Food for Thought: Dietician and Nutrition Courses

By Laura Molloy - Last update


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Have you always had a strong desire to help others? Are you interested in food science, health promotion and nutrition? Then why not look at what dietician and nutrition courses can offer you.

What’s the difference between a dietician and a nutritionist?

A dietician is a health professional who is an expert in the use of food and nutrition. They work to promote health and manage disease in a hospital or private clinical setting.

Dieticians complete an undergraduate degree or a Masters degree in order to become fully qualified. The title, Dietician, is protected by law in Ireland. Therefore only qualified professionals can use it. In addition, qualified dieticians can become members of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI).

Similarly, a nutritionist is a person who works to promote healthy eating and advises people on what to eat.  However, the title of a nutritionist or a variant of it is not protected by law and there are no restrictions on who can use it. Graduates from these courses cannot become a member of the INDI.

Dietician and Nutrition Courses

Currently, there is only one undergraduate course on offer in the Republic of Ireland that provides a professional qualification to become a dietician, the BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

There is also a masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics available to study. Students who have achieved a minimum grade of a 2.1 in a relevant food science or nutrition course can apply for a place on this course.

However, there is a range of nutrition and food science courses on the market in Ireland. These range from short courses to degree programmes. For example, there’s a BSc (Hons) in Health Science with Nutrition.  In addition, there are a number of part-time courses on offer including the sports nutrition, diet and nutrition therapy and health coaching.

What will you study?

For those who choose to study for the BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, the course aims to provide graduates with all the skills, knowledge and experience they need to work as a professional dietician.

The course covers a broad range of modules including biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, dietetics and medicine. Students examine the science of nutrients; digestion, absorption, transportation, storage and elimination by the body. Students also learn the basics of social science and how to effectively promote health and prevent disease. A key component of the course is the professional practice students take part on. They train in hospitals and other clinical settings to get the first-hand experience of the role of a professional dietician or public health nutritionist.

Similarly, students studying nutrition will also learn the core concepts and principals underpinning nutritional science. Students will develop key communication and interpersonal skills in addition to the science. They will learn how to listen to patients or clients, develop relationships with them and earn their trust.

Careers as a dietician or nutritionist

Dieticians work with both sick and healthy people to assess, diagnose and treat their dietary and nutritional problems. They work in hospitals and clinical setting, as public health nutritionists and in private practice.

Graduates from nutrition courses work in a wide range of areas in the food industry including; nutrition researcher, nutrition therapist and health promoter to a health coach, weight management trainer and fitness instructor. Graduates work in public health, health improvement, health policy and education.

Furthermore, some graduates from the nutrition courses can apply to train as a professional dietician or public health nutritionist through post-graduate study and/or applied practice.

Find courses in diet and nutrition near you in Courses.ie’s national courses database.


Laura Molloy

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