University of Chester

Programme Specification
Obesity and Weight Management PGCert
2015 - 2016

Postgraduate Certificate

Obesity and Weight Management

Obesity and Weight Management

University of Chester

University of Chester


Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1-2 years

3 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Clinical Sciences and Nutrition

No definitive postgraduate subject benchmarks exist. The programme has been aligned to the QAA framework for higher education qualifications level 7 benchmarks to identify generic characteristics.

Clinical Sciences and Nutrition

Thursday 16th April 2015

The programme aims to develop an understanding of the principles of obesity and weight management for individuals, groups and populations. The programme aims to develop key knowledge and skills in a number of areas relating to weight management including diet, exercise and behaviour change. In addition the programme aims to;

  • Provide an opportunity for students to advance their knowledge, understanding and skills and improve their capacity to contribute effectively to the promotion of evidence-based practice in obesity and weight management.
  • Provide an opportunity to evaluate scientifically the evidence base and the links between diet, exercise, behaviour change and weight management
  • Meet the market demand for professional development opportunities and qualifications in obesity and weight management for health professionals that will help local authorities and the NHS address obesity and weight management.
  • Provide a framework for the development of collaborative inter-professional learning in the context of obesity and weight management.

Knowledge and Understanding

*Graduates will be able to demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge and a critical awareness of current issues and/or new insights at the forefront of obesity and weight management;

  • The obesity epidemic will provide students with a depth of understanding and awareness of the current issues and challenges of obesity and weight management, including the prevalence of obesity both nationally and internationally, the causes of obesity including diet, exercise, economic and social factors and the health consequences of obesity at an individual and population level
  • The role of diet in obesity and weight management will explore the evidence base on a range of dietary approaches to weight management and their role in the maintenance of health and weight and in the prevention or aetiology of disease, dietary requirements and dietary intervention at an individual and population level
  • The role of exercise in obesity and weight management will explore the evidence base on the impact of exercise on obesity and weight management, including the role of physical activity and sedentary behaviour, exercise prescription for individuals, groups and the population (including lab practical's on physical activity)
  • The role of behaviour change in obesity and weight management will explore the evidence base on behaviour change theories and approaches and their application to weight management at the individual and population level
  • Causes and assessment of obesity will explore the evidence based including a range of methods, assessments and techniques in relation to body composition, energy expenditure, food intake.
  • Childhood obesity will explore the prevalence, causes and consequences of childhood obesity and explore a range of interventions at both the individual and population level across a range of populations including pregnant women and early years
  • Research methods will provide students with an in depth understanding and awareness of research and data collection and practical's which will provide students with an introduction to data analysis and statistics

* The above outcomes will be dependent on module choices and exit award (i.e. PG Cert, PG Dip, MSc)

  • Contextualise, synthesise and critically evaluate the evidence base and research literature, including data and policy documents
  • Ability to critically appraise the strengths and weaknesses in research methods and the wider research literature in order to understand
  • A problem based approach is adopted for a number of modules and a critical analysis is required throughout
  • Demonstration of originality in tackling and solving problems and the ability to act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks throughout the course

  • Laboratory classes and practical's are included in a number of modules, including exercise and weight management and causes and assessment of obesity
  • Ability to record, collate, analyse, interpret and report data using appropriate and statistical methods, this is central to the programme
  • Ability to plan, conduct, analyse and report on research into an aspect of obesity and weight management, in a safe and ethical manner. 
  • Although not designed as a professional qualification the programme includes the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of professional skills of relevance to practice within the field of weight management.

Communication skills

  • Ability to cite and reference work in an appropriate manner
  • Ability to critically evaluate the evidence base in relation to obesity and weight management and communicate conclusions to a range of audiences in a range of formats e.g. written and oral

Numeracy and problem solving skills

  • Ability with minimal guidance to receive and respond to a variety of complex sources of information: textual, verbal, numerical and graphical
  • Ability to carry out sample selection; record and analyse data in the field and/or the laboratory; ensure validity, accuracy, calibration, precision and highlight issues that may arise
  • Ability to process, interpret and present complex data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods, statistical programmes, data sheets and programs for presenting data visually
  • Ability to solve problems by a variety of methods both autonomously and in groups

Information literacy and technology

  • Proficiency in the use of the internet and other electronic sources as a means of communication and a source of information 

Working with others

  • Ability to identity individual and group goals and responsibilities and perform in a manner appropriate to these roles
  • Ability to recognise and respect the views and opinions of others
  • Ability to self reflect and evaluate contribution and performance as an individual and member of a group, evaluate the contribution and performance of others

Improving own learning and performance

  • Demonstrate the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (e.g. working independently, organisations and time management skills
  • Ability to identify and work towards targets for personal, academic and professional development
  • Ability to develop an appropriate, adaptable, flexible and effective approach to study and work 

The PG Cert involves the study of at least two comp modules and one option module. One comp module must be XN7201 The Obesity Epidemic.

Each module comprises 200 hours of total student study time which is split broadly as below:

  • An intensive course of lectures, seminars, group discussions, laboratories and practical activities (delivered over three to four days)
  • Practical activities and support tutorials
  • Self-directed study 
  • Students prepare an assignment using the Module Resource Pack, on-line learning resources and primary research journals. The specific assignment requirements are set out in the module descriptors but are each equivalent to a 4000 word written assignment.

