MEDSCI 712 : Critical Evaluation of Nutritional Therapies

Medical and Health Sciences

2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The suggested roles for micronutrients, 'nutriceuticals' and functional foods in general health, exercise performance and disease are evaluated using an evidence-based approach. The roles of micronutrients as dietary supplements and the potential actions of nutriceuticals and functional foods are also critically evaluated. Regulatory and ethical issues in the use of nutritional remedies are considered, including their use as supplements in chemotherapy or other conventional therapies, or in individuals with no symptoms.

Course Overview

The course provides students with the theoretical knowledge and skills to evaluate and disseminate evidence-based research on nutraceuticals and functional foods.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Course Contacts

Course Director -Professor Clare Wall


Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Master of Health Sciences

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Critically examine the definitions of nutraceuticals, functional and healthy foods. (Capability 3.2)
  2. Identify relevant national and international regulation of health claims on functional foods (Capability 3.2 and 3.3)
  3. Compare and contrast research methodologies to evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of nutraceuticals and functional foods for general health as well as for diet-related chronic disease. (Capability 3.1 and 3.2)
  4. Synthesise and critique evidence from published literature on nutraceuticals and functional foods. (Capability 4.1)
  5. Develop and deliver effective communications for consumers regarding evidence on the use of nutraceuticals. (Capability 6.1, 6.2 and 8.2)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Literature Review 30% Individual Coursework
Consumer Communication 25% Individual Coursework
Presentation 20% Individual Coursework
Literature Review 25% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Literature Review
Consumer Communication
Literature Review

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

Seminars (including student led seminars) (24 hours) 

Set readings and other resources provided on Canvas  (24 hours) 

Assignments and self-directed learning (72 hours)

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled  seminars to complete the course.
Seminars will be available as recordings. 
The course will include group discussions and student presentations. Attendance is required for these activities. 
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable delivery.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Essentials of Human Nutrition 
Jim Mann; A. Stewart Truswell 
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press c2012. 4th ed.. 
Available at PHILSON LIBRARY Main Collection (QU145 M28 2012 copy 2 ) 
Nutrient Reference Values

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

In 2023, 2 students (10% of the class) completed the anonymous SET evaluations.
While the low participation rate cannot be considered representative, we are nonetheless delighted by how interesting and  informative  some students found the course and assignments to be. 

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 09/11/2023 08:14 a.m.