Module code: BMS1026

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to microorganisms, to the main cellular processes they perform and to how their activities affect humans and the environment. The students learn about microorganisms that cause disease as well as those who have properties we exploit for the benefit of society. Finally through laboratory practical exercises, the students learn and practice a range of basic microbiological techniques, which are essential for the cultivation and study of microorganisms. This module provides students with key skills and a basic broad knowledge of microbiology; a fundamental discipline required for future endeavors in the fields of infectious disease, biotechnology, biomedical science, biological science and other medically-related fields.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

RITCHIE Jennifer (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 80

Lecture Hours: 20

Tutorial Hours: 11

Laboratory Hours: 9

Guided Learning: 20

Captured Content: 10

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Introduction to Microbiology

  • Bacteria, their growth and genetics

  • Viruses – an introduction, the global virome and their impact on disease

  • Protozoan microorganisms

  • Fungi

  • Epidemiology of pathogens

  • Human-associated microbiota

  • Microbe-environment interactions

  • Microbial metabolism: human health and disease

  • Food- and water-borne diseases

  • Respiratory diseases

  • Animal transmitted diseases

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Immune response to disease-causing organisms

  • Prevention and treatment of pathogenic diseases

  • Microbial products and microbial biodiversity

  • Primary metabolites

  • Secondary metabolites and recombinant DNA products

  • Culture, microscopy and staining techniques

  • Enumerating and measuring bacteria

  • Isolating bacteria from the environment

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination MCQ Exam (60 questions, closed book, invigilated) - 75 MINS 70

Alternative Assessment

Lab book (experimental data and images of experimental results) and data analysis exercise

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge by correctly answering short answer style questions designed to test their understanding of basic microbiological principles and examples. Using this approach, we are able to assess knowledge across a broad range of microbiological topics within a short period of time. In addition, the practical component is designed to introduce students to basic techniques in microbiology as well as develop their ability to keep accurate laboratory records and analyse experimental data.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Coursework (30%) – laboratory record keeping and on-line test assessing data recording and basic statistical analysis capabilities as applied to microbiological data. This exercise gives students an opportunity to record observations from experiments and to analyse data generated from such experiments.

  • Exam (70%) (closed book) consisting of 60 multiple choice questions to be answered in 75 minutes

The exam-based assessment tests Learning Outcomes 1-9, whereas completion of the coursework tests Learning Outcome 10.


Formative assessment and feedback

The students will have the opportunity to complete weekly/biweekly on-line MCQ mini-tests, as part of formative assessment. These mini-tests will be made available at the end of each topic and consist of the standard MCQ format (1 correct answer from 5 possible options). The mini-tests will be available on SurreyLearn and upon completion, students will receive their mark and when appropriate, question-specific feedback on those that answered incorrectly. Students will be able to retake the tests as often as they like allowing them the opportunity for self-directed learning. In addition to the mini-tests, all lecturers on this module use a range of tools (e.g. electronic voting, worksheet examples or peer-to-peer learning) to assess learning and understanding during their lectures. Guidance, practice data and statistical analysis test examples are also used to prepare students for their coursework assignments.

Module aims

  • Introduce students to the major groups of microorganisms
  • Give students a basic understanding of how a bacterial cell and virus functions
  • Introduce students to what constitutes our natural microbiota and how it impacts our health
  • Introduce students to a range of disease-causing organisms and how they are transmitted
  • Introduce students to the role of microorganisms for the maintenance of processes that allow life to exist
  • Examine the ways in which microbial processes can be managed and manipulated for the benefit of society and the environment
  • Introduce students to the range of basic microbiological techniques used when working with microorganisms in the laboratory

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Appreciate the importance of Microbiology across continents and cultures KC
002 Define the basic processes carried out by a microbial cell KC
003 Comprehend the global virome and the impact viruses have on the burden of disease KC
004 Explain how bacteria are classified and the properties on which this is based KC
005 Describe the distribution and main species of microorganisms associated with the human body and be aware of their impact on human health KC
006 Understand the principles of epidemiology and explore how human behaviour contributes to the spread of disease KC
007 Describe how the metabolism of some microorganisms can be utilised for the benefit of humans, and contributes to sustainable ecosystems (e.g. symbiotic relationships). KC
008 Compare and contrast the structure and biology of various categories of microorganisms and consider their evolutionary relationships KC
009 Understand the importance of microbial diversity and ecology in the context of the human microbiome, the physical environment and in biotechnology applications KC
010 Understand how to perform basic microbiology techniques and use them to describe the microbiological content of the environment; to learn how to present and analyse such data in an appropriate scientific manner KCPT

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: provide students with a solid knowledge of microorganisms, their function and contribution to society and the environment.  Students are encouraged to be active participants through the inclusion of in-class questions, some of which are delivered via digital platforms. Furthermore, small group working and peer-to-peer learning during practical classes will help students master discipline-specific skills essential for working with microorganisms as well as transferable skills in team working, effective communication and time management. This includes laboratory techniques, data collection and analysis, and scientific writing. As such, this FHEQ level 4 module is designed to provide students with a framework from which to build their knowledge as they attend later microbiologically-focused modules in their Degree program. 

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • lectures 

  • tutorials 

  • formative assessment exercises

  • practical classes

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: BMS1026

Other information

Resourcefulness & resilience – this module provides opportunities for students to self-regulate their learning by embedding factual and reflective questions that promote dialogue within lectures, and peer-to-peer interaction and learning in small groups during the practical classes.

Global & cultural capabilities – the module content explores the impact of disease-causing organisms from a range of cultural and societal settings to broaden global and cultural awareness. Time is given to provide space for reflection. Scientific advances are explained putting into historical context the individuals involved in their discovery, including lesser known figures.

Sustainability – specific examples (e.g. biofuel development, pandemic disease spread, plastic waste, antimicrobial resistance) related to microbiology are used to promote discussion and raise awareness of sustainability issues.

Digital capabilities – digital learning materials (e.g. videos, recordings) and tools (e.g. polleverywhere, MS teams) are used to support student learning.

Employability – students practice skills in data reporting and analysis during the practical-based coursework. In addition, lecturers share their own personal career journeys and highlight relevant professional bodies that students can engage with.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biochemistry MSci (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biochemistry BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Infection and Immunity) BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Animal Biology and Ecology) BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Cellular and Molecular Sciences) BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biomedical Science BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biomedical Science MSci (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Microbiology 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 2024/5 academic year.