SHE Level 2
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M2B426451
Module Leader Emma Kinrade
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Human Nutrition and Dietetics
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Successful completion of Fundamentals of Human Physiology and Essentials of Nutritional Science

Summary of Content

The aim of this module is to give students an overview of research methods used within the field of Nutrition and Dietetics, specifically within the subject area of human energy balance. It allows the student to develop an integrated approach to physiology and nutritional assessment and examines the principles behind the measurement of energy intake, energy expenditure and body composition. Students will develop skills and knowledge on assessment of energy and nutrient intake, gain practical experience in measuring energy expenditure by indirect calorimetry and assessing body composition using a variety of methods e.g. skinfold thicknesses, bioelectrical impedance analysis, waist circumference, waist hip ratio, waist -height ratio. Students will develop skills in the analysis and interpretation of food, nutrition and body composition data. Assessment is via a laboratory report critiquing methods of analysing human energy balance and a Data analysis and interpretation exercise.


Introduction to research purpose and importance. The principles of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Examples from Nutrition and Dietetics used in various settings for measuring populations, groups and individuals. Skills in descriptive statistics, analysing data on food and nutrient intake. Introduction to inferential statistics used to interpret food and nutrition data. The uses, limitations and validation of different methods of measuring or estimating energy intake, including: prospective methods (Weighed / unweighed intake, food diaries) and retrospective methods (24-hour recall, diet history, food frequency questionnaire). Choosing methods for measuring dietary intake in population groups and at an individual level. Strengths and weaknesses of different dietary assessment methodologies. The uses, limitations and validation of different methods of measuring or estimating energy expenditure e.g. direct calorimetry; indirect calorimetry; activity records; doubly- labelled water; heart-rate recording; accelerometer devices (pedometers, Activpal, Physical activity apps,); prediction equations for estimation of BMR; use of physical activity ratios (PAR) and Physical Activity Levels (PAL) The uses, limitations and validation of different methods of measuring body composition e.g. body density by underwater weighing (hydro-densitometry) and air displacement plethysmography (BODPOD); Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA); skinfold thicknesses; bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA); Body Mass Index (BMI) and its limitations; Body volume index (BVI); other anthropometric measurements including knee-height, demi-span, ulna length, sitting height; waist-hip ratio; waist circumference; waist-height ratio; mid-upper arm muscle circumference. An introduction to somatotyping. The measurements included in the restricted profile as advocated by the International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK) which encompass 8 skinfolds, 5 girths, 2 breadths, stature and weight.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Demonstrate an understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods in the context of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.2. Differentiate and evaluate the various dietary assessment methodologies used in the measurement of human energy intake. 3. Appraise and apply the principles and theories of various techniques used to measure body composition.4. Appraise and apply the principles and theories behind methods of measuring and estimating human energy expenditure.5. Analyse and interpret data related to human energy balance using descriptive statistics.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The principals of research methodology are covered in lectures. The application of different research methodologies in Nutrition & Dietetics is illustrated by examples and delivered in a series of lectures, seminars and workshops. Introduction to grading evidence, guidelines, systematic review and meta-analysis. A theoretical base in the assessment of energy intake, expenditure and body composition is provided by a series of lectures while the laboratory classes provide the practical application of the theory. Students work in groups of 3-4 within practical classes to develop team working skills. Practical classes will be used to allow students to become familiar with measurement methodology. Students will gather individual and group data throughout the practical classes to be analysed in the assessment. The strengths and limitations of different research methodologies in Nutrition and Dietetics will be explored to develop skills in evaluation and critical appraisal. GCU Learn is used to deliver some material in the module via narrated power points, Live lectures, Q&A sessions, Online assessments: short answer questions. To deliver this the team use technologies such as GCU VLE (GCU Learn, including Collaborate Ultra) and PADLET.

Indicative Reading

Bowers DA (2014) Medical statistics from scratch: an introduction for health care professionals. 3rd Edn. Chichester, John Wiley. Bowling A (2014) Research methods in Health: investigating health and health services. 4th Edn. Open University Press DEPT OF HEALTH (1991): Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. LONDON: HMSO (Rep. on Health and Social Subjects). GANDY, J (2019): Manual of Dietetic Practice. 6th Edn. Wiley Blackwell. GEISSLER C & POWERS H (2017): Human Nutrition (13 th Edn.). OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS GIBSON, RS (2005): Principles of Nutritional Assessment. 2nd Edn. OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS GREENHALGH, T (2019) How to read a paper: The basics of Evidence-based Medicine and Healthcare (6 th Edn.) Wiley Blackwell LEE R & NIEMAN D (2013): Nutritional Assessment. (6th Edition) McGraw Hill McARDLE WD, KATCH FI & KATCH VL (2015): Essentials of Exercise Physiology. (5th Edition) LIPPINCOTT, WILLIAMS & WILKINS POLGAR, S. D. & THOMAS, S. A., 2019. Introduction to Research in the Health Sciences. 7th ed. Elsevier (e-book available) SACN (2011) : Dietary Reference Values for Energy Available from: <> WHITNEY E & ROLFES S (2016) Understanding Nutrition 14th Edn Brooks/ Cole WEBB, G (2019) Nutrition: Maintaining and Improving Health 5th Edn Hodder Arnold.

Transferrable Skills

Investigation / retrieval of information Group work skills Proficiency in anthropometric measurements Proficiency in indirect calorimetry Data handling, analysis and interpretation Report writing Critical evaluation of relevant literature Descriptive statistics Computer literacy, digital participation

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Practicals (FT) 22.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Tutorials (FT) 6.00
Independent Learning (FT) 122.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Seminars (FT) 6.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 02 n/a 50.00 35% Data analysis and interpretation. 2000 words
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 35% Laboratory report critiquing methods of analysing human energy balance. 1500 words