110 4 Essential Physiology 20 Comp
BI4111 4 Genetics and Evolution 20 Comp
BI4112 4 Cell Biology and Biochemistry 20 Comp
BI4113 4 Introductory Microbiology and Immunology 20 Comp
BI4114 4 Data Handling and Project Design 20 Comp
XN4120 4 Food, Nutrients and the Consumer 20 Comp
XN4125 4 Professional Perspectives I 0 Comp
BI5111 5 Biology of Disease 20 Comp
XN5112 5 Human Metabolism 20 Comp
XN5120 5 Dietetic Practice Placement A 0 Comp
XN5122 5 Human Nutrition 40 Comp
XN5123 5 Behavioural Aspects of Food and Nutrition 20 Comp
XN5128 5 Professional Perspectives II 0 Comp
XN5129 5 Research Methods 20 Comp
XN6113 6 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacology 20 Comp
XN6121 6 Health Improvement 20 Comp
XN6122 6 Diet Therapy & Nutrition Support 20 Comp
XN6123 6 Applied Dietetic Practice 20 Optional
XN6126 6 Key Concepts in Food & Nutrition Sciences 20 Optional
XN6127 6 Sports & Exercise Nutrition 20 Optional
XN6138 6 Dietetic Practice Placement C 0 Comp
XN6139 6 Dietetic Practice Placement B 0 Comp
XN6140 6 Dissertation 40 Comp
XN6146 6 Professional Practice 0 Comp

120 credits at Level 4 entitles the student to a Certificate of Higher Education (Biological Sciences)

240 credits at Level 5 entitles the student to a Diploma of Higher Educaton (Nutrition Sciences)

360 credits at Level 6 entitles the student to a Bachelor's degree:  100 credits obtained in year 3 and 20 credits in year 4 (360 credits accumulated; includes completion of Practice Placements B & C).

Exceptions are noted in Section 25 (Professional Body Requirements)



The minimum pass mark for each assessment component in a module is 40% to achieve an overall minimum pass at 40% in any module   

Students will normally be expected to undertake not less than 1000 hours of practical learning and experience outside the University, in Levels 5 and 6.

Exit awards at Levels 4 and 5 do not allow eligibility for registration with the HCPC

Completion of the Professional Perspectives modules XN4125 and XN5128 is essential for entering Practice Placement A; Completion of Professional Practice XN6146 is essential for progression from Practice Placement A to Practice Placements B and C.

Successful completion of all modules at Level 6 Year 3 (100 credits) is essential for progression to the fourth year of the programme.

Applied Dietetic Practice XN6123 must be successfully completed in order to obtain the approved and accredited degree award in Nutrition & Dietetics.

If Practice Placements B & C are not attempted, or are attempted but not successfully completed, a BSc (Hons) degree (Nutrition Sciences) may be awarded on the basis of 120 credits obtained at Level 6. If appropriate the module XN6123 may be replaced by one of the optional modules (XN6126 or XN6127). This award does not allow eligibility for registration with the HCPC.

Consistent with the University’s policy for widening access and participation, the programme has a flexible admissions policy, and encourages applications from mature students and from groups normally under-represented in higher education.  Suitable entry qualifications for the programme are predominately science based, and acknowledge the standards and guidelines set out by the HCPC (2014) and the BDA (2013) in their pre-registration training guidance documents.

  • 280-300 UCAS points, of which 240 points must be obtained from GCE and/or VCE A Levels (12 or 6 unit awards), including a minimum grade C in Biology and Chemistry or other applied science subject. The remaining points may be achieved from GCE and/or VCE A/AS Levels, VCE double award, or from Level 3 Key Skills certification
  • BTEC National Diploma/Certificate (Science): distinction/merit profile
  • OCR National Extended Diploma/Diploma: pass/merit profile plus GCE A Level Biology and Chemistry 
  • Irish Highers/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects, including Biology and Chemistry
  • International Baccalaureate 28 points, including Biology and Chemistry at 5 or above
  • be able to communicate in English to the standard equivalent to level 7 (overall score of 7.0) of the International English Language Testing System, with no element below 6.5
  • QAA approved Access to HE Diploma (Science - must include Biology plus either Chemistry or Biochemistry at Level 3), Open College Units or Open University Credits.
  • The Advanced Diploma: acceptable in combination with GCE A level Biology and Chemistry

