Module code: BMS3059

Module Overview

This module covers a variety of important components in foods that arise from the chemical and biochemical transformations which occur during the processing, storage and preparation of foods. It builds on previous knowledge in food science, particularly BMS2042 (Food Science: Perception, Processing and Preservation), in terms of enhancing the understanding of the complex reactions that occur in foods. This will be done by critically examining the published research in the field, which will be helpful for the final year research project. The emphasis is focused on understanding how the compounds are formed, the levels present and their role in food safety, acceptability and health effects.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

GRASSBY Terri (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 67

Lecture Hours: 17

Seminar Hours: 17

Laboratory Hours: 3

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 35

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Pre-requisite BMS2042 Food Science: Perception, Processing & Preservation

Module content

Some of the module content will be co-taught with the postgraduates taking MHUM012 

Indicative content includes: 

Introduction and overview of the module. Presentation of some information on assessment and feedback expectations. 

Critical review of a current peer reviewed publication – what features to look out for in an article. 

Pigment and volatile formation during food processing 

Reactions involving sugars, ascorbate, amino acids and proteins 

Heterocyclic amine formation and safety considerations 

The chemistry and role of sulphite in foods including safety aspects 

The chemistry and role of nitrate, nitrite and nitroso-compounds, including safety aspects

Chemical and enzymatic modification of proteins 

Protein – protein interactions 

Protein – polysaccharide interactions 

Protein-lipid and oxidized lipid interactions 

Transesterified fats, interesterified fats and their health effects

The nature of phenols and tannins – introduction to structures and terms 

Phenols and tannins – transformations during processing – e.g. in tea and coffee 

Phenols and tannins – dietary intake (including how to calculate it), absorption and metabolism 

Phenols and tannins – biological effects and relevance 

Free radicals, radical scavengers and antioxidants 

Antioxidants in vivo and in vitro (including practical on antioxidant assays and their relevance) 

Sugar replacers and product reformulation

Workshop on current topics in food chemistry 

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework TWO ESSAYS 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate: 

That they can describe, explain and understand the complex reactions that occur during the processing of foods. Provide students with the opportunity to show an understanding of the role that these and other compounds have in foods in terms of their safety and acceptability. Develop and demonstrate critical review and written communication skills. 

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of: 

  • Critical review essay due the middle of Semester 1. This will be on a topic taught within the first few weeks of the semester. Guidance on critically reviewing papers for inclusion in this review will be provided in week 1 and 2. 

  • Two shorter essays, with abstracts, due end of semester 1 – students must answer 2 out of 4 questions (questions will be released once all content has been made available). 

Both assessments will have assessment briefs. Word limits will allow +10%. Work that is more than 10% over the word limit will incur a penalty of 10% (e.g. an essay given 73% based on the content, will be marked as 63% if it is more than 10% over the word limit). 

The critical review essay is designed to test students’ knowledge of a key topic within food chemistry, their ability to select appropriate sources, critically review them and summarise them concisely in written form, as they may be required to do in their research project and/or future careers. 

The two shorter essays ensure that a range of key learning objectives are covered, introduce the concept of writing abstracts (which will be helpful for the research project) and provide a second opportunity to demonstrate critical review skills based on feedback from the first assessment. 

Both assessments will have associated assessment briefs and rubrics, so students can self-assess their work. 

Formative assessment: 

The seminars will provide an opportunity for students to assess their own level of understanding of the concepts provided in the lectures and the students’ independent reading. There will also be use of discussion boards between seminars. 


Feedback will be given on both assessments, for which rubrics and freeform comments will be provided within the time allowed for marking coursework. General feedback will be given on both summative assessments, recorded and uploaded onto Surreylearn, so students can revisit it later. The feedback from this module can be applied to other modules, particularly the research project. 

