BSc Zoology

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Fundamentals of Bacteriology

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL21181
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? No


Fundamentals of Bacteriology will provide you with a detailed understanding of bacterial cell structure including a particular focus on the cell surface. These surface-located structures mediate a variety of functions (motility, signalling and sensing, transport and attachment) and these will be discussed in some detail. . You will also be introduced to the key emerging technological developments, such as next generation sequencing and the concept of the microbiome as well as the role of CRISPR as a bacterial defence system.


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


This unit will provide students with a comprehensive overview of bacterial cell structure/function with a particular focus on the key cell surface components., The major signalling and sensing systems will also be discussed. Students will also be introduced to key emerging technological developments such as next generation sequencing, the concept of the microbiome and the CRISPR defence system.

Learning outcomes

Students will appreciate and be able to describe:
• The detailed molecular structure and functioning of the key components of the bacterial cell particularly the cell surface
• How to use online tools to investigate protein structure
• The principal sensing and regulatory mechanisms employed by bacteria
• The concept of the microbiome and its significance
• The role of CRISPR as a defence system and its applications



• 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
• DNA uptake systems
• The emergence of the microbiome concept through next generation sequencing technologies
• The role of CRISPR as a bacterial defence system and its significance as a genome editing tool

e-Learning Activity
MCQ-based formative and summative assessments will be delivered online via Blackboard


Employability skills

Opportunity to be creative in terms of how students address data analysis coursework. Face to face active learning sessions throughout the course will focus on developing scientific interpretation and analysis skills.
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 number of primary research papers as part of the course. Key online skills in investigating protein structures will also be developed in dedicated sessions.
Written communication
Students will be required to write essay and short answer questions as part of final examination

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Written exam 80%

A 2 hour written examination comprising of short answer questions (50% of exam mark) and a single essay from a choice of three (50% of exam mark). Exam makes up 80% of unit mark. 

The two MCQ based summative assessments will develop data analysis skills through detailed investigations of research data relevant to course content (20% of unit mark).  


Feedback methods

All face-to-face sessions will be active learning based providing considerable opportunities for feedback over the length of the course. The MCQ-based coursework will also provide feedback when marked. 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 again individual feedback will be provided by course coordinator.

Recommended reading

Up-to-date review articles recommended in lectures.

Recommended Reading

  1. Brock Biology of Microorganisms - Fifteenth edition. Michael T Madigan et al. (2018)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Linton Unit coordinator

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