Purpose of Course  showclose

Even in ancient times, scholars believed that diseases could be spread by organisms too small to be seen by the naked eye. Before we discovered that bacteria cells were the real culprits, many attributed disease to other sources. Now that scientists have definitively identified the microscopic causes of various infectious diseases, microbiology, or the study of microscopic-sized organisms, has become an increasingly important field in biology and in the larger biomedical community.

Most microbes are harmless. Some of them are essential for life on Earth, e.g. through their ability to fix nitrogen. Biotechnology, which is truly the industry of our times, takes advantage of microbes for the production of a variety of complex substances, and it also mass-produces natural and engineered microbes for human use.

This course will cover a range of diverse areas of microbiology, including virology, bacteriology, and applied microbiology. This course will focus on the medical aspects of microbiology, as medical research has been the primary motivator in microbiology research. This course pairs well with BIO407: Immunology, which studies the body’s defenses against foreign invaders in great detail.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to BIO307: Microbiology! General information on the course and its requirements can be found below.

Course Designer: Amy L. Thompson, PhD, MLS (ASCP)

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2 as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more exploratory material presented in the latter units. You will also need to complete the following:
  • Subunit 1.1.1: Assessment
  • Subunit 1.2: Activity
  • Subunit 1.6.2: Assessment
  • Subunit 2.1: Assessment
  • Subunit 2.2: Assessment
  • Subunit 3.1: Assessment
  • Subunit 3.3: Assessment
  • Subunit 3.3.5: Assessment
  • Subunit 3.4: Questions
  • Subunit 2 Quizzes
  • Subunit 5.6: Assessment
  • Subunit 6.5.2: Assessment
  • Subunit 9.2: Assessment
  • The Final Exam
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the quizzes and activities listed above.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: Completing this course should take you a total of 128 hours. Each unit contains a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time that you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and then set goals for yourself. Use the time advisories to help you plot out your schedule of when you do each unit/subunit and on which days of the week. For example, Unit 1 will take 15.75 hours total. You may consider completing subunit 1.1.1 (a total of 2.5 hours) on Monday; subunit 1.1.2 (about 1.75 hours) on Tuesday; and subunit 1.2 (about 2 hours) on Wednesday; etc.

Tips/Suggestions: As noted in the “Course Requirements,” there are prerequisites for this course. It is essential to review BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology, BIO102: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, and BIO301: Cell Biology before you begin this course. If you find the discussions on the host reactions fascinating in this course, you might consider taking BIO402: Pathobiology and BIO407: Immunology. It is important that you take notes for all readings, lectures, and learning tasks. When available, you may choose to print out articles and take notes directly on them. You may want to use the headings in the course units and subunits to create an outline for your notes. These notes will be a useful review as you study for your Final Exam.

A version of this course is also available in iTunes U.
Preview the course in your browser or view all our iTunes U courses.  

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
  • explain what microbes are, and recognize microbes on micrographs;
  • compare and contrast cells, viruses, and microbes of the three domains of life;
  • discuss pathogenic microbes and their epidemiology, and employ Koch's postulates;
  • compare and contrast pathogenic protists and bacteria;
  • explain how opportunistic pathogens case illness;
  • describe the life cycle of protists and helminths that are human pathogens;
  • discuss different mechanisms of viral infections;
  • recognize microorganisms based on their shape, size, arrangement, staining, and culture characteristics;
  • design ways to control microbial growth;
  • discuss cellular metabolism in prokaryotes and eukaryotes;
  • outline antimicrobial methods including antibiotic use;
  • compare and contrast genetics and methods of reproduction in various microorganisms;
  • explain how the human body protects itself and how vaccines protect the body;
  • compare and contrast innate and adaptive immunity; and
  • discuss uses for microbiology in the food industry and in bioremediation.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language; and

√    have completed the following courses: BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology, BIO102: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, and BIO301: Cell Biology

Unit Outline show close