MSc Dietetics (Pre-registration)
Our MSc Dietetics (pre-registration) will help you become a competent, passionate, autonomous dietitian, able to deliver evidence based, service-user centred dietetic care and innovative public health nutrition initiatives across a range of client groups and working environments.
About this degree
We will give you the confidence, knowledge and skills to translate complex scientific evidence about food, health, disease and human behaviour in order to assess, diagnose and treat nutrition related problems in individuals and improve the health of populations.
As a UCL dietetics graduate, you will develop clinical skills alongside research, leadership and project management expertise and will be eligible to apply to the Health and Care Professions Council for registration as a Dietitian on completion.
Our MSc Dietetics places a particular emphasis on the primacy of the service user. We will develop your communication and engagement skills from the earliest stages of the programme giving you the skills and confidence to connect with people at a personal level and work with them to ensure the best possible outcomes. As a new course we are fully compliant with the latest British Dietetic Association curriculum guidance, which reflects the role of dietitians now and into the future. You will experience teaching that draws on our established nutrition expertise, which is reflected in our broad portfolio of nutrition courses and world-class research in the field.
What dietitians do
Dietitians play a vital role in improving health outcomes for individuals and communities.
In the hospital setting, they provide nutritional expertise and encouragement to ensure that inpatients of all ages obtain the best nutritional care to optimise their response to medical and surgical treatment, manage symptoms, support their recovery and sometimes to ensure a good end of life experience.
In outpatient clinics, they offer specialist dietary advice to people of all ages with complex nutritional needs. This includes preparing people for surgical procedures, supporting others post-surgery and providing expert nutritional advice and motivational support to help people reach and maintain a healthy weight and to support those with a wide range of medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, food allergies and intolerances, neurological conditions and gut problems.
In the community setting dietitians work with general practitioners hospices, care homes, schools and workplaces to ensure nutritional health advising and supporting groups and individuals and working with catering providers to ensure that menus meet nutritional needs. This work is essential in the prevention as well as the treatment of disease. In the sports industry dietitians assess and support the needs of elite athletes and those involved in recreational sports and fitness.
In the media, dietitians produce engaging and factual articles, podcasts, videos and items for television and radio shows ensuring that the public has access to evidence based, practical information about good nutrition.
Dietitians can expect a starting salary of around £25,000 per annum. Currently, 4% of posts for registered dietitians are unfilled. As both government and the public become much more aware of the role of nutrition in health, employment opportunities are growing and becoming more diverse.
Programme content and structure
Our programme is structured around both academic and practice placement learning. Our approach to placement learning makes use of a wide range of settings reflecting the evolving role of dietitians. This means that on graduation you will be immediately ready to work in a variety of settings and contribute to the development and promotion of the profession throughout your career.
The course will address key concepts relevant to nutrition and dietetic theory and practice to ensure a thorough grounding in the theory and application of nutrition across a wide range of conditions related to both health and disease across the age spectrum. We will develop your professional practice skills continually across the 2-year programme encouraging reflection on ethical and practical issues associated with all our modules.
- Fundamentals of Nutrition and Metabolism | 15 credit module
- Lifestyle management, inflammation and prevention (Clinical Practice 1) | 15 credit module
- Practical Nutritional Assessment | 15 credit module
- Experimental Design and Research Methods in Nutrition | 15 credit module
- Malnutrition in the Community | 15 credit module
- Professional Practice in Dietetics 1 | 15 Credit module
- Therapeutic Aspect of Clinical Nutrition (Clinical Practice 2) | 15 credit module
- Advanced Dietetic Practice | 15 credit module
- Research Projects | 60 credit module
- Professional Practice in Dietetics 2 | 15 credit module
You will study over a minimum of two years. The first year will run from September to June and the second from September to August. This is required to incorporate your placement training which is an integral part of the degree. There will be a minimum of 1,000 hours in practice placements, ensuring that you have sufficient opportunity to achieve the required practice competencies to become a registered dietitian. The majority of placements are part-time ensuring that you have plenty of space for reflection to integrate theory with practice and share experiences with peers. Please note that your term dates may differ from those published on the UCL website in order to accommodate placements.
