Module code: BMSM003

Module Overview

To provide an understanding of the role of free-radicals, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in health and disease and to discuss the biochemical and cellular mechanisms, including cell signalling, by which they exert their effects.

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

BROWN Jonathan (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 125

Lecture Hours: 25

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Some or all of the following topics

  • Free radicals, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species; endogenous and exogenous sources; iron and transition metal catalysis, the Fenton reaction; oxidative damage -lipid peroxidation, protein and DNA damage; determination of free-radical activities in tissues

  • Antioxidant defences: enzymes e.g. catalase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, xanthine oxidase; role of transferrin and caeruloplasmin; antioxidant vitamins -ascorbic acid, tocopherols, carotenoids; low-molecular-weight antioxidants e.g. glutathione, uric acid; assessment of antioxidant activity; pro- and antioxidant effects

  • Antioxidants and phytoprotectants in food: e.g. vitamin C and vitamin E; polyphenols, flavonols (fruit and vegetables), flavanols (tea), anthocyanins (berries and red wine); isoflavones (soy), including the gut flora metabolite, equol; sulphur containing compounds, the isothiocyanates; lignans and their gut flora metabolites, enterodiol and enterolactone; resveratrol, sulphur and selenium compounds; lycopene

  • Absorption, bioavailability and general metabolism of the antioxidants and phytoprotectants; Safety concerns of antioxidants; unknown interactions.

  • Non-antioxidant mechanisms: cellular biology of antioxidants and phytoprotectants; cell signalling, gene expression, effects on nuclear receptors, effects on platelet aggregation and blood clotting, more than antioxidant function

  • Oxidative damage in the aetiology of cardiovascular disease: epidemiology of CHD; the "Response to injury hypothesis"; mechanisms of atherogenesis; LDL oxidation; endothelial damage; experimental and epidemiological evidence; intervention trials; limitations of antioxidant hypothesis

  • Positive and negative aspects of antioxidants in cardiovascular disease: observational and intervention studies; epidemiology, controlled trials, limitations of studies; what doses are required for effects

  • Cancer and diet: natural history and pathology of cancer; free-radical-mediated and other initiating reactions; dietary promotion of carcinogenesis; epidemiology of cancers - evidence for a dietary aetiology; anticarcinogens e.g. complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables; phytoestrogens: physiology, biochemistry and role in health and disease, hormone dependent cancers; mechanism of anticarcinogen action; results of nutritional intervention studies

  • Oxidative damage in the aetiology and pathogenesis of other conditions: the role of antioxidants and phytoprotectants in these disease processes



Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide  students with the opportunity to demonstrate their subject knowledge and understanding (see above) and the development of their cognitive and transferable skills (see above) through the assimilation and appraisal of the literature to address the coursework questions.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

• Coursework: a range of subject areas are assessed, demonstrating learning outcomes across the range for the module
• Students are required to submit electronically on a set deadline two months following the module.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive feedback electronically in SurreyLeam and Module Organisers will be available for further discussion if necessary.

Module aims

  • To describe the plasma and cellular antioxidant defence systems, their biochemical and cellular mechanisms and their interactions with each other.
  • To explore the physiology and biochemistry of the phytoprotectants and their role in health and disease.
  • To discuss the epidemiological and trial data relevant to antioxidants and phytoprotectants.
  • To outline the dietary sources of antioxidants and phytoprotectants.
  • To discuss the possible role of diet in human carcinogenesis.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Define the concept of free radicals and reactive oxygen and nitrogen species K
2 Describe the mechanisms by which free radicals may cause disease K
3 Review the metabolism of antioxidants and phytoprotectants K
4 Debate the clinical trial and epidemiological evidence for the importance of antioxidants and phytoprotectants in modifying disease risk C
5 Evaluate dietary sources and the dietary recommendations for antioxidant and phytoprotectant intakes C
6 Assess the role of diet in carcinogenesis, coronary heart disease and other conditions in which free radicals/reactive oxygen and nitrogen species play a part C
7 Use research literature and full range of library and online resources for research and module assessment exercises T
8 Critically evaluate current research in antioxidants and phytoprotectants T
9 Integrate evidence base for antioxidants/phytoprotectants to written essays for module assessment exercises T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to be aligned with the descriptor for qualification at level 7 in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) produced by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

The learning and teaching methods include:

• Lectures
• Workshops
• Journal club
• Class discussions

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: BMSM003

Other information

This module is only available to students on the Nutritional Medicine programme.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Nutritional Medicine MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.