What role does diet play in the development of chronic diseases?

This is an advanced distance learning nutrition course open to anyone with a background in food and nutritional science.

Learn to use the tools and research methods of clinical nutrition as you study the part diet plays in preventing and treating chronic illnesses.

  • Explore the latest evidence linking specific dietary components with the onset and development of disease.
  • Examine the nutrient-gene interactions involved in disease development.
  • Learn how clinical nutrition research informs public health policy in the UK and around the world.

You’ll develop the skills to assess scientific evidence in this area and to advocate responsibly for better health through diet and nutrition.

Build credits towards a Masters degree

This online course is part of:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards either of these MSc qualifications.

What you’ll study

You’ll study the role of nutrition in disease, covering:

  • how the disease process affects metabolism
  • nutrient-gene interactions involved in disease development
  • how diseases change the nutrient requirements of the body
  • specific nutritional deficiencies in acute and chronic illness
  • metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gut health and cancer.

You’ll learn to use clinical nutrition tools so that you can investigate the role of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.

You’ll gain the skills to identify, understand and evaluate scientific evidence relating to diet and health.

Clinical nutrition and public health

Clinical nutrition evidence is vital to the development of public health policy frameworks, education and regulation.

You’ll explore:

  • the role of evidence-based health in maintaining and driving public health agendas
  • theories and application of a range of methods for behaviour change to improve health
  • theories of nutrition health education and nutrition health promotion
  • assessing the impact of nutrition and food policies at global, national and local levels.

Professional practice

This course unit explores the legal context of nutrition practice. You’ll develop the communication skills to advocate for better health through diet and nutrition, but also learn about your responsibilities and accountability in doing so. You’ll cover:

  • current UK and European legislation, national guidelines, local policies and protocols
  • clinical and corporate governance in relation to nutrition.

By the end of this course, you’ll understand…

  • The importance of nutrition in the maintenance of health and prevention of disease.
  • The role of diet in disease incidence and metabolic links between them.
  • The role of nutrition in metabolically compromised individuals.
  • How nutrient-gene interactions affect health and disease.
  • Research tools widely used in clinical nutrition research.
  • The importance of the nutrition research in maintaining and driving public health agendas.
  • The role and impact of nutrition and food policy, nutrition education and health promotion at a global, national and local levels.
  • The legal context of nutrition practice, including current UK legislation and guidelines for providing information to the public.

Learn with the Rowett Institute

For over 100 years, the Rowett has played a major role in informing UK government health policy and establishing the link between diet and health.

How you’ll study

Online learning

This distance learning Clinical Nutrition course is delivered part-time, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

This course is taught at Masters level by experienced nutrition researchers and academics.

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • videos
  • podcasts of lectures
  • slide shows
  • study notes
  • reading materials
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

This course is assessed entirely online via:

  • a video presentation (worth 50% of your final grade)
  • an online class test (50%).

The course totals approximately 150 hours of study and assessment time. That’s around 10 – 15 hours per week.

This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes. This includes time for independent study, as well as teaching and assessments.

You can largely set your own study hours each week to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.

Activities at fixed times

There may be some activities scheduled for fixed times, such as assessments with deadlines or online meetings with your tutor. But otherwise, you can access and work through the course at your convenience.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors via email, MyAberdeen, and phone. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

Your course coordinator

Dr Antonio Gonzalez Sanchez

Antonio is a Lecturer at the Rowett Institute. He is a neuroscientist with an interest in understanding the role of the brain in regulating food intake and metabolism. His research focuses on studying brain cells that detect nutrients; how they regulate appetite; and how metabolic disease may result from dysfunctional activity in these groups of brain cells.

View Antonio’s profile

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards our:

Masters in Applied Health Sciences

Fast-track your career in healthcare with our uniquely flexible MSc Applied Health Sciences. Study 100% online or combine with on-campus courses at our Foresterhill Health Campus. 10% discount for NHS staff.

View MSc Applied Health Sciences

Masters in Clinical Nutrition

Join an online Nutrition degree accredited by the Association for Nutrition. Study the link between diet and health, and how issues of over and undernutrition affect populations today. 10% discount for NHS staff.

View MSc Clinical Nutrition

Build your learning with more short courses

We have a range of online nutrition and healthcare courses you can use to build your skills.

Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications, including Masters degrees:


Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Why study nutrition online with the University of Aberdeen?

Pioneering research

Be part of a university leading the way in nutrition, women’s health, infection control and clinical scanning, transforming lives and medical practice around the world.

Unique expertise

Learn from tutors and scientists at the forefront of nutrition studies, publishing research into gut health, metabolism and obesity.

NHS and alumni discounts

NHS staff get 10% off this online course. University of Aberdeen alumni get 20% off.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.

But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.

If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.

Visa requirements

You do not need a student visa to study online with us.

English language requirements

Teaching is delivered in English.

You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.

Recommended level of English

This course uses our Postgraduate Higher level of English language proficiency.

These are our Postgraduate Higher requirements, and these are minimum scores.

IELTS Academic, IELTS UKVI Academic, and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)

  • 6.5 overall
  • 5.5 for listening and speaking
  • 6.0 for reading and writing

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition

  • 90 overall
  • 17 for listening
  • 21 for reading
  • 20 for speaking
  • 21 for writing
  • TOEFL DI code is 0818

Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency

  • 176 overall
  • 162 for listening and speaking
  • 169 for reading and writing

LanguageCert Academic/LanguageCert Academic SELT

  • 70 overall
  • 60 for listening and speaking
  • 65 for reading and writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken) – Online / In-centre

  • Overall High Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

Oxford ELLT Digital – English Language Level Test Online

  • 7.0 overall
  • 5.0 for listening and speaking
  • 6.0 for reading and writing

PTE Academic (online test not accepted)

  • 62 overall
  • 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing

For more information about language qualifications see our English Language Requirements page.

You will need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one for some interactive sessions.


We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your studies each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

Ways to save

You may be able to get help funding this course via:

  • discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
  • employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications to join this course. But you need to have a background in nutrition or food science to study it successfully.

This is an advanced nutrition course delivered at Masters level. At this study level you should have:

  • a 2:2 (second-class) degree in Biological Sciences or Life Sciences, or
  • professional or academic experience in nutrition or food science that supports this level of study.

This course has prerequisites

To join this more advanced nutrition course, you need to have completed the following courses:

They will prepare you for this more advanced course.

Apply for this course

Start date
27 January 2025
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