Credit points


Campus offering

Find out more about study modes.

Unit offerings may be subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Please select your preferred campus.

  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance


BIOL234 Nutritional Physiology AND NUTR202 Lifespan Nutrition

Unit rationale, description and aim

Nutrition plays a role in the aetiology, prevention and management of many diseases and an understanding of this role is essential for a variety of nutrition-related professional practice. Building on NUTR202 Lifespan Nutrition, this unit further explores the role of poor nutrition in promoting the progression of metabolic abnormalities and diseases, the protective role of appropriate nutritional habits, and the role of diet in the management of disease. This includes the principal nutrition-related factors and mechanisms associated with major non-communicable diseases that affect the health of industrialised nations. The health consequences of diet-related diseases and best practice dietary interventions to prevent and treat these diseases are also explored. Further this unit builds on foundation knowledge of methods of assessing nutritional status introduced in NUTR101 Introduction to Nutrition. This unit aims to support students develop fundamental knowledge and a contemporary understanding of the relationships between diet and disease and to translate this into evidence-based dietary interventions and communications.

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
LO1Articulate the evidence-based relationships between food and nutrition-related factors and the mechanisms and progression, protection/prevention and management of specific diseases in humansGC1, GC7, GC9
LO2Integrate knowledge of food and nutrition-related factors related to health and disease and communicate to a scientific and non-scientific audienceGC1, GC6, GC7, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO3Appraise the scientific literature for specific conditions and propose a suitable dietary interventionGC1, GC2, GC6, GC7, GC9
LO4Appraise and apply appropriate methods used for assessing nutritional status and collecting dietary data in practice and nutrition researchGC1, GC7, GC9


Topics will include: 

  • the immune system, inflammatory response and development of chronic disease 
  • obesity, including regulation of energy balance, health consequences and best practice dietary interventions 
  • metabolic syndrome and its definition, health consequences and best practice dietary interventions 
  • cardiovascular disease, including atheroma pathophysiology, lipoprotein metabolism, and dietary management 
  • type 2 diabetes and the role of diet and physiological mechanisms in its pathogenesis and treatment  
  • cancer and dietary components as indicators, promoters or protective agents 
  • respiratory conditions 
  • allergies and intolerances 
  • gut microbiome and diet 
  • other conditions throughout the life stages e.g. cystic fibrosis, coeliac disease, PKU, arthritis, osteoporosis 
  • nutrigenomics, nutrient-gene interactions  
  • the role of nutrients in the brain and relationship to specific mental health pathologies 
  • evidence-based best-practice dietary interventions 
  • advanced theory and application of nutrition assessment, including dietary assessment and evaluation  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In keeping with the sequence of learning outcomes in this unit, the learning and teaching strategy adopted comprises three phases that are designed to provide students with a developmental learning experience. The unit begins with approaches designed to support acquisition of the advanced knowledge needed understand the relationship between diet, health and disease, and intervention strategies for prevention and management. It builds on this by progressing to activities that support the development of a theoretical understanding of concepts and principles needed to inform the skills development. The final stage involves approaches that support students in the application of their understanding in the development of skills needed. Thus, overall, the approaches used in this unit have a constructively aligned developmental sequence designed to progressively and logically support students learning in ways that maximise the perceived (and actual) relevance and value of each stage. 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, online 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 and of unit content, and opportunities for development of practical skills. Specific learning and teaching approaches include: lectures where students will develop the theoretical knowledge related to advanced nutrition and tutorials/workshops/practicals where students will apply theoretical learnings. This strategy and approaches will allow students to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching strategies 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. A range of assessment strategies are used in ways that support the developmental sequence of the learning and teaching strategy. Thus, the three phases of the strategy are reflected by integration of three appropriate assessment tasks. What follows are examples that have the requisite purpose:  

The first assessment task early in semester requires that students appraise and interpret scientific literature for a broader audience at the same time review how they are progressing with building their knowledge of unit content.  

The second assessment task requires that students interpret relevant and current scientific literature related to a specific disease state, propose a dietary intervention and produce a scientific-style report. These two assessment tasks allow students to demonstrate integration of current nutrition science knowledge and practice into two important but different forms of written communication.  

Finally, the exam provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their understanding of the unit content. 

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


Enables students to demonstrate the ability to apply and communicate evidence-based knowledge and understanding. 


LO1, LO2

Written report 

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of nutrition science and translation to practice by interpreting evidence-based knowledge and producing a scientific-style report. 


LO1, LO2, LO3


Enables students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of unit content


LO1, LO2, LO4

Representative texts and references

Byrd-Bredbenner, C. (2012) Wardlaw’s Perspectives in Nutrition, 9th Edition McGraw Hill, Boston. 


Mahan, K.L., Raymond, J.L., Escott-Stump S. (2011) Krause's Food & the Nutrition Care Process (13th Ed.). Elsevier - Health Sciences Division, Philadelphia. 


Mann, J. and Truswell, A.S. (2012) Essentials of Human Nutrition, 4th edition, Oxford, New York. 


Whitney, E.N., Crowe, T., S., Cameron-Smith, D., Walsh, A., and Rady Rolfes, S. (2014) Understanding Nutrition: Australian and New Zealand Edition (2nd Ed.). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia. 


Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs