BIOL213-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024


15 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 July 2024
End Date: Sunday, 10 November 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 July 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 29 September 2024


An introduction to the fundamental principles of microbiology and microbial genetics.

Mātai koiora moroiti | Microbiology
Is there anything that microorganisms cannot do? Microorganisms are the foundation of all of Earth’s ecosystems. They mediate innumerable interactions with humans, plants, animals, and each other. They can be found in the deepest subsurface sediments to boiling hot springs to the tips of the atmosphere, and we make use of them from everything from food production to drug production. This course provides focussed introductory learning on microorganisms, microbial activity and the roles microorganisms play from the molecular to the global scale. You will learn about microbial genetics, metabolism, host-microbe interactions and global microbe-ecosystem interactions. During the lectures and the labs, topics covered include the gut microbiome, fermentation & food microbiology, geomicrobiology, plant-microbial interactions including disease and biocontrol, microbial coexistence and competition, and the microbiology of extreme environments. The laboratory component of this course has an emphasis on mastering practical microbiology skills such as aseptic technique, experimental design and planning, and methods for controlling microbial growth. The course also includes a field trip as part of the laboratory schedule.

Who is this course intended for?
BIOL213 is targeted at students with an interest in microbiology, microbial ecology, biodiversity and biotechnology using microorganisms. It provides the microbiological fundamentals for applied microbiology and fundamental microbiological research. Most importantly, the course is designed to build both research and employment skills. The learning and laboratories skills in this course are essential for third year Advanced Microbiology (BIOL313), and important for third year molecular biology and biochemistry courses.

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the course, students will:
  • Have a broad understanding and knowledge of microbiology in ecosystems, and why microbiology is important at all scales (assessment tasks: final exam, laboratory pre- and post-worksheets, midsemester test) (GP1, GP2, GP5)
  • Master methods for studying microorganisms safely (assessment task: laboratory worksheets) (GP1).
  • Understand and interpret experimental evidence, and how to develop a hypothesis (assessment task: laboratory worksheets) (GP1, GP2).
  • Understand key methods of handling and using microorganisms in the laboratory (assessment tasks: final exam, laboratory pre- and post-worksheets, midsemester test) (GP1)
  • Be competent in experimental design and the use of mathematics and chemistry in microbiology (assessment tasks: laboratory pre- and post-worksheets) (GP1, GP2).
  • Be able to isolate and subculture a bacterial strain (assessment task: lab assessment) (GP1, GP2).
  • Have core microbiology knowledge (GP1, GP2, GP3 (K7), GP5). These will include:
    - fundamentals of microbiology
    - microbial genetics
    - microbial metabolism and growth
    - ‘microbial detection and control
    - human microbiome and disease
    - microorganism-host interactions
    - geomicrobiological ecosystem and biogeochemical cycles

    Pūkenga Ngaio | Transferable Skills
    The following skills are developed in this course:
  • Core microbiology wet-laboratory skills (Important for careers that include lab work):
    - Aseptic techniques
    - Experimental design
  • Experimental data analysis and interpretation
    - Work safely in a molecular lab and comply with PC2 containment regulation (Important for careers that include lab work).
    - Independent and self-motivated learning. A life-skill that is important in any career.
    - Finding, understanding, and using information in literature and on the internet. These are very general skills that are essential in many careers.
  • Written and oral communication. Many employers require employees to have good communication skills.

    Āhuatanga Taura | Graduate Profile
    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop these UC Graduate Attributes (GP) and Kaupapa (K) ( ):

  • GP1: Critically competent in a core academic discipline. This course teaches you core knowledge and skills for microbiological sciences.
  • GP2: Employable, innovative and enterprising. Transferable skills such as communication, analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills are sought-after by employers.
  • GP3: Biculturally competent and confident.
  • GP5: Globally aware.
  • K7: Application of bicultural competence and confidence in a chosen discipline and career


Recommended Preparation

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 09:00 - 10:00 A5 Lecture Theatre
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 12:00 - 13:00 E6 Lecture Theatre
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 10:00 - 14:00 West 543
9 Sep - 20 Oct
02 Friday 13:00 - 17:00 West 543
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 15:00 - 17:00 Rehua 103 Project Workshop
22 Jul - 4 Aug
02 Wednesday 17:00 - 19:00 Rehua 103 Project Workshop
22 Jul - 4 Aug

Examinations, Quizzes and Formal Tests

Test A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 19:00 - 21:00 C2 Lecture Theatre
19 Aug - 25 Aug

Timetable Note

Check university website for times and rooms in case of changes.

