Module code: BMSM009

Module Overview

This module is designed to give students an understanding of the role of dietary minerals in health and disease. Students will understand the daily intake recommendations and requirements for several important dietary minerals. They will also examine the evidence base for the health effects of both deficiency and excess of dietary minerals. By taking this module, students will develop practical application of knowledge through understanding the main dietary sources and inhibitors of dietary minerals. They will also understand the issues around assessments of mineral/trace element status in individuals, including issues to consider when interpreting measurements. Finally, the module outlines how the current focus on sustainable diets may affect dietary mineral intake and status. The trace element dinner provides an opportunity to consolidate knowledge from the module.

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: 3

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Lecture Hours: 17

Tutorial Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 14

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

In this module, students will learn about the importance of dietary minerals from both a clinical and a public-health perspective. The module offers students the chance to learn about dietary requirements and sources of key minerals, and how to measure intake and/or status appropriately.


The content in this module builds on some of the key content on dietary minerals in BMSM001 but also includes new aspects, and others in more depth. Knowledge and skills in this module will support students in other modules, later in the programme. Can also be taken as a stand-alone module.


Indicative content includes some or all of the following topics:

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

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

  • Trace-element analysis

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

  • Dietary sources of trace elements; bioavailability - interactions with other nutrients, metabolism; metabolic function; assessment of status; requirements; indications for supplementation

  • The implications of environmentally sustainable diets (predominantly plant-based) on mineral intake, bioavailability, and status

  • Specific dietary minerals:

    • 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

    • Iodine: role in thyroid hormone production; Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) – including goitre and cretinism, and effects of mild-to-moderate deficiency; assessment of iodine status; prevention and control of IDD in populations; public-health approaches other considerations of iodine in individuals and populations; dietary sources and considerations; iodine excess.

    • Electrolytes: potassium, sodium

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

    • Other trace elements of nutritional importance (e.g. copper)

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

  • the application of knowledge in practical settings

  • critical thinking

  • use of the evidence base through use of appropriate literature


 The summative assessment for this module consists of

  • Coursework: a range of subject areas will be assessed, demonstrating learning outcomes across the module. The coursework questions cover a variety of approaches to test skills and knowledge and to allow students to develop areas including essay writing, data analysis, written communication skills, and practical application of knowledge.


  Formative assessment:

  • The trace element dinner includes a formative assessment (in the form of a quiz) to help students consolidate their knowledge of dietary sources

  • Students will receive comments from the module organiser and/or individual teaching staff on the information and responses presented by students in the interactive sessions. For example, during the session on critical appraisal of a relevant journal article, and in sessions related to practical application of knowledge.  



  • The module organiser will be available for further discussion if necessary

  • A Discussion Board will be available in SurreyLearn during and after the module.

  • Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessments

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 dietary minerals and critically appraise current nutrition research on this topic KPT E, RR, DC
002 Describe and explain the symptoms of mineral deficiency states and identify how to prevent or rectify deficiency by dietary means or using appropriate dietary supplements where necessary K SS
003 Critically discuss the current recommendations for dietary intakes of the trace elements and the factors that need to be considered to achieve optimal trace-element status KP SS, GCC
004 Construct appropriate dietary advice on sources of essential minerals and on factors affecting their bioavailability, including the impact of environmentally sustainable, plant-based diets CP E, SS, RR, DC
005 Critique the clinical tests for assessing trace-element status with awareness of the many and complex factors which must be considered when interpreting results C E, RR

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:

  • engage students with different learning and academic and professional backgrounds to use and share their own experiences and contribute to whole group discussions, and small-group sessions throughout the module.

  • equip students with practical knowledge of dietary minerals, for example through attending the trace element dinner during the module, and through other interactive sessions

  • showcase the range of applications in nutrition, through lectures on topics ranging from laboratory analysis of trace elements, clinical considerations, through to public-health perspectives and implications.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures

  • Workshops

  • Journal club (critical appraisal session)

  • Class discussions

  • Trace element dinner

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

Can be taken as a stand–alone module.



In this module, students gain exposure to speakers from a range of different specialties, including, for example, experts who work in government policy, research, and clinical settings. This enables students to see the range of career options open to those with training in nutrition. In addition, there opportunity to speak with students who are continuing in education and research, for example with Research Fellows and/or PhD students who may join to facilitate sessions on critical appraisal. The assessments are varied and designed to mimic professional life, for example consideration of issues from a nutrition consultation, writing a fact sheet, and a data analysis question.


Resourcefulness and Resilience

The teaching of this module provides opportunities for students to use resources for assessments and more broadly. There are several formative, interactive sessions, that enable students develop skills e.g. critical appraisal of a journal paper.  This helps students to appraise the evidence base, particularly around some of the trace elements where the evidence is less robust (for example, chromium), enabling them to draw on skills and learn from others in group discussions. The feedback provided to students after the summative assessment includes a section on “general feedback for future work” to enable feedforward.



Digital Capabilities:

During the module, students use the online virtual learning environment, SurreyLearn, which is set up to facilitate the learning on the module. Some material is available as pre-recorded content, and there are links to other digital resources, for example YouTube videos. Students also consider digital tools for assessing dietary mineral intake, and consider the development and application of these online resources.


Global and cultural capabilities

Students get the opportunity to consider the global context of mineral deficiencies, and to discuss variability in diets, and therefore mineral intake, globally. This includes considering the cultural and international issues that may affect mineral intake and availably, as well as the varying public-health options. Students are encouraged to share their own from their own cultures, backgrounds, and experience.    




The module includes content on the impact of environmentally sustainable diets on mineral intake, including considering bioavailability of minerals on plant-based diets. The EAT-Lancet he recommendations for “planetary health” are discussed in the context of minerals. The students are encouraged to think of appropriate solutions to ensuring adequate mineral intake within the context of plant-based, sustainable diets. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are considered in various aspects of the module.  The students are also encouraged to consider factors affecting food security in the UK and across the world and how this affects mineral intake.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Nutritional Medicine MSc 1 Compulsory 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 2025/6 academic year.