Duration and Mode of Attendance
The Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics is offered on a full-time basis only. Year 1 consists of two taught semesters with a 4-week hospital placement. Year 2 consists of two separate 12-week dietetics placements with four weeks debriefing between the two placements. For those students who meet the criteria and wish to proceed to MSc a research project is undertaken either in Semester III between Years 1 and 2, or in Year 2, Semester III after the completion of placement or on a part-time basis (three semesters) within three years of completion of the PGDip Dietetics.
Assessment Assessment for individual modules is through sessional examinations and cumulative assessment. Cumulative assessment will be a combination of essays, practical reports, seminar presentations and reports, poster presentations, tutorial assignments and class tests. Students who fail their Clinical Dietetics placements may be considered for the award of Postgraduate Diploma in Human Nutrition. The MSc Dietetics is based on the successful completion of the PGDip Dietetics together with a MSc research project and report.
This course is taught by academic staff who are part of the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE). The research undertaken by NICHE was part of the submission which was awarded the highest possible grade of 5* in the 1996 and 2001 UK wide, Research Assessment Exercises. In addition teaching within this area was rated 'Excellent' in the 1999 HEFCE Teaching Quality Assessment exercise.
Careers And Postgraduate Opportunities
There are excellent opportunities for graduates in the National Health Service, as well as the food industry, research and in health promotion.
Structure and Content
The first year of the course provides study of core modules in human nutrition and dietetics as indicated below. Students undertake 3 separate Clinical Placements (A, B and C) commencing in Year 1, Semester III.
Modules of Study for PGDip Dietetics
Applied Nutrition (15, level M): discusses nutrition through the life cycle and in common nutrition related diseases and their practical application. It also includes nutritional support and its application.
Nutrition and Metabolism (30, level M): the biochemical roles of the essential nutrients in metabolism, the possible aetiologies of major chronic diseases, and the postulated nutritional involvement of the disease mechanisms. It also critically reviews methods of assessing nutritional status.
Research Design and Statistics (15, level M): the planning and implementation of good research, including design of experimental investigations and the use of statistical methodology.
Dietetics (30, level M): an integrated study of the role of diet therapy in the treatment of disease. It builds upon concepts developed in Applied Nutrition in semester 1 to explore the rationale for the application of dietary modifications for patients with specific disease states and the means of evaluating dietary treatment. This knowledge is integrated with an understanding of the medical aspects of common disease states.
Dietetics Professional Issues Dietetic professional issues and regulatory structures, the NHS food service, management and communication principles, reflective practice and keeping a professional portfolio and an opportunity to sit the Basic Food Hygiene Certificate. This is an essential part of the preparation for clinical placement but is NOT a credited/examined module for the postgraduate dietetics course.
Public Health Nutrition (15, level M): provides a broad overview of the concepts of health, health belief, health promotion and behavioural change. It focuses on strategies for planning and evaluation of current health promotion and nutrition education, the scientific evidence behind nutrition policies and the principles of food labeling.
Food Science and Microbiology (15, level M): an integrated overview of the constituents, structure, deterioration and preservation of foods. The processing of food commodities, food poisoning and other hazards associated with food.
Sports Nutrition (15, level M): an introduction to the biochemical principles of exercise and sport, the role of nutrition and exercise in the prevention of disease and the importance of nutrition in enhancing athletic performance.
Nutritional Controversies (15, level M): the emphasis is on student-centred enquiry into controversial issues and critical analysis of relevant scientific evidence in oral and written presentations.
Literature Review (15, level M): an understanding of independent research techniques through the critical evaluation of published work in human nutrition.
Placement A (10, level 3): a 4 weeks placement in a hospital environment to introduce students to the work of a dietitian in clinical practice, the work of the hospital catering service in providing food for patients and practical work on foods, menu planning and dietary modification.
Placement B (60, level 3): a 12 weeks dietetics clinical placement at a Trust approved by the University for the training of Dietetics students, followed by 4 weeks debriefing at University.
Placement C (60, level 3): a 12 weeks dietetics clinical placement at a Trust where a student develops and consolidates his/her dietetics practice so that on completion of this module he/she is competent to practice as a basic grade dietitian. This placement is followed by debriefing and synoptic examinations.
. *Clinical Chemistry I (30 level M): an in-depth study of the concepts of clinical biochemistry associated with specific endocrine and metabolic diseases.
. * Clinical Chemistry II (30 level M): a critical appreciation of new biochemical processes used in clinical and research laboratories and the evaluation of the potential benefits of new therapeutic agents for the treatment of clinical disorders.
. *Medical Microbiology I (30 level M): a discussion of current practices in clinical diagnostic laboratories and emerging pathogens and epidemiology of antibiotic resistance.
. *Medical Microbiology II (30 level M): a discussion of the interaction between a microbial pathogen and its human host, pathogenic mechanisms and improved vaccines.
Depending on their previous study, graduates of the BSc Hons Human Nutrition and BSc Hons Food and Nutrition degree programmes from the University of Ulster may undertake modules marked *.
After the successful completion of the above programme (including placements) students will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics with eligibility for registration as a Dietitian with the Health Professions Council. Students who have a module average score of 50% or over may proceed to the MSc and undertake a research project (60, level M) over one further semester on a full-time basis (or three semesters on a part-time basis).
Satisfactory completion of the Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics provides eligibility for registration as a Dietitian with the Health Professions Council (HPC).