Medical Microbiology


This module is designed to give students a broad understanding of microbiological principles related to microbes associated with human disease, diagnosis and treatment.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with an understanding of microbial growth and microbial diseases of humans. Students will gain knowledge of microbial characteristics, clinical diagnosis, epidemiology, pathogenesis and control of such infectious diseases.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Understand and explain contemporary theories of microbial growth, metabolism, differentiation and motility. 

2.  Evaluate the factors that are involved with the epidemiology, pathogenesis, detection, diagnosis and control of infectious diseases (including antibiotics, vaccines and antibody therapies).

3.  Analyse and discuss the results of practical experiments in an area related to disease epidemiology and/or control, or antibiotic sensitivity testing. 

4.  Evaluate drug strategies for the control of infectious diseases and the current problems associated with the development of drug resistance. 

Indicative Content

1 Microbial Growth, Reproduction and Motility

The microbial (bacterial) growth curve and it's phases. Prokaryotic cell cycle. Phenomena associated with the growth curve (e.g. incorporation of peptidoglycan, overlapping chromosome replication etc.). Microbial metabolism. True turning point. Dormancy. Stringent response. Endosporulation. Chemotaxis, Individual motility. Community motility. Biofilm structure & function, bacterial conjugation, transformation & transduction

2 Bacterial diseases

Clinically important taxonomic groups of bacteria and viruses. Types of clinical specimens and processes for isolation and identification of organisms. Immunological and molecular systems for specific diagnosis. Clinical characteristics of diseases. Factors affecting clinical diagnosis including. Preventative strategies and therapies.  Microbial determinants of pathogenicity and virulence. Mechanisms of cell & tissue damage. Role of biochemical changes in diagnosis and monitoring of disease.

3 Antimicrobial chemotherapy and drug resistance

Modes of action of major synthetic and natural antibiotics. Antibiotic sensitivity testing in clinical laboratories. MIC values. Significance for therapeutic control in hospitals. Mechanisms of drug resistance in micro-organisms. Limitations of current drugs and novel development strategies. Qualitative and quantitative methods to identify antibiotic sensitivity of medically important organisms. 

4 Epidemiology and Public Health Measures

Transmission routes of disease agents - reservoirs, portals of entry, noscomial infections. Epidemiology - epidemics, pandemics, and endemic disease. Practical study of factors affecting epidemiology of diseases. Public health control methods - Vaccination, Sewage/Water treatment, legislation, public information etc. 

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Practical classes allow students to integrate theoretical information from lectures and tutorials on the modes of action of antibiotics through the analysis and interpretation of their practical results. These practical classes also provide students with experience of basic microbiology methods used in industry and antibiotic sensitivity analysis and highlight why this is important in to-days clinical settings with increasing levels of antibiotic resistance. Assessments are used to enable students to integrate their Knowledge and Understanding of the different elements of the lecture material to illustrate the complexity of pathogenesis and the various processes that can be used to control disease. The clinical significance of the module is continually emphasised throughout with tutorials and practicals being used to highlight the changing demands in the clinical setting with respect to disease control and to highlight the future challenges that will be faced at a time of diminishing resource availability. The assessment exam will take the form of essay style questions, with a choice for students.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 7
Supervised Practical Activity 18
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 50
Independent 101

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.