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Food Chemistry

Module titleFood Chemistry
Module codeESS1008
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Raysa El Zein (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module provides you with concepts underpinning inorganic, physical and organic chemistry related to food components, which are foundational to the subsequent modules in nutrition science. Core topics include: atomic structure; bonding and hybridisation; molecular shape; an introduction to organic chemistry focusing on carbohydrates, lipids and proteins; aqueous solution equilibria and pH of foods, redox chemistry and relevance to food preservation, and chemical reactions that occur during cooking, preparation, and storage of foods.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will provide you with scientific knowledge aimed at understanding the chemical structure underpinning nutrients function and role of non-nutrient components of food. We will explore chemical alterations that occur during food processing (food production, preparation, cooking, preservation, fortification, storage), and how these alter the nutritional quality of human food and diet.

The practical sessions in this module aim to develop your practical skills to analyse the composition of foods and to measure changes during food processing. The seminar sessions provide you with the opportunity for guidance and practice in your writing and reading skills to better prepare for assessments. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Identify key chemical properties of nutrients and non-nutrients and their role in food production
  • 2. Describe origin and safety non-nutrients and anti-nutrients present in food
  • 3. Describe cooking and preservation methods and how these alter physico-chemical composition and nutritional quality of food

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate scientific writing skills through the production of a lab report
  • 5. Collect, analyse, interpret and report nutrition-related data using laboratory quantitative methods

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Manage self-learning, reflect on progress, manage time and learn independently
  • 7. Use laboratory skills to assess and measure food composition

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction to inorganic and organic chemistry concepts (atomic bonding, molecular shape, chirality)
  • Reaction of organic compounds, aqueous solutions and pH
  • The structure/function relationship of nutrients and non-nutrients (i.e. additives, food colorants, toxicants) and how these are used to modify food matrix and aspect
  • Origin and safety of common non-nutrients and anti-nutrients in food
  • Chemical alterations during food processing: Mallard reaction, crystallisation, lipid peroxidation, protein precipitation, saponification, hydrogenation
  • Methods to enhance nutrient quality and/or appearance of foods: fortification, format, additives
  • Methods to measure food composition.

As part of this module you will complete Level 2 certificate in Food Hygiene and Safety. This certificate is approved by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, and compulsory in order to participate in practical activities involving manipulation of food.

You will be required to complete pre- and post- learning activities before your practical sessions. 

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Practical sessions (lab)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6Practical sessions (kitchen)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11Seminars
Guided Independent Study30Reading dedicated content in ELE
Guided Independent Study20Completing study tasks on ELE
Guided Independent Study51Preparation for assessments, revision of lab activities


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
MCQ examination, mid-term10 questions, 30 minutes1-5Written/Online
Online Level 2 certificate in Food Hygiene and Safety8 units, 2 hours1-3, 6Written/Online

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Lab report301000 words1-7Written
Examination701 hour 15 minutes1-7Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Lab reportLab report1-7August/September Assessment period
ExaminationExamination1-7August/September Assessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will need to complete further assessment as required. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Vickie A. Vaclavik & Elizabeth W. Christian (2008). Essentials of Food Science. Springer.
  • Coultate, T. P. (2016). Food: the chemistry of its components – 6th Edition. Royal Society of Chemistry.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • Exeter Learning Environment page: (Peer-reviewed journal articles and reports uploaded on module’s ELE page (regularly updated))
  • Food Standards Agency

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Food chemistry, food matrix, non-nutrients, fermentation, additives, food processing, food composition, food preservation, applied chemistry

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date