Module code: BMSM041

Module Overview

Completion of this module will enable students to understand and appreciate the changing nutritional needs and challenges across the lifespan, focusing on key developmental periods such as pregnancy, lactation, infancy and older age. They will learn about the substantial role of early life nutrition in later health and about the impact of ageing on a range of body systems, and how nutrition can mediate these effects. The module combines cutting edge science with practical applications and public health to allow students to develop their knowledge but also see how this might be applied in practice. Recent UK data will be used to conceptualize the problem and the populations of interest and we will discuss dietary recommendations for healthy populations as well as dietary prevention and management of associated diseases, such as iron deficiency and dementia.
The module will signpost students to other modules with complementary content, e.g. obesity/ diabetes and CVD.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

HART Kath (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: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 117

Lecture Hours: 19

Tutorial Hours: 1

Guided Learning: 3

Captured Content: 8

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

BMSM001 and BMSM002

Module content

As with other modules in this programme, this module gathers a range of internal and external speakers to provide specific insights into the role and application of nutrition in across the life course. The module is divided into two main sections, broadly covering nutrition in early life and nutrition in ageing.
Students¿ knowledge and appraisal of evidence is assessed by completing an in-class case study workshop and presentation and 4 evidence-based essays (summative assignment). Students¿ application of knowledge is developed using formative activities within the taught part of the modules, but also through undertaking a summative coursework assignment.

Indicative content includes some or all of the following topics:
Nutrition in early life
¿ Pre-conceptual nutrition and nutritional infertility
¿ Physiology and metabolic demands of pregnancy and lactation: body composition, weight gain, energy costs of pregnancy and lactation, specific ¿at risk¿ nutrients, dietary and supplemental management.
¿ Implications and management of maternal obesity
¿ Feeding the infant: human and substitute milks; complementary feeding
¿ Childhood: nutritional needs for normal growth and development; anthropometric assessment; the healthy diet; development of healthy eating habits, management of fussy eating

Nutrition & ageing:
¿ Biology of human senescence
¿ Nutrition and the ageing immune system
¿ Dietary strategies for longevity and reduced risk of age-related diseases
¿ Nutritional influences on the ageing skeleton
¿ Diet and osteoarthritis
¿ Nutritional intake and status of the elderly in the community, care homes and hospitals
¿ Nutritional prevention of dementia: what is the evidence and how should it be applied?
¿ Nutrition, ageing and functional decline through sarcopenia - effects of protein and exercise

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 the knowledge and application of life course nutrition.

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.

The formative assessment for this module consists of the following activities which provide students with the opportunity to assess and consolidate their knowledge and develop their skills:

  • Working dinner where students are encouraged and facilitated to discuss contentious topics in relation to life course nutrition, e.g. nutrition & fertility, diet for longevity

  • Case study workshop in class - an opportunity for students to work in small groups to research an 'at risk' population group, collate relevant data and devise and present a practical intervention strategy

  • Optional in-class and at-home activities such as plotting and interpreting growth data and debating supplement requirements

This module provides feedback in real-time for all in class activities, with students also encouraged to provide feedback to their peers for the case study session. Detailed written feedback will be provided for the summative assignment, focused on what was done well and areas for improvement to allow student to apply this to their future assignments in other modules. The Module Organiser is available for further discussion both during and after the Module.

Module aims

  • Have an appreciation of the biology of lactation and senescence
  • Understand the effect of ageing on the immune and skeletal systems
  • Examine nutritional requirements for fertility, pregnancy, lactation, infancy and healthy ageing
  • Investigate how the nutritional requirements of infants may be met by milk feeding (human & formula) and differing approaches to complementary feeding
  • Examine the role of nutrition in supporting optimal growth and development across childhood and into adult life, including the identification and management of ¿at risk' nutrients and ¿at risk¿ groups or individuals.
  • Evaluate the role of nutrition in the aetiology, prevention and treatment of life course-related conditions such as iron deficiency, Alzheimer's Disease/dementia, osteoporosis and sarcopaenia
  • Appreciate the prevalence of malnutrition in elderly people in hospital and the community and how this is assessed and managed

