To qualify as a dietitian you are required to undertake an approved programme at a university. All dietetic programmes are approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and may also apply for accreditation by The British Dietetic Association (BDA). Accreditation is a robust process providing assurance to the profession, students and the public that universities meet the standards of the professional body, the BDA.
Successful completion of these courses provides eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC. It is a legal requirement that anyone who wishes to practise using the title dietitian is on the HCPC register.
There are two types of programme available to qualify as a dietitian:
- Full-time undergraduate BSc (Hons) programme: these are either three or four years in length.
- Full-time postgraduate programme: these are two years in length and can either lead to a Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) in dietetics or a Masters (MSc) qualification in dietetics.
There are currently no part-time or distance learning courses in dietetics. If you have any specific needs to study part-time, contact the university to discuss your requirements.
The dietetic degree programmes involves academic study and practical experience. Academic study involves:
- Human Nutrition
- Human Physiology
- Diet Therapy
- Food Processing, Preservation and Food Hygiene
- Nutritional Medicine
- Healthcare: Systems and Management Structures
- Epidemiology and Public Health
- Research Methods
- Data Analysis
- Behavioural Studies
- Professional Practice
Students will be required to undertake practical placements usually within the NHS and other health and care organisations which are organised by the university. Placements allow students, under supervision, to develop practical skills and apply knowledge in a work environment.
Teaching is usually delivered over three to five days with 12-25 contact hours a week. Placements are full-time and approximately 37 hours per week.
The BDA holds responsibility for the curriculum which describes what is expected of a newly-qualified dietitian and provides the framework for universities to deliver programmes that are responsive to the demands of dietetic employment.