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Unit information: Fundamentals of Molecular Microbiology 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 Fundamentals of Molecular Microbiology
Unit code PANM10003
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Avison
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


The unit provides students a thorough grounding in microbiology, covering the basic biology of viruses, fungi and bacteria, and focusing on genetics and genomics, how genetic variability arises and how genetic information is processed into important phenotypic characteristics including structural diversity, metabolic diversity and virulence.

Unit aims:

To provide students with information about:

  1. Basic genetics of bacteria, fungi and viruses.
  2. Mutation, and the mechanisms by which mutations can affect, and pass between members of a population.
  3. Control of gene expression and associated signaling pathways.
  4. Gross structural variation between groups of microbes.
  5. Metabolic diversity in fungi and bacteria and its implications.
  6. Virulence factors and their impact on infectious disease.

To teach students specific, microbiology­-related practical skills, and to help them develop their essay writing, data interpretation and oral presentation skills.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

1. Recall how genetic variation impacts on gross structural variation in microbes.
2. Describe how microbes sense their environments and control the expression of phenotypes with importance to humans.
3. Describe the basis of mutation, and the mechanisms by which mutations can affect and pass between members of a population.
4. Describe bacterial and fungal metabolism and how it impacts on society.
5. Recall the molecular basis of key determinants of virulence.

6. Handle microorganisms with confidence in the laboratory.

7. Apply relevant experimental techniques and interpret data.

8. Present scientific information and arguments in written and oral form.
9. Undertake the further study of microorganisms in the following unit (Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, PANM10001) and a Level 5 and 6.

Teaching details



Practicals (e­learning to support laboratory practicals via eBiolabs)

Assessment Details

1500 word essay (5%)

Oral presentation (5%)

eBiolabs pre­lab quizzes and post­lab assignments (2%) Practical write­up (3%)

1­hour mid­-unit assessment including multiple choice questions (10%)

2­hour written exam (January) including multiple choice questions and two essays (75%)

The exams will cover learning outcomes 1-­5, 7­-8.

The assessment via eBiolabs and the practical write­up will assess learning outcomes 6-­8.

The essay and oral presentation will cover learning outcome 8 and any from 1­-5.

Formative assessment:

For formative purposes students will receive feedback as follows:

The essay and laboratory write up will be marked and returned with verbal and written feedback during tutorials.

Electronic feedback will be provided for the pre­lab and post­ lab work via eBiolabs.

Oral presentations will be marked and subject to written feedback after the tutorial.

Feedback during practical classes will be provided by staff and demonstrators.

Unit assessment marks will be provided before the end of Teaching Block 1 and feedback will be available from the Unit Director on request.

A breakdown of marks for the exam will be provided and additional feedback will be provided by the Unit Director on request.

The assessment via eBiolabs and the practical writeup will assess learning outcomes 6-8.

Reading and References

Recommended reading

Microbiology: a clinical approach. Strelkauskas and others. 2nd Edition. Garland Science (2016). ISBN­13: 978-­0815345138. The necessary background to the course can be found in this book. There is also an extensive array of student resources to be found at the publisher’s website (

Further reading

Viruses: biology, application and control. Harper D. 2011. 1st Edition. Garland Science. ISBN­13: 978­0815341505. This textbook is recommended as additional reading for those particularly interested in viruses.

BIOS Instant Notes: Microbiology. Baker S., Griffiths C. and Nicklin J. 2011. 4th Edition. Garland Science. ISBN­13: 978­0415607704. Recommended for revision.

All textbooks are available in the Medical Sciences library.