Antioxidants, Phytoprotectants and Disease

Key information

Start date: To be confirmed

Attendance dates:

To be confirmed

Time commitment: Three days


Distance learning

Contact details:

Module overview

This module will provide an understanding of the role of free-radicals, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in health and disease and to discuss the biochemical and cellular mechanisms, including cell signalling, by which they exert their effects.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Define the concept of free radicals and reactive oxygen and nitrogen species
  • Describe the mechanisms by which free radicals may cause disease
  • Review the metabolism of antioxidants and phytoprotectants
  • Debate the clinical trial and epidemiological evidence for the importance of antioxidants and phytoprotectants in modifying disease risk
  • Evaluate dietary sources and the dietary recommendations for antioxidant and phytoprotectant intakes
  • Assess the role of diet in carcinogenesis, coronary heart disease and other conditions in which free radicals/reactive oxygen and nitrogen species play a part
  • Use research literature and full range of library and online resources for research and module assessment exercises
  • Critically evaluate current research in antioxidants and phytoprotectants
  • Integrate evidence base for antioxidants/phytoprotectants to written essays for module assessment exercises.

Course content

Indicative content includes, some or all of the following topics:

Free radicals, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species; endogenous and exogenous sources; iron and transition metal catalysis, the Fenton reaction; oxidative damage -lipid peroxidation, protein and DNA damage; determination of free-radical activities in tissues.

Enzymes e.g. catalase, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, xanthine oxidase; role of transferrin and ceruloplasmin; antioxidant vitamins -ascorbic acid, tocopherols, carotenoids; low-molecular-weight antioxidants e.g. glutathione, uric acid; assessment of antioxidant activity; pro- and antioxidant effects.

E.g. vitamin C and vitamin E; polyphenols, flavonols (fruit and vegetables), flavanols (tea), anthocyanins (berries and red wine); isoflavones (soy), including the gut flora metabolite, equol; sulphur containing compounds, the isothiocyanates; lignans and their gut flora metabolites, enterodiol and enterolactone; resveratrol, sulphur and selenium compounds; lycopene.

Bioavailability and general metabolism of the antioxidants and phytoprotectants; safety concerns of antioxidants; unknown interactions.

Cellular biology of antioxidants and phytoprotectants; cell signalling, gene expression, effects on nuclear receptors, effects on platelet aggregation and blood clotting, more than antioxidant function.

Epidemiology of CHD; the "Response to injury hypothesis"; mechanisms of atherogenesis; LDL oxidation; endothelial damage; experimental and epidemiological evidence; intervention trials; limitations of antioxidant hypothesis.

Observational and intervention studies; epidemiology, controlled trials, limitations of studies; what doses are required for effects.

The role of antioxidants and phytoprotectants in these disease processes.

Learning and teaching methods

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Journal club
  • Class discussions.


Assessment for the module is optional for those taking it as a short course. Assessment is compulsory if it is being taken as part of an award programme. Please contact the Programme Director, Barbara Fielding, or the Programme Administrator, Jenny Moberly, for further details.

Summative assessment

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.
  • You will be required to submit the coursework electronically on a set deadline two months following the module.

In order to complete the assessments you will, as a starting point, be required to demonstrate knowledge obtained from the course material and reading. The essays will also require you to discuss and reflect on the material. Coursework essays are expected to be well researched and referenced.

Formative assessment

You will receive feedback electronically and module organisers will be available for further discussion if necessary.

Course leader

Reading list

You will be required to do some reading prior to the module starting, take a look at the reading list.

Entry requirements

A minimum of a 2:1 UK honours degree in either a medical degree (MBBS, MBChB), Biology, Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nutrition, Nutritional Science, Human Nutrition, Dietetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Medical Microbiology, Chemistry, Biomedical Science, Natural Sciences, Pharmacology, Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Sport and Exercise Science, Psychology, or a recognised equivalent international qualification.

Applications that do not meet these criteria will also be considered based on relevant experience.

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

Fees and funding


How to apply

Please download and fill in an application form.

Send your form back to us at the address or email included on the form.

Please ensure that you have completed all sections and answered all questions, uncompleted forms may result in delays and ultimately missing out on available places. 

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations and our terms and conditions. You are also confirming you have read and understood the University's prospective student privacy notice.

Further details of our terms and conditions will follow.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the commencement of the course. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.