BSc Zoology

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Prokaryotic Microbiology

Unit code BIOL21181
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


Prokaryotic Microbiology will provide you with a comprehensive overview of bacterial cell structure, function, metabolism and regulatory mechanisms. You will also be introduced to the key emerging technological developments, such as next generation sequencing and synthetic biology that are shaping the future of bacteriology.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Microbes, Man and the Environment BIOL10532 Pre-Requisite Recommended


This unit will provide students with a comprehensive overview of bacterial cell structure/function, metabolism and regulatory mechanisms. Students will also be introduced to the key emerging technological developments such as next generation sequencing technologies and synthetic biology that are shaping the future of bacteriology.

Learning outcomes

Students will appreciate and be able to describe:

•       The detailed molecular structure and functioning of the key components of the bacterial cell

•       The principal sensing and regulatory mechanisms employed by bacteria

•       Bacterial metabolism and metabolic diversity

•       The principles of synthetic biology and how these are being applied to the search for new antibiotics

•       Recent technological developments, including the rise of bacterial genomics, and transcriptomics.


•       Cell envelopes: Cell envelope structure of Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria, peptidoglycan, LPS, S-layers,

•       Cell division & cell shape: processes involved in cell division & variety of cell shapes

•       Motility: Structure and function of flagella, and control via chemotaxis systems.

•       Bacterial signalling and sensing: Sporulation in Gram-positive bacteria, quorum sensing and two component regulatory systems

•       Structures associated with bacterial outer membrane: OMPs and porins, pili/fimbriae

•       Protein secretion systems: diversity of pathways for protein secretion in Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria

•       Bacterial metabolic processes: energy sources and storage in bacterial cells, variety of bacterial metabolic pathways

•       Bacterial genome sequencing, methodologies and resultant insights into bacterial evolution, transcriptomics, RNAseq technologies

•       Synthetic biology and antibiotic production: the fundamentals of synthetic biology approach, the major problem of antibiotic resistance and the application of synthetic biology approaches towards novel antibiotic production


e-Learning Activity

An e-learning based coursework exercise to write a short scientific ‘news and views’ style article based upon a primary research paper related to course content. A lecture will be dedicated to a discussion of the paper in week 5. The article will be written during weeks 4 and 5 and the following reading week. It will be set and marked via Blackboard and will contribute 15% to the overall unit assessment.

Employability skills

Opportunity to be creative in terms of how students address the coursework article.
Students are encouraged to read around the lecture material and up to date review articles are recommended in lectures. Students will study in detail a primary research paper as part of the coursework exercise.
Written communication
Students will be required to write a short 'news and views' style article based on a topic relating to the course content. The examination will be comprised of essay and short answer questions.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 15%
Written exam 85%

A 1.5 hour written examination comprising of six short answer questions of which four are answered and one essay from a choice of four titles. (85%). An e-learning based coursework exercise to write a short scientific ‘news and views’ style article based on topical subject related to course content (15%).

Feedback methods

Extensive individual feedback will be provided on the coursework exercise and by end of semester exam marks. This will include: (i) detailed written formative individual feedback to all students regarding the e-learning activity (within 15 days of submission) along with provision of a model answer, and (ii) individual feedback on exam performance will be made available through a drop-in session run by the unit coordinator. There will also be an opportunity to write a practice exam essay/short answer prior to exam and feedback will be provided by course coordinator. Informal feedback throughout the course will also be provided during lectures and via discussions on Blackboard. The unit coordinator also employs multiple choice questions during lectures to reinforce material from previous lecture. This uses coloured cards to allow all students at lecture to participate.

Recommended reading

Up-to-date review articles recommended in lectures.

Recommended Reading

  1. Madigan, Martinko, Dunlap & Clare, Biology of Microorganisms (12th edition), Pearson, 2008, Recommended

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Linton Unit coordinator

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