Module aims

  • Provide opportunities to critically review the research literature in the area, including original research, systematic reviews, large cohort studies and meta-analyses
  • Introduce statistical concepts encountered when critically reviewing these papers
  • Link food chemistry to subsequent health effects (both positive and negative)
  • Link food chemistry to the sensory attributes of foods
  • Develop and assess written communication skills
  • Provide a deep understanding of key food components in terms of the chemical changes they undergo during processing

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate an understanding of the complexities of non-enzymic browning using illustrative formulae and equations, and of the role of non-enzymic browning in determining food acceptability KCP E
002 Demonstrate an understanding of the reactions leading to mutagen formation, the factors that can mitigate their formation in cooked/processed food, and their dietary significance KC EGS
003 Demonstrate an understanding of the occurrence and behaviour in foods of nitrate, nitrite and sulphite and present a balanced assessment of their risks and benefits KCPT E
004 Demonstrate an understanding of the reactions for modifying proteins as well as the nature of protein-lipid, protein-protein, protein-polysaccharide interactions and their impact on structure and function KCP E
005 Describe the role of trans fatty acids and interesterified fats in foods and their effects on health KCP E
006 Demonstrate a knowledge of the nature and diversity of phenols and tannins in foods, their transformation during processing, technological significance, and the evidence pertaining to their suggested health benefits, illustrated by relevant formulae and mechanisms KCP GE
007 Demonstrate a knowledge of the uses and limitations of sugar replacers in foods. KCP GES

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The module is designed to provide in-depth knowledge of key topics in food science through lectures and seminars, providing examples from around the world. External guest speakers provide material in their areas of expertise. 

Lectures introduce key topics, which are then critically discussed in seminars. The extensive reading list acts as a starting point for students to explore topics in depth. The seminars will encourage critical thinking and review skills as well as practice in communication skills. Students will also learn how to interpret relevant statistical analyses for significance. All of which will be helpful for the final year research project and future employability. 

The learning and teaching methods include: 

Lectures (~2-4 hours per week x 9 weeks), which will be recorded, will provide the key points/concepts of each topic. These will be followed by weekly seminars (~1 hour per week x 11 weeks), with the relevant lecturers, to give an opportunity to clarify concepts from the lectures and independent reading. Assessment guidance will be provided in assessment briefs and seminars. 

Both lectures and seminars will be taught with students studying at postgraduate level, encouraging the development of oral communication skills and facilitating student interaction. There is also an extensive reading list, a starting point for independent reading.

Practical application of the theory will be supported by two sessions, one calculating polyphenol intake and one using antioxidant assays on a range of foods. 

Finally, there will be a Current Topics in Food Chemistry session at the end of the module for lecturers to highlight the research they are currently involved in to encourage students to go on to postgraduate degrees at MSc or PhD level in Food Science. 

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: BMS3059

Other information

Global and cultural capabilities: This module explores the epidemiological evidence in support of the relationships between dietary polyphenol consumption and various health benefits/risks, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and the risk of cancer using studies conducted across the globe. The module also refers to foods grown, processed and consumed around the world, in particular tea and coffee. There is also reference to the differences in regulations around the world in terms of the use of non-nutritive sweeteners in different product categories. 

Employability: The module provides students with the latest knowledge and understanding of key concepts related to food components, the mechanisms by which they change during processing and their potential health effects, which will be useful when developing new products and their associated processing methods, so that they follow relevant legislation. It also equips students with the skills to critically appraise the literature with regards to the health effects of these components. Practical skills developed may be applicble to graduate roles. In addition to the formal taught components of the module, students will be encouraged to become members of the Institute of Food Science and Technology and attend their Careers Launchpad event, which helps students to identify career paths they may not have considered and network with industry mentors. 

Digital Capabilities: Skills in using digital resources (such as using SurreyLearn and literature searching) will be developed during this module. While a selection of relevant literature (e.g. books, original research papers, systematic reviews and meta-analyses) will be provided, students are also encouraged to familiarise themselves with searching and retrieving peer-reviewed literature from online databases (e.g. PubMed, Scopus) and identifying good sources versus questionable ones. 

Resourcefulness and resilience: This module develops critical review and communication skills and applies them to the evaluation of the literature. Students may find writing long essays quite stressful, so asking for support from the module team will be encouraged. We will also signpost students to English Language Support as necessary. As part of the assessment, students are provided with a rubric before submission, so they can self-assess their work while preparing their summative assessments. Receiving feedback can be difficult for some, so students will be offered support in interpreting feedback and turning it into action. 

Sustainability: The module provides information on how to reduce the formation and consumption of potentially harmful compounds, such as reducing cooking temperatures/times, which coincidentally reduce impacts on the environment as well as providing a healthier diet. Sustainability is also considered when discussing sugar replacers and their sources. 

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Nutrition BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Food Science and Nutrition BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Nutrition and Dietetics BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% 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 2024/5 academic year.