GVMEPM-Environmental and Pollution Microbiology

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Level:7
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Elizabeth Shaw

Email: e.j.shaw@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

This module provides an understanding of the major groups of microorganisms in soils, their adaptation to soil environments, and their impact on the wider environment. Emphasis is placed on the role of soil microorganisms in global cycling of C, N, P and S and in the degradation and transformation of natural and anthropogenic chemicals in the environment (biogeochemical processes). The course also provides students with examples of the benefits of managing soil microorganisms for environmental sustainability. The associated practical work provides students with practical experience of measuring, isolating and testing examples of soil microorganisms and quantifying microbially-mediated processes.


Aims:

This module aims to provide the student with an understanding of the major groups of microorganisms in soils, their adaptation to soil environments, and their impact on the wider environment. Emphasis will be placed on the role of soil microorganisms in global cycling of C, N, P and S and in the degradation of natural and anthropogenic chemicals in the environment (biogeochemical processes). The course will also provide students with examples of the benefits of managing soil microorganisms for bioremediation, plant growth promotion, and environmental sustainability. The associated practical work will provide students with practical experience of measuring, isolating and testing examples of soil microorganisms and quantifying some microbially-mediated processes.


Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to: - describe and explain the biochemical basis of the global cycling of C, N, P and S and the degradation of selected organic contaminants, - describe the microorganisms responsible for the major biogeochemical processes in soil, - carry out laboratory investigations to: (i) isolate and enumerate soil organisms; (ii) quantify microbially-mediated soil processes and, to synthesize their findings in the form of a scientific report. - describe the potential and limitations of managing soil microorganisms for bioremediation, plant growth promotion and environmental sustainability.


Additional outcomes:
- Students will gain general experience of microbiology practical work, including considerations of sterile technique and health and safety issues.
- Students will enhance their IT skills, especially in working with data (spreadsheets), statistical analysis and the graphical representation of data using a computer packages.
- The students will gain a holistic understanding of soil microbial functioning at the centre of terrestrial ecosystems and become familiar with new terminology and concepts in a highly topical field.

Outline content:
The lecture content covers:
Introduction to soil microbiology
Metabolic diversity of soil microbes
Soil biogeochemical cycles
Soil microbial biomass, diversity and functions
The rhizosphere
Root nodules
Mycorrhiza
Soil nitrogen cycle I
Soil nitrogen cycle II
Microbiology of soil contamination

The practical content covers:
methods for measuring the activity of microorganisms in soil,
isolation and characterization of selected examples of soil microorganisms,
examination of the influence of environmental factors on soil microorganisms.

Global context:

This module discusses the soil microbial processes that contribute to the global biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus and sulfur.


Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There will be one lecture each week, followed by laboratory work of about 3 hours.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Practicals classes and workshops 30
Guided independent study 60
       
Total hours by term 100.00
       
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 25
Report 25

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:
There is an opportunity to obtain formative feedback on a practise practical report write-up.

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:
A one hour exam in which one question out of a choice of three must be answered. This contributes 50 % of the overall assessment.

Requirements for a pass:
50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework or re-examination in August/September

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Students may wish to purchase key text books from the reading list


Last updated: 31 March 2017

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