The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.
Biochemistry – The Building Blocks of Life
Have you ever wondered how some organisms can resist diseases? This module provides you with the fundamentals for understanding biochemical processes in living organisms. You’ll be introduced to the basic structure, properties and functions of the four key biological macromolecules: nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. You’ll also look at the metabolic pathways occurring in cells, such as respiration, photosynthesis and the biosynthetic pathways for the key macromolecules. In addition to lectures, you’ll have practical laboratory sessions to learn how to use key biochemical techniques for the separation and analysis of macromolecules and measurement of the metabolic process.
Genes and Cells 1
The basic functional units of life are cells. In this module you’ll learn about the growth and development of cells, focusing on mitosis, meiosis, cell division and differentiation. You’ll get to explore the ultrastructure – the structure of a cell too small to be seen with an ordinary microscope – of animal, plant and bacterial cells and even viruses. Once you have this foundation understanding, the second part of the module covers fundamental genetic principles and you’ll be able to answer the questions: What are the Mendelian laws of inheritance? How are genes expressed? You’ll have lectures from current researchers in the field and the opportunity to apply your learning in the laboratory and in workshops.
Microbes and You
Through this module, you will be given perspective a on how microbes interact with humans, animals, plants and other organisms; how they influence environmental processes, and how microbial products contribute to healthcare, food production, and manufacturing. It will address the influence of technological developments, and scientific understanding of microbes and the public perception of them.
In a series of lectures, workshops and practicals you’ll further develop your understanding of gene structure, function and regulation and investigate how this knowledge can be applied in recombinant DNA technology through DNA sequencing and genetic engineering.
The Physiology of Microbes
Through four hours of lectures each week, you’ll be given basic knowledge of bacterial cell structures and growth and reveal the mechanisms that allow bacteria to respond to their environment. You’ll also be taught how to handle data commonly used in microbiological experimentation and be given training in the basic practical methods required for all microbiological laboratory work through a weekly three hour practicals.
Microorganisms and Disease
You’ll be introduced to a range of important human pathogens, their interactions with the immune system, mechanisms of disease causation and the laboratory procedures involved in diagnosis and treatment of infections.
Biosciences Tutorials and Foundation Science
The tutorials component of this module is intended to enhance your transition into university and guide you through the academic expectations of your degrees. This part of the module is spread throughout the year and includes three generic sessions on ‘study skills and plagiarism’, ‘study opportunities’ and ‘career and personal development’, and a series of small group tutorials with your academic tutor to develop generic skills such as finding crucial information, oral presentation, data handling and presentation of results, preparation for examinations, and essay writing skills relevant to biosciences.
The Foundation Science content has three elements: chemistry, maths and statistics and physics. The chemistry element will include: elements and periodic table; atomic structure and bonding; intermolecular attractions, chemical equilibrium; acids and bases, oxidation and reduction; rates of reaction; basic organic chemistry, isomerism, and rings. The Maths and Stats element will include: calculations, algebra, functions and relationships, powers, logarithms, descriptive statistics, significance, regression and presenting data. The Physics element will include: units and dimensions; power, energy and heat; light and the electromagnetic spectrum; attenuation/absorption; and radioactivity.
There is also an IT element, which interfaces with generic IT training for undergraduates provided within the University.
Optional modules include:
The Biosciences and Global Food Security
How can you use science to help improve global food security? This module introduces you to the issues of global food security and the complexity existing in different parts of our food generation system. Looking across the food supply chain, you’ll cover the evolution of crops, crop and animal production, and the food industry. Importantly, you’ll also look at sustainable nutrition because food security isn’t just about supply – it’s important that people are getting the right kind of food. You’ll learn about these issues through a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions. You’ll also develop professional skills to work safely in laboratory situations.
Food and Physiology
This module will cover the basics of the journey of food around the body. You will learn how our body reacts when it first senses the presence of food, and how hormones are activated in response to hunger and food consumption. The microbiome and gut health will be covered, both in the healthy state and when undesirable reactions occur, leading to disease. You will be encouraged to explore how certain foods can impact the body, affecting our cognitive and physical health.
Bacterial Biological Diversity
This module is designed to provide an understanding of the extent of bacterial biological diversity. Following introductory lectures on bacterial taxonomy and classification and web-page design, you’ll undertake two student-centred exercises. The first will be the production of an essay on a chosen organism covering its taxonomy, biology and ecology. The second will be a group exercise to design a web site including the material collated for the essay.
This module will introduce you to the properties, mechanisms of resistance and clinical use of antimicrobial agents in the treatment of microbial infections. Options relating to disease prevention will be explained, and you’ll be provided with an insight into the role of the laboratory and the Public Health Laboratory Service in the diagnosis, management and control of infection in hospital and the community. During an average week, you’ll have a three hour lecture to study for this module.
