module specification

BS6052 - Virology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Virology
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 150
43 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
107 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Practical Report
Unseen Examination 50%   Written Exam (1.5 hrs)
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical Attendance
Running in 2017/18
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.

Prior learning requirements

BS5002 Infection Science or AS5005 Molecules of Hereditary and Defence

Module aims

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).
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.
Epidemiology, aetiology, pathology, treatment and prevention of disease: paradigms of human, animal and plant viral diseases.
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.
Practical sessions will; 1) use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis to identify and evaluate cells that are infected with a virus; 2) measure the titre of a bacteriophage using plaque formation assay.

Learning and teaching

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 (24 hours), computer assisted problem solving and revision tutorials (6 hours), laboratory practical classes and discussions (10 hours). Self-directed study will follow tutorial sessions (6 hours) and during the two assigned reading weeks (8 hours).

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 the write up to be undertaken as a time constrained exercise.

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.
  2. Appraise the importance of viral infections in acute and persistent disease and cancer.
  3. Value the importance of the immune response to virus infection.   
  4. Judge the epidemiological factors that contribute to disease transmission and strategies for disease control including antiviral drugs and vaccines.
  5. Solve problems through laboratory-based investigations demonstrating laboratory skills whilst working in compliance with health and safety policies, good laboratory practice and COSHH assessments.

Assessment strategy

The module will be summatively assessed by means of an unseen examination to be held at the end of the module (50% of the overall mark) and by a piece of coursework (a full practical report being 60% of the overall mark). The coursework assignment will provide formative feedback.
Practical Report                     50%   1,2,5
Exam (1.5 hrs)                        50%  1,2,3,4

To pass the module, students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 40%.  There will be an attendance requirement for the practical sessions.


In addition to the following texts, primary sources (e.g. research papers, review articles and Internet pages) appropriate to the research topic will be studied:

Wagner EK and Hewlett MJ (2010) Basic Virology (3rd edition) Blackwell Publishing
Collier L, Kellam P, Oxford J (2011) Human Virology (4th edition) Oxford University Press
Harper DR (2012) Viruses: Biology Applications Control (1st edition) Garland Science
Bauman RW (2012) Microbiology: with diseases by body system (3rd edition) Pearson

Journals - research and review papers.
Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
Annual Reviews of Microbiology
Journal of Virology