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Unit of study_

MICR3952: Microbiology in a Changing World (Advanced)

Semester 2, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Microbes are key agents of global change, they provide resources for industry and biotechnology, and have critical impacts on human and animal health. This unit takes the fundamental concepts and skills learned in 2nd year microbiology units and weaves them together with strands from environmental, industrial, and medical microbiology in four sections: (1) ‘Concepts and Tools’ will strengthen foundational knowledge of the molecular biology, biochemistry and physiology of microbes. (2) ‘Microbes in the Environment’ will examine how microbes are used to manage soil and water quality in natural and polluted environments and how they contribute to agriculture. (3) ‘Microbes in Industry’ will explore biotechnology and fermentation in the microbial manufacture of various commodities (e.g. ethanol), and in wastewater treatment. (4) ‘Microbes in Health’ will focus on understanding the microbiomes of humans and animals, and how these can be manipulated to enhance health. Much of the content in each section will be delivered in student-led seminars, which will develop skills in critical analysis of research papers, collaboration, and discussion. For MICR3952, the practical component consists of a research project (may be lab-based or online/bioinformatics-style) which is undertaken in an academic research lab in the Microbiology discipline. These research projects emphasise in-depth reading and critical analysis of the primary scientific literature and more-advanced molecular microbiology skills. Overall, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the importance of microbes in industry and the environment, and the practical skills to apply this knowledge in a range of future professions.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MICR3952
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
MICR3042 or MICR3052 or MICR3942
A mark of 70 or above in (MIMI2X02 or MEDS2004 or MICR2X22 or BMED2404)
Assumed knowledge

2000 level microbiology (MICR2X21 or MICR2024 or MICR2X31)

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Michael Kertesz,
Lecturer(s) Michael Kertesz,
Andrew Holmes,
Leona Campbell,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final exam
Written exam
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO6
Presentation group assignment Student lecture presentations
Oral presentation (weeks 6, 9 and 11)
20% Multiple weeks 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO6
Small continuous assessment Online quizzes
Online quiz (weeks 7, 10, 12)
10% Multiple weeks 40 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO2
Assignment Project proposal
Written task
10% Week 05
Due date: 01 Sep 2023 at 23:59
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO6
Small continuous assessment Supervisor mark
Supervisor mark based on effort and performance in the research lab
10% Week 12 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Oral presentation
Oral presentation of research project results
10% Week 12
Due date: 27 Oct 2023 at 23:59
10 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO2
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Final exam: 40%. Includes lecture content from entire semester. 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.

Student presentations: 20%. This is a talk, done in pairs, 20 min talk + 10 min questions and discussion. 

Online quizzes: 10%. Three online quizzes to allow students to gauge their learning progress during the semester (weeks 7, 10, 12).

Oral presentation: 10%. A 10 min research seminar presented by the student to report their project findings.

Project proposal: 10%. A 1500 word document which describes the background to the project and the aims.

Supervisor mark: 10%: Based on student effort and performance

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2021 (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 comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At D 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 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 identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At P level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge of the subject and can accurately identify key theoretical concepts.


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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Written assignments submitted late without permission (see Special Considerations: will incur a late penalty equal to 5% of the maximum awardable mark per day. These deductions will continue for 10 calendar days or until a solution for the assignment is released or marked assignments are returned to other students. At that point the mark awarded will be zero.

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 Theme 1: Concepts in modern microbiology (6 lectures) Lecture (6 hr) LO1 LO2 LO6
Theme 2. Microbes in environmental change (5 lectures) Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO6
Theme 3. Microbes in industry (5 lectures) Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO6
Theme 4: Microbes in human health (5 lectures) Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO6
Practical research project Practical (30 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7

Attendance and class requirements

Lectures/tutorials are prepared and led by students as well as academic staff, so attendance at lectures is very important

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. Explain, analyse, and evaluate the impact of microbes in different contexts: health, environmental and industrial.
  • LO2. Effectively communicate knowledge of microbial activities in oral, written and visual formats, and be able to productively contribute to discussions on real-world topics involving microbiology.​
  • LO3. Utilise practical skills essential for microbiology laboratory work, including aseptic technique, safe handling of cultures, microscopy, and molecular techniques.
  • LO4. Plan and execute experiments in microbiology and molecular biology and appreciate the context and professional significance of managing workflows and experimental timelines.
  • LO5. Correctly use LabArchives electronic notebooks, to demonstrate the importance of accurate, truthful, and timely record keeping and data management.
  • LO6. Analyse, evaluate, and synthesise microbiological and molecular data, including managing and explaining the limitations inherent in different experimental and analytical methods.
  • LO7. Demonstrate the ability to work safely, effectively, and independently on a research project in a real-world lab environment.​

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 content revised based on student feedback


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