MPH Public Health (Web-based Learning) / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Nutrition and Public Health

Course unit fact file
Unit code POPH66662
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Summer semester
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit will be of interest to anyone who wishes to explore the concept of “you are what you eat”. It will be relevant to health professionals, policymakers, managers and public health practitioners. The course will examine how good nutrition is not only important to individuals, but also for good population health. We will consider what is good nutrition and investigate the impacts of not eating well and the global obesity threat. How effective are nutritional policies in ensuring good health. Does a good diet make you clever? What are global nutritional policies that improve population health?

Students choosing ‘Nutrition and Public Health’ will need to be available for the face to face teaching block from 27-29 June at the University of Manchester. This will involve live webinars, presentations and group work. It will also include a group presentation as one of your assignments. In the event of a change in government policy preventing face to face teaching, the teaching block will be moved online.  We will keep you informed of any changes via My Manchester and regular Programme communications.

This is an interactive on-line course. Students must work through the online course material. Students are encouraged to use the Blackboard discussion boards to ask questions and check their understanding of the course material.


This unit aims to

  • Provide an introduction to nutrition, including major nutrients for human (cabohydrates, fats, fibre, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and water), nutrition and food groups, dietary pattern and dietary index, and overall eating guideline, within the context of Public Health
  • Develop students understanding of the relationship between malnutrition (both undernutrition and overnutrition) and health
  • Develop students understanding of how public health interventions can improve nutrition (including the potential unintended consequences of this)
  • Develop students understanding of how policies, societies, industries, individuals can contribute to public health nutritional issues

Learning outcomes

Category of outcome Students should be able to:
A. Knowledge and understanding

A1 Explore and discuss the basics of nutrition, malnutrition (both undernutrition and overnurition) and impact on public health (diet-related non communicable diseases

A2 Explore and discuss dietary patterns and disease index that may related to a lower risk of non-communicable diseases

A3 Explore and discuss nutrition and public health to the individual and society

A4 Explore policy approaches for promoting good public health nutrition

B. Intellectual skills

B1 Critically appraise research within public health nutrition using example, for example, the major bias in study design and data collection

B2 Appraise nutritional interventions within public health, including assessing effectiveness, efficiency and acceptability including measures of structure, process, quality, and health income 

C. Practical skills

C1 Assess the quality of diet

C2 Develop critical appraisal skills and competency in evidence based practice

C3 Explore methodological approaches for good nurtition and public health

D. Transferable skills and personal qualities

D1 Apply the principles of evidence-based practice

D2 Examine the ethical issues around implementing nutritional interventions and any consequences

D3 Compare and contrast the various methods which can be applied within their own work or research area which may improve public health



Key themes
What does nutrition include and what is good diet
How nutrition can contribute to public health issues
How policy, societies, industries, individuals can improve public health nutrition
How to appraise evidence in public health nutrition critically

Teaching and learning methods

This unit will include text provided by the tutors, online videos/podcasts/recorded lectures plus required and additional reading of articles and relevant literature. It will include reflective study tasks, and topic-based discussions hosted on Blackboard. It also involves attending a 3 day face to face component.

Material provided will be diverse in nature, Peer-reviewed publications will be highlighted (and accessed through the University library). Media articles and videos will also be included to demonstrate the implications and impacts of nutrition in health.

Topic specific intended learning outcomes outlined for each week of the course will supplement the intended learning outcomes set out in section 3.

An alternative way of assessing students is being proposed as a trial instead of a traditional mid-term summative assessment graded by the assessors alone. This module will look at peer assessment and assessment utilising technology such as interactive online tests which can facilitate learner led and on demand formative assessment. Peer assessment will include an online group who are instructed to write a short scientific report on a specified topic. A group mark will be awarded which will be influenced by students’ interactions with the group. Following feedback an updated revised and resubmitted report will be written. This can then be subject to anonymised peer assessment which will produce a final grade.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analyse policies and data on population and individual level outcomes
Group/team working
Engage with your peers for group working on the discussion boards and assignments.
Think creatively about how public health interventions and policies can affect the health of individuals, communities and nations.
Public health leadership in nutritional policy making and advocacy

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%
Oral assessment/presentation 50%

Feedback methods

Students will be provided with personalised feedback for their group presentation and final summative assignment, within 15 working days for the group presentation and 20 working days for final submission.

Further opportunities for formative feedback (on non-assessed work) will also be provided during the course unit.

Recommended reading

Books / Journals

Holford, P. & Lawson, S. (2009). 'Optimum Nutrition Made Easy', Nutrition & Food Science.

Ge, L., Sadeghirad, B., Ball, G. D. C., da Costa, B. R., Hitchcock, C. L., Svendrovski, A., Kiflen, R., Quadri, K., Kwon, H. Y., Karamouzian, M., Adams-Webber, T., Ahmed, W., Damanhoury, S., Zeraatkar, D., Nikolakopoulou, A., Tsuyuki, R. T., Tian, J., Yang, K., Guyatt, G. H. & Johnston, B. C. (2020). 'Comparison of dietary macronutrient patterns of 14 popular named dietary programmes for weight and cardiovascular risk factor reduction in adults: systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomised trials', BMJ, 369, p. m696.

Downer, S., Berkowitz, S. A., Harlan, T. S., Olstad, D. L. & Mozaffarian, D. (2020). 'Food is medicine: actions to integrate food and nutrition into healthcare', Bmj, 369, p. m2482.

Ordovas, J. M., Ferguson, L. R., Tai, E. S. & Mathers, J. C. (2018). 'Personalised nutrition and health', Bmj, 361, p. bmj.k2173.


WHO health topic on Nutrition

The eatwell guide

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025

Series from the Lancet journals
The Double Burden of Malnutrition
Maternal and Child Nutrition

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Zixing Tian Unit coordinator
Arpana Verma Unit coordinator

Additional notes

If you have any questions about the content of this unit, please contact one of the course unit leaders, Professor Arpana Verma ( or Zixing Tian ( If you have any other queries, please contact the PGT programme administrators via email on

Return to course details