GCSE at grade C or above in Mathematics and English Language is also required.  Please note: A BTEC National Award or the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer.  Candidates must also:

  • Visit a dietetic department for work shadowing experience prior to submitting an application for admission to the programme
  • Satisfy NHS health and ‘fitness for practice’ requirements
  • Agree to an enhanced DBS criminal record check
  • Satisfy requirements for UK residency as stipulated by the NHS Student Grants Unit

Applicants are invited for interview based on their academic qualifications and a supporting personal statement which demonstrates they have a genuine interest in studying on the programme and pursuing a career as a Dietitian; exceptional candidates with qualifications other than those outlined above (non-standard entry) may be interviewed to clarify their application.  The interview assesses each candidate’s interest, enthusiasm and motivation for the programme along with their communication and other skills as outlined in their application.  Evidence of having visited a dietetic department must be provided in the application and at interview.   Additional guidance and information regarding admissions requirements is made available to candidates during Open Day events and on the corporate web site.

Accreditation of prior learning

The University may grant exemption from parts of a programme by recognising relevant qualification and experience gained previously.   Information about accreditation of prior credited/certified or experiential learning (APCL/APEL) is available for candidates from whom this may apply.


If offered an NHS funded place on this programme, candidates are eligible to apply for an NHS bursary. Further details are available from the NHS Student Grants Unit.

Statements have been taken from those outlined in the Quality Assurance Agency for Healthcare Programmes (2001).  They represent the general expectations of standards for the award of qualifications at a given level and articulate the attributes and capabilities that should be demonstrated by individuals possessing such qualifications.  The programme has been mapped against these academic and practitioner standards (HCPC Standards of Proficiency, 2013; and Standards of Education and Training, 2014)

The programme of study is delivered using a variety of learning and teaching methods.  The learning and teaching philosophy of the programme embraces fully the notion of the independent learner, yet the student experience is enriched by some didactic teaching.  In addition, learning support is provided to meet the needs of the student who requires additional guidance.  The programme is delivered using a wide range of learning and teaching methods designed specifically to stimulate scientific enquiry and assist the student with the development of skills. Heavy emphasis will be placed on student participation rather than being the recipient of taught information.  The curriculum will be delivered to develop research-mindedness and will foster integration of disciplines using project-based learning (eg. data handling and project design, Level 4), task-based learning (eg. clinical subjects at Level 6), plus self-directed and collaborative learning (eg Professional Practice at Level 6).  

Learning and teaching: Examples include but are not limited to lectures, interactive lectures, discussion, seminars/presentations, simulated problems, project-based learning, web-based learning, laboratory/practical classes, task-driven tutorials and case studies, work-based/experiential learning.

Service Users contribute to the delivery of programmes, notably in practical and clinical teaching.  A number of teaching and learning activities in practical and clinical teaching involve sharing personal information, role play (as service users) and practising techniques specific to the profession, eg anthropometry, where learners will be asked to consent to participate. 

Practice placements are integral to the experience and are with NHS Northwest Dietetics Teams.  The tutors are part of the programme team at service level and are involved in the assessment of student learning and competence in practice.  Placement handbooks are used as a guide for preparing and supporting student learning and assessment on placement. All placement sites are quality monitored and assured and sites are routinely undertaken by University staff as part this process.  There are three placement opportunities for students within the programme which focus on practitioner knowledge and skills:   

Placement A (Awareness) - four weeks occurring in level 5 (year 2) of the programme. 

Placement B (Building) - 12 weeks in level 6 (year 4)

Placement C (Consolidation)12 weeks level 6 (year 4)

The University's level related criteria are a key reference when designing modular assessments. Transferable and employability skills are useful for guidance on level-related assessment. Therefore, progression towards more complex and involved assessments that require greater levels of study autonomy and greater levels of critical analysis, underpins the overall assessment strategy of the programme. Regular and structured formative assessment is a feature of the programme ensuring that students have regular and informed feedback on their learning.

