Module code: BMSM003

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to provide a conceptual understanding of the role of free-radicals, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in health and disease and to develop an understanding of the biochemical and cellular mechanisms involved in this process. The module also examines a variety of phytoprotectants and their role in promoting health and preventing disease and the variety of mechanisms, through which they exert their effects.


This module develops on some antioxidant concepts covered in Module 1 Principles of Nutritional Science (BMSM001). The module also helps support understanding in Module 4 Obesity, Diabetes and Easting Disorders (BMSM004) and Module 7 Nutrition in Aging (BMSM007).

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

AHMADI Kourosh (Biosciences)

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: 91

Lecture Hours: 19

Guided Learning: 20

Captured Content: 20

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 defenses: 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; 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; the isothiocyanates; resveratrol; lycopene and selected carotenoids.

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

  • Non-antioxidant mechanisms: cellular biology of antioxidants and phytoprotectants; cell signaling, 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

  • 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 & understanding of free radicals, and related oxidative species, in health and disease and the role of antioxidants & phytoprotectants as potentially protective agents in the prevention/amelioration of disease. It also provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate the development of their cognitive & transferable skills through the assimilation and critical 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:

During the module, students have the opportunity to read an up-to-date research paper and to present it to the group.  Immediate peer and staff feedback is provided.

Students also receive feedback electronically in SurreyLeam with regard to their submitted essays. The Module Organiser and the internal lecturers are available for discussion prior to, during and after the module, if necessary.

Module aims

  • Help students become familiar with the terms used in free radical biology and to describe the plasma and cellular antioxidant defense systems, their biochemical and cellular mechanisms and the interactions between these systems
  • Develop students¿ understanding of the dietary sources, bioavailability and biochemistry of antioxidants and phytoprotectants as well as their molecular and physiological effects and role in health and disease.
  • Provide an understanding of epidemiological and clinical trial data relevant to the effects of antioxidants and phytoprotectants in health and disease.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Be able to define what free radicals, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species are, and the mechanisms by which these species may cause disease K
002 Have a sound knowledge of the bioavailability and metabolism of antioxidants and phytoprotectants K
003 Understand the dietary sources of antioxidant and phytoprotectants, and considerations of recommendations for intakes KCP G
004 Assess the role of diet and the associated antioxidants and phytoprotectants in selected diseases, in which free radicals/reactive oxygen and nitrogen species are considered to play a role CP G, S
005 Be able to source, use and critically evaluate current research literature in the field of antioxidants and phytoprotectants, to develop a deep understanding of their importance and use CT D, G

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 grade descriptor for qualification at level 7 in the  Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) produced by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

  • use group work to continue to build students’ confidence in the critical evaluation of the scientific literature. Develop skills in presentation and discussion which will be useful in BMSM013.

  • allow students to develop bonds with their peers and staff in order to foster a good team spirit which will be beneficial for this and future modules.

  • engage students with different professional backgrounds to maximize their learning by drawing on their own expertise and experiences to contribute to class discussions.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures

  • Class discussions based on lectures,

  • Critical evaluation of topical journal articles (group work),

  • Case studies

  • A bespoke evening meal, designed to consolidate learning during 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: BMSM003

Other information

This module can be taken as a stand–alone module.



The module focuses on phyto- (plant based) nutrients and their health benefits – and to some extent this is contrasted with a diet in which meat is a component. This is in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) focused on Health.



The programme is accredited with the AfN and taught by world leaders in their subject areas. The skills taught are useful to help practitioners appreciate the benefits of various phytonutrients in disease e.g. cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cancer treatment and prevention, etc.


Digital capabilities:

Students are informed of the use of online databases in lectures. Interactive web tools are encouraged to gather evidence for their assignments.


Resourcefulness and resilience:

Encourage independent learning and use of Panopto recordings to facilitate learning. Interaction with teaching staff encouraged in person and via Discussion Boards. Library site highlighted and encouraged for the utilization of resources for the independent learners.


Global and cultural awareness:

Cultural aspects of diets/foods are discussed with reference their phytonutrient content and bioavailability and the impact these diets have on health outcomes. Differences highlighted in studies conducted in different nations as to the efficacy of different phytonutrients e.g. soy isoflavones in disease prevention.

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 2023/4 academic year.