HAR6211: Nutritional Biochemistry

The Nutritional Biochemistry module is led by Viren Ranawana. It runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 15 credits.


The Nutritional Biochemistry module is led by Viren Ranawana. It runs in the Autumn semester and is worth 15 credits.

It is one of the modules on:

This module is available as a CPD option

This module is available in any year as a DDP module


  • To understand the chemical characteristics of different classes of nutrients with reference to their physical properties, and to relate this to their functions in the body.
  • To explain the processes of digestion, absorption and metabolism of the macronutrients and micronutrients in the context of different meals.
  • To consider the main features of metabolism using the concept of energy flux through metabolic pathways as a focus.
  • To explore the integration of pathways for the metabolism for fat, protein and carbohydrate and to examine the mechanisms for the regulation of flux through these pathways.
  • To discuss the established functions of micronutrients and to examine the clinical and biochemical effects of depletion.


This unit aims to:

  • present a case for the essentiality of nutrients and energy in the diet
  • Introduce key themes of the sociology of health and illness
  • establish the basic principles of metabolism and its regulation
  • examine how metabolism is responsive to feeding and fasting
  • explore the biochemical, physiological and clinical impact of inadequate intakes of specific nutrients

Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to describe and critically discuss:

  1. What nutrients are (including water and oxygen)
  2. The nature and extent of metabolic demand for nutrients
  3. Digestion, absorption, excretion and transportation and storage of nutrients
  4. How nutrients are used by the body and the consequences of nutrient deficiency
  5. Mechanisms for the integration of metabolism, at molecular, cellular and whole-body levels
  6. Non-nutrient components of foods, feeds and drinks that can affect diet and health, including alcohol
  7. The scientific basis of the safety and health promoting properties of nutrients and non-nutrient components of foods, based on knowledge of the metabolic effects of:
    • nutrients
    • anti-nutrients
    • toxicants
    • additives
    • pharmacologically active agents (drugs)
    • nutrient-nutrient interactions
    • nutrient-gene interactions
    • nutraceuticals
    • functional foods
    • and any other metabolically active constituents of foods and the diet
  8. Nutrient analysis (assessment of macronutrient and energy content of a meal against healthy eating recommendations)
  9. Effects of methods of food production, preparation, preservation, fortification and format on the chemical composition and nutritional quality of food
  10. Methods to analyse the composition of foods

Core competencies

The module covers core competencies required for accreditation of the MSc in Human Nutrition by the Association for Nutrition (AfN).

This module addresses in depth the following AfN core competencies:
CC1b CC1c CC1d CC1e CC1f CC1h CC1k CC1l CC2b CC2d CC4c CC4h

The module supports the learning of knowledge and acquisition of skills relating to aspects of the following AfN core competencies:
CC1a CC1g Cc1i CC3a CC4a

Teaching methods

Learning outcomes 1-10 will be delivered through a combination of lectures, independent learning, tutorials and problem-solving classes. The module begins with an introductory lecture which explains the objectives of the module and the nature and purpose of the self-learning and the assessment.


Lectures and/or online study material provide the core knowledge base for this module. Candidates receive learning material for study prior to lectures, and are encouraged to contribute to discussion of the material during lectures.

Independent learning

After lectures, candidates are directed towards specific additional reading material, including core textbook material and scientific literature that is directly relevant to specific topics, as well as to structured self-learning material on Blackboard.

Problem-solving classes

Candidates are encouraged to identify problems relating to the coursework assignment prior to these sessions, to review areas of complexity.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

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