Training to be a Dietitian

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.

Types of course

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.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for universities do vary, so we advise you to contact the universities directly for specific entry requirements.

In general, for an undergraduate degree, you will be required to have obtained at least five GCSEs at grade C or above (or equivalent), including Maths and English plus A-levels in at least two science subjects (including chemistry or biology). Equivalent Scottish and Irish qualifications are also acceptable. Access courses in science and BTEC National Diploma in science qualifications may also be acceptable.

For a postgraduate programme you will be required to have successfully completed an undergraduate degree which contains an acceptable level of human physiology and biochemistry.

A good command of spoken and written English is essential. All successful applicants will be required to undertake occupational health and Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

Programme of Study

The dietetic degree programmes involves academic study and practical experience. Academic study involves:

  • Biochemistry
  • Human Nutrition
  • Human Physiology
  • Diet Therapy
  • Food Processing, Preservation and Food Hygiene
  • Nutritional Medicine
  • Healthcare: Systems and Management Structures
  • Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Genetics
  • Research Methods
  • Data Analysis
  • Behavioural Studies
  • Pharmacology
  • Professional Practice
  • Communication

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.

Financial support

Tuition fees are funded in Engalnd, Wales and Northern Ireland by the National Health Service (NHS) for both UK and EU students with successful UK applicants to the BSc programmes also eligible to apply for a means-tested NHS bursary, subject to UK residency criteria. This funding is not open to international students.

NB:  Following the Government's Spending Review (November 2015) it was announced that grants for Allied Health Professions pre-registration training are to be abolished, to be replaced by the standard student loan system.  We are currently awaiting further details of these changes including timescales and support for disadvantaged students.  We will keep you informed of any updates / decisions.  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/spending-review-and-autumn-statement-2015-key-announcements