You will be assessed by a variety of formative and summative competency-based assessment methods including reports, online and written examinations (including Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ), Short Answer Questions (SAQs)) poster presentations, practical skills assessments (e.g. objective structured clinical examinations), literature reviews, and a dissertation following a research project. The latter type of assessment will require work over the Summer months in year 2. Coursework will be conducted both individually and as part of a team. Practice placements will also be used to assess your dietetic practice competencies. Periods of work of the Summer months in term 3 will be required for some of these practice placements.
Learning outcomes are informed by competencies stipulated by accrediting and approval bodies.
Knowledge and Understanding;
- The legal and ethical boundaries of dietetic practice
- Structure and role of Health and Social Care and Professional and Statutory Regulatory Bodies such as the National Health Service, Health and Care Professions Council and the British Dietetic Association
- Different methods of food provision, preservation, food production, preparation, processing and distribution and their effects on nutritional composition
- The functions, side effects and contraindications of drugs used in the treatment of diseases with significant dietitian input
- Theories of health education, promotion, communication and behavioural science applied to individual and group-based dietetic practice.
- The contribution of nutrients to diet-related disease and its management.
- Developing suitable dietetic management goals.
- Communicating effectively in all areas of dietetic practice.
- Measurement, evaluation and interpretation of anthropometric, biochemical, clinical and dietary data and reference standards to determine nutritional status of individuals in disease states and populations and their limitations.
- Using a range of standard and modified recipes in therapeutic diets and their suitability and costs.
- Formulating and justifying appropriate nutrition and dietetic diagnoses.
- Critically identifying, collecting and interpreting relevant information and evidence from the range of sources available.
- Research, audit and evaluation of practice as applied to dietetics
- Principles of oral and written communication necessary for interaction with individuals and groups including active listening, report writing and record keeping.
- Inter-professional team working required for collaborating with others as an individual and as part of an inter-professional team.
- Reflective practice and self-evaluation required for continued professional development (CPD).
Following graduation, students will be eligible to apply for Registration in Dietetics with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Our programme is fully compliant with the revised BDA curriculum and reflects the rapidly evolving role of the dietitian.
- Entry requirements
Due to the requirement for students to undertake clinical placements during the programme, we will only consider applications from individuals who can demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
You should have a first degree at level 2:1 or above in a relevant science subject such as human nutrition, nutritional science, biomedical or health sciences, biochemistry or sport and exercise science. If you have a MSc in a related subject, you should have a minimum of merit, 60%, or equivalent. Final year students on course for an upper second-class bachelor’s degree can also apply.
Please note, we may ask to see your undergraduate degree transcript and in some cases will request further details about the content of individual modules.
Your first degree should include a significant component of nutritional and biological science including human biochemistry and physiology. This should be studied to level 5 or equivalent in first degree.
You also must have GCSE (or equivalent) in English and Mathematics B or above (Grade 6).
You should have good research and critical thinking skills as dietetics is a strongly evidence-based profession. As well as high academic standards, it is equally important that you can demonstrate a clear understanding of and commitment to dietetics as a career. You should have good interpersonal and communication skills. It is also important that you value dignity, compassion, team-working, diversity, inclusion, listening and responding to the specific needs of individuals and communities and above all person-centred care. It is also critical to understand and follow the six NHS values (Working together for patients, Respect and dignity, Commitment to quality of care, Compassion, Improving lives, Everyone counts).
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.
The English language level required for this programme is: Good. What does this mean in practice?
A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.
As you will be working with the public you will be subject to screening by UCL Occupational Health and through the Criminal Records Bureau Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to determine your suitability for the course. You will also need to consent to vaccinations as these will protect you and the people you care for.
Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Criminal Record Check
- You will be required to undertake an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal record check prior to or during the enrolment week of your Dietetics course. This will be provided by the University free of charge.
- If you have lived outside of the UK for more than six consecutive months in the last five years, you must provide an overseas criminal record check.
- Where your DBS Enhanced Disclosure certificate contains any recorded information, you must present this to the Professional Issues Team within ten working days of receipt of the certificate.
