Core Module Information
Module title: Applied Environmental Microbiology

SCQF level: 09:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: MIC09105
Module leader: Aimeric Blaud
School School of Applied Sciences
Subject area group: Microbiology & Drug Discovery

Appropriate background knowledge of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, microbial physiology.

Description of module content:

This module builds on fundamental microbiological principles to examine the roles and interactions of microorganisms in various natural and engineered environments. The module will focus on several key areas including: the roles and importance of microbial communities in a range of autochthonous environments; metabolic and structural adaptations to niche habitats; approaches to assessing microbial community structure; and the potential application of microorganisms in environmental quality assessment and various industries.

This module will demonstrate the importance of microorganisms in diverse ecosystems; their versatility and ability to thrive in almost every environmental condition and highlight ways in which microorganisms contribute to our daily lives through application in industrial bioprocesses; environmental remediation and microbiological quality assessment. Theoretical and practical knowledge of microbiological and molecular methods to assess microbial populations will enhance your appreciation of the complexities and challenges associated with the study of microorganisms in various settings.

These themes will be explored in lectures, tutorials and workshops and through practical activities that will develop your competency in microbiological laboratory techniques as well as research methods including experimental design; problem solving and interpretation and critical appraisal of data.

Learning Outcomes for module:

LO1: Evaluate the roles and interactions of microorganisms in various natural and engineered environments.
LO2: Illustrate metabolic and structural adaptations required to survive in niche habitats and how changes in environmental conditions affect overall structure and function of microbial communities.
LO3: Relate microbial adaptation to potential industrial and environmental applications.
LO4: Design and conduct a practical based assessment of environmental quality and apply problem solving approaches to the analysis and interpretation of experimental data.
LO5: Critically examine current microbial and molecular approaches to the study of microorganisms in the environment and their application in environmental assessment.

Full Details of Teaching and Assessment
2020/1, Trimester 1, FACE-TO-FACE,
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: FACE-TO-FACE
Location of delivery: SIGHTHILL
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Aimeric Blaud
Module Organiser:

Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) Approach:
This module will be delivered through a combination of classroom and practical sessions that will require students to actively engage and develop their problem solving skills and critical thinking. Students will be expected to undertake work in advance of coming to class, based on the resources provided via Moodle. In class key concepts will be explained but students will be expected to work individually or in small groups to undertake problem-solving, exercises in experiment design and interpretation of scientific research articles. Laboratory classes will be used to develop practical and research experimental skills.

Formative Assessment:
Formative assessments that offer students’ opportunities to develop and enhance particular skills and knowledge aligned to the summative assessments will be provided at key stages during the module.
Student groups will investigate a particular niche habitat of their choice and develop an outline proposal for potential biotechnological exploitation of microorganisms that are adapted to survive there. This will be delivered as a 5 minute briefing during tutorial session in week 6 when students will have the opportunity for peer group-to-peer group feedback and feedforward from module tutors in good time for groups to reflect and identify key points for development in the full proposal required for the group based summative assessment (LOs 1, 2, 3).
Students will also undertake group based and individual formative assessments during workshops that will prepare them for the case report summative assessment (LOs 4 & 5): an Experimental Design Workshop (week 7), and a Problem Solving workshop on week 10. Formative feedback in both workshops will occurs in laboratory sessions and will feed in to both follow-up experiments (transition) and the written summative assessment (report).
During the experimental design workshop students will have the opportunity to critique and analyse pre-designed laboratory experiments in the context of the findings from the methodologies tested out in the lab and will receive group formative feedback on their recommendation for follow-up experiments.
During Problem Solving workshop students will discuss and compare their experimental findings of the study with their peers and with the aid of problem solving tools document their interpretations and conclusions on the findings and draft recommendations for future microbiological testing, and quality assessment of the environment that will underpin the written summative report. Students will receive tutor guidance during the workshop along with individual feedback on their problem solving exercise.
Both workshops will be a great opportunity for the students to develop skills to critique and analyse pre-designed laboratory experiments, in the context of the findings from the methodologies carried out in the lab, which will feed in to both follow-up experiments (transition) and written summative assessment (report).

Summative Assessment:
This module has two components of summative assessment: component I, an oral presentation based on a group research study due in week 9 and worth 40% of the module mark; and component II, an individually laboratory case report on microbiological quality testing, due in week 13 and worth 60% of the module mark.

The group based study (component I) covers learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3 on the module. Students will investigate adaptations of microorganisms to particular niche habitats, for example extreme environments, to develop a proposal for a new biotechnology based on the exploitation of particular unique or unusual microbial features. Groups will be assessed on oral presentations to ‘investors’ looking to fund the most clearly articulated and commercially promising application(s).

The case report, which assesses learning outcomes 4 and 5, will require individual students to analyse and critically appraise data obtained during team based practical investigations of potentially contaminated environments such as freshwater, sediment or treated wastewater. The report will explore the findings of the study and incorporate a set of practical recommendations regarding future microbiological testing and quality assessment of the environment.

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Face To Face Lecture 8
Independent Learning Guided independent study 163
Face To Face Practical classes and workshops 21
Face To Face Tutorial 6
Face To Face Groupwork (Scheduled) 2
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Oral Presentation 40 1,2 & 3 9 HOURS= 0.25
Report 60 4 & 5 13 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 1500
Component 1 subtotal: 40
Component 2 subtotal: 60
Module subtotal: 100

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
Contact your module leader