FBMMHD-Microbes in Health and Disease

Module Provider: Food and Nutritional Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Anisha Wijeyesekera

Email: a.wijeyesekera@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

In this Autumn Term module, students are introduced to the fundamentals of microbiology, with a focus on understanding the role of microbes in shaping health and disease outcomes. Topics covered include (a) general characteristics of microorganisms (b) the importance of microorganisms in food production and in the food chain (c) foodborne illnesses (d) molecular applications and analytical measurements of microbial function (e) the physiology of the gut (f) the influence of gut bacteria in health and diseased states, and strategies to manipulate this intestinal community (e.g. through functional foods).


  • To advance understanding of microorganisms, and how they impact on health and disease.

  • To develop an understanding of how these communities can be manipulated through diet or clinical intervention, and the resultant impact on health.

  • To develop skills in microbiological techniques

Assessable learning outcomes:

On completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Describe the basic properties of microorganisms, and their role in gut and system health

  • Design and perform experiments in food microbiology

  • Determine through primary research, how these communities can be manipulated through food and diet

  • Analyse scientific data on the gut microbiome, and critically evaluate its impact on human health

  • Present results of research and analysis using a range of formats (including oral presentation and scientific reports)

Additional outcomes:

Students should also be able to demonstrate the acquisition of essential research and transferable skills, including:

  • Microbiological laboratory techniques

  • Analysing and interpreting experimental data

  • Writing scientifically

  • Presenting work orally

  • Working well in a team/group setting

Outline content:

Topics include:

  • Properties of microbes: morphology, structure, function and growth; microbial metabolism

  • Microorganisms in food

  • Ecology of gut bacteria and implications for human health and disease

  • Host-gut bacteria interactions and evaluation of the contribution of gut microbes to disease risk

  • Molecular microbial detection methods and analytical approaches for functional assessment of the human gut microbiota

Global context:

The role of microbes in shaping health and disease outcomes is becoming more recognised globally. The topics covered in this module have international application, and are of relevance to nutrition and food scientists in any country in the world.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module will provide both practical and theoretical training, by combining lectures, practical classes, workshops and tutorials.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Seminars 8
Tutorials 4
Practicals classes and workshops 18
External visits 8
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 40
    Wider reading (directed) 10
    Exam revision/preparation 20
    Preparation for tutorials 10
    Preparation for presentations 20
    Preparation for seminars 10
    Completion of formative assessment tasks 10
    Essay preparation 16
    Reflection 10
Total hours by term 200 0 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 25
Oral assessment and presentation 25

Summative assessment- Examinations:

1 exam (2 hours)

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

• Oral presentation: assessed in week 3 (25%)

• Written assignment: submitted in week 11 (25%)

Formative assessment methods:

Oral presentation: assessed in week 2

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

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of coursework

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 14 May 2019


Things to do now