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The University of Southampton

BIOL2038 Environmental Microbiology

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe in detail concepts in microbiology including: a) Diversity in the microbial world including bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, microsporidia b) The effect of microorganisms on the global environment e.g. their role in cycling of elements c) Microbial biofilms, their role in the environment, and mechanisms of microbial species-interactions within mixed microbial biofilms and between biofilms and higher organisms d) Factors that limit microbial growth and survival in natural habitats e) Methods for studying microbial populations and their function in the natural environment f) The application of microbial ecology principles for industrial, environmental or public health benefits
  • Test hypotheses in microbiology via experimental design, analyse results and discuss outcomes in the light of the current body of knowledge (e.g. published literature)
  • Critically evaluate scientific data. This includes self generated, peer generated data and published literature
  • Demonstrate effective written and verbal scientific communication skills.


Overview of module and organisation, learning outcomes and assessment processes. 1 SAW Introduction to Microbial Life. SAW Bacteriology I 2 SAW Bacteriology II SAW Bacteriology III 3 SAW Bacteriology IV ARK Virology and viral evolution I 4 ARK Virology and viral evolution II ARK Virology and viral evolution III 5 ARK Mycology I ARK Mycology II 6 ARK Mycology III ARK Microsporidia 7 MD Microbial Ecology I MD Microbial Ecology II 8 JSW Marine Microbiology I SAW review 9 CWK Microbiology of Drinking Water I CWK Microbiology of Drinking Water II 10 PHE, or Postdocs Guest Lectures – Topics may vary, depending on current research and hot topics, e.g. AMR, Ebola. PHE or Postdocs Guest Lectures - Topics may vary, depending on current research and hot topics, e.g. AMR, Ebola. 11 SAW Extremophiles I SAW Extremophiles II 12 SAW/ARK Revision Lecture MD/JSW/CWK Revision Lecture

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The contact teaching component of this module will be delivered by lecturing (22 lectures) and practical classes (3 x 3 hr practicals). A series of learning outcomes have been established and teaching and non-contact learning are closely aligned with these criteria. A variety of learning methods are employed in order to evaluate student progress and understanding including a mid-module internet-based questionnaire. A number of the learning outcomes are focused on transferrable skills including scientific report writing (the practical write-up will be in the style of a scientific paper). There will be four laboratory-based practicals each held twice in weeks 2/3, 5/6 and 7/8 and 9/10 respectively. Students will be allocated to one of the two practical groups in the first lecture. These practicals will be based on an investigation of antibiotic susceptibility in planktonic v. biofilm bacterial growth modes and will include: Practical I) aseptic technique, Practical II) determination of an antibiotic minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC); III) comparison of biofilm/planktonic susceptibility using colony forming unit (CFU) counts, IV) Bioluminescence as a biological reporter to determine antibiotic susceptibility.

Practical classes and workshops9
Wider reading or practice117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Joanne Willey, Linda Sherwood, Chris Woolverton (2010). Prescott's Microbiology. 

Michael T. Madigan, John M. Martinko, David Stahl, David P. Clark (2011). Brock Biology of Microorganisms. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Project report 25%
Written assessment 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: BIOL1007 OR BIOL1010

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