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Explain the relationship between senescence, function, immunity and nutritional status and discuss the extent to which nutrition is involved in the aetiology, preventions and management of age-related diseases. KC
002 Understand and debate the key issues regarding the prevalence of malnutrition and frequently encountered nutritional deficiencies in different populations, including children and hospitalized adults KCT GC
003 Describe the role of optimal nutritional status in successful conception, pregnancy, lactation, childhood growth and ageing including the roles for specific micronutrients and trace elements K S, GC
004 Describe the physiological processes of lactation and senescence and their hormonal and nutritional regulation. K
005 Undertake and cite further reading and research to support the formulation of written arguments and oral debate KCPT R, DC
006 Discuss the role of the nutrition professional across a range of life course settings PT E, GC

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) and also to
¿ engage students with different learning backgrounds to use and share their own experiences and contribute to group discussions
¿ show the wealth of applications for optimising nutrition throughout the life course through lectures on specific topics from experts in those fields.

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to build on the understanding gained in previous modules and from students¿ own backgrounds, expertise and experiences, equipping them with a key appreciation of the nutritional demands across the life course and the challenges of meeting these.

The learning and teaching methods include:
¿ Class discussions ¿ there will be ample opportunities for facilitated and non-facilitated discussion with peers and staff within and between sessions. This is vital to students¿ understanding and sharing of their experience and perspectives.
¿ Case reports / data collation & interpretation ¿ students will work through a case study in small groups during the module, including accessing and applying Public Health data to apply what they have learnt about and to consider the wider factors influencing health and diet
¿ Explanation of how to assess nutritional status of the elderly ¿ this is an important factor in assessing how a patient is doing
¿ Student small group presentations ¿ to present their group work to the rest of the class

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: BMSM041

Other information

Can be taken as a stand–alone module.



In this module, students will be trained and encouraged to employ their knowledge of nutrition in across the life course to real-life situations across a variety of settings, e.g. home, care home & workplace, and across a wide variety of healthy population groups (e.g. pregnant women, infants, retired adults) and clinical populations (e.g. pregnancies affected by obesity, fussy eaters, people with dementia).   Students will gain an appreciation of the barriers to health behavior change and the impact of a variety of individual, environmental and societal factors on diet and behaviours, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to apply their learning in real-life settings to promote practical and feasible behaviour change. Students will be exposed to speakers from a wide range of professional backgrounds, gaining an insight into potential fields of employment from clinical practice through to industry, public heath and research.

Sustainability: Students will be encouraged to discuss the environmental impact of formula milk and the potential cost savings (financial, social and environmental) associated with breastfeeding as part of the relevant lectures and pre-course reading.  The social and financial impact of obesity during pregnancy, and the strategies available to target this, will also be discussed.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Students are supported to analyse available health data to identify ‘at risk’ populations and risky behaviours across the life course and to develop their skills in relation to literature searching and critical appraisal of evidence.  Students will be encouraged to give and receive feedback and to use feedback from previous modules and from in-class exercises in this module to self-assess their progress and direct their approach to the summative assessments.

Digital Capabilities: Students will be supported via the module staff and (where appropriate) the library team, to use online databases and interactive web tools to evidence areas of priority (classroom exercise) and to gather evidence for their assignment. During the module, students use the online virtual learning environment, SurreyLearn, which is set up to facilitate their learning. Some material is available as pre-recorded content. Students are encouraged to search the literature thoroughly to determine nutritional requirements and create appropriate recommendations.  As in other modules, students are encouraged to work together in groups, utilising collaborative digital tools, discussion boards, Zoom and Microsoft Office and SurreyLearn to communicate.  

Global and cultural capabilities:

Beyond a UK and European focus students are exposed to key aspects of global nutrition including protein malnutrition/ stunting and the different energy utilisation associated with reproduction where food is scarce.  The impact of poverty on dietary patterns in the UK is discussed across age and geographical sub-groups.  Encouraging students to share their own diverse cultures is informative and may show them other ways of dealing with a particular issue.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Nutritional Medicine MSc 2 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.