FBMMSH-Microbes, Food Safety and Health

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 Gemma Walton

Email: g.e.walton@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

In this Autumn Term module, the fundamentals of microbiology are considered with a focus on aspects linked to the role of microorganisms in food and health. Topics covered include (a) general characteristics of microorganisms and microbial metabolism (b) the importance of microorganisms in food production (c) food spoilage (d) foodborne illness (e) molecular applications (f) techniques for microbial inactivation and (e) the role of the gut bacteria on human health and strategies to manipulate this intestinal community.


  • To advance understanding of food safety principles

  • To develop skills in microbiological techniques

  • To develop an understanding of recent gut microbial research and its impact on health

  • To develop understanding of the importance of microbes in the food chain

Assessable learning outcomes:

At successful completion of the module the student should be able to:

  • Design and perform experiments in food microbiology

  • Apply the principles of microbial control to food safety

  • Analyse experimental microbial data and draw conclusions relevant to food safety

  • Critically evaluate scientific data on the gut microbiome and elaborate on its impact to health and disease

Additional outcomes:

  • Students will be provided with tool to:

  • Explain the food safety principles

  • Build up capabilities in microbiology within a laboratory setting

  • Interpret scientific data from journal articles

  • Make use of different forms of communication

Outline content:

Topics include:

  • Factors affecting microbial growth

  • Hurdle technology in terms of food safety

  • Pathogenic microbes relevant in the food chain

  • Spoilage microorganisms and their impact

  • Thermal and non-thermal methods used for microbial inactivation

  • The gut microbiota and its role in health and disease

  • Application of molecular techniques within food microbiology

Global context:

The issues covered in this module have international application as the different components will be relevant and can be applied in the food industry 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 15
Tutorials 6
Practicals classes and workshops 18
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 30
    Exam revision/preparation 15
    Advance preparation for classes 25
    Preparation for tutorials 15
    Preparation for performance 10
    Preparation of practical report 15
    Revision and preparation 20
    Reflection 15
Total hours by term 200 0 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Report 20
Practical skills assessment 10
Set exercise 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

1 exam (2 hours)

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

• Autumn Term Laboratory Notebook: the practical notebook consists of questions designed to promote inquiry-based learning and evaluation of class results (10%). Practical experiment to be submitted from week 10 (20%)

• Video enquiry exercise: submission at the end of week 8. (20%)

Formative assessment methods:

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:

Submission of coursework

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 14 May 2019


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