Basic microbiology:
 Fundamentals of microbiology
Basic microbial metabolism:
 Bacterial growth
 Microbial control
 Microbial metabolism and pathways
 Assessment of microbiological environmental and food safety
 General microbial ecology
 Microbial metabolic diversity
 Food microbiology
Biogeochemical cycles:
 Carbon & nitrogen
 Sulphur & iron
 Biogeochemical processes in action
 Microbial symbioses – Plant symbioses:
 Phosphorous and mycorrhizas
 Nitrogen, mycorrhizas and rhizobia
 Microbial-mediated decomposition in soils
 Plant pathogenesis
Microbial Symbiosis – Animal:
 Gut microbiology
 Human pathogens
 Microbial pathogenesis, including viruses
Microbial genetics and molecular ecology:
 Introduction to methods in microbial ecology
 Plasmids & Conjugation
 Genetic analysis (Random insertion mutagenesis; directed knockout mutagenesis)

Check university website for times and rooms in case of changes. Students need to prepare in advance for the labs; assessments will begin in the first lab.  

Please note that attendance of all laboratories is compulsory. Because of practical constraints, labs cannot be made up for when missed. Masks are an absolute requirement for labs.

Field trip:
The final laboratory will be a field trip to a facility that uses microorganisms at an industrial scale (e.g. wastewater facility, brewery, cheesery etc.). The field trip is compulsory and is assessed.
It is compulsory to wear safety glasses and a lab coat during labs.

To purchase approved safety glasses, lab or coats go to
The collection point for purchases is inside the southern entry to the Ernest Rutherford Building, Monday to Friday  for the first two weeks of the semester. Hours to be confirmed.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Matthew Stott


Ian Dickie and Heather Hendrickson

Lab Coordinator

Craig Galilee


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Assignment 20%
Academic skills test 5%
Final Exam 40%
Post-laboratory worksheets 15%
Pre-laboratory worksheets 20%

Prerequisite skills test:
BIOL213 (plus third year undergraduate and postgraduate courses) requires that a core set of skills learnt in BIOL111 and BIOL113 to be known and to able to be applied. These skills include the central dogma of molecular biology, basic mathematical skills and core knowledge about microbial cell structure and function, metabolism and molecular biology. Within the first couple of weeks, you will be required to take this test to ensure you have the required background knowledge.

Pre-laboratory worksheets:
For each laboratory, an online worksheet will need to be completed prior to attending the laboratory. The answers to the worksheets can be found in the Course textbook (Brock) and/or via online searches using library resources etc. (Google is your friend (!)).

Post-laboratory worksheets/assessments:
Results and observations from the laboratories (except the field trip) need to be noted and documented online (via Learn) within 48 hours of the completion of each laboratory. In some cases, In-laboratory assessments, e.g., Aseptic Techniques – see Lab book, will be marked at the completion of the laboratory.

Mid-year test and Final exam:
The mid-semester test will include content from the first eight lectures and associated self-learning. The content for the final exam will include material from the lectures and associated self-learning, and from the laboratory and fieldtrip content.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Madigan, Michael T. et al; Brock biology of microorganisms ; Fifteenth edition; Pearson, 2018.

Prescott’s Microbiology 9th Ed (Willey, Sherwood, Woolverton) is also a useful textbook for the course.

Course links

Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $978.00

International fee $4,988.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL213 Occurrences

  • BIOL213-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024