In the context of Dietetics:  skill, knowledge and attitude assessment, which in part determines ability to apply information in the practical setting, is tested using unique assessment methods.  The range and scope of assessment methods delivered to students is entirely in keeping with the course philosophy of greater emphasis on student independence and skill development and less focus on formal examination.  This is in recognition that assessments play a crucial role in the learning experience.   Formative assessment is built into the learning experience via interactive class work, peer assessment of collaborative projects and reflective practice, in addition to oral and written feedback from tutors. Assessment modes: written assignments; seminar work: presentation, debate and defence of argument; formal examination; skills assessment by objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).

Assessment of practice placement learning is based on a competency framework which enables the student to develop progressively through each placement, and is illustrated in a 'Know-Can-Do' model of achievement.  In addition a personal portfolio is used, which prepares the student for continuing professional development (CPD) as required by the HCPC for continuing registration.  Evidence collated in the portfolio must therefore meet the learning outcomes and competence levels for each practice placement, which is assessed as pass or fail.  Reassessment of placement learning is by extended or repeat training, however under the BDA Curriculum Framework (2014) students should normally be allowed to extend or repeat no more than 500 hours of practical placement (or 50% of the minimum required hours) i.e. the maximum number of placement hours overall will be 1500.

Development of employability characteristics is enhanced across the programme through strong links with the Careers & Emplyability Service which contributes information and support sessions at each year level of the programme, in addition to their ad hoc availability to students.

For the most part, graduates are being prepared to enter careers within the NHS.  The benchmark statement mapping exercise highlights the graduate characteristics achieved at the completion of the programme (that is, at the point of Registration).  Whilst it is expected that most of each cohort will go on to careers within the Health Service, at least initially, the embedded transferable skills throughout the programme make the graduate very employable in other related fields. The primary output of the programme will be the dietitian as part of the healthcare workforce.  However, the increasing profile and interest in nutrition-related careers allows our graduates to widen their career routes into the fields such as the food industry, the retail pharmaceutical industry, health advisory posts, education, health promotion, policy-making agencies, research and medical publishing.

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 programme is 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 Disability Support Services in delivering this support through individualized Inclusion Plans.

  • The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are informed on 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 Individual Assessment and Feedback system also enhances 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 University has a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE - Moodle) available to all students and staff on and off-campus.  This facility offers access to a wide range facilities including Learning Resources, the Library (catalogue, databases, electronic resources – books, journals), and all modular materials – (module descriptors, lecture notes, assessment activities).  Staff increasingly use the Chester VLE to make additional support materials available for students, and to integrate blended learning strategies which facilitate experience and development of computer-based skills. 

In relation to the practice placement elements of the programme, there is a comprehensive Practice Placements Allocation Policy and Procedures published on the University intranet and VLE, detailing the information and systems in place for supporting students through the process.  Links to information about individual dietetic departments (placement providers) are included in this facility.  Prospective students may request an information leaflet about the practice placement provision.

The University also has a formal scheme in place such that each student within the University is allocated a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT).  The role of the PAT is central to helping the student make the transition to learning in Higher Education and to support academic progress through each year level.  Within the Nutrition and Dietetics programme it is ensured that during the last two years of the programme, students are allocated a tutor who is a Dietitian.  This is to ensure that the student has the opportunity for professional guidance in preparation for the practice placements, to consider the student’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of the professional needs for placement, and to facilitate communications with placement trainers. 

Within each level of the Nutrition and Dietetics Programme a series of professional development seminars (Professional Perspectives I & II in levels 4 and 5; Professional Practice in level 6) run in parallel to the academic modules.  These facilitate progressive development of key practitioner skills and attitudes as well as providing a forum for students to discuss, reflect upon and cultivate their learning experience across the programme, enabling practical application of those transferable skills which enhance employability.  These modules also provide opportunities for inter-professional learning: students engage with other health professionals through an online forum with a case-conference approach to resolving service user issues.

The programme team has a strong and active working relationship with our NHS partners, via stakeholder events, a Dietetics Programme Partnership committee, quality monitoring activities, and regional training workshops, all of which ensure that Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement agenda for academic and practice placement learning are met.  Recruitment interviews offer a further opportunity for Dietetic practice educators and service users to contribute to achieving equality and quality standards. 

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