Module code: MMVM002

Module Overview

The second module of the MSc Veterinary Microbiology program builds on the basic knowledge of pathogenic microorganisms given in MMVM001 and introduces students to how the genetic material of a pathogen can be used to reveal pathogenicity mechanisms, study the spread of the organism and aid in the development of vaccines.

The students will also learn how the genetics of bacteria allows cells to respond to their surrounding environment including the presence of antimicrobial therapies, and in the laboratory how we manipulate bacteria using basic molecular biology techniques. In addition, the students will explore and discuss the advantages and limitations of current diagnostic techniques that aid in assessing the prevalence of pathogenic organisms; contrasting those employed during outbreak situations to those used for routine monitoring.

Furthermore, the students will learn about Next Generation Sequencing techniques and understand the processes involved in genome sequencing and annotation.

Finally, the student’s critical thinking skills will be developed by getting them to evaluate and discuss the evidence for and against a current veterinary controversy (e.g. antibiotic use in animals has driven the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in humans). 

Module provider

School of Veterinary Medicine

Module Leader

VAN VLIET A Dr (Vet Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: C522

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

·         Genetic flow of information inside the cell (transcription and translation)

·         Organisation, replication and exchange of genetic material in bacteria

·         Genome plasticity and virulence (transposons, mobile genetic elements)

·         Next Generation Sequencing and genome annotation

·         How bacteria respond to their environment

·         Bacterial response to the veterinary use of antibiotics and growth promoters

·         Genetics of innate and acquired antimicrobial resistance

·         Overview of viral classification

-       Genomes of viruses and replication strategies (negative stranded RNA viruses)

-       Genomes of viruses and replication strategies (DNA viruses)

-       Genomes of viruses and replication strategies (dsRNA viruses)

-       Genomes of viruses and replication strategies (positive stranded RNA viruses)

·         Transformation and veterinary tumour/cancer biology

·         Genetic approaches to rational vaccine design against bacterial pathogens

·         DIVA approach for vaccine design

·         Immunological principles of vaccines

·         Molecular tools for detection and differentiation of pathogens

·         Microbial genetics practical (plasmid DNA extraction and endonuclease digestion)

·         How to prepare a critical paper review (tutorial)

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination EXAMINATION - MCQ (60 MINUTES) 20

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of microbial genetics and how it can be applied to study pathogen evolution and spread. Two styles of examination are used for this propose: i) Exam consisting of multiple choice questions that cover the breadth and depth of the module and ii) Exam consisting of short written essay style questions.  In addition, the students are assessed on their ability to critically review scientific literature on a topic related to microbial genetics.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Exam (multiple choice, 90 questions with 5-answer choice in 1 hour) (20%)

·         Exam (Short essay questions, select 2/4, 1 hour) (40%)

·         Critical review essay (1000 words) (40%)

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive verbal feedback during each lecture – this is achieved by the Lecturers asking questions and assessing student responses and input into discussions. The lecturer will then highlight areas of confusion or provide clarity where necessary. Individual one-to-one discussions are also possible in the classroom and particularly during the laboratory session,  with this small group of students. Students also attend a 3-hour session entitled ‘How to review a scientific paper’ and this is followed by a 1 hour tutorial that allows individual students to raise questions/seek feedback. The format of these sessions are more informal allowing more student interaction and feedback opportunities.

Module aims

  • To provide a detailed overview of the genetic structure, replication, expression and diversity of micro-organisms.
  • To provide a detailed overview of the methods employed to interrogate the genetics of micro-organisms with specific reference to tiered molecular epidemiology, forensic microbiology and genome evolution.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the structural and functional diversity of the genetic make-up of micro-organisms of veterinary significance K
2 Critically assess the methods employed to type, sub-type and sequence micro-organisms K
3 Understand and rationalise the concept of genome plasticity and evolution that contributes to emergence of altered and/or new pathogens K
4 Describe the replication mechanisms of viruses with different genome structures  K
5 Critically assess the traditional and molecular approaches to genome alteration for vaccine development K
6 Discuss the concept of selective pressure and genome changes through horizontal gene transfer and genetic re-assortment K
7 Evaluate pathogen-host interaction in terms the pathogen potential encoded by microrganisms C
8 Evaluate the genetics of micro-organisms with respect to the infectious process C
9 Work independently demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time management T
10 Communicate effectively orally and in written work T
11 Participate in group discussions and on group assignments T
12 Investigate and analyse problems T
13 Integrate numerical & non-numerical information T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 100

Lecture Hours: 39

Tutorial Hours: 8

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching methods include:

39 hours lectures
3 hours practical class
8 hours tutorials
100 hours independent study

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for MICROBIAL GENETICS : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/mmvm002

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Microbiology MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.