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BIOL123 Cells and Tissues - the Fabric of Life OR BIOL125 Human Biology 1

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is designed to introduce students to microorganisms of relevance to medicine and with an emphasis on their structure and function and role in relation to health and disease. Students will investigate the diversity of pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, protozoans, helminths and fungi), their cellular biology, growth and nutrition, metabolism, and basic genetics.

The immune response to some of these pathogenic microorganisms that cause systemic, respiratory, gastrointestinal, sexually transmissible and hospital acquired infections will be explored. This will include an overview of the innate, humoral and cellular immune systems and their functions in response to infection. The unit will also include an overview of the development and design of appropriate interventions including antibiotics, vaccines and other antimicrobial therapies. Basic epidemiology important for an understanding of prevention and control of infection in hospital and laboratory will also be covered.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe the diversity of microorganisms including their structure, function, growth and metabolismGC1, GC2, GC7, GC8
LO2Explain the methods used to control and prevent infections in clinical and community settingsGC1, GC2, GC7, GC8
LO3Demonstrate competent practical skills in advanced immunological and microbiological techniquesGC1, GC2, GC7
LO4Describe the functions of the innate and adaptive immune system, and explain how these immune responses fight specific infectionsGC1, GC2, GC7, GC8
LO5Discuss the mechanisms used to manipulate the immune system resulting from an inadequate immune response to infectionsGC1, GC2, GC7, GC8


Topics will include:

1. The Foundations of Microbiology

  • Microorganisms and Microbiology
  • Microbial Cell Structure and Function 
  • Major Groups of Microorganisms
  • Molecular Microbiology

2. Genomics, Genetics and Virology

  • Microbial Genomics
  • Metabolic Regulation
  • Genetics of Bacteria and Archaea
  • Viruses and Virology
  • Genomics and Phylogeny of Viruses

3. Metabolic and Microbial Diversity 

  • Metabolic Diversity of Bacteria and Archaea 
  • Phylogenetic Diversity of Bacteria 
  • Functional and Ecological Diversity of Bacteria 
  • Diversity of Archaea 
  • Diversity of Microbial Eukarya

4. Microbial Interactions with Humans 

  • Beneficial Human–Microbial Interactions 
  • Microflora of the Skin 
  • Microflora of the Oral Cavity 
  • Microflora of the Gastrointestinal Tract 
  • Microflora of Mucosal Tissues

5. Introduction to Immunity: Review 

  • Cells and Organs of the Immune System 
  • Innate Immunity 
  • Adaptive Immunity  

6. Basic Immune Mechanisms and molecular immunology 

  • Innate Response Mechanisms 
  • Adaptive Response Properties to specific pathogens 
  • Innate Immunity and Pattern Recognition 
  • Adaptive Immunity and the Immunoglobulin Superfamily 

7. Control and Prevention of Infectious Diseases and immunological disorders 

  • Epidemiology 
  • Global Outbreaks of Infection 
  • Vaccines and antimicrobials 
  • Immune Therapy 

8. Microbiology Lab Skills 

  • Safely Culture and Handle Bacterial Cultures in the Laboratory 
  • Basic Understanding of Differences in Media used to Cultivate Bacteria 
  • Nutrition, Culture, and Metabolism of Microorganisms 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will be presented via large and small group teaching. Large group teaching provides the content framework, using case studies to explore how the theoretical content applies to real world situations. Practical small group teaching sessions will train students in routine laboratory techniques relevant to working safely with microorganisms and immunological assays. These sessions will involve cooperative learning and collaborative learning, both of which promote the construction of personal meaning and mutual understanding to laboratory work. Tutorials will be used to consolidate learning and highlight relevant biomedical applications through the use case studies and problem-based learning. Active participation and questioning content is encouraged in all class formats.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit is generally taken as a 2nd year unit. Many students find the complexity and detail of the content confronting initially, hence this assessment strategy is designed to assist students reach their learning objectives through varying formats. A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes. Students are provided with early feedback so that they can seek assistance if required; no one assessment is so large as to preclude the possibility of passing if they fail it, and a variety of tasks are provided to suit different learning styles. 


The first assessment comprises five online tests, each with low waiting. Feedback is provided quickly, allowing students to gauge their progress, and to seek assistance if they wish at an early stage of the semester. This assessment prepares the students for the final exam, having questions of the same standard to those on the exam. This allows students to build knowledge incrementally and encourage consistent application with ongoing reflection throughout the semester.  

The second assessment, the workshop assessment, allows students an opportunity to display their growing skills and understanding of relevant scientific research and current topics in microbiology. As an oral presentation, it provides an opportunity for students to reflect, analyse and show their achievement of the learning outcomes without the constraints of a test or exam. This assessment forma also encourages students to develop new skills in public speaking and group work which are a part of the graduate attributes of this unit.

The written final online exam is a summative assessment where individual students can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of microbiologic and immunological concepts in human health and disease. The final exam assesses material from all content areas. Having been provided with feedback from the earlier assessments, students are now able to address misunderstandings and conceptual difficulties identified from these earlier tasks, and show that they have now met these learning objectives.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Mid-semester tests

Online tests (5) require students to demonstrate knowledge of foundation concepts and provide feedback on progress.

6% each

(30% total)

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Workshop Assessment

Part A: Presentation (1500 words).

Students will choose from a selection of topics relating to COVID-19. This  assessment task requires students to analyse actual or potential problems and identify solutions. Students will need to use the theories of applied microbiology and immunology to develop solutions to practical situations. Students will (i) identify key issues and problems from the topic, (ii) research and link the problems to relevant theories, (ii) develop solutions that lead to actionable recommendations.

Part B: Completion of Workshop material.

Students will be required to complete all workshop case studies.

20% (Presentation)

5% (Workshop)

LO2, LO3

End semester exam (2 hours) — this online written assessment requires students to apply knowledge, understanding and application important in the study of microbiology and immunology


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Madigan M, Martinko J, Bender K, Buckley D and Stahl D. Brock Biology of Microorganisms, Global Edition 14th Ed. UK: Pearson; 2015.  

Engleberg NC, Di Rita V and Dermody TS. Scheachter’s Mechansims of Microbial Disease 5th Ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2013.  

Goering RV, Dockrell H, Zuckerman M, Roitt IM and Chiodini RL. ‘MIMS' Medical Microbiology 5th Ed. Elsevier; 2013.  

Levinson WE. Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology 13th Ed. Lange; 2014.  

Murphy K. Janeway’s Immunobiology 8th Ed. Garland Science, Taylor Francis Grp; 2012.  

Delves PJ, Martin SJ, Burton DR and Roitt IM. Roitt’s Essential Immunology 12th Ed. Wiley-Blackwell; 2011. 

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