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Unit information: Geomicrobiology in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

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 Geomicrobiology
Unit code EASC30051
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1A (weeks 1 - 6)
Unit director Dr. Buss
Open unit status Not open

EASC20043 Geochemistry 1 or equivalent knowledge. Students who have not taken EASC20043 should contact the unit director before registering for this unit.



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


An overview of concepts, techniques, and issues in geomicrobiology as they relate to environmental geosciences.


  • to learn about and examine microbial properties, metabolisms, diversity and abundance in the natural environment;
  • to appreciate the coupling of biological with chemical and physical processes in the natural environment;
  • to examine specific ways in which microorganisms create or contribute to normal geological processes, environmental problems, and remediation of environmental problems;
  • to summarise current techniques for assessing microbial influences on the environment.

In addition to summative assessment, formative feedback is given throughout the unit by way of in-class quizzes and 2 problem sets.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, the student will be able to:

  • describe the variety of microbial metabolisms;
  • explain microbial roles in: pollution, remediation of mining waste, degradation of organic pollutants, biomineralisation, mineral weathering, and global element and greenhouse gas cycling;
  • quantitatively apply understanding of microbial catalysis of chemical reactions to redox processes in the environment;
  • apply knowledge about geomicrobiological processes and environmental conditions to select appropriate bioremediation strategies
  • collaborate with others to present an informative talk to an appropriate audience

Teaching details

Lectures and practicals

Assessment Details

  • 2 hour examination (60%)
  • Coursework (40%) - comprising group presentations [worth 50% of coursework mark] and individual peer evaluations of the presentations [worth 50% of the coursework mark]

Reading and References


Konhauser K.O. 2006. Introduction to Geomicrobiology. Wiley-Blackwell, 440 pp.