MSc Clinical Biochemistry / Overview

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Nutrition and Drug Monitoring

Unit code MEDN61600
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Division of Medical Education
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit will provide students with an in depth knowledge and understanding of normal nutrition and clinical disorders associated with malnutrition, malabsorption and obesity. The students will learn about the biochemistry of haem synthesis and clinical disorders related to defects in the haem synthetic pathway. Students will also obtain an understanding of the role of trace elements and vitamins in maintaining an individual’s health and well-being. They will also gain an appreciation of the importance of clinical and biochemical parameters in diagnosing and managing nutritional disorders. The unit will equip students with a knowledge and understanding of basic pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetics, and an understanding of the principles of clinical toxicology and drug monitoring.


The unit aims to:

  • provide students with a knowledge and understanding of normal digestion and nutrition and clinical disorders associated with malnutrition, malabsorption and obesity.
  • provide students with a critical appreciation of the role biochemical investigations play in the assessment of an individual’s nutritional status.
  • equip students with an understanding of the principles and practice of toxicology and therapeutic drug monitoring.


Teaching and learning methods

This unit employs a range of teaching and learning approaches including: lecturers, tutorials, case studies/presentations and data analysis and interpretation exercises. Initially the involvement of e-learning will be restricted to online formative assessments. However, the goal is to generate on-line teaching material to support the face-to-face teaching. The online material will support the acquisition of knowledge and understanding by promoting problem-based learning through interactive material, exercises and self-assessment tools.


Knowledge and understanding

Students will have or be able to:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the need for macro and micronutrients for normal health.

  • Knowledge and understanding of digestion and the physiology and common disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Understand the role of clinical biochemistry in the assessment of nutritional status and diagnosis of nutritional disorders.

  • Knowledge and understanding of the basic principles of pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetics.

  • Knowledge and understanding of the design, operation and performance of appropriate analytical technologies for the detection and quantification of drugs and poisons

  • Understand the role of the clinical biochemistry laboratory in the investigation of suspected drug poisoning and related clinical conditions.

Intellectual skills

Students will have or be able to:

  • Synthesise, analyse and interpret biochemical data obtained during the biochemical investigation of nutritional disorders and the haem synthetic pathway.
  • Critically appraise the nutritional status of a patient through evaluation and interpretation of key biochemical parameters.
  • Objectively analyse and interpret data obtained through toxicological screens.
  • Understand and critically appraise new and existing strategies to identify, quantify and monitor therapeutic drugs and drugs of abuse.

Practical skills

Students will have or be able to:

  • Retrieve, manage and collate information from primary and secondary sources.
  • Present information clearly in the form of verbal and written reports.
  • Communicate complex ideas and arguments in a clear, concise and effective manner.
  • Manage personal workload and objectives to achieve optimal personal performance.
  • Work effectively either as an individual or part of a team.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will have or be able to:

  • Effectively utilise a range of information sources including information technology / health informatics.
  • Demonstrate capacity for self-learning and independent thinking and utilise problem solving skills.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills (verbal and written).
  • Be able to set priorities and link these with effective time management.
  • Critically evaluate their personal performance both as an individual and within a team.
  • Demonstrate skills in working collegiately and effectively with others as a member of a team.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Marks will be provided online within 3-4 weeks of assessment deadline.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Philip Macdonald Unit coordinator
Helen Jopling Unit coordinator

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