Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Practical and Professional Skills in Microbiology
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Briefing on microbial hot topic relevant for public policy  (2000 words)  40%
Semester Assessment Report on isolation of microbial mix  (2000 words)  40%
Semester Assessment Group report:  Short communication article on culture-independent analyses (1500 words)  20%
Supplementary Assessment As above.  Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Conduct microbiological investigations safely and efficiently.

Evaluate the application of a range of culture-dependent and independent methods for characterizing microbes.

Report the outcomes of investigations of microbes and microbial communities using a range of scientific writing formats used by professional.microbiologists.

Communicate the relevance of microbial science for contemporary policy and societal imperatives.

Brief description

This module seeks to arm the student with the basic skills expected of a graduate working in a microbiology-related field. Firstly, the student will be immersed in laboratory and field sessions designed to expose the student to a broad range of culture-based and independent methods of characterizing microbes. Secondly, the student will interpret data from quantitative and bioinformatic analyses using a range of scientific writing formats. Thirdly, the student develops their perspectives on microbiology’s interface with society and policy, exploring hot topics in microbial science to communicate research findings to non-specialist audiences.


Seminar sessions will introduce selected hot topics in microbial science and explore their implications for policy and science. These will be dynamic in nature and responsive to contemporary events.
Practical sessions will expose students to a broad range of microbiological methods used in the field and laboratory, including environmental sampling, aseptic technique and safe work with microbes, culture, microscopic and biochemical techniques for characterizing microbes, experiments to illustrate microbial physiology and finally state-of-the-art molecular techniques for analyzing microbial communities.

Workshop sessions will introduce methods for the quantitative and bioinformatic analysis of microbes and microbial communities (e.g 16S ribosomal RNA gene analysis). These data and the microbial community DNA analyzed in the practicals will relate to (and be derived from) current staff research interests.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Practical work will involve calculations and statistical analyses using acquired data.
Communication The production of scientific reports in differing written formats and targeting different audiences. Listening and discussion skills for the seminars. Effective communication in person and electronically to co-write the short communication report.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines.
Information Technology Accessing the web for information sources and using databases to find primary literature and analyse DNA sequences.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain confidence in their ability to evaluate microbiological problems and objectively assess the quality of proposed solution in different contexts: laboratory, field and communication of public-good microbial science. Moreover, the students will gain an appreciation of the importance of microbial science in a range of career options.
Problem solving Practical classes will allow students to gain experience in designing, executing and interpreting data from experiments, and in particular the identification of microbes from a range of tests. Seminar sessions will require students to evaluate complex problems and distill down effective digests of the topics explored.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the provided material and evaluate data and literature from publically available databases for all elements of the module.
Subject Specific Skills Students will gain experience in working safely and effectively to apply a range of traditional and molecular microbiological lab and field skills to analyse microbes. Students will develop their awareness of the professional obligations and societal interface of contemporary microbial scientists.
Team work Students will work in pairs/small groups during sessions and collaborate in co-writing the short communication report. They will need to work effectively as part of a team to produce this coursework. Safe and efficient fieldwork for the group project makes teamwork imperative.


This module is at CQFW Level 5