Each module is worth 20 Level 7 Academic Credits.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
XN7201 7 The Obesity Epidemic – weight management as a public health issue 20 Comp
XN7202 7 Causes and assessment of obesity 20 Optional
XN7203 7 Dietary Approaches to Weight Management 20 Comp
XN7204 7 Exercise and Weight Management 20 Comp
XN7205 7 Behaviour modification in weight management 20 Comp
XN7207 7 Childhood Obesity 20 Optional
XN7209 7 Research Methods and Data Analysis 20 Comp

60 Credits at level 7 entitles the students to a Postgraduate Certificate.  Students must select at least 2 comp modules and 1 option module. One of the  comp modules must be XN7201 The Obesity Epidemic.

  • Minimum 2:2 honours degree (or equivalent) in a related subject areas
  • Other related/unrelated subjects will be considered on an individual bases
  • Experience within the field may also be considered
  • An interview may be requested for those with non-standard qualifications

There are at present no definitive post-graduate subject specific guidelines, therefore the generic level 7 QAA criteria and benchmark statements have been used to guide programme developments. Listed below are the seven QAA generic criteria (a-g) mapped to the programme.

a) systematic understanding of knowledge;

These aspects will be developed in all modules of the programme.

b) critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice;

These aspects will be developed in all modules of the programme.

c) a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;

These aspects will be developed in all modules but most notably in XN7202 (Assessment of overweight and obesity), XN7209 (Research Methods and Data Analysis)

d) originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;

These aspects will be developed in all modules of the programme, the core modules, will reflect the current knowledge in the field. Research on obesity and weight management is constantly evolving, for example in XN7203 (Dietary approaches to weight management) the research literature, guidance and policy documents changes regularly and the module provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to interpret this changing field.

e) conceptual understanding that enables the student: (i) to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline (ii) to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses;

These aspects will be developed in all modules of the programme most notably in XN7203 (Dietary approaches to weight management), XN7204 (Exercise and weight management), XN7205 (Behaviour modification in weight management) and XN7206 (Pharmacotherapy, surgery, supplements and alternative methods). For point (i) and XN7209 (Research Methods and Data Analysis)

f) deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audience;

These aspects will developed in all modules but most notably in XN7202 (Assessment of overweight and obesity), XN7205 (Behaviour modification in weight management)

g) demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;

Students will engage in these aspects in all modules.

Learning, Teaching and Assessment methods

  • The programme is delivered by a mix of: academics from the University of Chester and other UK universities; healthcare professionals from a range of disciplines; and other visiting lecturers with appropriate specialist knowledge and skills.
  • The programme is comprised of series of taught modules each delivered over a three to four day, 25 hour short course followed by a period of directed learning and the submission of a 4,000 word assignment, or its equivalent.
  • A diverse range of teaching and learning modes are utilised for this programme (lectures, seminars, group activities, case studies, student presentations, laboratory classes and practical activities). Independent learning following an intensive "taught" element is a key feature of the programme.
  • Throughout the programme students are encouraged to interact with the teaching teams through individual tutorials which may be face-to-face, by telephone or email. There is opportunity for formative comment on assignment drafts.
  • The formal modular programme is supported by a range of extra-modular workshops covering (for instance): e-learning and use of on-line resources (delivered by Learning Resources); high level information presentation skills; IT (including use of research software such as Nvivo); and specialist professional development activities.
  • Where appropriate, students are encouraged to take up placement opportunities / work experience with collaborating health-care units.
  • The above approach offers higher learning in a client-focused manner which suits the requirements of busy practitioners who wish to update their knowledge and skills.
  • Each module is assessed and must be passed at Level 7 and carries 20 credits.
  • Assessments are based around consideration of authentic problems and circumstances. Assessment tasks vary from module to module but include, for instance, preparation of reports, research posters, presentations, analysis of datasets.
  • Demonstration of critical thinking is essential to achieve the Level 7 requirements.
  • A minimum of 25% of assessed work is second marked in accordance with University policy. All dissertations are independently double marked.
  • Where a student fails to achieve the required standard the assignment must be revised and resubmitted in accordance with the recommendations made by the examiners.

Graduates from this programme will have both generic and subject specific skills as identified below:

Key generic skills include the ability to:

  • analyse key issues in a detached manner;
  • critically explore and reflect on research findings;
  • identify and define key issues for analysis;
  • design and apply appropriate research methods;
  • communicate results of research to peers and staff;
  • identify key research resources and references using a variety of mediums;
  • write clear and systematic reviews of literature;
  • plan and execute independent research projects;
  • write clear and concise research reports;
  • plan and deliver clear oral presentations;
  • work independently and in group situations.

Subject specific skills will include the ability to:

  • identify and describe the key competencies of the weight management professional;
  • identify and use key theoretical, behavioural, physiological and or, nutritional perspectives;
  • identify and analyse how contemporary themes have been informed by field advancements;
  • identify and analyse key problems in obesity and weight management;
  • ability to use knowledge, skills and understanding to enhance the health and well-being of individuals, groups and populations

The generic and subject-specific skills outlined above will mean that graduates of the programme will be well qualified to meet the growing demand for appropriately qualified obesity and weight management professionals within the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Graduates from the programme are highly sought after in numerous diverse areas including but not restricted to: continued postgraduate study, diet and physical activity work within Public health teams and health promotion teams.

The programmes of study in the Department of Clinical Sciences fully embrace the University's commitment to the active promotion of equality and opportunity.

The University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of age, gender, sexual orientation, racial group 9race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs of 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 requirements do not suffer discrimination and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.

the ultimate aim of the programme is to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and that all students can participate to the best of their ability.  The programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and that the diverse needs of our students are provided for. As 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 has been 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. The teaching staff work closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.
  • Supportive formative feedback is offered in all modules 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.
  • 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 made based on requirements.

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