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Qualification - Proficiency Award In Nutrition

Course CodeVRE504
Fee CodePA
Duration (approx)500 hours
QualificationProficiency Award

Nutrition is a valuable and important adjunct to many different job roles. This proficiency award is designed to upskill professionals who have already had some relevant experience, but want to develop and strengthen their knowledge of nutrition. This course would be perfect for:

  • Personal trainers and fitness instructors
  • People in health or food marketing or production
  • Hospitality staff
  • Weight loss consultants
  • Wellbeing journalists 
  • Health professionals (massage therapists, nurses, and so on)
  • Carers

This course consists of 3 modules - Nutrition I, Nutrition II and Nutrition III, plus a 200 hr workplace project.

Nutrition 1

The nine lessons are as follows:

  1. Introduction to Nutrition
  2. The Digestive System
  3. Absorption & Enzymes
  4. Energy Value and Foods
  5. Carbohydrates and Fats
  6. Proteins
  7. Vitamins and 
  8. Water
  9. Nutrient Disorders

Nutrition 2

This course is divided into eight lessons as follows:.

  1. Cooking And Its Effect On Nutrition
  2. Food Processing And Its Effect On Nutrition
  3. Recommended Daily Intake Of Nutrients
  4. Vitamins
  5. Minerals
  6. Planning A Balanced Diet
  7. Assessing Nutritional Status & Needs
  8. Timing Of Meals & Needs For Special Groups

Nutrition 3

This course is divided into eight lessons as follows:.

  1. Problems With Eating
  2. Dental Problems
  3. Fibre and Bowel Diseases
  4. Different Ways of Eating
  5. Food Toxicity A
  6. Food Toxicity B
  7. Detoxification/Body Cleansing
  8. Consulting/Giving Advice

Workplace Project

This is sometimes satisfied by a letter of reference from an employer or professional colleague. Alternatively, you may satisfy it through a research project or providing proof of attendance at industry meetings such as conferences and trade shows.Options available to you to satisfy this requirement include:

Alternative 1.

If you work in the industry that you have been studying; you may submit a reference from your employer, in an effort to satisfy this industry (ie. workplace project) requirement; on the basis of RPL (ie. recognition for prior learning), achieved through your current and past work experience.The reference must indicate that you have skills and an awareness of your industry, which is sufficient for you to work in a position of responsibility.

Alternative 2.

If you do not work in the relevant industry, you need to undertake a project as follows. Procedure for a Workplace Project. This project is a major part of the course involving the number of hours relevant to the course (see above). Although the course does not contain mandatory work requirements, work experience is seen as highly desirable. This project is based on applications in the work place and specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study.Students will design this project in consultation with a tutor to involve industry based activities in the area of specialized study which they select to follow in the course. The project outcomes may take the form of a written report, folio, visuals or a mixture of forms. Participants with relevant, current or past work experience will be given exemption from this project if they can provide suitable references from employers that show they have already fulfilled the requirements of this project.For courses that involve more than 100 hours, more than one workplace project topic may be selected. For example, 200 hours may be split into two projects each of 100 hours. This will offer the student better scope to fulfill the needs of their course and to meet the number of hours required. Alternatively, the student may wish to do one large project with a duration of 200 hours.Students will be assessed on how well they achieve the goals and outcomes they originally set as part of their negotiations with their tutor. During each 100 hours of the project, the students will present three short progress reports. These progress reports will be taken into account when evaluating the final submission. The tutor must be satisfied that the work submitted is original.

If the student wishes to do one large 200 hour report, then only three progressive reports will be needed (however the length of each report will be longer).

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Sample Course Notes



The mouth, also know as the oral cavity, is the region encompassed by the lips and the cheeks. It has several functions, serving to:

  • Receive food

  • Grind food into small pieces (referred to as mastication)

  • Mix food with saliva and mucus to form a slippery ball (called a bolus) that can be easily swallowed

The mouth is lined by a mucous membrane. Mucous membrane is a layer of specialised epithelial tissue. The roof (top) of the mouth is called the palate. The palate has two parts: the soft palate (i.e. soft tissue at the back) and the hard palate (i.e. a hard area of skin over the top of a layer of bone at the front of the mouth). When food is swallowed, the soft palate rises to block off the nasal passage at the back of the mouth. The hard palate provides a solid surface which the tongue can squash food against when chewing. This process requires saliva, which is secreted from salivary glands located in pairs in different parts of the mouth. These will be discussed further in the section on accessory organs.


The oesophagus is a thick and strong tube made up of cartilage rings and muscle, which connects the mouth to the stomach. It passes through the diaphragm (the partition between the chest and the abdomen). The tube is lined with mucous membrane and the walls are made up of involuntary muscle fibres.

Once the bolus has been forced into the oesophagus from the mouth by the process of swallowing (or deglutition) it is automatically pushed down the oesophagus by an action known as peristalsis. Peristalsis is an involuntary muscular contraction of muscles in the digestive tract. The bolus is forced along by the muscle behind the bolus contracting and narrowing the oesophagus, whilst the muscle in front of the bolus remains relaxed and widening the oesophagus. This squeezes the bolus forward into the area of relaxed muscle. This area of muscle now contracts and propels the bolus further forward. The whole process is like a wave-like motion. Once the bolus is in the oesophagus, it must travel down to the stomach.

There is no conscious control over this process, as the muscles are involuntarily controlled. Peristalsis defies gravity which allows for the movement of food along the digestive tract whilst the body is in motion or being held up-side-down.