The module will provide an introduction to viruses and their interactions with their hosts (bacteria, plants and animals including humans) as well as discussing the structure of viruses and their significance including pathogenesis and molecular biology. As well as lectures, this module also includes a lab practical in which a virus is grown and quantified.
Principles of Immunology
What are the main events of the immune response when the body is infected by intra and extracellular parasites, essential components of many diseases? In this module you’ll be introduced to the fundamental concepts behind cellular and molecular immunology. You’ll learn about the main characteristics and features of the innate and adaptive immune system, their functions and how they relate to each other. You’ll explore current immune-techniques, modern concepts of immune-deficiency and hypersensitivities, and contemporary topics in animal and human diseases.
Analysis of Bacterial Gene Expression
This module covers the major techniques required for analysis of gene expression including methods for gene sequence and transcriptional analysis. An in depth study of vectors and gene constructs provides an understanding of the different strategies used in creating mutants and identifying gene function in bacteria. As well as practicals, the coursework exercises are designed to illustrate the topics covered in the lecture course and will give students experience of experimental design and critical analysis of research data and an introduction to bioinformatics for the analysis of DNA and protein sequences.
Professional Skills for Bioscientists
In this module you will develop and consolidate your professional competencies and abilities as a microbiologist. You’ll improve your core professional skills in the scientific method, experimentation, data analysis and measurement techniques that enable you carry out scientifically-sound research in animal, crop or management science. You’ll also cover discipline-specific topics. There will be a mix of lectures, workshops and group activity sessions for you to work on your skills.
Microbial Mechanisms of Foodborne Disease
This module aims to provide a fundamental understanding of the microorganisms causing food-borne disease and the mechanisms by which they do this and their routes of transmission. In laboratory practicals you will learn a number of core practical methods needed for the safe handling, culture, isolation, enumeration and identification of a range of ACDP2 pathogens.
Bacterial Genes and Development
This module aims to describe in some detail the molecular events which occur during the control of gene expression in bacteria. The material covered will begin with simple control circuits, followed by case studies which show how complex developmental programmes can occur in response to environmental stimuli.
Molecular Biology and the Dynamic Cell
This module offers a detailed study of the core molecular processes that enable cells to function such as DNA biochemistry, gene expression, protein synthesis and degradation. You will learn about the basic molecular processes that underpin the function of eukaryotic cells and to describe how different organelles within the cell function, with an emphasis on the dynamic nature of cell biology. You will have lectures, practical classes a poster presentation and tutorials.
Computer Modelling in Science: Introduction
Modern biological and environmental science is often the study of complex systems and large data sets, and relies on computer models and analyses to understand these systems and data. This module introduces you to the computer programming and modelling techniques that are used in the biological and environmental sciences. Using relevant examples and applications, you’ll become familiar with computer programming and algorithms using the Python programming language, and explore how to analyse image data. You’ll also learn how to construct mathematical models for biological and environmental systems using difference and differential equations, with a particular emphasis on population dynamics, and how to simulate, analyse these models and fit these models to data. In computer laboratory sessions, you’ll apply your learning to specific problems, such as environmental pollution, growth of microbial populations, disease epidemics, or computer manipulation of images of plants, animals or the natural environment.
Infection and Immunity
This module will provide a broad understanding in basic immunology, the organs, cells and molecules of the immune system and the mechanisms engaged in the generation an of immune response to pathogens. Within this the module will provide examples of types of human pathogens (viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoa and helminths), the varied nature of the immune response, depending on the pathogen, it’s niche(s) in the host and pathogen strategies for invading and surviving in the host. A further aim is to demonstrate how immunological methods can be effectively utilized for disease diagnosis and vaccine development. The module will also address the consequences of failure of normal immune function, including autoimmunity and hypersensitivity
In this module you will learn about the use of yeasts, filamentous fungi and bacteria in biotechnology as it relates to the food, agriculture, medicine and other industries. The course will demonstrate how an understanding of the biology and genetics of microorganisms allows their use as cell factories for the production, and models for the discovery, of enzymes and metabolites. The course will also explore how microbial activities themselves can be exploited in processes ranging from food production to biocontrol of disease-causing organisms. You will have ten weeks of lectures for this course.
Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics
This module will examine in depth the analysis of drug action, and its application to the design and use of current therapeutics. We will define what drugs are, the different ways they act at the cellular and molecular level, and pharmacokinetic principles underlying drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. This framework will provide the basis to explore the rationale and goals of treatment for clinical therapeutic case studies. These will highlight major current challenges to human health – in cardiovascular and respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity, CNS disorders, cancer and infectious disease. You will develop a deep understanding of what the discipline of pharmacology represents, and its application to both basic biological research and current and future medical advances.
Microbiology Research Project
You will choose and plan a research project in consultation with a supervisor, based around ongoing research in the University. You'll carry out a literature review and produce an experimental outline. You will be required to design experiments, collect, analyse and interpret the data obtained. You'll spend at least three full days per week in this year undertaking your work. Examples of recent project areas include: antimicrobial resistance, synthetic biology, immune response to virus infections, rapid detection of Mycobacteria, phage therapy, immobilised microorganisms for fermentation and improve yeast performance for high gravity fermentations.
