Module code: BMS3060

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader


Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 6

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 1

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 17

Laboratory Hours: 26

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment COURSEWORK - PRACTICAL WRITE-UP 50%

Alternative Assessment


Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

The module provides a description of the application of the principles of the microbial and biochemical sciences, studied elsewhere in the programme, to the discovery, production and manufacture of commercially important products for the pharmaceutical, food and chemical industries, with examples and case studies. The principles of genetic and physiological deregulation and overexpression described in the module build upon the over-views of metabolic pathways (studied in L4 and L5 biochemistry modules) and microbial diversity, metabolism and function (studied in L4 and L5 microbiology modules), and complement with approaches covered in Systems Biology: Genes in Action (a subsequent L6 module). The principles of biomedical and bioveterinary microbial product discovery, over-production and applications are also compared to those of other microbial products (food, bioenergy, and (bio)chemical industries).


Module aims

To familiarise students with the wide range of microbial products and obtain a working knowledge of the biotechnological approaches involved in their production

To demonstrate the physiology of metabolite over-production and its exploitation for production of metabolites of interest

To teach and provide training on practical skills relevant to the isolation, recognition and culture of product-forming microorganisms

To demonstrate a semi-automated approach to handling large numbers of microorganisms

To provide practical experience of biotechnological issues arising from the subjects discussed in lectures

To introduce novel approaches and strategies for the rational design of microorganisms with novel or improved metabolic functions

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Distinguish and identify the physiological events responsible for inducing the synthesis of a range of products KC
Identify research strategies for the development of new strains and bioproducts KC
Distinguish between screening approaches that rely on positive selection and neutral selection for bioproduct - synthesising cultures and identify and describe methods for high-through put analysis and strains CT
Apply modern methods of report preparation, data reduction, data presentation and literature searching PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Lecture content:  The lectures will present and discuss a range of biomedical products, with emphasis on the products of secondary metabolism.

• Case study: Penicillin and other antibiotics. Analyse why and how microbes make antibiotics and other bioactive molecules. How this information can be used for improving the quality of the bioactive molecules and the titres obtained.
• Discovery of new bioproducts for application in medicine and veterinary.
• Biochemicals and biopharmaceuticals: Enzymes, antibodies and inhibitors.
• Bulk (bio)chemicals and food additives: Bioethanol, Biosolvents, Organic acids, Amino acids
• The dynamics of microbial growth and its link to product formation
• Different systems for cultivation of microorganisms
• Physiological and genetic control of metabolism
• Recombinant DNA products, Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology
• Medical product economics
• Introduction to Biotechnology operations

Practical lab content

• Make up seed flask liquid cultures
• lsolation of antibiotic and cellulase-producing micro-organisms
• Subculture of isolates
• Purity checks, re-isolation and subculture
• Droplet culture assay for medicinal activity
• Completion of bioactivity assessment
• Selection of isolates for physiological study
• Liquid culture of bioactive products
• Liquid culture assay for medicinal activity
• Data analysis tutorial and supervised results write-up

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Encourage and assist students to integrate the subjects discussed in the module across a range of different parts of the course. Use case studies to highlight the themes under discussion.

The learning and teaching methods include:
• Demonstration, hands-on experience and data anaylsis in the laboratory sessions 3h per week x 10 weeks
• Use of work-books in all of the lecture sessions to encourage and facilitate questions and other forms of interaction between students and lecturer
2h per week x 10 weeks
• Use of former exam questions to enable students to test their retention and comprehension of course content and develop ther exam technique
3 sessions per semester



Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate ability to process large amounts of data using graphical and statistical approaches (practical write-up), factual retention and application of generic principles across a range of case studies (written exam).


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

- Analysis of data and lab report (3 weeks from end of course to deadline)  50%

- Written examination (3h, 2 questions out of 5) 50%


Formative assessment and feedback

The formative assessment and feedback makes use of former exam questions to enable students to test their retention and comprehension of course content and develop their exam technique (1h x 2 sessions per semester).

Reading list


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.