Surrey University Stag


Module code: MMVM001

Module Overview

This first module aims to review the basic properties of microorganisms and the host immune system.

It is designed to act both as a refresher for those that have recently taken Microbiology or Immunology courses and as a starting point in either subject for those that may have previously focussed more on one side or the other. As a result we will start at a basic level but quickly build to provide you with a deeper knowledge in both subjects.

By asking questions such as 'What is a pathogen?' and 'How does the immune system work?', we will explore the impact of the host-microorganism interactions in healthy and diseased hosts

Module provider

School of Veterinary Medicine

Module Leader

RITCHIE Jennifer (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: C522

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 114

Lecture Hours: 23

Tutorial Hours: 4

Laboratory Hours: 9

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

To have fulfilled the entry requirements for the MSc Programme.

Module content

Indicative content includes:

·         Introduction to the host-microorganism-environment triad

·         Bacterial structure and function

·         Bacterial culture and its limitations

·         Introduction to Parasitology: major groups of parasites

·         Introduction to Virology: virus structure and function

·         Viral detection, culture and its limitations

-         Fungi as pathogens

-         Introduction to Immunology and vaccine development

·         Tissues, cells and molecules of the immune system

·         Innate immunity

·         Adaptive immunity: Antigen recognition/processing

·         Adaptive immunity: T cell action

-         Adaptive immunity: B cells and antibodies

·         Review of immunology (tutorial)

·         Practical: Identification of unknown infectious agents using basic bacteriology techniques

-         Practical: Self-design exercise based on an adaptive immunity (vaccine) scenario

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Examination (short answer questions, complete in 90 mins) 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of key concepts in microbiology and immunology. Two types of assessment will be used: i) bacteriology laboratory report and ii) exam-based short answer questions. The bacteriology laboratory report will be completed as coursework with submission during the module and will enable students to demonstrate understanding of how various bacteriological techniques can be applied to identify unknown infectious agents. Completion of the laboratory report allows students to demonstrate key transferable skills including independence, time management and organisation, critical thinking as well as subject-specific knowledge. The exam will consist of  a series of short answer questions, covering key concepts and some problem-based learning questions that bring are linked to the practicals/tutorials.  Students must attempt to answer all questions.  Thus, students have an opportunity to demonstrate understanding of both the theoretical and practical aspects of host-microorganism relationships.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Exam (short answer questions, all attempted, 90 mins) (70%)

·         Practical report (Bacteriology report due date mid module) (30%)


Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive feedback during the normal course of the lecture by the Lecturers asking questions and assessing student responses and input into discussions. This will 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 sessions,  with this small group of students. From past experience, we are aware that some students struggle with the depth of information given during the immunology lectures and so we have now introduced two 1-hour tutorial sessions where they can review material and with the help of a lecturer make connections between individual concepts in order to build a better understanding of the whole subject.

Students will also be given example exam short answer questions to review prior to the exam period.

Module aims

  • To provide an overview of the diversity of micro-organisms in terms of structure and function as an essential foundation for the study of host-microorganism interactions.
  • To provide a basic overview of immunological structure and function as an essential foundation for the study of host-microorganism interactions.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate knowledge of the structural and functional diversity of micro-organisms of significance in a host K
002 Critically assess the methods employed to describe and classify micro-organisms K
003  Demonstrate knowledge of the molecular and cellular events that occur during an immune response K
004  Demonstrate understanding of host-microorganism relationships K
005 Evaluate pathogen-host interaction in terms of immune responses C
006 Evaluate the biology of micro-organisms with respect to the infectious process C
007 Work independently demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time management T
008 Communicate effectively orally and in written work T
009 Participate in group discussions and on group assignments T
010 Investigate and analyse problems T
011 Integrate numerical & non-numerical information T

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 introduce students to the basic and applied aspects of microbiology and enable them to generate a better understanding of how a host may respond to infection. This module uses research-active lecturers (mainly internal to the University), who are leading experts in their chosen field and bring a pragmatic approach to studying host-microorganism interactions (taught classes). By keeping class sizes small and the lectures fairly informal, the students have a chance to fully engage in a dialogue with the lecturers. The students will also have an opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge in two separate practical classes. First, they will apply the principles of bacteriology to identify an unknown infectious agent obtained from described case histories of infection. Secondly, they will perform a self-design exercise and practical work based on the principles of adaptive immunity (vaccine scenario). On completion of this module, the students should have a greater understanding of some of the complexities and considerations faced by microbiologists attempting to detect, identify and control microorganisms that cause infections. 

The learning and teaching methods include:

·         23 hours lecture

·         4 hours tutorial/class discussions

·         9 hours practical classes

·         114 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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: MMVM001

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 2023/4 academic year.