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Unit of study_

MICR2931: Microbiology (Advanced)

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Microbes are essential for every aspect of life on the planet. Microbes in the human gut control our digestion and our immune system, microbes in the soil are required for plant growth, microbes in the ocean fix more carbon dioxide than all the Earth's trees. In this unit of study you will investigate the diversity and activity of microorganisms - viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae and protozoa - and look at how they interact with us, each other, plants and animals. You will examine how microbes underpin healthy ecosystems through nutrient cycling and biodegradation, their use industrially in biotechnology and food production, and their ability to cause harm, producing disease, poisoning, pollution and spoilage. Detailed aspects of microbial ecology, nutrition, physiology and genetics will also be introduced. This unit of study will provide you with the breadth of knowledge and skills needed for further studies of microbiology, and will provide the fundamental understanding of microbes that you will require to specialise in related fields such as biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology, agriculture, nutrition and food sciences, bioengineering and biotechnology, ecology, or science education. As an Advanced unit, MICR2931 provides increased challenge and academic rigour to develop a greater understanding and depth of disciplinary expertise. You will actively participate in a series of small group tutorials investigating the molecular detail of microbial communication and function, which will culminate in you creating a scientific research report that communicates your understanding of recent research in microbiology.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MICR2931
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
MICR2021 or MICR2921 or MICR2024 or MICR2031
A mark of 70 or above in (BIOL1XXX or MBLG1XXX)
Assumed knowledge

Fundamental concepts of microorganisms, biomolecules and ecosystems; CHEM1XX1

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Michael Kertesz,
Lecturer(s) Rosalind Deaker,
Michael Kertesz,
Andrew Holmes,
Timothy Newsome,
David Guest,
Nicholas Coleman,
Dee Carter,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Canvas exam
Canvas timed exam
40% Formal exam period 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Tutorial quiz Quiz 1
Online quiz
7.5% Week 06
Due date: 01 Apr 2022 at 23:59
40 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO10 LO9 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz Quiz 2
Online quiz
7.5% Week 08
Due date: 14 Apr 2022 at 23:59
40 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO10 LO9 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO2
Tutorial quiz Quiz 3
online quiz
7.5% Week 10
Due date: 06 May 2022 at 23:59
40 min
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO10 LO8 LO7 LO5 LO4
Assignment Forensic Microbiology Report
Scientific paper
20% Week 10
Due date: 06 May 2022 at 23:59
4-6 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10
Tutorial quiz Quiz 4
Online quiz
7.5% Week 12
Due date: 20 May 2022 at 23:59
40 min
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO10 LO8 LO7 LO5 LO4
Skills-based evaluation Lab write up
A practical write-up sheet will be provided
10% Week 12
Due date: 19 May 2022 at 13:00
3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO10 LO9 LO6 LO2
Participation Attendance
Practical class
0% Weekly 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO10 LO9 LO2
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Theory exams: These assessments test your understanding of the microbiological content presented in the unit.  The exam will be a mixture of multiple choice and short answer questions.
  • Final exam: This assessment is compulsory and failure to attend, attempt, or submit will result in the award of an AF grade.
    If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as a viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning outcomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator.
  • Research report: This assessment tests your understanding of Koch's postulates: ability to manage a research project as a team; ability to synthesize information in a scientific format. The research report should present the results of your Forensic Microbiology project in the format of a scientific paper. This should be approximately 4-6 pages long, and should consist of Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion, with Tables and Figures as appropriate.
  • Online lab write-up: This assessment tests your record keeping skills during a practical experiment, and your understanding of the Synthetic biology practical experiment. A practical writeup sheet will be provided. Notes made during the practical should be recorded on this sheet, and answers provided to the questions.
  • Online quizzes: The online quizzes are mixed multiple choice and short answer questions. They will be published one week before the due date, and should be completed in your own time. They are open book quizzes to help you assess your own knowledge.

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

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactoryachievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.


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
Week 01 Basic functions of microbes – building a microbe Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 02 Basic functions of microbes – building a microbe Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
1. Aseptic technique; 2. Gram stain; 3. Microbiological growth media Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 03 1. Basic functions of microbes – building a microbe; 2. Microbes on land and sea Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
1. Description of microbes; 2. PCR; 3. Identification of bacteria with biochemical tests Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 04 Microbes on land and sea Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 05 Microbes on land and sea Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Forensic Microbiology project Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO9
Week 06 Microbes in the human environment Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO8
Forensic Microbiology project Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO9
Microbes in food preservation and spoilage Practical (3 hr) LO2 LO5 LO6
Week 07 Microbes in the human environment Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO8
Enumeration of microbes; growth of viruses Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO9
Week 08 1. Microbes in the human environment; 2. Microbial biotechnology Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8
Forensic Microbiology Project Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO9
Week 09 Microbial biotechnology Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO5 LO7 LO8
Week 10 Microbial biotechnology Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO5 LO7 LO8
Week 11 Microbes in health and disease Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6 LO8
Synthetic biology Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO9
Week 12 Microbes in health and disease Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6 LO8
Synthetic biology Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO9 LO10
Week 13 Microbes in health and disease Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6 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.

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. use aseptic technique to isolate and grow microorganisms into pure culture
  • LO2. employ safe techniques for manipulating microbes in the laboratory, core skills of aseptic technique, and how to grow, enumerate and observe microbes macroscopically and microscopically
  • LO3. describe the special features of microbial biology that explain their ubiquity
  • LO4. identify and describe the principles of microbial identification, diversity, evolution and phylogeny
  • LO5. apply knowledge of the biology, diversity and ecology of microorganisms to evaluate real-world situations
  • LO6. apply rational, independent and critical thought to the diagnosis of microbial disease
  • LO7. appraise microbiology in natural resource management, food security and global change
  • LO8. critically evaluate the importance of microbes in our society and their roles in both harmful and helpful processes
  • LO9. gather, record, synthesise and interpret data from experimental microbiology
  • LO10. communicate your knowledge of microbiology using oral, visual and written formats.

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.

In response to student feedback, the tutorial venues have been changed, and extra tabs have been provided on the Canvas site for direct feedback on each assessment.

Work, health and safety

Completion of the Canvas module “Zoonosis Awareness” is compulsory.

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:


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.