Introductory Microbiology

University of Reading

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Introductory Microbiology

  • Host University

    University of Reading

  • Location

    Reading, England

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
    Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
    Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
    Non-modular pre-requisites:
    Modules excluded:
    Module version for: 2016/7

    Summary module description:
    This module aims to provide students with an introduction to the discipline of Microbiology. Students will learn the fundamental biology of bacteria, viruses and fungi; what is required for their growth, the diverse environments where they grow, how some are of benefit and central to industry while others cause disease. The module will also provide students with an understanding of methods used to control microbial growth, avoid contamination and prevent infectious disease. Students will learn how fundamental principles of handling and growing microbes are put into practice and the basic skills and techniques needed for safe laboratory work.

    Assessable learning outcomes:
    Typical learning outcomes include:

    - explain key landmarks in Microbiology
    - state fundamental characteristics of major groups of bacteria, viruses and fungi
    - discuss replication of these microbes
    - discuss nutrition, growth and quantitation of bacteria and fungi
    - explain structure and significance of peptidoglycan and endospores
    - outline key steps in pathogenesis of bacterial disease
    - describe physical and chemical methods of control of bacterial and viral growth and disease
    - outline the selectivity and action of the antibiotic penicillin
    - discuss the principle of vaccination against viral and bacterial disease
    - discuss the significance of yeast to industry and other microbes to biotechnology and disease
    - using basic aseptic technique perform isolation, staining and microscopy of bacterial and yeast cells.
    Additional outcomes:
    Improved organisational skills through required preparation in advance of and during practical sessions. Improved information retrieval, oral presentation and team working skills will be developed in group study sessions.

    Outline content:
    Topics typically covered in lectures:

    An introduction to the world of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa) and their impact on health, agriculture, food and pharmaceutical industry, molecular and genomic biology
    - Key landmarks in development of practical and theoretical aspects of Microbiology as a science
    - Structure and some key components of bacterial cells - Gram +ve and -ve bacteria, cell walls and peptidoglycan, spores division by binary fission
    - Sources of nutrients, C-source and energy used by bacterial cells; diverse environments (temperature, pH, salinity) in which bacteria grow, applications to selection and culture of specific bacteria
    - Growth and quantitation of bacteria in batch and continuous culture
    - Control of microbial growth - aseptic technique, physical and chemical methods
    - Properties of select bacteria important in disease
    - How do bacteria cause disease? Stages in pathogenesis - Vibrio cholerae as example; infectious disease versus intoxication
    - Biology of fungi - nutrition, classes of fungi, importance and uses of fungi
    - The discipline of virology and methods of studying viruses
    - Viral classification and strategies of viral replication
    - Prevention of disease, Koch's postulates, antibiotics, vaccines

    Applications of selected microbes in industry and prevention of disease (eg yeast, penicillin production, HPV and diphtheria vaccines) are further studied through directed study, while in practical sessions students learn aseptic technique and put into practice the basic skills of handling, growing, staining and visualising bacterial and yeast cells.
    Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
    Lectures, practicals (supported by online videos), directed reading and group preparation of material for oral presentation, numerical exercise.

    Contact hours:
    Lectures- 18
    Seminars- 2
    Practicals classes and workshops- 11
    Guided independent study- 69
    Total hours by term- 100
    Total hours for module- 100

    Summative Assessment Methods:
    Written exam- 80%
    Report- 10%
    Class test administered by School- 10%

    Other information on summative assessment:
    Assessment includes: a practical report including numerical growth exercise; and BB based test.

    Formative assessment methods:
    Length of examination:
    A one-and-a-half hour examination

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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