Skip to main content


Advanced Microbiology

Module titleAdvanced Microbiology
Module codeBIO2101
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Alan Brown (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Microorganisms are ubiquitous, covering all the surfaces of our body and occurring in every natural habitat. They have an enormous impact on our lives – both positive and negative. Infectious diseases remain a leading cause of death worldwide, particularly in low-income countries. On the other hand, microorganisms that inhabit the human body play a key role in maintaining human health, including shaping the immune system and providing essential vitamins and metabolic pathways. In addition, we can harness the power of microorganisms for numerous industrial applications, including the production of biofuels and drugs.

This module, which builds on the content delivered within BIO1337 Microbiology, will develop your knowledge of these major themes within microbiology. The module will cover topics including:

  • Current global trends in human microbial disease infection rates and antimicrobial resistance
  • Modes of infection of the body by fungal and bacterial pathogens
  • Molecular mechanisms that underpin microbial virulence and survival within the human host
  • Methods used to counter the effects of pathogens
  • The role of the gut microbiome in human health and disease
  • Synthetic biology and the industrial application of microorganisms

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to develop an advanced understanding of major topics within both medical and general microbiology. It will address the major processes that underpin the interaction between microbes and the human host – both in the context of infection, and in the context of the human microbiome. In doing so, we will also explore certain processes at a molecular level and discuss how such knowledge can assist with the identification of novel strategies for the prevention and/or treatment of disease. In addition, this module will develop knowledge of how we use microorganisms to our advantage in research, clinical or industrial contexts. Through this module, you will also develop further skills in the safe handling of microorganisms and gain hands-on experience in a range of microbiological techniques.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Assess the role of microorganisms in human health and disease, and strategies to combat infectious disease
  • 2. Discuss molecular mechanisms that enable virulence and survival of microbes within the human host
  • 3. Present examples of the industrial application of microorganisms, and the principles behind synthetic biology
  • 4. Demonstrate, and comment on, procedures and methodologies for the safe handling of microorganisms in the laboratory

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Describe and evaluate approaches to our understanding of medical and general microbiology with reference to relevant scientific literature (including reviews and primary research articles)
  • 6. Describe and evaluate essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of the biosciences
  • 7. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 8. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of practical investigation and data analysis

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 9. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently by written means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 10. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 11. Collect and interpret appropriate data, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module will commence with an orientation session that will provide full details of the module aims, content and assessment criteria, whilst also outlining what is expected of students. Thereafter, the module content is organised into distinct topics, providing a logical progression towards the understanding of the microbiology thematic areas highlighted above. Throughout the module, lecture content will be supplemented with additional reading resources, including the recommended textbook and relevant scientific articles. In parallel with lecture content, laboratory practicals will provide hands-on training in a range of microbiological methods. A group poster based on results from the practicals will constitute the module’s coursework component.

Accessibility statement:

As part of this module, you will undertake laboratory sessions in the large teaching laboratory involving up to 200 students. The practical work will be undertaken in pairs, and sessions will frequently involve fine laboratory work, use of Bunsen burners and handling of live microbes. The practical sessions are of 3-hour duration, but breaks are possible, and students are able to leave the laboratory for short periods. Please contact the module convenor if you require any particular support within practical sessions. In addition, students will be required to undertake group work as part of the summative assessment for this module.

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 Teaching4Drop-in / revision sessions (4x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching15Laboratory practicals (5x 3 hours)
Guided Independent Study66Lecture consolidation and associated reading
Guided Independent Study43Coursework and exam revision


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Lecturer and/or GTA feedback during contact sessions (lectures & practicals)Ad hoc1-6, 8, 10-11Oral
Formative MCQs available on ELEAd hoc1-3, 5-6Online

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
Data analysis and scientific poster (groupwork)40Poster (A3)1-2, 4-6, 8-11Written
Essay examination601000 words1-3, 5-7, 9-11Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Data analysis and scientific poster (groupwork)Data analysis and scientific poster (individual) (40%)1, 2, 4-6, 8-11August Ref/Def
Essay examinationEssay examination (60%)1-3, 5-7, 9-11August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons that are approved by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. If deferred, the format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). The mark given for a deferred assessment 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 (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) and the module cannot be condoned, you will be required to complete a re-assessment for each of the failed components on the module. The format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). If you pass the module following re-assessment, your module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative basic reading list (both Available as an E-resource through the University Library):

  • Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 16th Edition (2021). Pearson.
  • Oxford Textbook of Medical Mycology, 1st Edition (2018). Oxford University Press.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE page will provide all module-related material to support lectures and practicals, including specific suggested reading articles to support individual lectures

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Infection,microbial organisms, pathogens, microorganisms, infection rates, microbiology, fungi, bacteria, microbial ecology

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO1337 Microbiology

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date