School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences

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School of Biomedical, Biomolecular and Chemical Sciences

Unit Outline

General Microbiology


Semester: Two

Campus: QEII Medical Centre

Unit Coordinator: Professor Geoff Shellam

This outline is the currently available version for this unit. Detailed Information on unit content and assessment may undergo modification before the time of delivery of the unit. For the most up to date information students must consult material supplied to enrolled students by the unit co-ordinator.

All material reproduced herein has been copied in accordance with and pursuant to a statutory licence administered by Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), granted to the University of Western Australia pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

Copying of this material by students, except for fair dealing purposes under the Copyright Act, is prohibited. For the purposes of this fair dealing exception, students should be aware that the rule allowing copying, for fair dealing purposes, of 10% of the work, or one chapter/article, applies to the original work from which the excerpt in this course material was taken, and not to the course material itself

© The University of Western Australia 2001


This unit, of 13 weeks duration, provides advanced teaching in immunology and in the pathogenesis and epidemiology of infectious diseases, including viral and bacterial diseases. The interaction between infectious agents and their host is explored, particularly with regard to the integrity of the host immune system and strategies used by infectious agents to evade the immune system. The epidemiology of important and emerging infectious agents is also examined with respect to their mode of transmission and their ecology. In learning about the dynamic interaction between infectious agents and the host’s immune system, students gain an appreciation of how infectious agents spread within communities and the basis for their control. Students also participate in a research project in this unit. Practical research experience enables students to acquire a measure of independence in the design and execution of research. Students learn how to evaluate their results and communicate them to others. The experience also enables students to determine their interest in proceeding to honours level.


This unit comprises 4 academic subunits of innate immunity and infection, immunopathology and immunotherapeutics, bacterial diseases and viral diseases. There are no set laboratory practicals as students undertake a research project during the 13 week laboratory component.

Broad learning outcomes


Assessment Activity

Students will be able to recall and integrate key knowledge and concepts about:

  • The interactions between infectious agents and the immune system

  • The epidemiology of infectious diseases

  • The mode of transmission and ecology of infectious agents

  • The control of infectious agents

Theory exam

Multiple choice question exam

Students will acquire skills in:

  • Methods and techniques used in infectious disease research

  • The design of experiments and the interpretation of data

  • Scientific writing

  • Giving seminars and short presentations

  • The use of computers in data analysis

Research report

Advisable prior study

It is essential that students have passed the pre-requisite subject General Microbiology 301 (renamed MICR 3301).

Advisable prior study:

950.204 Introductory Microbiology 204 (renamed MICR2204 Introductory Microbiology) and 950.205 General and Applied Microbiology 205 (renamed MICR2205 General and Applied Microbiology)

[or 950.200 Introductory Microbiology 200 (taken before 2003)],

950.206 Epidemiology and Infection 206 (renamed MICR2206 Epidemiology and Infection) and/or 950.203 Introductory Immunology 203 (renamed MICR2203 Introductory Immunology), 139.225 Molecular Biology 225 (renamed SCIE2225 Molecular Biology).

Technical Requirements

Calculator: You should have a multi-function pocket calculator available for use in the laboratory. It should have the means for determining the log of a number.

Safety Precautions

You must adhere to the safety requirements for working in undergraduate laboratories. These requirements are described in your laboratory manuals and they include the wearing of footwear with closed uppers. Bare feet, open sandals or thongs are not acceptable in the Microbiology laboratory.

Software Requirements

Students are required to arrange their own access to word processing, spreadsheet and visual presentation software. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are recommended: instructions and templates contained in course materials or developed will assume that this is the software employed.

Students are also expected to have access to the internet and ability to download large files (lecture notes, tutorial notes etc.) and to access PDF files (Acrobat Reader software is necessary).

Contact details

Unit web site (may include Web CT URL):

Name of Unit coordinator: Professor Geoff Shellam


Phone: 9346 2050

Fax: 9346 2912

Consultation hours: By appointment, Monday to Wednesday only.



Associate Professor Barbara Chang

Microbiology & Immunology


Dr Charlene Kahler

Microbiology & Immunology


Dr Thelma Koppi

Microbiology & Immunology


Dr Tim Inglis



Professor Aileen Plant

International Health Centre, Curtin University


Dr Alec Redwood

Microbiology & Immunology


Professor Thomas Riley

Microbiology & Immunology


Dr Harry Sakellaris

Microbiology & Immunology


Dr David Smith



Professor Geoffrey Shellam

Microbiology & Immunology


Dr Mike Lindsay

Health Department of Western Australia


Dr Peter Yen

Microbiology & Immunology

Unit structure summary


There will be a total of 35 lectures and tutorials (3 per week), held in the Mary Lockett Lecture Theatre, QEII Lecture Theatre Complex.

Lectures times:

Monday 12.00 noon - 12.45 pm

Monday 4.00 pm - 4.45 pm

Tuesday 2.00 pm - 2.45 pm


Laboratory work comprises approximately 7 hours per week, as follows:-

Tuesday 10.00 am - 12.45 pm

Tuesday 3.00 pm - 4.45 pm

Wednesday 10.00 am - 12.45 pm

Away Day’

A special day at The University Boat Shed, will be held in early September (to be advised) from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. This will include a tutorial, BBQ lunch and afternoon tea (provided), guest lecture on a topic which is not examinable, a discussion of a research paper and presentations on how to prepare a CV, and on careers in microbiology.

Topics: For details of times and venues of all teaching sessions please consult the university timetable at

Lecture Topics


Historical perspective – the great epidemics


Introduction – Innate immunity – the epithelium


Innate Immunity – inflammation


Host-Parasite Interactions 1 (Host factors influencing resistance to infection)


Innate Immunity – macrophages and dendritic cells


Host – Parasite Interactions 2 – Immune evasion – bacteria


Hypersensitivity 1


Hypersensitivity 2


Autoimmunity and Autoimmune disease




Transplantation and rejection




Tumour Immunology




Colonisation of the host and toxins 1


Colonisation of the host and toxins 2


Colonisation of the host and toxins 3


Motility and iron uptake


Invasion of host cells


Genetics of bacterial virulence determinants




Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA)


Clostridium difficile




Mycobacterium tuberculosis




Host – Parasite interactions 3 – Immune evasion – viruses


Acute, chronic, asymptomatic, latent and persistent infections


Human immunodeficiency virus


Prion diseases


Viral infection by the respiratory route


Viral infection by the faecal-oral route


Emergence of new viral diseases




Final Review and feedback summary

References, resources and reading materials

Text Books (available on closed reserve)

Roitt, I., Brostoff, J. and Male, D. Immunology, 6th ed. Mosby – Year Book Europe, 2001.

Mims, C.A. and others, Mims’ Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease, 5th ed. Academic Press, 2001

Reference Books:

Mims, C.A. and others, Medical Microbiology, Mosby Europe Ltd., 1993.

Mims, C.A. and White, D.O. Viral Pathogenesis and Immunology, Blackwell, 1984.

Evans, A.S. Viral Infections of Humans, 3rd ed. Plenum Medical Book Co., 1989

Salyers, A.A. and Whitt, D.D. Bacterial Pathogenesis ‘A molecular approach’, 2nd ed. ASM Press Washington DC, 2002

White, D.O., Fenner, F.J. Medical Virology, 4th ed. Academic Press, 1994

Janeway, C.A. and Travers, P. Immunobiology: The immune system in health and disease, 3rd ed. Current Biology Ltd/Garland Publishing, 1998.

Groisman, E.A. and others. Principles of Bacterial Pathogenesis, ASM Press, Washington DC, 2000.

Unit web site

All enrolled students have access to the unit WebCT site ( This site will be used for notices, posting of supplementary course materials, email and discussion. It is strongly recommended that you log onto this site on a daily basis. The website should be used for all remote communication to the unit co-ordinator. Students are encouraged to pose questions about course content on the discussion forum of the site so that all class members can view and contribute to the discussion.

Assessment Details

Assessed Work

% mark


Final examination – All lectures


3 hrs – Exam period

Class MCQ #1


45 min. Lectures 1-15, Week 6

Class MCQ #2


45 min. Lectures 16-33, Week 12

Research Report

Research report literature review


Week 4

Final Written research report


Week 11

Powerpoint presentation on research project


Week 13


The University of Western Australia takes very seriously the matter of academic misconduct by students and has policies in place that define misconduct (including plagiarism) and the penalties that apply. The consequences for misconduct can be severe, including exclusion from the university.

All students are expected to make themselves aware of the definitions and policies relating to academic misconduct, found at the websites below, and with any additional requirements or stipulations that may be provided by individual unit co-ordinators.

When you obtain authority to log in to the unit website, you will se an online module on academic conduct which you are strongly advised to complete in your own time.


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