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Unit of study_

VIRO3001: Virology

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

Viruses are some of the simplest biological machinery known yet they are also the etiological agents for some of the most important human diseases. New technologies that have revolutionised the discovery of viruses are also revealing a hitherto unappreciated abundance and diversity in the ecosphere, and a wider role in human health and disease. Developing new gene technologies have enabled the use of viruses as therapeutic agents, in novel vaccine approaches, gene delivery and in the treatment of cancer. This unit of study is designed to introduce students who have a basic understanding of molecular biology to the rapidly evolving field of virology. Viral infection in plant and animal cells and bacteria is covered by an examination of virus structure, genomes, gene expression and replication. Building upon these foundations, this unit progresses to examine host-virus interactions, pathogenesis, cell injury, the immune response and the prevention and control of infection and outbreaks. The structure and replication of sub-viral agents: viroids and prions, and their role in disease are also covered. The practical component provides hands-on experience in current diagnostic and research techniques such as molecular biology, cell culture, serological techniques, immunofluorescence and immunoblot analyses and is designed to enhance the students' practical skills and complement the lecture series. In these practical sessions experience will be gained handling live, potentially pathogenic microbes. Tutorials cover a range of topical issues and provide a forum for students to develop their communication and critical thinking skills. The unit will be taught by the Discipline of Microbiology within the School of Life and Environmental Sciences with the involvement of the Discipline of Infectious Diseases and Immunology within the Sydney Medical School.

Unit details and rules

Unit code VIRO3001
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
[6cp from (BIOL1XX7 or MBLGXXXX) and 6cp from (BCHM2XXX or BCMB2X01 or BIOL2XXX or GEGE2X01 or GENE2002 or IMMU2101 or MEDS2004 or MICR2XXX or MIMI2X02 or PCOL2X0X or PHSI2X0X)] OR [BMED2401 and BMED2404]
Assumed knowledge

Fundamental concepts of microorganisms, biomolecules and ecosystems

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Timothy Newsome,
Lecturer(s) Allison Abendroth,
Barry Slobedman,
Michael Kertesz,
Edward Holmes,
Christopher Denes,
Markus Hofer,
Gary Muscatello,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam hurdle task
Multiple choice questions and short answer questions.
60% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment group assignment Practical assessment
Five 2% assessments
10% Multiple weeks Submitted at the end of practical class
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO5 LO4
Tutorial quiz Preparation quiz
Preparation quiz for practicals, five 1% assessments.
5% Multiple weeks 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4
Presentation group assignment Presentation
Short presentation, 2 marks are reserved to providing peer assessment.
10% Week 07 12 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
In-semester test (Record+) Type B in-semester exam Theory of practice exam
Multiple choice questions, calculations and short answer questions.
15% Week 12
Due date: 28 May 2021 at 16:30
1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?
Type B in-semester exam = Type B in-semester exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Main exam: Assess achievement of unit learning outcomes of the Unit of Study, explicitly focused on the learning outcomes covered in the Lecture material. This assessment comprises multiple choice questions (no negative marking) and short answer questions.
  • Theory of practical exam: Assess achievement of unit learning outcomes of the Unit of Study, explicity focused on the learning outcomes Covered in the Practical classes.
  • Preparation quiz: Preceding Practical classes 2-6 students are required to complete a brief very short answer/MCQ assessment
    covering safety aspects of the upcoming class and familiarity with the procedural and theoretical aspects experiments to be undertaken. Completion of the pre-class assessment is a requirement for attendance and students will receive feedback based upon their performance.
  • Practical assessment: This assessment tests the students’ comprehension of the background material, the results obtained and their interpretation and assimilation of the results. There is a continuous assessment for Practical classes 2-6 and they must be handed in by the end of class and students will receive feedback on their performance.
  • Presentation: This is a group activity (2-4 students) and concerns the presentation of a primary piece of literature including
    the analysis experimental techniques used in current virological research, linking the theory covered in the core lecture stream with the techniques studied in the Practical classes. Failure to submit a draft presentation by the draft deadline incurs a penalty of 10% of the final mark of the assessment. This also includes a peer assessment task that involves student groups peer assessing the draft presentations of other groups and providing feedback (2% of the 10% Presentation mark).

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 satisfactory achievement 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
Multiple weeks Fundamental concepts in virology including replication, classification and structure. Lecture (5 hr) LO1 LO2
Host-pathogen interactions during viral infection including bacteriophage, plant viruses, the immune response to viruses, virus evolution and ONE Health Lecture (9 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Key examples of human viral pathogens Lecture (11 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Experimental design, critical thinking and practical skill used in experimental virology. Practical (26 hr) LO4 LO5
Critical evaluation of virology research Presentation (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

According to Faculty of Science Resolutions "Unless otherwise stated in a separate local provision, students are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Associate Dean." Failure to meet this minimum requirement will result in a maximum returned mark of 49 FA for this unit of study.

All core assessments must be completed to pass this unit. Failure to complete the assessment will result in a maximum returned mark of 49 FA for this unit of study.

A minimum of 3 of the 5 Practical assessments must be completed to pass this unit. Failure to complete the minimum Practical assessments will result in a maximum returned mark of 49 FA for this unit of study.

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.

  • Knipe and Howley. Fields Virology. 6th edition 2013. Available freely as an electronic resource from the University of Sydney library.

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. Define the key characteristics of viruses that distinguish them from other agents of disease such as bacteria, sub-viral particles and prions. Describe the role of viruses as agents of disease, their function in the ecosphere, abundance and diversity.
  • LO2. Explain how different classes of viruses replicate, and the impact of genome type on replication and virus structure.
  • LO3. Explain how the immune system is able to combat viral infections and confer immunity, and the various ways viruses have evolved to circumvent this control mechanism. Explain how viral diseases emerge and the threat posed to public health. Explain how anti-viral drugs and vaccination act to limit virus replication.
  • LO4. Perform basic cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, diagnostic and molecular techniques used in a modern virology laboratory, and explain the scientific principles behind these techniques
  • LO5. Critically evaluate experimental approaches used in virology to formulate and test hypotheses.

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.

No major changes have been made since this unit was last offered.

Immunocompetence: In this unit you will gain experience handling potentially pathogenic microbes. 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.

Work, health and safety

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.