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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

  • If you counted the bacteria in your gut, you might be surprised to find that you have 10 times more than you have cells in your body;

  • The moment we are born, we become colonised with beneficial microbial life, the start of a relationship that impacts upon our health and well-being

  • Pathogenic microbes represent an important health threat requiring an understanding both of infection and technology that we use to protect us.

  • This course explores the positive and negative aspects of our relationship with microbes, and how our immune system helps to maintain a fragile peace with our closest neighbours

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 2
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Frank Ward

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa and viruses occupy all niches of this planet, from the deepest oceans to the human body. Their success in such a wide variety of environments is dependent on their diversity and adaptability. This course is an introduction to the biology and ecology of micro-organisms, and an introduction to the immune system and its role in protecting against microbial disease. The course stresses the importance of man's relationships with micro-organisms, from disease to biotechnology and in particular, describes how we build immunity by meeting all of the challenges that arise in combating infection.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 two-hour extended matching question (EMQ) examination (70%) and in-course assessment (30%). Continuous assessment comprises: 4 written practical reports (15% in total), 4 homework assignments (15% in total). Resit: 1 two-hour EMQ examination (70%) and previous continuous assessment (30%).

Formative Assessment

PRS questions during lectures and practice questions on WebCT. EMQ Mock Exam


Practical reports will be marked with written comments. Students will be given general feedback on performance during timetabled exam information sessions. PRS MCQ assessment answers discussed during lectures. Immediate feedback on practice questions available on WebCT.

Course Learning Outcomes


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