Skip to main content


Antimicrobial Therapies

Module titleAntimicrobial Therapies
Module codeBIOM4045
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Stineke Van Houte (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The discovery of antibiotics has had an unprecedented impact on medicine. However, the subsequent overuse of antibiotics has led to the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In this module you will learn about AMR mechanisms, how they spread within and between bacterial species, and alternative strategies that have been or are being developed to fight infections caused by multi-drug resistant bacterial pathogens. This module will integrate knowledge on molecular microbiological processes with ideas and concepts from evolutionary biology.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module will integrate molecular and evolutionary microbiology concepts to understand the problem of AMR and the need for new antimicrobial therapies. The module will discuss and critically evaluate the relevant literature and the latest developments in antimicrobial research. You will critically evaluate existing antimicrobial therapies and those currently under development, by studying their scientific basis and their potential to be ‘evolution-proof’. The module will assess the pros and cons of different antimicrobials, and how the context of a pathogen infection matters for the success of a therapy.

The content of the module is inspired by, and will inspire, current and future research on the development of new antimicrobials, including CRISPR-Cas based antimicrobials and bacteriophage therapy.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe the evolutionary and ecological consequences of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance
  • 2. Describe the scientific grounds of existing antimicrobial strategies and those under development
  • 3. Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of various antimicrobial therapies

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Critically evaluate techniques and methodologies applicable to the development of new antimicrobials
  • 5. Critically assess scientific literature in the field of AMR and antimicrobials and extract their key message
  • 6. Describe and evaluate multiple approaches to tackle a research question or problem

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Professionally present ideas and results in oral presentation
  • 8. Think critically, and critically appraise and logically solve problems
  • 9. Present written reports in a clear, concise, and logical manner

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • History of antibiotic discovery and use
  • Antibiotics classification and mechanisms of action
  • Ecological consequences of antibiotic use
  • Evolution, mechanisms and spread of AMR in bacteria
  • Antimicrobial strategies that reverse AMR transmission
  • Antimicrobial strategies that directly kill pathogens
  • Antimicrobial strategies that reduce pathogen virulence
  • Antimicrobial strategies that reduce pathogen fitness
  • Development of new antimicrobials: Opportunities and challenges¬†

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 teaching12Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching12Group-led literature discussion and poster sessions
Guided independent study18Preparation of literature discussion
Guided independent study108Additional research, reading and preparation for lectures and module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Literature discussionsOngoing throughout moduleAllOral

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
Individual poster presentation + Q&A4010-20 min, depending on size of class1,2,4,5,7Oral/written
Essay601500 words1,3-6,8,9Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual poster presentation + Q&APoster1-8Referral/deferral period
EssayEssayAllReferral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral 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 overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Experimental and review papers selected by the module convenor and students. In addition, the following text book will be used for background reading:

  • Willey J, Sandman K, Wood D (2019). Prescott’s Microbiology, 11th edition (McGraw-Hill).

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Antibiotic resistance, antimicrobial, AMR, pathogen, infection, bacteriophage therapy, CRISPR-Cas, mobile genetic element, microbiology, evolution, molecular, plasmid, horizontal gene transfer, bacteria, virulence

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date