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Boost your knowledge and skills in the relationships between diet, human development, health, and disease at every stage of our life.

Learn from leading scientists at Aberdeen’s Rowett Institute, one of Europe’s most prestigious nutrition research centres, with the added input of applied health specialists and clinical practitioners.

An ideal route to develop your career in health, fitness, research, food industry, government agency or other field – with all the advantages of distance learning.


Our nutritional requirements change throughout our life. We need the raw materials to grow rapidly as a baby, small child and adolescent, then to maintain our health as an adult, and eventually to stave off the frailty of old age.

This fascinating course looks at our nutritional needs at each stage, how these nutrients are used by the body, and what the products will be. You’ll gain detailed knowledge of the complex relationships between diet and human development, health, and disease – including the role of diet in the development of diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. You’ll also develop the skills required to select and critically appraise scientific evidence.

We’ve designed this course as career-boosting professional development for health and related professionals working in caring, fitness, food industry, government agency or other related profession, plus anyone with an interest in this topic so relevant to us all.

The programme has been specially designed by highly-experienced experts at the Rowett Institute in partnership with colleagues in applied health sciences and clinical specialties – ensuring that relevant experts are involved for each ‘life stage’ of the course. The Rowett is part of the University of Aberdeen and one of the leading and oldest nutrition research institutes in Europe. You’ll have access to tutors/scientists at the forefront of their disciplines who are publishing world leading research and who regularly advise governments, other agencies and the food and drink industry.

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.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of international profile, long experience, breadth of expertise, track record in research and teaching, plus 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 areas of health and medicine.

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 across the University was deemed ‘world-class’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Your course is designed 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. 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 can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or use your credits to progress to a full online Masters programme in Clinical Nutrition. This is also available fully online, for you to study at your own pace, at any location, and to suit your work and personal commitments.

What you'll study

Topics include diet and nutrition across the life course, integration and adaptability of different metabolic pathways eg starvation, exercise, and the role of diet in the development of diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Your programme is divided into units which each focus on one stage of life, beginning at conception and birth and moving through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood and the requirements of old age.

You’ll grow your knowledge and understanding of the relationship between nutrition and health at every stage, and how good nutrition can help prevent or mitigate the effects of disease. One particular area of interest at Aberdeen is the study of how early life experience influences the risk of developing disease later in life.

During the course you’ll also develop the skills required to select and critically appraise scientific literature, understand scientific reports, and be able to make your own judgement on evidence and how it could be applied. The wealth of modern research today ranges from scientists studying the nutrition and health over time of cohorts of individual subjects to complex cell biology research in state-of-the-art laboratories at Aberdeen and elsewhere.

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 using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

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, including access to a suite of learning resources and support.

Your course will be divided into weekly learning sessions consisting of videos, tutorials and course work. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to interact with your tutors, and with your virtual classmates on discussion boards.

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 family and learning community.


Your assessment will be made up of a social media presentation (30% of your total mark), a presentation on research data (15%), and a two-hour examination (55%).

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.

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.