Course Outline

NUT361 Counselling and Communication Skills for Dietetics

Course Coordinator:Hester Wright ( School:School of Health - Nutrition and Dietetics

2023Semester 2

UniSC Sunshine Coast

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.

Please go to for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


This course is designed to develop your ability to effectively manage individual clients in a nutrition and dietetics setting through providing you with a broad array of skills and knowledge related to health-related behaviour change, counselling and communication techniques and skills. Emphasis will be placed on integrating theory into practice, and provide you with opportunities to develop your communication and counselling skills as part of the provision of nutrition therapy to an individual. 

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – On-campus attendance. 2hrs Week 1 12 times
Learning materials – Asynchronised pre-class activities. 2hrs Week 1 13 times
Fieldwork – Dietetic clinic visit 2hrs Week 1 Once Only
Seminar – On campus 1hr Week 1 Once Only

Course Topics


  • Adult learning and behaviour modification theory
  • Patient-centred nutrition education
  • Development of effective communication and counselling skills
  • The dietetic interview

What level is this course?

300 Level (Graduate)

Demonstrating coherence and breadth or depth of knowledge and skills. Independent application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts. Meeting professional requirements and AQF descriptors for the degree. May require pre-requisites where discipline specific introductory or developing knowledge or skills is necessary. Normally undertaken in the third or fourth full-time study year of an undergraduate program.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Demonstrate culturally appropriate, safe and sensitive communication that facilitates trust and builds a respectful professional relationship with a client. Empowered
2 Analyse and apply the principles of adult learning theory and behaviour modification theory to facilitate lifestyle behaviour change whilst recognising determinants influencing health outcomes of an individual. Empowered
3 Demonstrates the development of a credible professional role by utilising evidence-based dietetic skills and nutrition education to improve health outcomes of an individual. Creative and critical thinker
4 Demonstrate professional conduct and duty of care through delivery of relevant and appropriate care according to acceptable nutrition care protocols. Creative and critical thinker
5 Illustrate a commitment to the development of counselling and communication skills in dietetic practice. Engaged

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the UniSC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


NUT351 and enrolled in Program SC406 or SC302




Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Knowledge on the nutrition therapy of chronic disease

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Early feedback on your progress will be provided in Week 4 through in-class peer feedback to your counselling and communication skills in preparation for Assessment Tasks 1 and 3. In class activities and role play throughout the semester will provide opportunity for feedback to implement in Tasks 2 and 3.

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1a Activity Participation Individual 0%
15 minute oral task.
Week 4 In Class
All 1b Artefact - Creative, and Written Piece Individual 30%
7-minute video and 1000 word written report
Week 7 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 2 Artefact - Creative, and Oral Individual 20%
7 minutes
Week 11 Online Submission
All 3a Activity Participation Individual 0%
Throughout teaching period (refer to Format) Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3b Oral Individual 50%
30 minute Oral dietetic interview.
Exam Period In Class
All - Assessment Task 1a:Counselling skills
To demonstrate your counselling and communication skills to facilitate behaviour change.
Product: Activity Participation
You will demonstrate your communication and counselling skills in a class activity. During this activity you will be required to display active listening skills including paraphrasing and empathy. You will also have to demonstrate your ability to identify enablers and barriers to a nutrition-related behaviour.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
You will need to demonstrate effective and appropriate interview and counselling skills through establishing rapport, demonstrate active listening and paraphrasing skills, and works in partnership with a client/patient.
1 5
All - Assessment Task 1b:Behaviour modification plan
To demonstrate your ability to facilitate behaviour change through the use of counselling and communication skills and the application of relevant adult learning and behaviour modification theory.
Product: Artefact - Creative, and Written Piece
You will apply learnings from course content to a peer by analysing the individual's health behaviour information, needs and beliefs and develop an individualised behaviour modification plan using best evidence and theory.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Formulate a lifestyle behaviour modification plan that appropriately applies the principles of adult learning and behaviour modification theory.
Use effective counselling and communication skills to negotiate a relevant person-centred lifestyle goal.
Professionally communicate thoughts clearly and fluently in both written and spoken form.
All - Assessment Task 2:Nutrition education
To demonstrate your nutrition education skills through the delivery of a diet-disease relationship explanation to a peer.
Product: Artefact - Creative, and Oral
You will be required to deliver a diet-disease relationship explanation to a peer. Find task instructions on Canvas for more information.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Professional delivery of an accurate, evidence-based diet-disease relationship explanation.
A clear, understandable diet-disease relationship explanation is delivered.
An engaging diet-disease relationship explanation is delivered that is appropriate to the setting.
All - Assessment Task 3a:Dietetic clinic visit
To develop confidence in gathering nutrition assessment information from a real client.
Product: Activity Participation
You will attend the USC dietetic clinic and gather nutrition information from a real client as well as observe goal setting and development of SMART strategies with a real client.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Demonstrate effective and appropriate interview and counselling skills
1 5
All - Assessment Task 3b:Dietetic Interview
To demonstrate your ability to provide nutrition education and nutrition care using appropriate client-centred communication and counselling skills in a timely manner.
Product: Oral
You will conduct a simulated dietetic interview and demonstrate your nutrition education, goal setting, counselling and communication skills to provide appropriate client-centred nutrition care.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Display critical judgement in the application of knowledge of nutrition science, health and disease, food and food preparation methods in the delivery of nutrition care.
Demonstrates critical evaluation of nutrition assessment information to inform a targeted, evidence-based nutrition intervention in collaboration with a client.
Use of tailored communication to enhance a client's understanding of the nutrition education provided whilst maintaining professional language.
Demonstrate effective and appropriate counselling and communication skills to support behaviour change and negotiate an intervention plan in collaboration with a client.
4 5

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

Please note that you need to have regular access to the resource(s) listed below. Resources may be required or recommended.

Required? Author Year Title Edition Publisher
Required Judith Beto,Betsy Holli 2017 Nutrition Counseling and Education Skills for Dietetic Professionals (7th Edition) LWW

Specific requirements


How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Eligibility for Supplementary Assessment

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct.

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


UniSC is committed to a culture of respect and providing a safe and supportive environment for all members of our community. For immediate assistance on campus contact SafeUSC by phone: 07 5430 1168 or using the SafeZone app. For general enquires contact the SafeUSC team by phone 07 5456 3864 or email

The SafeUSC Specialist Service is a Student Wellbeing service that provides free and confidential support to students who may have experienced or observed behaviour that could cause fear, offence or trauma. To contact the service call 07 5430 1226 or email

Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

Wellbeing Services

Student Wellbeing provide free and confidential counselling on a wide range of personal, academic, social and psychological matters, to foster positive mental health and wellbeing for your academic success.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 1226.

AccessAbility Services

Ability Advisers ensure equal access to all aspects of university life. If your studies are affected by a disability, learning disorder mental health issue, injury or illness, or you are a primary carer for someone with a disability or who is considered frail and aged, AccessAbility Services can provide access to appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical advice about the support and facilities available to you throughout the University.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

For more information, visit

Student Charter

UniSC is committed to excellence in teaching, research and engagement in an environment that is inclusive, inspiring, safe and respectful. The Student Charter sets out what students can expect from the University, and what in turn is expected of students, to achieve these outcomes.

General Enquiries

  • In person:
    • UniSC Sunshine Coast - Student Central, Ground Floor, Building C, 90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs
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