The Simple Stomach

The stomach is a small muscular bag, the walls of which are made of involuntary muscle. The inside of the stomach is lined by a membrane of specialised cells. Food enters the stomach via the oesophagus. Once food has been processed it passes out of the stomach into the small intestine.

Both the entrance to the stomach (from the oesophagus) and the exit to the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) are controlled by narrow rings of muscle called sphincters. These control the flow and passage of food into and out of the stomach. When the sphincter is contracted, it prevents the flow of food. When the sphincter is relaxed, food can pass through. The sphincter between the oesophagus and the stomach is the lower oesophageal sphincter. At the bottom of the stomach and the duodenum is the pyloric sphincter.

The lining of the inside of the stomach consists of numerous small folds which increase the surface area coming into contact with the food inside the stomach. In addition, the stomach lining contains many gastric glands (small pits). These glands are lined by three types of cells as follows:

  • Mucous cells: produce a thick, sticky fluid
  • Parietal cells: produce hydrochloric acid
  • Chief cells: produce enzymes

All these substances help in the process of food digestion. You should note the hydrochloric acid and the enzymes work in sync for some digestion to take place in the stomach. The complexities of this are not discussed here.

On leaving the stomach, the mixture of food and gastric juice is now referred to as chyme (pron. kyme).

The Small Intestine

The small intestine is a long, muscular tube leading from the stomach to the large intestine. Most of the digestion occurs here.

There are three sections to the small intestine:

1. The Duodenum

When food leaves the stomach, it moves through the pyloric sphincter and enters the duodenum. The duodenum is a c-shaped tube and is the shortest part of the small intestine, commonly about 25 cm long. Hormones are secreted in the duodenum to control the release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas, and bile from the gall bladder. The chyme (food released from the stomach) is vigorously mixed here also. The majority of digestion in the small intestine occurs in this small region.

2. The Jejunum

This is about 2.5 metres long and is the middle section of the small intestine. The lining of the intestine changes here, to one specialised for the absorption of protein and carbohydrates from the chyme. 

3. The Ileum

This is the lowest section of the small intestine, measuring approximately 3.6 metres long. The lining here is specialised for the absorption of water, fats and a component of bile, bile salts. At the end of this section, the ileocecal sphincter (valve) controls the passage of material into the large intestine.

Most of the absorption of food which occurs happens in the small intestine. Food comes into the small intestine through the pyloric sphincter in the stomach and is pushed along by peristalsis. This is the same muscular action that pushes food down the oesophagus. Peristalsis is entirely involuntary so a person has no control over it at all.

If someone is unwell, the passage of food can either speed up resulting in improper digestion and nutrient uptake; or conversely, if the process is slowed, a person may end up constipated. The lining of the small intestine contains many mucus producing glands. Mucus is produced in order to lubricate the food. The glands also produce enzymes that are required for the further digestion of food that has passed from the stomach.

In addition, the lining contains many small finger-like projections called villi (singular = villus). Digested food diffuses through the villi on its way from the small intestine into the bloodstream. Digested carbohydrates and proteins pass into the bloodstream while digested fats pass through the villi into the lymphatic system.

The Large Intestine

The large intestine is also known as the colon. It serves to move eliminated waste received from the small intestine (via the ileocecal sphincter) to the rectum ready for elimination, while water absorption takes place. The diameter of the large intestine is much greater than the small intestine. 

There are four main parts:

1. The Caecum (sometimes spelled 'cecum')

In humans the caecum is a pouch in the colon about 6cm long with a closed end. Its function in humans is mainly to absorb fluids and salts, while secreting thick mucus and mixing it with the waste product it receives. Attached to the caecum is a coiled tube called the vermiform appendix. The mesentery of the appendix (i.e. mesoappendix) attaches to the lower part of the ileum.

2. The Colon

The open end of the caecum merges into the colon, which is divided into 4 parts:  

  • Ascending Colon: Ascends on right side of the body to the bottom of the liver.
  • Transverse Colon: Runs from right to left side of body, horizontally.
  • Descending Colon: Descends on left side of body to the point of the iliac crest.
  • Sigmoid Colon: Starts near the left side of the iliac crest and runs towards the middle of the body finishing at the rectum.

The ascending and transverse colon continue the process of absorption of both water and salts. As this occurs, waste becomes more solid and firm. The sigmoid colon has the special job of contracting to produce high pressure, which forces the solid waste products into the rectum. One of the effects of some infections and also laxative medicines is to prevent the absorption of water into the colon, causing people to pass a very watery fluid (diarrhoea). It is also very important that humans have access to plenty of fresh, clean water so lost fluids can be replaced.

3. The Rectum

This is commonly about 20cm long forming the final section of the digestive tract. Its function is to store the solid waste until it is eliminated from the body, by a process known as defecation.

4. The Anal Canal

This is 2-3cm long. The opening of this canal is called the anus. There are two sphincters that control defecation. Signals received from this region are what give us the ‘urge’ to go to the toilet.


Why study this course?

If you are already working in (or have worked in) a relevant industry, then studying this course is ideal if you are seeking a qualification to deepen your knowledge and consolidate your skills and practical experience in nutrition.

Meet some of our academics

Jade SciasciaBiologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager. Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Dip.Professional Education, Cert IV TESOL, Cert Food Hygiene.
Melissa Leistra B.Ed., Masters Nutrition 16 yrs experience - in hosapitality, teaching, cooking Lives a self-sustainable lifestyle on a farm and raising all types of animals. experienced vegetarian/vegan cook and loves to create wholesome food using her slow combustion wood stove.

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