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An online short course introducing you to the latest techniques in assessing nutritional status and body composition of human subjects.

Learn from leading scientists and tutors at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition including experts from the Rowett Institute, one of Europe’s most prestigious nutrition research centres.

An ideal route to develop your career in research, food industry, government agency, health or other related profession, with the convenience of fitting your learning around your location, work and personal commitments.


Food is a hot topic rarely out of the news, and often for worrying reasons. Obesity – particularly in children – remains a major public health challenge across the world. Understanding the actual science of the impact of diet on health is fundamental in designing interventions to achieve healthier populations.

This short course gives you a detailed theoretical and practical understanding of the methods used to assess the nutritional status of a person, their dietary intake, and the nutritional composition of food. You’ll become familiar with performing dietary assessments, and the latest technology for determining the composition of a human body. You’ll also gain insight into current dietary guidelines and their issues.

We’ll help you integrate knowledge and understanding from a variety of sources to identify or propose solutions to improve human health through dietary interventions or changes in physical activity.

The course will be particularly relevant for health professionals, as a refresher for graduates who have already studied nutrition at undergraduate level, for scientists keen to move into the nutrition field, and as career-boosting professional development for people working in industry or government agencies.

The programme has been specially designed by highly-experienced experts at the Rowett Institute, part of the University of Aberdeen and one of the leading and oldest nutrition research institutes in Europe.

For over 100 years, the Rowett Institute has played a major role in informing government policy and establishing the link between diet and health. Priorities today include the major diet-related health issues of our time such as obesity, food inequalities and food security, as well as the sustainable development of Scotland's food industry. You’ll have access to tutors/scientists at the forefront of their disciplines who are publishing world leading research and regularly advise governments, other agencies, and the food and drink industry.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of international profile, long experience, breadth of expertise and track record in research and teaching plus our close links with the NHS on the Foresterhill health campus makes Aberdeen the obvious provider of first-class education in all areas of health. We have long been home to leading pioneers in nutrition and many other medical and health areas.

Aberdeen was ranked top in the UK in the Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science category of the most recent national Research Excellence Framework (2014) which assesses research strength across UK universities. Our Public Health research was rated top in Scotland, and over three-quarters of Aberdeen research was deemed ‘world-class’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Your course is delivered by experts at the University’s Rowett Institute, which has been responsible over many decades for ground-breaking nutritional research including the effect of milk on the growth of children, the development of partition chromatography, the establishment of the Food Standards Agency and the Scottish Diet Action Plan.

Strengthening its ambitions as a global leader in nutrition research, the new state-of-the art Rowett building includes a superb clinical investigation unit and metabolic research facility, a body composition suite featuring a bodpod, dexa and deltatrac, and a Human Nutrition Unit which puts Aberdeen at the forefront of research to validate the health benefits of food through human studies.

You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or as a taster to continue your professional development with a PgCert, PgDip, and progress to a full online Masters programme in Clinical Nutrition.

What you'll study

You’ll gain a detailed theoretical and practical understanding of the methods used to assess the nutritional status of a person, their dietary intake, and the nutritional composition of food. You’ll become familiar with performing dietary assessments and you’ll also gain insight into current dietary guidelines and their issues.

Nutritional assessment of food intake involves keeping a detailed food diary and then using sophisticated software to perform the calculations, measuring protein, alcohol, fat and other components being consumed.

You’ll also become familiar with the Rowett’s ‘bodpod suite’. Bodpods are state-of-the-art technology for measuring the body density of a human subject, from which can be calculated the percentages of fat and muscle.  

On completion of your course you’ll be able to integrate knowledge and understanding from all these sources to propose solutions to improve human health through dietary interventions or changes in physical activity.

How you'll study

This online, 12-week distance-learning short course offers all the flexibility and convenience to study when, where and how you choose, and to fit your learning around your location, employment and personal commitments.

Our online courses are delivered through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as self-contained units of learning taught and assessed to the same quality as our degree programmes, and developed specifically for an online audience.

We aim to create an online classroom and student community which enables you to enjoy the same learning experience as students on our full degree programmes.

You’ll be guided through your programme with podcasts of lectures, reading list, case studies, projects, and plenty of interactive discussion and support.

Through the online discussion boards and assignments you will develop your skills in critically appraising dietary, nutrition and health research methods, in order to understand the limitations of the scientific basis of nutritional knowledge.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you are not alone in your study. Contact with your course tutors may be by email, Skype or Facetime, and you can use social media and discussion boards to find and talk to your fellow students wherever they are.

Wherever you are in the world, as you enjoy the convenience of online distance study, you will still feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.


Our online courses are delivered through an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and have been developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities. 

The assignments for this course are designed to help you develop the skills you will employ in daily life as a nutritionist or related professional working in a variety of settings. These include presenting an academic poster and conducting a nutritional assessment of a client. 

Entry Requirements

A second-class honours degree in Biological Sciences or Life Sciences, or equivalent research or field experience. Minimum 2.2, 60% or GPA 2.4/4 or 3.0/5 overall. Please check the In My Country pages to find out if your degree is equivalent.

In exceptional circumstances applicants without this qualification may be admitted at the discretion of the course coordinator subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of experience, appropriate to the field of study.

All students entering the University, including online courses, must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study our programmes effectively. Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. For details of our pre-sessional English courses see our Language Centre website.