Module code: BMS2044

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

COTTELL A Dr (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 5

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 14

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Data analysis and methodology assignment as an alternative for the laboratory notebook. Exam as above.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

The study of microbiology often involves learning about the properties of single species, but in nature microbes rarely exist in isolation and are instead part of a rich and diverse ecosystem. Together with their ability to communicate via chemical signalling, the world of microbes reveals interesting complexities with relevance to health and disease, and biotechnology. This module complements BMS1026 and BMS2037.

Module aims

Enable students to gain an understanding of the interactions between microbes existing as populations and communities

Develop a critical understanding of how models of communication systems in microbial populations can be applied to such phenomena as disease pathology and generation of energy

Develop understanding of how microbes can be manipulated in vitro to display evidence of communication

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Appreciate the importance of studying microbes as populations rather than as individual, independent cells KPT
Investigate the role of biofilms as important microbial communities KCP
Discuss and investigate the processes by which microbes in populations communicate with each other, including the dynamics of these communication systems from an evolutionary perspective KCP
Understand the ways in which the phenomenon of bacterial communication can be harnessed for a range of biotechnology applications KCP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

• Introduction. Overview of microbial populations and interactions
• Biofilm initiation, development and physical interactions
• Medically important biofilms
• Approaches for the control of medically important biofilms
• Antibiotic “resistance” in biofilms: genotypic or phenotypic?
• Environmental biofilms and bioremediation
• Quorum sensing systems: social cheating
• Probiotics and commensals
• Metagenomics: Methods and applications
• Microbial consortia for biotechnological applications
• Microbial fuel cells
• Biorefineries

• Dental biofilm models
• Biofilms and antimicrobial resistance
• Quorum sensing: inducing expression of bacterial genes
• Quorum sensing inhibition
• Fuel cells

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Enable students to understand the complexities of microbial communities and interactions, with reference to the recent research in the discipline.

The learning and teaching methods include:
• The theoretical elements are taught in the first five weeks of the module and are delivered as 15 hours of lectures.
• There are 15 hours of practical classes which are delivered in the final five weeks of the module and are designed to consolidate the theoretical elements and develop greater critical understanding of the module.


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:


·         An understanding of the existence of microbes as populations, and the interactions that govern the properties of these microbial consortia.

·         Ability to interpret and draw conclusions relating to this discipline of microbiology from data generated from laboratory practical classes.


 Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Laboratory notebook assessment;

·         Two-hour exam: One essay-style answer from a choice of three questions; 30 MCQ questions


Formative assessment and feedback:


SurreyLearn tests will provide feedback to the students of their knowledge and understanding.

Reading list

Reading list for MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES AND INTERACTIONS : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/bms2044

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.