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Unit of study_

MEDS2004: Microbes, Infection and Immunity

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Transmission, pathogenicity and immune response to microbes are key concepts for understanding infectious disease processes. In this unit of study you will establish a conceptual foundation and, using an integrated approach, explore selected case studies of infection from a body system of origin perspective. You will explore the characteristics of viral, bacterial, fungal and protist pathogens and their virulence mechanisms for establishment and progression of disease. Comprehensive consideration of host immune response and characteristic pathological changes to tissue that arise will then be considered. Upon completion of this unit, you will be able to explain microbial pathogenic processes of infection including: mechanisms for colonisation, invasion and damage to host tissue; the ways in which your immune system recognises and destroys invading microbes; how the T cell response is activated and antibodies function. You will learn about pathogenesis, symptoms, current challenges of treatment including antibiotic resistance, control and vaccination strategies. You will develop a holistic perspective of infectious diseases. You will work collaboratively to solve challenging problems in Biomedical Sciences. Practical classes will investigate normal flora, host defences and case studies of medically important microbes with linkage to disease outcome. You will also obtain experience and understanding of modern experimental techniques in microbiology and immunopathology.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MEDS2004
Academic unit Department of Medical Sciences
Credit points 6
MIMI2002 or MIMI2902 or MICR2021 or MICR2921 or MICR2022 or MICR2922 or IMMU2101 or BMED2404 or BMED2807 or BMED2808
BIOL1XX3 or BIOL1XX7 or BIOL1X08 or MEDS1X01 or MBLG1XX1
Assumed knowledge

Human biology (BIOL1XX3 or BIOL1XX8 or MEDS1X01) and biological chemistry (CHEM1XX1 or CHEM1903)

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Megan Steain,
Lecturer(s) Megan Steain,
Barry Slobedman,
Leona Campbell,
Timothy Newsome,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam hurdle task Final examination
Timed, non-invigilated. Extended responses.
40% Formal exam period 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Small test Practical quiz x 2
Online, timed, non-invigilated, standard MCQs
10% Multiple weeks 2 x 15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO5
Small test Workshop quiz x4
Open book, untimed quiz assessing work completed in the related workshop
10% Multiple weeks n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO8 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2
Small continuous assessment Practical notes
Assessment of practical notes
10% Multiple weeks Variable
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO7
Online task hurdle task Mid-Semester quiz
Timed and non-invigilated. MCQs and extended responses.
20% Week 07
Due date: 20 Sep 2021 at 11:00
40 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Assignment group assignment Integrated assessment
10% Week 09 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Practical quiz x2: Short online quiz based on the previous 6 weeks practical work.
  • Practical notes x2: Students will submit their onlne practical manuals for assessment of the previous 6 weeks practical work. 
  • Workshop quiz x3: Open book and untimed quiz assessing work completed in the related systems workshop module. To be completed during your independent study time, prior to the due date. 
  • Respiratory Workshop Fact Sheet assignment: One A4 page fact sheet based on respiratory workshop content.
  • Integrative assessment: Podcast prepared for a lay audience describing the social importance of your wicked topic. 
  • Mid-semester exam: Students will complete quiz covering content delivered in lectures and workshops from Week 1 to 4.
  • Final examination: Students will complete a final exam covering content delivered in lectures and workshops from Week 5 to 12.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Introduction to Microbiology and Immunology Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Microbes, infection and immunity of the genitourinary system Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Microbes, infection and immunity of the respiratory system Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Microbes, infection and immunity of the gastrointestinal system Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Microbes, infection and immunity of the skin Lecture and tutorial (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Microbiology and Immunology Laboratory Skills Practical (12 hr) LO5 LO8

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

  • Willey, J., Sherwood, L., Woolverton, C., Prescott, L., 2017, Prescott's Microbiology, 10th Edition. McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd, Sydney.
  • Abbas, A., Lichtman, A., Pillai, S. 2016, Basic Immunology: Functions and disorders of the immune system, 5th Edition. Elsevier St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Explain the function/role in protection against infection of non-specific host defences such as normal flora, physical barriers, and inflammation
  • LO2. Compare and contrast the characteristics, diversity, and virulence mechanisms of medically significant microbes
  • LO3. Describe how the innate and adaptive immune system responds to infectious agents, and explain how this underpins the design of successful immunisation strategies.
  • LO4. Explain how pathogens establish infection in various body systems and describe treatment strategies used to control different pathogens
  • LO5. Demonstrate practical dexterity in, and theoretical understanding of, microbiological and immunological laboratory processes
  • LO6. Integrate knowledge and skills drawn from the breadth of biomedical sciences to solve challenging problems related to infection, immunity, and host defence
  • LO7. Communicate effectively, using a range of media, to diverse audiences
  • LO8. Demonstrate effective teamwork skills, professional, and ethical conduct through collaborative learning.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Lecture and workshop content has been integrated across the semester to better present the content relevant to each body system.

Work, health and safety

This WHS information is for information only as it applies to standard practical delivery. 

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General laboratory safety rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:

Many of the microorganisms that will be studied in class may cause disease if mishandled. Therefore, great care to maintain good microbiological techniques must be taken when handling cultures, slides and other materials that contain or have been in contact with living microorganisms.

Behaviour and activities in the laboratory must comply with Australian Standard AS/NZS 2243.3:2010: Safety in laboratories Part 3: Microbiological aspects and containment facilities. The Standard is available via the link under Prac Resources in the Canvas MIMI2x02 Microbes, Infection & Immunity site. As you will gain experience handling potentially pathogenic microbes in this unit of study, your immune status is important. You are strongly advised to contact the unit coordinator if you have any predisposing condition or issue that might be relevant to your participation in these practical sessions.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.