You should include information on your application form about any known convictions, cautions or bindings over. This will ensure that we can support you to explore your suitability for this programme and any subsequent application to the HCPC for registration as a dietitian as early as possible.
Fitness to Practice
Patients must be able to trust and respect their dieticians. Society rightly expects health care professionals to behave in an appropriate manner.
The Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) publishes guidance on professionalism and fitness to practice.
We will have a Fitness to Practice (FTP) Panel comprising three senior staff, all of whom will be HCPC registered and familiar with HCPC standards.
Successful applicants will be required to complete a 'Food Safety and Hygiene Level 2' certificate prior to registration. These can be completed either in live training sessions or as an online course, with a typical cost of c. £20.
- Fees and funding
In addition to your tuition fees, you can also expect to pay for:
- A Food Hygiene Certificate (Level 2) prior to course registration
- Health checks/immunisations/ vaccinations
- An Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Clearance check
- Travel and accommodation costs for practice placement
- Clothing for optional course related events and competitions
- Travel costs for travel around London and between campuses
- Society membership fees
- Graduation costs
- Library fees and fines
- Personal Photocopies
- Books, if you choose to buy your own copies.
Training as a dietitian attracts considerable financial incentives. If you live in the UK you will be eligible for tuition fee and maintenance loans via Student Finance England, even if loans have been taken out for a previous undergraduate degree.
The maximum tuition fee loan is set at £9,250 per year, so this will not cover the full cost of the programme.
If you are eligible for these loans you will also be eligible to apply for supplementary funding from the NHS Learning Support fund including:
- Training Grant - a non-income assessed, non-repayable allowance of £5,000 per academic year for maintenance and associated study costs for students studying full time; pro rata payments are available for students studying part-time
- Parental Support –students with child care responsibilities for one or more children will receive a £2,000 parental support payment. This is to ensure that students can continue to study and attend practice placements. This grant does not affect students’ access to childcare support and other means of funding available through the higher education support system or other sources.
- Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses - Eligible students can apply for reimbursement of essential expenses necessarily incurred, for travel and accommodation over and above their usual travel and accommodation costs, as a result of attending practice placements.
- Exceptional Hardship Fund – students facing unforeseen financial hardship, having exhausted all other available sources of support, can apply for additional funding. This is an income-assessed non repayable grant of up to £3,000 per student per year.
Further details can be obtained from gov.uk.
- Next steps and application
Applicants will be shortlisted and interviewed prior to offers being made for places on the course. Interviews will be held online.
When completing our application form please note that your personal statement should outline what led you to your decision to apply for a place. A strong interest in working as a registered dietitian, with a demonstrated understanding of the role and the skills required to be a registered practitioner will be required. Any relevant work experience and visits (virtual where relevant) to observe dietitians in the workplace, what you learnt from these experiences and how this learning relates to the role of the dietitian. It may be advantageous to have work experience in a care environment. You should aim to draw on your previous work and life experience within your personal statements demonstrating and reflecting upon the attributes and skills that you have gained and developed from these experiences, and where possible, applying this to dietetics. Your statement should also evidence professional values and behaviours alongside critical thinking and/or research skills.
Interviews usually last approximately 30 minutes and are conducted by a panel of interviewers, including an academic, dietitians in practice, and a service user/carer.
Before the interview starts, we will also ask you to complete a short multiple choice questionnaire to help us understand more about how your personal values drive your behaviours. You will be presented with some everyday practice scenarios and asked to rank possible actions. Your responses will be used to facilitate a discussion with you about how you might respond in that situation and why.
The questions asked during the interview will help the panel to assess your suitability for the course in the following areas:
- Academic and scientific curiosity and interest in nutrition.
- Motivation for and understanding of a career in dietetics.
- Problem solving and reasoning ability.
- Professional attitudes and values, including factors such as flexibility, integrity, empathy, honesty, conscientiousness and compassion.
- Team-work, leadership, resilience, reflection and individual strengths.
- Communication skills including verbal and listening skills.
Following the interview, we will ask you to come together with other candidates and we will ask you to do 30 minute group exercise in which you will be split off into groups to discuss a topic before coming back to share your collective opinion.
Images and video provided by and copyright the British Dietetic Association.