SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3C426396
Module Leader Karen Keith
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

M2C526397 Introduction to Microbiology or equivalent Co-Requisite Knowledge M3C723501 Molecular Diagnostics

Summary of Content

This module introduces the concepts of microbial response to environmental signals at the molecular level. Core bioinformatics techniques including sequence searching and alignment will be outlined and explored further through a set of online exercises. Computer-based practical classes will introduce the use of internet-based bioinformatics tools and genome analysis will be developed through an in-depth study of the role of bioinformatics in the understanding of the microbiome and disease outbreaks.


This module is designed to develop knowledge of microbiology at a molecular level and introduce concepts of in silico methods for the study of genomes in isolation and within complex microbial communities. The regulation of the bacterial genome and molecular strategies for microbial growth and survival in challenging situations including the role of quorum sensing in bacterial communities. Lytic and lysogenic phage and the potential for phage therapy in the treatment of infectious disease will be introduced while the virology section will focus on viral replication and protein assembly strategies explained using specific examples such as polio virus and Herpes simplex virus (HSV). Students will develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of bioinformatics through the use of specialist databases and internet resources to investigate disease outbreaks. These may include norovirus contaminated shellfish, children as super-spreaders of influenza and the identification of resistance mutations in HIV and drug resistant strains. Analysis of the human gut microbiome through bioinformatics.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student should be able to:1. Describe and illustrate the basis of microbial genome evolution.2. Evaluate the relationship between environmental signals and microbial responses.3. Carry out effective analysis of proteins and microbial populations through bioinformatics.4. Evaluate the application of bioinformatics to the analysis and management of outbreaks of infection in hospital and community.5. Appraise the potential and limitations of phage therapy as a disease control mechanism.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

A lecture programme reinforced by hands-on bioinformatics exercises and a linked set of practical experiments provides a mixed learning environment for students. Advanced understanding of aspects of virology will be encouraged through study of relevant papers. Laboratory sessions will closely parallel and support the lectures on phage therapy with an emphasis on data presentation and data handling. Bioinformatics labs will develop data analysis skills by computer. Students will be supported by use of the managed learning environment GCULearn with links to practice problems and on-line videos used to illustrate complex molecular mechanisms.

Indicative Reading

Reading material will be recommended by individual tutors and will include relevant recent scientific papers and reviews. However the following texts may be useful -360 1. Dale and Park (2010). Molecular Genetics of Bacteria (5th edition). Wiley. -360 2. Prescott, Harley and Klein's Microbiology, Eleventh Edition, (2019) McGraw-Hill -360 3. Viruses, Biology, Applications and Control (2012) Garland Science 978-0-8153-4150-5 -360 4. Practical Bioinformatics (2013) Agostino, M. Garland Science 978-0-8153-4456-8

Transferrable Skills

Students will develop data presentation and IT skills together with the ability to work with others to agree group objectives and evaluate strategies to meet objectives. Key employability skills will include extracting and analysing complex information from web-based sources In the context of the Common Good students will gain an insight to the contribution, relevance and consequences for the wider society in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Tutorials (FT) 7.00
Lectures (FT) 20.00
Practicals (FT) 15.00
Independent Learning (FT) 138.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 60.00 35% Computer analysis of laboratory generated data.
Exam 01 2.00 40.00 35% Essay and short answer questions