Module code: BMS2044

Module Overview

Students will integrate what they have learnt in the previous modules, using their knowledge on Microbiology (BMS1026); Evolutionary origin of Biodiversity (BMS1040) ; Practical and biomedical bacteriology (BMS1035) and Cellular Microbiology and Virology (BMS2037) 

The study of microbiology often involves learning about the properties of single species, but in nature microbes rarely exist in isolation and are instead part of a rich and diverse ecosystem. Together with their ability to communicate via chemical signalling, the world of microbes reveals interesting complexities with relevance to health and disease, and biotechnology. 

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

COTTELL Alison (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: 100

Lecture Hours: 13

Tutorial Hours: 1

Laboratory Hours: 15

Guided Learning: 8

Captured Content: 13

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

• Introduction. Overview of microbial populations and interactions
• Biofilm initiation, development and physical interactions
• Medically important biofilms
• Approaches for the control of medically important biofilms
• Antibiotic “resistance” in biofilms: genotypic or phenotypic?
• Environmental biofilms and bioremediation
• Quorum sensing systems: social cheating
• Probiotics and commensals
• Metagenomics: Methods and applications
• Microbial consortia for biotechnological applications
• Microbial fuel cells
• Biorefineries

• Dental biofilm models
• Biofilms and antimicrobial resistance
• Quorum sensing: inducing expression of bacterial genes
• Quorum sensing inhibition
• Fuel cells

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework LAB REPORT 30
Examination Online ONLINE EXAM (90 min within 4hr window) 70

Alternative Assessment

Data analysis and methodology assignment as an alternative for the laboratory notebook. Exam as above.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

·         An understanding of the existence of microbes as populations, and the interactions that govern the properties of these microbial consortia.

·         Ability to interpret and draw conclusions relating to this discipline of microbiology from data generated from laboratory practical classes.

 Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Laboratory notebook assessment;

·         Two-hour exam: One essay-style answer from a choice of three questions; 30 MCQ questions

Formative assessment and feedback:

SurreyLearn tests will provide feedback to the students of their knowledge and understanding.

Module aims

  • Enable students to gain an understanding of the interactions between microbes existing as populations and communities
  • Develop a critical understanding of how models of communication systems in microbial populations can be applied to such phenomena as disease pathology and generation of energy
  • Develop understanding of how microbes can be manipulated in vitro to display evidence of communication

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
002 Appreciate the importance of studying microbes as populations rather than as individual, independent cells KPT
003 Investigate the role of biofilms as important microbial communities KCP
004 Discuss and investigate the processes by which microbes in populations communicate with each other, including the dynamics of these communication systems from an evolutionary perspective KCP
005 Understand the ways in which the phenomenon of bacterial communication can be harnessed for a range of biotechnology applications KCP
001 Appreciate that the survival of particular microbes is influenced by other microbes in a natural consortium 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 ensure that students achieve the modules learning outcome and develop competencies in the corresponding aspects of the curriculum framework (employability, digital capability, global and cultural intelligence, sustainability, resourcefulness and resilience). It should also enable students to understand the complexities of microbial communities and interactions, with reference to the recent research in the discipline. 

The learning and teaching methods include:
• The theoretical elements are taught in the first five weeks of the module and are delivered as lectures.
• There are practical classes which are delivered in the final five weeks of the module and are designed to consolidate the theoretical elements and develop greater critical understanding of the module.


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: BMS2044

Other information

Resourcefulness & resilience: The assessments for this module rely on the ability to collect and interpret data produced in practical sessions. The practicals will run in groups, which will allow students to develop teamwork skills, problem-solving, decision-making, self-efficacity, self-regulation and confidence. 

Global & cultural capabilities: Students will work in small groups during the practical sessions which will encourage and engage students in working with other students from different cultures and abilities to achieve an end goal. 

Digital capabilities: Students will utilize the virtual learning environment SurreyLearn and other digital resources. The skills learned will be applied in the assignments they undertake to equip the students for a variety of modern professions.  

Employability: Transferable skills such as the ability to work in a team, report findings in a scientific manner and ability to identify clades will equip students for a variety of modern professions. 

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Biological Sciences (Infection and Immunity) BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Animal Biology and Ecology) BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Microbiology BSc (Hons) 2 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 2025/6 academic year.