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Unit information: Host-Parasite Interactions in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Host-Parasite Interactions
Unit code BIOL31121
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Gibson
Open unit status Not open

None, but we recommend that students should normally 120cps of appropriate Level 2 units in Biological Sciences.

Students who have not taken BIOL20202 or BIOL20005 may find parts of this course difficult.



School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences



to examine specific examples of host-parasite interactions in depth, with a focus on parasites of medical and veterinary relevance


The interactions between hosts and their parasites involve complex adaptations. Parasites first have to find a suitable host and then the right place in or on the host in which to develop and reproduce. Infection triggers host defences, which have to be countered by the parasite in order to survive and reproduce. This host-parasite arms race has led to the complex interplay between virulence and transmission, pathology and immunity that we see today.

This unit will examine specific examples of host-parasite interactions in depth, with a focus on parasites of medical and veterinary relevance. Emphasis will be on new insights from recent experimental work in molecular biology, immunology, ecology and evolutionary biology.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of host-parasite interactions, as well as an appreciation of current approaches to study these interactions through experiment.

Teaching details

Lectures, interactive seminars/workshops and independent study.

Assessment Details

End of session exam (100%)

Reading and References

Most of the lecture material for the specific subjects considered in this Unit is taken from research papers and is not covered in any one textbook. You will receive a list of references with each lecture block.

As background to Parasitology and the diverse organisms considered, you will find a range of general textbooks in the library. Amongst these, you will find a good coverage of basic information in

  • Roberts, L.S. & Janovy, J. Foundations of Parasitology.
  • Bush, A.O., Fernandez, J.C., Esch, G.W. & Seed, R.J. Parasitism: the diversity and ecology of animal parasites.