module specification

BM7105 - Introduction to General Microbiology (2016/17)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2016/17, but may be subject to modification
Module title Introduction to General Microbiology
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 10
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 100
100 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
In-Course Test 30%   Quizzes
Coursework 30%   Reflective log
Coursework 40%   End of course assignment
Running in 2016/17

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year LMET Distance Learning Not applicable -

Module summary

This module focuses on the structure and classification of a selected range of microorganisms and their impact on human society.

Module aims

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. Study the classification, structure and function of viruses, bacteria, fungi and protoctista and to understand the diverse nature of microorganisms, their roles in the environment and their impact on human society, as normal flora and as agents of disease as well as the exploitation of microorganisms by humans in medicine and biotechnology. It will also provide students with an in-depth study of microorganisms in health and disease; enable students to make ethical evaluations of strategies used for microbial disease control and research and evaluate selected topics within the subject area, and communicate the results in a cogent and balanced manner. The module will also enable to students to reinforce analytical, evaluative and communication skills, To research a topical issue in depth and present it at an appropriate level and reflect on the topics studied and their application in biomedical practice.


An introduction to microbiology: historical perspectives. Basic microbiology techniques, including laboratory cultivation, formulation of growth medium, laboratory-based methods of identification, safety aspects.
Growth requirements: physical parameters (temperature, pH, redox potential, water activity, gaseous environment, atmospheric pressure, light), macro- and micro-nutrients, growth factors.
Microbial ecology, diversity of habitats and microbial interactions.
The morphology and reproduction of bacterial, plant and animal viruses, prokaryotic microorganisms (eubacteria and archaebacteria), eukaryotic microorganisms (fungi, algae and protozoa).
Medical microbiology: the role of microorganisms in health and disease.
Paradigms of microorganism-host interactions in health: concepts and types of symbiosis; mutualism; commensalism and normal microbiota; variation between hosts; spatial and temporal variation in an individual host; endogenous sources of infection; opportunists.
Paradigms of microorganism-host interactions in disease: concepts and mechanisms of infection; pathogenicity and virulence; constitutive and induced host defence mechanisms; microbial evasion/subversion of host defences; rationale diagnostic procedures and antimicrobial chemotherapy.
Paradigms of microorganism-community interactions: exogenous encounter; major transmission routes of human pathogens; emerging microbial infections; the role of public health laboratories in disease control; strategies for control of community, health care associated and hospital acquired infections; rationale of immunisation programmes.
Paradigms of geographic and travel microbial diseases: syndromes of the returned traveller; infections of the skin and soft tissue, central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract and systemic infections.
Selected in-depth studies; epidemiology, aetiology and clinical manifestation of infectious diseases; rationale for laboratory diagnosis. Examples will be selected from indigenous, tropical and emerging diseases caused by bacteria, parasites and fungi.

Learning and teaching

Information pertaining to the subject matter will be presented through an integrated programme of lectures and supporting exercises, together with some use of a problem-based learning approach and the guided use of student-centred learning resources.  Lectures will be used to provide a conceptual framework.  Student centred assignments will enable students to reinforce and expand their knowledge, and develop subject specific skills and competence.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Understand that microorganisms comprise a diverse range of organisms that includes sub-viral particles, viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae, and protoctista Have some understanding of their structural diversity and classification
2. Be aware of their physiological diversity that is reflected in the broad range
of microbial activity in the environment, in their importance in biotechnology and in health and disease, manipulate and interpret numerical data relating to microbial cell counts and explain the aetiology of selected microbial diseases and make ethical evaluations on medical microbiology laboratory practice.
3. Show an understanding of pathogenicity, virulence mechanisms of major groups of microorganisms and the use of laboratory investigations to corroborate clinical diagnosis and treatment of microbial diseases, display an appreciation of the relevance of epidemiology in the prediction, control and identification of disease and show relevance of epidemiology in the recognition and identification of emerging and re-emerging diseases.
4. Demonstrate an appreciation of trends in the development of novel therapeutic and prophylactic measures.
5. Understand the processes relating to compliance with health and safety policies, good laboratory practice, risk and infection control.

Assessment strategy

The module will be formatively assessed by in-course online quizzes  (30%) and two coursework components. A reflective learning log (500 words)(30%) and a written assignment (40%; 2000 words). Criteria for assessment will include an understanding of the subject matter; an ability, both orally and written, to explain, describe and discuss the work; completeness and conciseness of written reports and essays with emphasis upon critical ability and scientific rigour. To pass the module students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 50%.


Bauman RW. (2009) Microbiology with Diseases by Body System 2nd Ed. Pearson.
Hogg S. (2005) Essential Microbiology. Wiley.
Madigan MT, Martinko JM, Dunlap PV, Clark DP. (2009) Brock Biology of Microorganisms 12th Ed. Pearson.
Wheelis ML. (2008) Principles of Modern Microbiology. Jones and Bartlett.