BSc Biology / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Introduction to Virology

Unit code BIOL21381
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Virus infections can range from a brief, superficial interaction between the virus and its host to a lifelong infection from before birth. Many different tissues and organs may be affected. Although only a small minority of virus infections give rise to any disease symptoms, this minority is of major medical importance. This unit will provide you with an introduction to viral structure and function and explain how viruses subvert host cell function to generate viral factories. Details of the pathogenic mechanisms used by viruses to cause disease will be explained using examples such as the influenza virus and HIV. The design of viral vaccines will also be covered and their use in eradicating viral infections such as polio discussed.

Aims

The aim of this unit is to provide an understanding of viruses and viral disease. It will provide an introduction to viral structure and function and explain how viruses subvert host cell function to generate viral factories. Details of the pathogenic mechanisms used by viruses to cause disease will be explained using examples such as the influenza virus and HIV. The design of viral vaccines will also be covered and their use in eradicating viral infections such as polio discussed.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will have an appreciation of:

  • viral structure
  • the interaction of virus and host
  • the mechanisms of viral replication in host cells
  • viral pathogenesis
  • immune response to viral infections
  • acute, chronic and latent viral infections
  • viral vaccines and anti-viral drugs
  • viral epidemiology

Syllabus

  • What is a virus?
  • Viral structure
  • Viral genomes and replication
  • Viral interactions with the host
  • Acute viral infections
  • Latent and persistent viral infections
  • Viruses and immunodeficiency
  • Viruses and Cancer
  • Viral vaccines
  • Anti-viral therapy
  • Viral evolution
  • Emerging viral infections
  • Zoonotic viral diseases

e-Learning Activity

HIV doesn’t cause AIDS – The Duesberg phenomenon. Students will be asked to address the nine points made by Duesberg and produce a rebuttal of his contention, made in his original Science article, that “HIV is not the cause of AIDS because it fails to meet the postulates of Koch and Henle, as well as six cardinal rules of virology.”

Employability skills

Analytical skills
The students have to think about Duesberg's comments and analyse what they mean to select the correct facts from the literature to demonstrate that Duesberg's comments about HIV are wrong.
Research
The student has to use text books and journals to respond to the points raised in the assignment.
Written communication
1000 word assignment in which the students have to respond to the nine assertions by Duesberg in which he claims that HIV does not cause HIV.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Written exam 75%
Set exercise 5%

1.5 hour written examination at the end of the unit (75%); E-learning project (20%); weekly MCQ test (5%).

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided on the e-learning projects. Knowledge will also be assessed by 4 MCQ exams set at intervals throughout the course.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.3
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.7

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicola High Unit coordinator

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