The Microflora of Foods
You’ll be given an understanding of: the micro-organisms which are important in foods; the factors which control the development of the microflora of food products and the methods which can be used to isolate and identify bacteria from food products. This module is taught through lectures and a significant practical content.
Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology
This module will enable you to comprehend the opportunities that protein engineering provides in applied microbiology and to appreciate some of the practical limitations associated with technology. You’ll gain a detailed understanding of prokaryotic protein expression and examples of its application to biotechnology. Practical classes and seminars will provide an insight into the necessary constraints and practicalities of experimental design and execution. The major coursework assignment introduces you to the rigour required for writing scientific papers.
Sex, Ageing and DNA Repair
Why do we age and succumb to cancer? Has human civilization exposed a process of cellular decay for which evolution never prepared us? The age-related onset of cancer provides a stark reminder that we cannot avoid damage to the genetic blueprint on which life depends, and suggests that ageing may be a consequence of cellular activities that limit DNA damage and malignant transformation. To avoid the ravages of age on the 'disposable soma', the germline is refreshed each generation by means of reproduction. Sexual reproduction is underpinned by recombination, which shuffles the genome and ensures correct chromosome segregation in meiosis. The molecular mechanisms of recombination are conserved in bacteria, yeast and higher eukaryotes, and defects in recombination are linked to cancer pre-disposition and/or premature ageing in humans. This module examines how studies in bacterial and yeast model systems have uncovered the relationship between the somatic ageing observed during a single lifespan, and the necessity to maintain the genome intact from one generation to the next. This is despite our continuous exposure to mutagens and carcinogens of both natural and human origin. We will focus on the nature and consequences of genotoxic damage, and learn how microbiology, including model organisms such as Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has informed us about the mechanisms that avoid, repair or tolerate such damage.
Rapid Methods in Microbial Analysis
This module will enable you to understand where new methods can replace traditional techniques of microbial detection and recording.
This module commences with a review of microbial fermentation, including beer, cheese, yoghurt, meat and single-cell protein production, as well as sewage treatment. The underlying principles of microbial fermentation will be discussed, in addition to specific examples which will be examined in depth. From this basic knowledge the problems of microbial contamination and spoilage of the finished product will be analysed.
Virology and Cellular Microbiology
The module will provide an in depth induction into the relationship of bacterial and viral pathogens and their hosts. Including understanding the underlying molecular basis of the adaptive response of bacteria to various environments and the mechanisms by which bacteria and viruses subvert cellular machinery.
This course aims to give you an in depth understanding of the genetics, evolution and biochemistry behind the pathogenic properties of parasites and micro-organisms that cause major human disease in the present day. In a series of lectures you will learn about the molecular genetic biochemical and cellular bases of theses major infectious diseases and why they are still such a health problem. You will understand the post-genomic progress in determining the molecular mechanisms of transmission, pathogenicity and susceptibility as well as understanding the progress and prospects for new therapeutics.
Molecular Microbiology and Infection
The course will be delivered in two sections. Section one will include:structure, function and molecular biology of information processing in bacteria. This will include discussion of cell envelop structures, extracellular secretion, enzymology, protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions in DNA repair, recombination, replication, transcription and translation and the use of these organisms in biotechnology. Section two will include: a discussion of the biology and biological chemistry of emerging or recently emerged viral and bacterial diseases that are important for public health: HIV, avian influenza, and antibiotic resistant 'superbugs'. Lectures will cover the interaction of the host and the pathogens and highlight how these drive mechanisms of infection and immunity. In addition, the course will include an analysis of anti-viral and anti-bacterial drugs and their modes of action at the atomic level and how microbial diseases can be transmitted to humans.
In a series of lectures, this module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production.
Plant Cell Signalling
This module deals with the production and perception of plant signalling molecules and the ways in which these signals are integrated to ensure appropriate responses to environmental conditions or plant pathogen attack.
Molecular Plant Pathology
This module will cover the molecular techniques being used to develop an understanding of plant/pathogen interactions. It will then cover the molecular biology of plant pathogens, how these cause disease, and the mechanisms used by plants to defend themselves against such pathogens.
Plant Disease Control
In this module, you’ll gain an understanding of the applied aspects of plant disease control, in particular transmission, epidemiology, detection and diagnosis and control strategies. You’ll analyse the problems of plant diseases and be able to describe the options available to control losses due to disease and the strengths and weaknesses of these options. You’ll examine control strategies based on a range of approaches – including application of fungicides, biological control, deployment of disease resistant varieties and biotechnological approaches. Importantly, you’ll learn about the strategies used by plant pathogens to spread between plants and cause disease epidemics. You’ll have lectures and a field visit, as well as practical laboratory sessions to develop laboratory skills associated with disease diagnosis.