University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 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 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) 6 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 1000-level selective units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iv) 6 credit points of 2000-level units according to the following rules:
(a) 6 credit points of 2000-level MIMI coded units or
(b) 6 credit points of 2000-level MEDS coded microbiology units for students in the Medical Science stream
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level major core units
(vi) 6 credit points of 3000-level interdisciplinary project units
(vii) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units

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

First year

BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems and 6 credit points from a selection of: BIOL1XX6 Life and Evolution, CHEM1XX1 Chemistry 1A.

BIOL1XX7 introduces you to the broad realm of biology, ranging from the biomolecules of life to interactions at the level of entire ecosystems. Within this Unit you will undertake a module specifically dedicated to Global Health that includes issues related to microbiology including infectious diseases, food-borne illness, biotechnology and bioremediation. Lecture material is complemented with associated practical studies. The material covered during this module forms the platform for your later studies in Microbiology. Note that fundamental knowledge of chemistry is assumed, and students who have not completed HSC Chemistry are strongly advised to take CHEM1XX1.

Second year

Core: MICR2X31 Microbiology and MIMI2X02/MEDS2004 Microbes, Infection and Immunity (these are code-shared units with the MEDS Unit available to students enrolled in the Medical Science stream).
Second year Microbiology Units teach fundamental microbiology concepts (MICR2X31) and introduce medical microbiology, immunology and cell pathology (MIMI2X02/MEDS2004). Lectures are complemented with practical activities that teach the key skills used in microbiology laboratories.

Third year

Core: MICR3X11 Microbes in Infection and SCPU3001 Science Interdisciplinary Project / MICR3888 Microbiology Interdisciplinary Project (MICR3888 will be available from 2020), and 12CP from MICR3X32 Cellular and Molecular Microbiology, MICR3X42 Microbiology Research Skills, VIRO3X01 Virology.

In your third year you must take one designated interdisciplinary project unit (SCPU3001/MICR3888) along with the core unit: Microbes in Infection (MICR3X11). You will need to take at least 12 credit points of additional Microbiology 3000 level units, selected from: Cellular and Molecular Microbiology (MICR3X32), Microbiology Research Skills (MICR3X42), Virology (VIRO3X01.

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, with a minimum of 24 credit points at 4000-level or above. Of these 24 credit points, you must complete a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Advanced coursework will be included in the table for 2020.

Meritorious students in the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies may apply for admission to Honours within a subject area of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Admission to Honours requires the prior completion of all requirements of the Bachelor of Science, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units. If you are considering applying for admission to Honours, ensure your degree planning takes into account the completion of a second major and all OLE requirements prior to Honours commencement.

Unit of study 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 9351 5819

Room 501, 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. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge in the identification, classification and evolution of microbes and integrate knowledge across these areas.
  2. Integrate depth of knowledge in fundamental differences in size, complexity and replication strategies to differentiate between the major groups of microbes – the Bacteria, Archaea, Fungi, viruses and protists.
  3. Demonstrate skills in safe and ethical laboratory practice in microbiology, including ensuring aseptic conditions to avoid contamination.
  4. Grow, enumerate and observe microbes macroscopically and microscopically, and interpret these observations to address questions in microbiology.
  5. Source, collate, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a range of sources in microbiological research.
  6. Communicate concepts and findings in microbiology to diverse audiences through a range of modes, using evidence-based arguments that are robust to critique.
  7. Assess how microbes contribute to both harmful and beneficial processes that affect human health and the ecosphere.
  8. Address authentic problems in microbiology, working professionally and responsibly both as individuals and within diverse, collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.
  9. Evaluate the critical importance of microbes across a range of environmental and cultural settings.