Module code: BMSM002

Module Overview

This module provides an overview of the core and applied principles of nutritional epidemiology and public health nutrition for students and practitioners on the Nutritional Medicine MSc programme.

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

Crosses academic years

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Public Health Nutrition

  • policy: dietary recommendations and guidelines

  • education: achieving change, education and motivation

  • intervention: food supply, fortification (e.g. folic acid, vitamin D), monitoring cost/benefit of nutritional interventions, legislation, food labelling, policy which affects food consumption


Nutritional Epidemiology:

  • Patterns of dietary intake in the UK: e.g. influences of region, gender, ethnicity, lifestyle, age, religion

  • Non-diet risk factors: socio-economic, smoking, alcohol, physical

  • Nutritional surveillance and identification of markers of nutritional status

  • Dietary Reference Values (DRVs); dietary recommendations and guidelines; limitations of DRVs in assessing individual requirements


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

  • Power and Sample Size

  • Selecting a study sample

    • Bias

    • Representation

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


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:

•           Short group presentation followed by Q&A on a chosen topic.

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

•           2 individual pieces of assessment (20% each) including: A critical review of the methodology used in a published Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) + A Critical appraisal based on the CASP tool.

•           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 give participants an understanding of the methods used (and their limitations) in acquiring and analysing information about the nutrition of individuals and population groups (i.e. food intakes, nutritional status) and to understand how to evaluate and/or interpret data obtained by these methods.
  • To critically review the existing public health nutrition policy and guidelines
  • To assess public-health approaches for changing nutritional status and disease e.g. through alteration of the nature of the food supply and individual intakes, and to understand the effectiveness and limitations of these methods.
  • 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 (nutritional) epidemiological issues including sampling, bias, study sample 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 Discuss current statistics on the main patterns of nutritional intake, status and disease morbidity and mortality in the UK population K
002 Explain how to determine the current nutritional status of individuals or groups and to identify nutrient deficiencies K
003 Explain current dietary recommendations for individuals and population groups C
004 Appraise the extent and effectiveness of interventions through the food supply and legislation C
005 An appreciation of overview to Nutrition Research Methodology and the stages of Stages in the Design of an Epidemiology Study P
006 A comprehensive appreciation of the advantages and disadvantages of a range of observational, experimental and systematic reviews & meta-analyses C
007 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
008 A conceptual understanding that enables critical evaluation of 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
009 An appreciation and understanding of the important design strategies of nutritional epidemiological studies and the correct procedures for interpretation of data K
010 An opportunity to undertake a critical analysis of the design and implementation of a study CP
011 Have an understanding of the ethical issues pertaining to a specific context /setting and study testing a novel hypothesis CPT
012 Develop scientific writing and presentation skills PT
013 Develop group working and peer assessment skills PT

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:

  • 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.

  • 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: BMSM002

Other information

Can be taken as a stand–alone module.

  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 background.  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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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 2025/6 academic year.