BSc Biology with Science & Society / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL21252
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Parasitology will provide you with a basic knowledge of the parasitic infections of humans. You will learn how parasites gain access to, and survive within, their hosts. Parasites studied will include Plasmodium (the malaria causing parasite) African and South American trypanosomes, Toxoplasma, hookworm and Schistosomes.


The aim of the unit is to provide an understanding of the molecular and cellular interactions underpinning the functional interactions between animal parasites (protozoa and helminths) and their hosts, and to provide an appreciation of the scope and relevance of parasitism in terms of parasite biology and human and animal disease.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  • Gain an appreciation for the diversity of parasitic infection and the importance of parasitism as a life strategy
  • Know the major groups of parasites and their influence upon animal and human biology and health
  • Have an understanding of the different mechanisms used by different parasites to gain entry to their hosts and survive within them, at the genetic, molecular, cellular, whole organism and population levels
  • Identify key features of the major human parasites, the diseases they cause and understand their life cycles
  • Be able to integrate knowledge about different parasitic organisms and infections; cross reference information from gene to population level, compare and contrast different strategies used within and across different parasitic groups
  • To begin to understand how a parasite interacts with its host at the level of the immune system.


Lectures will cover the major groups of parasites and each lecture will illustrate a particular feature such as host invasion or the strategies used by parasites to avoid being destroyed by the host immune system. The lectures will also describe how this information can be utilised alongside that emerging from parasite genomes studies to develop new methods of control including vaccines.

e-Learning Activity

This will comprise two online spotter tests plus interactive websites specifically related to the course. One compulsory e-learning component will be for students to watch a short video entitled "Survival: Intestinal dwelling nematodes III Immunoregulation. The good the bad and the wormy - the science" This component will be facilitated by key questions for students to answer and concepts will be extended in lectures.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 90%

Written examination
    1 hour 30-minute written examination (90%) in the form of approximately twenty, multi-component, short answer questions. To be held on campus.

    One hour spotter test (10%) (approximately 20 multiple choice questions), currently scheduled for week 12 (in timetabled Lecture slot), to be taken in PC Cluster on campus under examination conditions. 



Feedback methods

Feedback on progress in the course will be given via two "How well am I doing?" session during the course. These will be given in lecture theatres in the form of a spotter test (similar to the end of course test). After each question the students will be given instant feedback on whether they have given the correct answer; the correct answer will be given and the students will also be able to see the class score for the individual answers as well as the overall class score for the test. The students can also repeat the practice test online in their own time.

Recommended reading

There is no set course text book. Students will be directed to relevant reading during the lectures. A good general Parasitology text is:

  1. Gunn A and Pitt S J. Parasitology an integrated approach. (1st ed.) Wiley-Blackwell. 2012.

For those students who are not taking the ‘Immunology’ (BIOL21242) unit in the second year, the listed recommended text may be helpful.

Recommended Reading

2. Wood, P, Understanding Immunology (3rd  ed.), Pearson Press, 2010, Recommended

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 78.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Richard Grencis Unit coordinator

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