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EXSC118 Nutrition and Exercise , NUTD101 Introduction to Nutrition ,NUTZ101 Introduction to Nutrition , EXSZ118 - Nutrition and Exercise

Unit rationale, description and aim

A fundamental understanding of nutrition is essential for practitioners in food, exercise and health-related industries. In this unit, students will develop an understanding of key documents that inform dietary recommendations including: the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Nutrient Reference Values; explore macronutrients and how they are absorbed; gain an understanding of vitamins and minerals and how they work to maintain good health; and be introduced to dietary assessment methods and analysis. The concepts of hydration, exercise nutrition (including for training, competition and recovery, supplements, and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport), fad diets, Indigenous diets and the relationship between diet and disease are also explored.

Students will develop skills in reading, interpreting, and communicating scientific literature that contribute to the evidence base that shapes nutrition practice and recommendations. By combining the skills developed throughout the unit, students will be able to conduct basic dietary analysis using industry-standard software (FoodWorks) and make evidence-based recommendations to improve the overall health of general and athletic populations.

The aim of this unit is to help students build a strong nutrition foundation from which they can develop knowledge, and skills that are relevant to professional practice in food, nutrition and exercise. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Identify the role of energy balance, the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Nutrient Reference Values in maintaining overall healthGC1, GC2, GC3, GC11
LO2Describe the nutritive and non-nutritive components of food (macro- and micronutrients, other bioactive components and non-nutrients), their sources and their role in health and exercise.GC1
LO3Analyse evidence that supports nutritional practices for health and exerciseGC1, GC3, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO4Critique information collected using different dietary assessment methods and make evidence-based recommendations conducive to overall health in general and athletic populationsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC10, GC11


Topics will include: 

  • Food composition and function
  • Physiology of digestion and absorption
  • Energy metabolism, energy balance, and hydration 
  • Nutrient reference values and dietary guidelines for healthy eating
  • Sports nutrition strategies
  • Undernutrition and overnutrition in health and exercise
  • Nutritional supplements, ergogenic aids, and evidence-based approaches to diet/nutrition information, and fad diets
  • Methods of dietary assessment and evaluation  
  • Scope of practice and referral pathways for inappropriate dietary behaviours
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders traditional diets and Indigenous food guide

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit fosters student-centred active learning and accommodates diverse student needs. It includes a combination of self-paced, online learning and real-time classes. Early and additional feedback on learning, and tailored support, are provided to facilitate students’ transition to university. The learning and teaching strategies adopted in this unit have a constructively aligned developmental sequence designed to progressively and logically support students’ learning. The unit begins with approaches designed to support acquisition of the knowledge needed to understand introductory food and nutrition concepts in health and exercise. It builds on this by progressing to activities that support the development of a theoretical understanding of concepts and principles needed to inform skills development. The final stage involves approaches that support students in the application of their understanding in the development of skills needed to progress with their studies in nutrition. As an overarching strategy, this is known to engender higher levels of engagement, efficiency, and effectiveness in students’ study behaviours, and to maximise their learning achievements. 

Learning and teaching approaches include active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities, cooperative learning, and reflective/critical thinking activities, delivered over 12 weeks. This range of approaches will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content, and opportunities for development of practical skills. These approaches will allow students to meet the aims, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching approaches will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in learning activities.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable students to achieve unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. To complete this unit, students need to obtain an aggregate mark of equal to or greater than 50%. A range of assessment strategies are used in ways that support the developmental sequence of the learning and teaching strategy. The three phases of the strategy are reflected by integration of three appropriate assessment tasks. Each task is designed to build the skills necessary for working towards the final assessment task.

A written task early in semester requires students to present newly acquired knowledge and develop their ability to communicate reasoning and understanding through a review of the literature.  

The second assessment task will provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to interpret dietary guidelines and make food-based recommendations, as well as written communication skills.

The final assessment task provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their understanding of the unit content and demonstrate critical thinking in the analysis and interpretation of dietary data using written communication skills.

The assessment tasks will allow unit coordinators to assess students’ demonstration of the learning outcomes and attainment of graduate attributes. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 - Written Assessment  

Investigate a topical issue related to key nutrition principles. 

Enables students to communicate reasoning and demonstrate application of knowledge and skills developed in the unit. 


LO1, LO2, LO4

Assessment Task 2 - Written Assessment

Interpretation and utilisation of dietary guidelines to make food-based recommendations.

Enables students to apply key unit learning as well as demonstrate their written communication skills.



Assessment Task 3 - Written Assessment

Dietary analysis enabling students to assess and interpret individual dietary habits using appropriate nutrition software.

Enables students to demonstrate application of knowledge and skills developed in the unitEnables students to demonstrate written communication skills.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Whitney, E., Rolfes, S. Rady, Crowe, T., & Walsh, A. (2022). Understanding Nutrition: Australian and New Zealand Edition (5th Ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.

Australian Government Department of Health. (2015). Australian Dietary Guidelines. 

Australian Government Department of Health. (2015). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. 

Gibney, M.J, Lanham-New, S.A., Cassidy, A.,& Vorster, H.H. (2009). Introduction to Human Nutrition (2nd Ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. 

Burke, L., & Deakin, V. (2015) Clinical Sports Nutrition. Sydney: McGraw-Hill. 

McArdle, W.D., Katch, F.I., & Katch, V.L. (2011). Sports & Exercise Nutrition (3rd Ed.). Lippincott William & Wilkins. 

Maughan, R.J. (Ed). (2004). Food, Nutrition and Sports Performance II: The International Olympic Committee Consensus on Sports Nutrition. Routledge. 

Jeukendrup, A., & Gleeson, M. (2010). Sport Nutrition. Human Kinetics. 

Kern, M. (2005). CRC Desk Reference on Sports Nutrition. CRC Press. 

Thompson, J., & Manore, M. (2005). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. 

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