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Unit information: Physical Activity and Nutrition Interventions: Conceptualisation and Design in 2020/21

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Unit name Physical Activity and Nutrition Interventions: Conceptualisation and Design
Unit code PHEDM4015
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Russ Jago
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will focus specifically on the issues associated with designing diet and physical activity interventions for different target groups. The course will demonstrate how the MRC guidelines for complex behavioural interventions can be used to design and evaluate diet and physical activity interventions for children, adults, and seniors. The module will include discussion and analysis of formative research, process evaluations, media campaigns, environmental interventions, randomised controlled interventions and will address issues related to cost-effectiveness of interventions. Case studies of key interventions related to specific lifestyle conditions as well as their successes and failures will be presented and used to facilitate the students development of their own interventions.


  1. To evaluate the key issues associated with designing effective diet and physical activity interventions.
  2. To assess the strengths and weakness of different intervention approaches for key participant groups (i.e. children, adults seniors etc).
  3. To develop the necessary skills to design and/or evaluate a new diet and physical activity intervention

Intended learning outcomes

  1. To obtain an understanding of intervention design, including the concepts of mediation and moderation.
  2. To develop the skills necessary to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different intervention designs.
  3. To develop the skills necessary to design and evaluate an effective diet or physical activity intervention for different target groups or disease.

Teaching details

The unit will be delivered through blended learning involving a combination of lectures, group discussion and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Details

Assessment will be in two parts. Part 1: Peer assessment of group designed diet or physical activity intervention (25%)

Part 2: Provide a report in which a new diet or physical activity intervention (for different group to part 1) is designed. Report will include an overview of the theory used to design the interventions, rationale for the target group, selection of the study design, hypothesised mediators and moderators of the intervention, description of the intervention and evaluation (including resource implications, process evaluation and cost-effectiveness) and dissemination plan. (3000 words - 75%.)

Reading and References

  1. Craig P, Dieppe P, Macintyre S, et al. Developing and Evaluating Complex Interventions: the New Medical Research Council Guidance. BMJ 2008; 337: a1655
  2. Moore GF, Audrey S, Barker M, et al. Process Evaluation of Complex Interventions: Medical Research Council Guidance. BMJ 2015: 350: h1258
  3. Baranowski, T, Cerin E, Baronowski J. Steps in the Design, Development and Formative Evaluation of Obesity Prevention-Related Behaviour Change Trials. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2009;6:6