Module code: BMS2041

Module Overview

The aim of the module is to give the students an understanding of the microbiota of food through a series of lectures, tutorials and related practicals, with a particular emphasis on bacteria and their key role in food fermentation, preservation, spoilage and foodborne illnesses. We will also demonstrate that bacteria are naturally present in food that derives from animals (fish, milk and meat) and the environment (honey). The concept of gut microbiome will be covered, and we will describe the implementation of control measures in food industry to mitigate the impact of bacterial pathogens. In addition, the module comprises statistical analysis, guided learning hours and captured content; and the assessments form an essential part of the Food Science & Nutrition and Veterinary Biosciences degrees. It is also highly recommended to students doing Microbiology.



Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

GUTIERREZ Jorge (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 82

Lecture Hours: 18

Tutorial Hours: 14

Laboratory Hours: 21

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 5

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

  • Factors affecting growth & survival of microorganisms in foods

  • The microbiota of food: origin, survival, and colonization

  • Microbiology of Fish & Meat

  • Microbiology of Milk & Honey

  • Food fermentation: Yoghurt, Cheese, Wine & Beer

  • Lactic acid bacteria, probiotics and gut microbiome

  • Practicals: Meat microbiology, Milk Microbiology, Yoghurt making and Food poisoning investigation

  • Microbiological testing during food production and processing

  • Foodborne illnesses and food outbreaks' case studies

  • Microbiological quality control and HACCP

  • The microbiological impact of heat processing and food preservation methods chilling, freezing

  • Biostatistics and interpretation of food safety guidelines

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessment for 'LAB NOTEBOOK (LAB REPORT AND SHORT QAS)' is 'written coursework to assess the underlying principles of the appropriate learning outcomes. These will reflect the material covered in the original assessment'

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the practical techniques used in the microbiological examination of foods and their knowledge in key areas of food microbiology.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of a:

  • Lab notebook, 50%, comprising a lab report and short answer-questions (Learning objectives 1, 4)

  • 2h Short Answer Question (SAQ) exam, 50% (Learning objectives 2, 3, 5, 6)

Formative assessment

There is an optional “lab report” to submit from which students will receive formative feedback on the lab notebook. Tutorials will help students combine the theory with the practicals, and they will be assisted with data analysis and interpretation. Short tests and quizzes will also be used to assess the students’ progress throughout the module, with a final revision session on the last week of the semester.


Students will receive extensive written and verbal feedback on their practical write-ups and verbal feedback on their short tests/quizzes and during the tutorials or revision session.

Module aims

  • To outline the different microbiology naturally found in food and show that they may lead to desirable (fermentation, probiotics) or undesirable (spoilage, disease) effects.
  • To describe the physico-chemical factors influencing microbial growth and survival in foods and how they can be used as control measures.
  • To compare the physico-chemical properties of a selection of food commodities and their influence on the microbiota associated with them.
  • To introduce the basic and advanced practical techniques used in the microbiological examination of foods, including modern preservation methods for assuring the microbiological quality of foods.
  • To emphasise and illustrate the varied roles of microorganisms in foodborne illness, food spoilage and food fermentation.
  • To describe the basic epidemiology of foodborne illness and the key features of the most common causative organisms.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Execute reliably a microbiological examination of a food material, the calculation of results, data analysis and interpretation of their significance. KCPT
002 Describe the most important members of the microbiota of a range of different food and understand their potential role. K
003 Explain the principles behind commonly used methods of food preservation. K
004 Describe the microorganisms and their physiological activity involved in the manufacture of a range of fermented food products. K
005 Outline the use and advantages of HACCP and modern quality control procedures. KCT
006 Describe the importance of foodborne pathogens and their mechanisms by which they cause illness. K

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to give the students an understanding of the origin of the food microbiota and the key roles that bacteria play in various food commodities, with further implications in animal & human health. Students will also be equipped with key technical skills in the area of food microbiology.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures 

  • Practicals

  • Tutorials

  • Guided Learning and Captured Content 

  • 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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: BMS2041

Other information

Graduate attributes gained from this module:

Resourcefulness & resilience

Literature searching to complete lab notebook, and background research for SAQ exam preparation.

Global & cultural capabilities

Lectures cover a wide range of food products and diseases reported worldwide as well as examples from various disciplines such as microbiome, animal production and food preservation methods, with a clear impact across the One Health sector. Module delivered by speakers with diverse backgrounds in the veterinary and agri-food sector.


In line with the One Health vision and approach, the module works towards relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as SDG2 (food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture) and SDG3 (health)

Digital capabilities

Use of various online tools for students’ interaction and discussions, and review of content.

Digital external resources to support lectures and generate debates.


Develop independent thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills that are transferable to the agrifood sector, in particular microbiome analysis and food microbiological testing. Opportunities to take part in discussions with professionals in the area.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Microbiology BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Food Science and Nutrition BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% 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 2023/4 academic year.