University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 Archive

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Study in the Discipline of Microbiology is offered by the School of Life and Environmental Sciences in the Faculty of Science. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

Microbiology teaches us about life forms that are too small to see with the naked eye. They are vital for life on Earth but can also cause huge problems as infectious disease agents, plant pathogens, contaminants of food and water and biofoulers. A major in Microbiology introduces you to this tremendous diversity of function and form in the microbial world. You explore the impact of microbes on other life forms, look at their role in health and disease at the level of individuals, populations and ecosystems, and in particular their place in the One Health nexus of human, animal and environmental inter-relationships. You will investigate ways in which microbes are used to manufacture products and remediate polluted environments and explore microbial genetics and microbial life at the molecular level, with a particular emphasis on current research in Microbiology in our 3000-level units.

By progressing through the major students will learn advanced concepts and methods including molecular microbiology, systems biology, genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics, advanced microscopy techniques, genetic manipulation, microbial evolution, and the use of antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance.

Requirements for completion

A major in Microbiology requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level major core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 3000-level project and interdisciplinary capstone unit
(iv) 18 credit points of 3000-level selective units

A minor in Microbiology is available and articulates to this major.

Pathway through the major

The requirements for a major/minor in Microbiology are spread out over three years of the degree (possibly four years if students are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree).

A sample pathway for the Microbiology major (over three years of a degree) is listed below.

Sample pathway: Microbiology major (48 credit points)



Units of study


Semester 1

Core: BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems

Semester 2

Selective: BIOL1XX6 Life and Evolution or CHEM1111 Chemistry 1A


Semester 1

Core: MICR2X31 Microbiology

Semester 2

Core: MICR2X22 Microbes in Society

(BMED2404 and MEDS2004 only available to students in the medical science stream)


Semester 1

Core: MICR3X11 Microbes in Infection

Core: VIRO3X01 Virology

Semester 2

Core: MICR3X32 Cellular and Molecular Microbiology

Core: MICR3X42 Microbiology Research Skills


Please Note. This sample progression is meant as an example only. Depending on unit prerequisites, students may be able to complete these units in a different sequence from that displayed in the table above.

For details of the core and selective units of study required for the major or minor please refer to the Microbiology section of the unit of study table, Table S, in this handbook.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, which must include a minimum of 24 credit points in a single subject area at 4000-level, including a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Space is provided for 12 credit points towards the second major (if not already completed). 24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

Requirements for Honours in the area of Microbiology: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information


T +61 2 9036 5417

Room 435, Molecular Bioscience Building G08
University of Sydney NSW 2006

Professor Dee Carter
T +61 2 9351 5383
Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Microbiology will be able to:

  1. Explain core principles of microbiology identification, diversity, evolution and phylogeny
  2. Articulate the defining principles of the various different major groups of microbes: the bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists and viruses
  3. Understand the importance of microbes in our society and their roles in both harmful and helpful processes
  4. Safely manipulate microbes in the laboratory and the demonstrate core skills of aseptic technique
  5. Grow, enumerate and observe microbes macroscopically and microscopically.