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Application of Genomics in Infectious Disease

Module titleApplication of Genomics in Infectious Disease
Module codeBIOM567
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr David Studholme (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

During this course, you will explore the genomic structure of infectious agents, the implication of acquisition or loss of nucleotides, genes and plasmids on pathogenicity, and the sensitivity of a pathogen to drug treatment.

You will also explore some of the huge resources of freely available sequence data and computational tools on which modern genomics research relies. In addition, you will investigate your own case study and present it to the class in a poster presentation. This module provides an exciting learning opportunity at the forefront of modern biology.

This module is primarily aimed at clinical practitioners, diagnostic service providers, scientists and researchers and those aspiring to specialise within an academic career pathway. You will learn from, with and about your peers, developing a mutual understanding and respect for the positive contributions that each will bring to Genomic Medicine.

This module is delivered in a blended learning structure, combining online resources with three contact days over a one-month period and, for Distance Learners, as an entirely online asynchronous structure.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module will show how genomics can be used to improve diagnostic accuracy, predict which drugs are likely to be more effective in individual patients and contribute to the monitoring, treatment and control of infectious disease in individuals and populations.

Computer-based practical activities will consolidate use of bioinformatics tools and databases through hands-on analysis of genomics data (e.g. comparative genomics of pathogen genome sequences), and preparation and presentation of a research poster will provide a platform to critically discuss case studies.

Key employability skills include extracting and analysing complex information from web-based resources, and awareness of data driven decision-making. You will be provided with skills relevant to careers in medicine, medical research, and biosciences more broadly.

The content of the module is inspired by, and will inspire, cutting edge research in genomics. The bioinformatics tools and methods that you use will be the same as those used in the convenor’s microbial genomics research, identifying genetic variation from high-throughput DNA sequencing data. You will share learning, and will generate ideas for new research, alongside a leading genomicist and bioinformatician.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Evaluate how sequencing of the genome of infective organisms can be used in infectious disease for diagnosis, sub-classification and strain identity
  • 2. Critically evaluate the emerging action of drugs in controlling infection e.g. HIV, TB
  • 3. Critically evaluate the molecular basis of organism drug resistance in some infections and how this directs drug research
  • 4. Critically evaluate how the genome sequence of pathogens can be used to investigate and manage suspected outbreaks of infection in hospital and community settings
  • 5. Evaluate how sequencing of the genome of infective organisms can be used for assessing pathogenicity, antimicrobial resistance, drug selection and epidemic control

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 6. Explain the principles of epidemiology of infectious diseases
  • 7. Explain the underlying principles of laboratory diagnosis, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, and epidemiological typing of pathogens

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. Critically reflect on personal practice and makes connections between known and unknown areas, to allow for personal development, adaptation and change
  • 9. Innovate and respond to new technologies and evaluate these in the context of best practice and the need for improved service delivery
  • 10. Communicate accurately and effectively with peers, tutors and the public

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

  • Infection as a cause of national and global morbidity and mortality
  • Transmission of human infections: person to person, food and waterborne, sexually transmitted, vector-borne
  • Prokaryotes, their genome, replication and population genetics
  • Genomic characterisation of viruses: DNA and RNA genomes, single-stranded, double stranded, segmented
  • Genomic comparisons of microbial strains in the context of outbreaks and transmissions in hospitals and the community
  • Anti-infective drug action
  • Mutation rate and drug resistance
  • Genomic evidence of individual susceptibility to specific infection
  • Laboratory diagnosis, including genomic techniques and technologies, and appropriate sample type, analysis and interpretation of genomic data, and the role of bioinformatics
  • Role of genomics in: infectious disease diagnosis, prognosis, drug selection, resistance, monitoring, epidemic control and drug research.

Accessibility note: As part of this course you will undertake sessions in the computing laboratory (of up to 80 students) that are typically 2 hrs in duration. Breaks are possible and students are welcome to leave the laboratory for short periods. In the event of unavoidable absence, it is possible to complete the computer practical tasks remotely. The course is available as a blended-learning option, where online asynchronous resources are complemented by in-person attendance at three contact days, which may fall outside of the University’s academic term dates; alternatively, the course can be taken entirely asynchronously online, making it suitable for Distance Learners.

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 Teaching3In-person lectures (available asynchronously to Distance Learners)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching9Computer practicals (either in-person synchronous or asynchronous for Distance Learners)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6In-person interactive workshops (available asynchronously to Distance Learners)
Guided Independent Study20Pre-recorded lecture content and bespoke online resources
Guided Independent Study7Tutor-guided online discussion forum
Guided Independent Study40Preparation of summatively assessed coursework
Guided Independent Study65Lecture consolidation and associated reading


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Online quizzesWeekly1-6Written
Participation in online discussion forumWeekly1-9Oral or written

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
Participation in online discussions10Ad hoc1-10Written or oral
Data handling and scientific writing exercise902500 words plus tables and diagrams1-6Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Participation in online discussionsRetrospective raising of discussion points (10%)1-10August Ref/Def
Data handling and scientific writing exerciseData handling and scientific writing exercise (90%)1-6August 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 50%) 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 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Gardy JL, Loman NJ. Towards a genomics-informed, real-time, global pathogen surveillance system. Nat Rev Genet. 2018;19:9-20. doi: 10.1038/nrg.2017.88.
  • Deurenberg RH, Bathoorn E, Chlebowicz MA, Couto N, Ferdous M, GarcĂ­a-Cobos S, Kooistra-Smid AM, Raangs EC, Rosema S, Veloo AC, Zhou K, Friedrich AW, Rossen JW. Application of next generation sequencing in clinical microbiology and infection prevention. J Biotechnol. 2017;243:16-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2016.12.022.
  • Lakin SM, Dean C, Noyes NR, Dettenwanger A, Ross AS, Doster E, Rovira P, Abdo Z, Jones KL, Ruiz J, Belk KE, Morley PS, Boucher C. MEGARes: an antimicrobial resistance database for high throughput sequencing. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017;45:D574-D580. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw1009.
  • Deng X, den Bakker HC, Hendriksen RS. Genomic Epidemiology: Whole-Genome-Sequencing-Powered Surveillance and Outbreak Investigation of Foodborne Bacterial Pathogens. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2016;7:353-74. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-041715-033259.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Viruses, prokaryotes, infection, drug resistance, outbreaks

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date