Module code: BMSM009

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

BATH SC Dr (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 7

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Lecture Hours: 25

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites


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 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
• Explain the importance of essential minerals in human metabolism K
• 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
• 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
• Construct appropriate dietary advice on sources of essential minerals and on factors affecting their bioavailability C
• 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
• Apply knowledge of genetic factors and acute conditions that can affect essential-trace-element levels C
• Use research literature and full range of library and online resources for research and module assessment exercises T
• Critically appraise current nutrition research T
• 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

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.

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)
Journal club
Class discussions

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

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.

Reading list


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 2017/8 academic year.