MSci Biomedical Sciences

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Bacterial Infections of Man (L)

Unit code BIOL31361
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


You will study the mechanisms by which bacteria are able to colonise and establish infections as well the bacteria-host interactions that subvert or modify the ability of the host to respond to infections..


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Principles of Infectious Disease BIOL21192 Pre-Requisite Recommended


The aim of this unit is to provide students with an in depth, up to date understanding of the molecular biology of bacterial infections of man. Specifically, the mechanisms by which bacteria are able to colonise and establish infections will be addressed as well the bacteria/host interactions that subvert/modify the ability of the host to respond to infections. These processes will be illustrated by studying selected infections in details that will serve as paradigms to illustrate the principles of microbe/host interactions.

Learning outcomes

To understand in detail:

  • The mechanisms by which pathogens colonise and subsequently establish invasive infections of man
  • The strategies used by bacteria to circumvent host defences by modification of the host's cellular physiology
  • The mechanisms used by pathogens to survival inside host-cells
  • The impact of genomics on the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections
  • The problem of multiple antibiotic resistance and nosocomial infections


•       Introduction to the concepts of infectious diseases

•       Bacterial attachment-the first step in any infection. The detailed molecular mechanisms by which bacteria adhere to and colonise host epithelial surfaces. Urinary tract infections will be used as paradigms.

•       Survival strategies in the host-resistance to host defences. The role of the cell surface in conferring resistance to host defences.

  • The resistance of S. aureus to host innate defences
  • S. pneumoniae carriage and infections

      •       Survival strategies in the host-acquisition of nutrients. The ability of bacteria to acquire nutrients in hostile  environments, with an emphasis on Fe uptake.

•       Bacterial meningitis as a model of invasive bacterial disease.


Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analytical skills will be developed when preparing and researching presentations.
Oral communication
Each student gives a presentation of eight minutes plus two minutes of questions. Delivered in groups of 6 in the last lecture slot, each assessed by academic.The presentation will be marked (10% of final course mark) on scientific content, clarity of presentation, use of Powerpoint and importantly keeping to time.
Research topic for presentation

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 90%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%

Feedback methods

The students will receive feedback on their oral presentations both in terms of the content and the presentational skills. There is an open surgery one hour per week when students can come and see Prof Roberts to discuss topics raised by the lectures. In addition there is an optional practice exam question that will marked by Professor Roberts and feedback will be provided.

Recommended reading

A limited number of review articles will be recommended to support the course.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ian Roberts Unit coordinator

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