Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Microbial Diversity
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
AS or A level Biology
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Practical 1 x 1 Hour Practical
Practical 4 x 4 Hour Practicals
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Continuous assessment of practicals via multiple choice tests.  30%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   70%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  30%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  70%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Evaluate the importance of micro-organisms in biogeochemical cycling and biotechnology

2. Explain how micro-organisms interact with other organisms, including humans, as pathogens and mutualists.

3. Describe the diversity of life forms within the eukaryotic and prokaryotic micro-organisms

4. Demonstrate practical skills in handling micro-organisms.

Brief description

This module is designed to introduce students to the diversity of microbial life and the importance of micro-organisms as pathogens, as mutualists (eg animal digestive systems, mycorrhizas etc) in biotechnology (food manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, etc) and in ecosystem function.


The lecture course begins with an introduction the three Domains of life and includes a comparison of prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Most of the genetic and metabolic diversity of living organisms is microbial and this is highlighted from the outset. Applied aspects of microbiology, which have direct relevance to humans, such as the importance of microbes in fermented foods (eg wine, cheeses, etc), in pharmaceutical production (eg penicillin/enzymes) and as biocontrol agents are explored.

The prokaryotic Bacteria and Archaea are introduced, emphasising morphology, physiology and ecology and concluding with an examination of their role in human diseases. The structure and life cycles of viruses are explored and their role in disease and ecosystem function is investigated.

The kingdom Fungi is introduced through a survey of the major groups and their modes of growth. This set of lectures discusses the classification of living organisms and the diversity of form, genetic systems and life strategies. The diversity of form and function of autrotrophic micro-organisms, introducing both photosynthetic prokaryotes and eukaryotes (algae). Cell ultrastructure, morphology, growth and reproduction, nitrogen fixation and heterocyst function in thse organisms is then considered.

The final part of the module concludes with an overview of the role of microbes in terrestrial decomposition, in plant disease and as mutualistic symbionts of plants and animals.

Practical classes illustrate and consolidate aspects of the lecture course. Students will use light microscopy to examine a range of micro-organisms. Students will gain key skills in the safe handling of micro-organisms through simple experimental investigations. By the end of the course students will have acquired basic knowledge of sterile handling techniques. Video microscopy is extensively used to help in interpretation of the practical material. Practicals are assessed by means of tests within and/or after the practical classes.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection and scrutiny of data in terms of quality and quantity. Data interpretation.
Communication Listening skills for the lectures and subsequent discussion in practical classes. Effective written communication in examinations.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines. The directed study elements will provide opportunity for students to explore their own learning styles and preferences and identify their needs and barriers to learning. Students will be able to review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance.
Information Technology Accessing the web for information sources and using databases to find primary literature.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain confidence in their ability to evaluate biological problems and objectively assess the quality of proposed solutions.
Problem solving Through the lectures students will become aware of specific environmental and medical problems caused by microbes and the solutions that have been developed to overcome these issues. Practical classes will allow students to gain experience in designing, executing, interpreting data and commenting on assessed microbiology experiments.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material using both directed and independent study. Information from a variety of sources will be the object of scrutiny and comment. Practical classes will allow the development of key biological research skills (including the handling of microbiological specimens) at an early stage of their academic careers.
Subject Specific Skills Students will be able to evaluate the importance of micro-organisms in biogeochemical cycling and biotechnology and explain how micro-organisms interact with other organisms. Students will be able to describe the diversity of life forms within the eukaryotic and prokaryotic micro-organisms. Students will gain key skills in handling microbiological specimens.
Team work Students will work in pairs/small groups during practical sessions. They will need to discuss their experimental design and work effectively as a small team in practical classes.


This module is at CQFW Level 4