Module code: BMSM009

Module Overview

This module will enable students to understand the role of dietary minerals in health and disease. Various aspects of trace elements will be covered, including assessment of status, dietary sources, requirements, and health problems associated with both deficiency and excess.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

BATH Sarah (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 4

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Lecture Hours: 12

Tutorial Hours: 10

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 14

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Some or all of the following topics

  • Essentiality of dietary minerals

  • Overview of dietary minerals and trace elements from a clinical perspective

  • Trace element speciation: influence on bioavailability, absorption, excretion, toxicity

  • Dietary mineral homeostasis

  • Trace-element analysis

  • Inborn errors of metabolism affecting trace-element levels

  • The acute phase response (systemic inflammatory response) and its effect on trace-element distribution

  • Sources; bioavailability - interactions with other nutrients, metabolism; metabolic function; assessment of status; requirements; indications for supplementation

  • Iron: haem and non-haem proteins/enzymes; requirements in growth, menstruation, pregnancy; iron-deficiency anaemia; fortification; excess/toxicity - iron overload; iron as a pro-oxidant

  • Zinc: metalloproteins; transporters; effects of deficiency; immune effects; clinical importance

  • Selenium: selenoproteins and their functions; redox/antioxidant effects; health effects of deficiency and marginal adequacy e.g. immunity; viral virulence; HIV; fertility/reproduction; cancer risk; current UK selenium status; excess/toxicity - selenosis

  • Iodine: thyroid hormones, interaction with selenium; Iodine Deficiency Diseases (IDD) - goitre, cretinism, endemic retardation; prevention and control of IDD; goitrogens

  • Other trace elements of nutritional importance

  • Electrolytes: potassium, sodium, blood pressure

  • Magnesium and calcium: deficiency; molecular and clinical roles.

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 knowledge and, where appropriate, the application of knowledge in practical settings (for example at the trace-element dinner during the module). The ability to be critical and the use of evidence to support the case or argument offered is assessed.

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Coursework: a range of subject areas will be assessed, demonstrating learning outcomes across the range for the module.

  • Students are required to submit electronically on a deadline set two months following the end of the module.

Formative assessment and feedback

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

Module aims

  • To give participants an understanding of the important roles played by dietary minerals in human metabolism and health.
  • To discuss the range of requirements conventionally accepted for dietary minerals and factors that may alter these requirements.
  • To ensure that students have a full understanding of how to assess trace element status and knowledge of the pitfalls involved in such assessment.
  • To give participants knowledge of dietary sources of minerals and an understanding of factors affecting their bioavailability, including interactions with each other and with other nutrients.
  • To explore in detail the symptoms of overt deficiency states and the less-apparent effects of marginal deficiency of essential minerals.
  • To make participants aware of toxicity and other adverse consequences associated with an excess of minerals.
  • To ensure that they are aware of genetic factors and acute conditions that can affect essential-trace-element levels.
  • To discuss indications for appropriate supplementation or fortification.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Explain the importance of essential minerals in human metabolism K
002 Describe the symptoms of mineral deficiency states and know how to rectify these by dietary means or by the use of appropriate dietary supplements where necessary K
003 Discuss the current recommendations for dietary intakes of the trace elements and the factors that need to be considered in order to achieve optimal trace-element status K
004 Construct appropriate dietary advice on sources of essential minerals and on factors affecting their bioavailability C
005 Evaluate clinical tests for assessing trace-element status with awareness of the many and complex factors which must be taken into account when interpreting results C
006 Apply knowledge of genetic factors and acute conditions that can affect essential-trace-element levels C
007 Use research literature and full range of library and online resources for research and module assessment exercises T
008 Critically appraise current nutrition research T
009 Integrate evidence base to write answers to module assessment questions 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 (22.5 hours)

  • Workshops

  • Journal club

  • Class discussions

Trace element dinner (3hr, as part of the module)

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: BMSM009

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 2 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 2022/3 academic year.