module specification

BC6052 - Virology (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Virology
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 150
111 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 60%   Practical report (1500 words)
Unseen Examination 40%   Online Exam (1.5 hours)
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical attendance
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

This module will focus on the structure, genome and replication strategy of viruses, their role in disease, epidemiological factors that facilitate transmission and their control with antiviral drugs and vaccines.
This module aims to provide students the opportunity to study the genome classification, structure, function, and replication strategy of viruses using specific examples where appropriate. Students will explore virus-host interactions and will need to appreciate some of the epidemiological factors facilitating transmission and strategies for disease control. These control measures will include some consideration of human behaviour and animal husbandry, vaccination/immunisation and the use of antiviral drugs. Finally the applications of recombinant viruses in medicine and biotechnology will be introduced.


Virus structure and composition: classification according to physical properties (structure and symmetry) and chemical properties (type of nucleic acid, envelope, structural and non-structural proteins). (1)
Infection and reproduction: basis of selectivity for specific host cells, uptake of virus and entry into the cell interior, strategies for replication according to the type of nucleic acid carried by the virus, expression of viral genes and synthesis of new viral particles. (1)
Epidemiology, aetiology, pathology, treatment and prevention of disease: paradigms of human, animal and plant viral diseases. (2)
Recombinant viruses and vaccines: use of bacteriophages in gene cloning; non-replicating viruses as vectors in gene therapy and for development of new types of vaccine; use of viruses to produce recombinant proteins in animals and plants. (3)
Practical sessions will; use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis to identify and evaluate cells that are infected with a virus; measure the titre of a bacteriophage using plaque formation assay. (3)

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Students will acquire knowledge of the subject matter through a variety of teacher led activities and self-directed study.
Teacher led activities will include traditional and interactive lectures, computer assisted problem solving and revision tutorials laboratory practical classes and discussions. Self-directed study will follow tutorial sessions.
Theoretical and practical problem swill be employed to assist students in the development of their analytical and problem solving capabilities. Tutorial exercises are designed to support lectures, practical classes and assessed coursework. They also aim to enhance and extend knowledge of the subject material by working through questions and through stimulating discussion.
The students’ ability to handle and interpret information to produce solutions and to think critically will be prompted through; 1) the completion of laboratory investigations and production of a laboratory report and 2) the guided use of directed reading, computer-based and other learning resources, and the production of a seen well researched essay to be submitted online.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Evaluate the classification of viruses based on genome, replication and structure and appraise the importance of viral infections in acute and persistent disease and cancer.
2. Value the importance of the immune response to virus infection and judge the epidemiological factors that contribute to disease transmission and strategies for disease control including antiviral drugs and vaccines.
3.  solve problems through laboratory-based investigations demonstrating laboratory skills whilst working in compliance with health and safety policies, good laboratory practice and COSHH assessments.


Journals: Journal of Virology, Journal of Infectious Diseases, Journal of General Virology

Electronic Databases: