Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Pathogen Biology 3 (BILG09022)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryA course on the biology of pathogenic organisms of medical and veterinary importance, outlining the strategies used by a range of pathogens to infect their hosts, survive and multiply inside them. The course has a particular focus on how modern research is increasing our understanding of pathogen biology to better address current challenges in pathogen management. Bioinformatic analysis, hypothesis generation and experimental design are also core components of the course.
Course description The study of pathogens is extremely relevant in biology research, as infectious diseases continue to pose a challenge to both human and animal health, with devastating consequences. Increasing our understanding of pathogen biology is necessary to respond to emerging problems like resistance to currently used drugs, expansion of distribution area of certain pathogens due to climate change and increase in zoonotic diseases. At the same time, the study of infectious organisms has uncovered fundamentally important biological concepts.

This course will provide an overview of the biology of different pathogens, with a particular focus on how modern research is increasing our understanding of pathogen biology to better address current challenges in pathogen management. The lectures will build on the core knowledge acquired in Microorganisms, Infection & Immunity 2 (BIME08012) to further delve into the strategies used by a range of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasitic protozoans and parasitic helminths, to infect their hosts, to survive and multiply inside them, and to ensure transmission to new hosts. Lectures will include a recap of required background knowledge, which will allow students who have not taken BIME08012 to fully integrate in the course. More lectures will be dedicated to the study of parasitic protozoans and helminths than to the rest of groups, given that parasites are less extensively covered in Year 2 than the other organisms. Evolutionary aspects of pathogen biology and current research in the field will be discussed. Lectures will be delivered by principal investigators that lead successful research groups in each topic.

A series of bioinformatic workshops will help develop Python data analysis skills while working on real datasets relevant to pathogen biology research. All workshops should be attended by all students. The results of the bioinformatic analysis will then be used as a starting point for a short grant proposal, where students will suggest a follow-up question and design an experimental approach to answer it. This will develop hypothesis generation and research skills.

Three practical laboratory sessions will focus on parasites, complementing the material taught in the lectures.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Biology 2A: Data Exploration in Biology (BILG08024)
It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Microorganisms, Infection and Immunity 2 (BIME08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Biological Sciences students are automatically eligible to take this course by having completed the compulsory Year 2 courses [Biology 2A (BILG08024), Biology 2B (BILG08025) and Biology 2C (BILG08026)].
Students from other Schools should meet the pre-requisite requirements. Enquire with the Course Organiser if you are not sure whether this course is suitable for you.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesSubstantial skills in manipulating and analysing large data sets in Python / Pandas.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 17, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 1.5, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 15, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 160 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 30 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 50%.«br /»
Practical Test 20%.«br /»
Examination 30%.
Feedback Formative feedback will be provided during practicals and workshops from teaching staff and demonstrators.
A mid-semester quiz will be provided half-way through the course to allow students to check their understanding - this will be optional, allow multiple attempts and provide formative feedback.
Students will receive detailed feedback on the written Grant Proposal ICA.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Discuss the strategies used by a range of pathogens to infect their hosts, survive and multiply inside them. Discuss how current research is increasing our understanding of pathogen biology and addressing challenges in pathogen management.
  2. Accurately perform bioinformatic data analysis and practical laboratory procedures relevant to pathogen biology research and interpret and critically evaluate their results.
  3. Communicate research results and conclusions clearly and professionally.
  4. Based on current research and data analysis, formulate relevant questions and testable hypotheses to increase our current understanding of pathogen biology and design experimental approaches to answer them.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and understanding: the lectures provide the framework to develop a comprehensive knowledge of core concepts in pathogen biology and of the approaches to investigate it. Most of the lecturing staff on the course run active research programmes and the material covered will often be based on lecturers' research activities, providing cutting edge information and ideas.

Research and Enquiry: These skills are enhanced by encouraging further reading of books, research papers and electronic materials, to deepen knowledge and understanding of core concepts. They underpin the bioinformatic analysis and the grant proposal activity. The students will interrogate a dataset and then formulate further questions that follow up on the analysis results, providing real experience in hypothesis-driven analysis.

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: The students will autonomously formulate a research question that follows up on the bioinformatic analysis and that they believe would address an important question in pathogen biology. Writing of a grant proposal about it will require students to use their scientific judgement, synthesise their own views and develop reasoned arguments related to wider context. The practical sessions also provide an opportunity to apply the knowledge acquired in the laboratory to independently answer questions that are often faced by health workers and researchers.

Communication: A peer-feedback session at the end of the bioinformatic workshops will help students develop communication skills to interact constructively with others, providing feedback respectfully and being able to consider and act upon feedback received. The grant proposal tutorial and assessment will help students develop written communication skills. Interactions with lecturers and tutors throughout the course will provide further opportunities to develop communication and interpersonal skills.

Personal Effectiveness: Students will work on their personal effectiveness skills when organising their time to meet the deadlines of the course and when deciding how to communicate their results and ideas in the peer feedback session and the grant proposal.

Technical and Practical Skills: Students will develop bioinformatic and numeracy skills in the data analysis workshops, contributing to graduate employability. Practical sessions will help students build up laboratory skills in a range of methods used in pathogen biology. Critical observation, careful recording, investigation and interpretation, quantification and analysis are all skills that will be helpful for the Honours year and for future employment.
Additional Class Delivery Information Lectures to present core concepts of pathogen biology and current research strategies in the field.
Practicals to teach relevant laboratory research procedures.
Bioinformatics workshops to teach data analysis and coding skills.
Tutorial to guide students in writing a grant proposal, which will form a written coursework component.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Achim Schnaufer
Course secretaryMs Grace Lavender
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information