BSc Biomedical Sciences / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Microbiology RSM

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL20342
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


This Research Skills Module is designed to develop your experimental design, report writing and practical skills. You will be introduced to microbiology research techniques in a laboratory based project. You will use techniques such as aseptic technique, preparation of growth media and identification of bacterial strains.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Microbes, Humankind and the Environment BIOL10532 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Fundamentals of Bacteriology BIOL21181 Co-Requisite Compulsory
BIOL20342 Pre-requisite is BIOL21181

This unit is compulsory for Microbiology Honours students. It may be selected by Biology, Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology students, and anyone else who has taken BIOL10532 and is doing additional Microbiology units in the second year.


The unit aims to increase the students understanding of the following:

Specific skills associated with microbiology including:

  • good microbiological practice;
  • enrichment of bacteria from the environment;
  • microscopy;
  • differential media for identification of Enterobacteriaceae;
  • staining techniques to identify the presence/absence of bacterial structures;
  • basic biochemical tests, such as API strips to identify bacteria;
  • rDNA sequencing in bacterial identification;

Learning outcomes

Students will have mastered:

  • Aseptic techniques, subculturing and purification of bacterial cultures
  • Examination of stained bacteria in the light microscope
  • How to recognise the colony morphology of bacterial strains
  • Use of spectrophotometers to follow growth of cultures in liquid media
  • Determination of viable counts of bacterial cultures
  • Preparation of solutions and growth media and maintenance of pure cultures
  • Identification of bacterial strains (medical and non-medical) using laboratory tests, commercial biochemical test kits, and 16S rDNA sequencing
  • Design of experiments, including necessary controls. These will include experiments on bacterial growth kinetics and physiology.


The Microbiology RSM will enable students to acquire experience of a wide range of fundamental and contemporary microbiological techniques. Weeks 1 and 2 of the RSM will be carried out in conjunction with the Molecular Biology RSM unit. Weeks 3 and 4 will comprise only those students taking the Microbiology RSM. Students will work in pairs.


Week 1

PCR and cloning of C. jejunii glycoprotein encoding genes. Putative glycoprotein encoding geneRun will be amplified by PCR and analysed by agarose gel electrophoresis to verify size/purity The PCR product will be ligated into plasmid (InFusion cloning) and transformed into E. coli.

Week 2

Recombinant E. coli will be purified to homogeneity and the glycosylation stsatus determined by Western blotting.

Week 3

Experiments designed to investigate the physiological conditions required to support the growth of the obligate halophilic bacterium Vibrio natrigens will be conducted. Halophilic bacteria will be enriched from food and environmental sources and their basic physiological properties defined using microscopy and staining techniques.

Week 4

Potential food-poisoning bacteria from milk will be enriched and purified to homogeneity. The genus and species of these bacteria will be determined using a series of biochemical tests and rDNA sequence analysis. The relative ability of these bacteria to resist killing by heat will be explored to determine the effectiveness of techniques such as pasteurisation and sterilisation.

Teaching and learning methods

Practical sessions

Group activity and talk

Transferable skills and personal qualities


Category of outcome

Students will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

develop an understanding of the basis of several commonly used techniques in microbiology, including those used in bacterial identification.

Intellectual skills

design and interpret experiments.

Practical skills

acquire experience of current scientific methodologies appropriate to microbiology.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

work as a team.

problem solve.

present data.

time manage.


Employability skills

Analytical skills
Analysing graphical data produced during the practical
Group/team working
Students carry out the practical in pairs which requires team work
Project management
Students have to give some thought to the experiment - devise a protocol and decide what order to do each of the tasks
The write up will require reading the literature in order to construct an introduction to the paper and to discuss their results in relation to published findings.
Written communication
The students have to write a practical assignment up in the form of a scientific paper

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 30%
Report 50%
Practical skills assessment 20%

2x Individual post-lab assessment sheets worth 5% each (10% of total mark)

Group activity and talk (20% of total mark)

Practical exam (20% of total mark)

Full research style practical report (50% of total mark)

Feedback methods

All work will be marked, annotated and handed back to students during the exam period.

Recommended reading

Relevant review and primary papers


For Information and advice on Link2Lists reading list software, see: 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment practical exam 2
Practical classes & workshops 74
Independent study hours
Independent study 24

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicola High Unit coordinator

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