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Unit information: Nutrition and Behaviour in 2020/21

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Unit name Nutrition and Behaviour
Unit code PSYC31052
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Jeff Brunstrom
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Psychological Science
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


The unit examines the inter-relationships between nutrition and behaviour and their implications for health and psychological well-being. Topics covered relate to appetite and weight control (including obesity and dieting); eating disorders; food preferences; dietary influences on mood and cognitive function; caffeine psychopharmacology; and food craving and “addiction”. An underlying theme is the interplay of biological, psychological and social processes influencing behaviour.

The aims of this unit are to provide a broad understanding of major topics in Nutrition and Behaviour, and to develop an appreciation of contemporary issues and emerging research in this field.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to:

  1. Illustrate the field of nutrition and behaviour by distinguishing key drivers of eating behaviour such as appetite and food choice
  2. Analyse contemporary issues in the field of nutrition and behaviour and apply different methodological approaches that enhance research on eating behaviour
  3. Demonstrate the application of general psychological principles and theory to the study of nutrition and behaviour
  4. Summarise the relevance and impact of diet on psychological functioning

Teaching details

Each asynchronous lecture will be subdivided into 2 to 4 separate themes. Each theme will have an associated theme activity. Activities will incorporate streamed media, directed reading, and reflections on specific research questions.

1 x synchronous engagement activity will take place weekly (+ one 'office hour'), which will include a discussion forum and student-led learning. Discussion forums will consider pre-specified research topics or research articles. Two of these sessions will focus on coursework and in one week the students will be offered the opportunity to discuss their coursework in small tutorial groups.

Assessment Details

Coursework - 50% of unit mark

All students will be expected to attend a coursework discussion tutorial in week 7. In addition, two optional coursework discussion seminars will be offered in the weeks immediately before and after the coursework tutorials (week 6 and week 8).

Timed open book assessment – 50% of unit mark

Students will be asked to attend two 'timed open book assessment'-related sessions in week 11. One session will cover essay topics relating to questions set by Professor Jeff Brunstrom and the other will cover topics set by Professor Peter Rogers. General topic areas will be released to the students at the end of week 10.

Reading and References


Rogers P. J. & Brunstrom J. M. (2016) Appetite and energy balancing. Physiology and Behavior, 164, 465-471.


Blundell, J. E. & Bellisle, F. (Eds.) (2013). Satiation, satiety and the control of food intake: Theory and practice. Oxford, UK: Woodhead Publishing.

Capaldi, E. D. (1996). Why we eat what we eat: The psychology of eating. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Frayn, K. N. (2010). Metabolic regulation: A human perspective. Wiley: Chichester. Garrow, J. S. (Ed.) (2000). Human nutrition and dietetics. (10th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. Hetherington, M. M. (Ed.) (2001). Food craving and addiction. Leatherhead, UK: Leatherhead Publishing.

James, J. E. (1997). Understanding caffeine: A biobehavioural analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kanarek, R. B. & Marks-Kaufman, R. (1991). Nutrition and behaviour: New perspectives. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Lask, B. & Bryant-Waugh, R. (Eds.) (2000). Anorexia nervosa and related eating disorders in childhood and adolescence. (2nd ed.). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

Logue, A. W. (1991). The psychology of eating and drinking: An introduction. (2nd ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman.

Mela, D. J. & Rogers, P. J. (1998). Food, eating and obesity: The psychobiological basis of appetite and weight control. London: Chapman and Hall.

Additional recommended and further reading will be made available through Blackboard