Module code: MHUM005

Module Overview

The module provides an overview of Nutrition Research Methodology with a specific focus on the examination of the various types of research designs used in nutrition research including observational, experimental and systematic reviews & meta-analyses. The main purpose of this module is to equip students with the tools needed to confidently undertake their own research, including research design, recruitment, power, analysis and ethical issues.   By the end of this module all students will produce an original research protocol suitable to undertake as their own research project in MHUM009 following ethical approval (if applicable). 

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

AHMADI Kourosh (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 75

Tutorial Hours: 12

Guided Learning: 52

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Introduction to Nutrition Research Methodology 

  • Developing a research question 

  • Developing a research hypotheses 

Principles of Nutritional Study Design 

  • Stages in the Design of an Epidemiology Study 

  • Observational study designs 

  • Case/control 

  • Cross-sectional 

  • Prospective/retrospective 

  • Experimental study designs 

  • Randomisation 

  • Cross-over designs 

  • Placebo-controlled designs 

  • Pragmatic 

  • Systematic Reviews & Meta-analyses 

Sampling, Sample Size 

  • Selecting a study sample 

  • Bias 

  • Representation 

  • Power and Sample Size 


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Re-assessments will be a reworking of the original coursework using the same data (or if required, provided class data). 

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate an analytical and critical way of thinking in designing a novel protocol to test a new hypothesis based on a set question. Moreover, the assessments will need to student to interact in groups, delegate and be able to communicate scientifically both orally and in written format.  

The Formative assessment consists of: 

  • Group Presentation on a chosen topic.  

The summative assessment for this module consists of: 

  • An individually written scientific protocol (3 pages max including references) to test a new hypothesis 


Feedback for the formative assessment consists of: 

  • Verbal during presentations and one-to-one/group verbal feedback during drop-in sessions.  

  • Peer marking of presentations. 

Feedback on the summative assessment consists of: 

  • Written individual feedback provided within 3 weeks of summative assessment submission.   

  • Group feedback prior to 3 weeks from submission. 

  • A wash-up for all to discuss “good and bad practice” to take forward to projects. 

Module aims

  • To provide a thorough review of current methods employed in observational and experimental nutrition, including systematic reviews & meta-analyses.
  • To provide an understanding of the term nutritional epidemiology, introduce the important scientific concepts in study design, research protocol development and calibration of methods of investigation.
  • To introduce the importance of study design and different strategies and interpretation of nutritional epidemiological studies.
  • To provide an understanding of key statistical issues including sampling, study size and statistical power.
  • To provide a framework to understanding the important concepts in the design and implementation of intervention projects and the methods required for monitoring and evaluating effectiveness and efficiency.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 An appreciation of overview to Nutrition Research Methodology and the stages of Stages in the Design of an Epidemiology Study KC D, E
002 A comprehensive appreciation of the advantages and disadvantages of a range of observational, experimental and systematic reviews & meta-analyses KCP D, E
003 A critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice KCP D, E
004 A conceptual understanding that enables you to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline. To evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses. defined, and have a working knowledge of, nutritional epidemiology and demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental scientific concepts of study design CPT D, E, G, S
005 An appreciation and understanding of the important design strategies of nutritional epidemiological studies and the correct procedures for interpretation of data. KCP D, T
006 An opportunity to undertake a critical analysis of the design and implementation of a study CP D, G
007 Have an understanding of the ethical issues pertaining to a specific context /setting and study testing a novel hypothesis CPT D, E, G
008 Develop scientific writing and presentation skills PT D, R, S
009 Develop group working and peer assessment skills PT D, R, S

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: Fully engage the students in the basic and advanced concepts of designing and implementing a novel project, including: Devising a question, conceptualisation of a new and testable hypothesis, formulation of a rational protocol to test the hypothesis – using an appropriate study design – undertake power calculations and devise a sound risk management strategy. 

The learning and teaching methods include: 

Traditional lectures, critical discussion groups, group work, group activities and tutorials. Some pre-recorded material is made available to students prior to tutorials but students are encouraged to be active participants  and the sessions are very interactive designed. Students are also expected to extend their reading beyond the lectures and to make use of additional material provided to support each topic.   

Student led presentations and coursework provide an opportunity for self-directed and peer-supported learning. 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: MHUM005

Other information

Here we provide an overview of how this module aligns to each of the 5 pillars of the curriculum review process: 

  1. Digital Capabilities:  Learning to navigate Surreylearn, use discussion boards and Padlet for communication. Peer/Student & group communications via zoom for preparation of their group presentations using WhatsApp, Teams and shared documents. Identification and uses of appropriate use of citations. Conducting and evaluating/appraising of literature searches in the form of systematic reviews and using referencing software.  

  1. Employability: The module provides the key and essential ingredients to develop a framework to think and evaluate as a critical scientist which is an essential tool for any career in the field of nutritional sciences, including communication, academia and industry as well as field work within the public health or clinical settings.  In addition, key transferable skills are developed, including group work, sourcing, synthesising and presenting information in written and spoken form and peer assessment. 

  1. Global and Cultural Capabilities: Much of the teaching in this module is interactive, and contribution based on prior knowledge and experience is invited from students, who represent a wealth of nationalities and cultural backgrounds.  In addition, aspects of the content require an appreciation of ethnic differences and the various contexts as well as the ethical issues associated with these dynamic settings. Given the purposive interactive nature of the module, all students are encouraged to engage with, and learn from, diverse perspectives through working in mixed groups. This supports and develops academic writing, oral communication and critical global thinking.  

  1. Resourcefulness & Resilience: The module does an excellent job to call upon and develop the student’s resourcefulness and resilience. The over-arching expectation of the module which is clearly articulated early and throughout the module is group work, critical group discussions, problem solving, dynamism and risk-assessment in devising and implementing a novel scientific protocol. Through individual and group work presentations and critique of “case studies” the module provides a “low stakes” opportunity to develop key skills that can be used in various translational settings.  Formative and summative feedback are designed to “feed forward” to assessments in subsequent modules, enabling essential skills to be developed throughout the course. 

  1. Sustainability: This module provides the foundations of critical assessment and engagement of nutritional study design which equips the students to consider and use in undertaking their thesis project.  

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Human Nutrition MSc(CORE) 1 Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 50% to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.