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CEG8604 : Introduction to Microbiology and Microbial Transformation of Pollutants

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Ian Head
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The aims of this unit are to -
Introduce microorganisms and their study,
Introduce microbial processes of environmental and geochemical significance and
Provide detailed information on the most up to date methods for the study of microbial communities.

The module includes a basic introduction to microbiology and microorganisms and explores their role in shaping the geochemistry of the earth.
A survey of modern microorganisms and their activities of environmental and geochemical importance is an important foundation for the module as is the way that metabolic processes catalyzed by microorganisms are related to major elemental cycles, biogeochemical processes and contamination. The most up to date molecular methods used to study the diversity and activity of microorganisms in their natural habitats are detailed along with their benefits and limitations. The course is examined by unseen examination and a data analysis assessment.

Outline Of Syllabus

Classification of microorganisms
Microorganisms in nature
Microbial processes of environmental significance
Metabolic diversity of microorganisms
Methods to study microorganisms

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion221:0022:00Online - information provided on Canvas
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials201:0020:00Delivered as a combination of narrated presentations and PiP discussion and consolidation sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops17:007:00PiP - information provided on Canvas
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study491:0049:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00Synch Online - infor. provided on Canvas plus discussion of issues that might like to be considered
Guided Independent StudyOnline Discussion11:001:00Discussion and interaction between the narrated presentations. PiP
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will be taught through lectures where they will acquire an understanding of the evolutionary and metabolic diversity of the microbial world and how it relates to biogeochemical processes including microbial degradation of contaminants. They will also gain detailed knowledge of how biological processes and microorganisms are measured and characterized in the environment They will demonstrate that they can analyse, evaluate and synthesize a body of information and data, and present the synthesis in a coherent form and conduct quantitative thermodynamic calculations.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M4015min presentation (25 marks) (10 Min Presentation, 5 Min Q&A & Discussion); and worked calculations submission (15 marks)
Written exercise1M6090 minute MCQ Exam on CANVAS, which will be available to do over a 24 hour set period (60 marks)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will be assessed by written exercise (unseen MCQs) to test their knowledge and understanding of the evolutionary and metabolic diversity of the microbial world and how it relates to biogeochemical processes including microbial degradation of contaminants and approaches used to measure biological processes and microorganisms in the environment. The module is designed to provide a broad background to microbiology in the context of vital environmental processes. It is especially aimed at providing a broad knowledge base to students whose background is not in microbiology. An MCQ exam is an effective way to assess the range of knowledge that has been acquired. The ability to analyse an extensive body of information and quantitative skills will be tested through the coursework component of the course where they will prepare a presentation on the results of research on a on a specific microbiological topic relevant to one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and complete a practical problem involving thermodynamic calculations. This will provide them the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to work with several information sources to help answer specific scientific questions.

An alternative assessment will be set for any Semester 1 Study Abroad student taking this module, who will not be in Newcastle during the January assessment period.

Reading Lists