BIOL456-22S2 (C) Semester Two 2022

Dynamics of Microbiological Interactions

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 18 July 2022
End Date: Sunday, 13 November 2022
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 31 July 2022
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 2 October 2022


Microbiological interactions impact on almost every aspect of biology, from plant nutrient uptake and photosynthesis to animal digestion to ecosystem function. We will explore the intimate interactions of microorganisms with plants and animals, and other microorganisms. We consider a range of microorganisms, including bacteria, oomycetes, fungi, and archaea. You will develop skills in evaluating how molecular, ecological, biochemical and synthetic community approaches contribute to our understanding of microorganisms and their myriad interactions.

To be successful in this course, we expect that you have undertaken some  microbiology coursework at least to the 200 level. If you haven't had 300 level microbiology, we advise discussing the course with the course coordinator before enrolling. Recommended preparatory course(s): at least one of BIOL313, BIOL332, BIOL333, BIOL334, and/or 460 or equivalents. Experience in ecology would be helpful.

This course covers aspects of biological interactions involving bacteria, fungi, oomycetes and other cryptic biota, spanning the scales of molecules to global patterns.

Most of your learning will take place outside of the classroom. The expectation of a 400 level, 15 point course is that an average student will spend 150 hours on the course, only 12 of which are in seminar. You will need to coordinate and attend group meetings outside of normal class hours in order to complete assignments.

Learning Outcomes

As a student in this course I will develop:
● An understanding of the science as a collaborative process, particularly focussing on critical review skills (seminar discussions, collaborative report writing; GP2),
● A sophisticated understanding of experimental design and methodology (seminar discussions; GP1),
● Core knowledge of microbiological interactions (report writing, exam; GP1)
● Science and communication skills (report writing; GP2)
● Understanding of Vision Mātauranga as applied to research (report writing; GP3)

Pūkenga Ngaio | Transferable Skills

● I can review complex research areas, evaluate that research, and provide a useful interpretation of that information (GP1, GP2),
● I am able to participate and lead groups in collaborative writing (GP 2),
● I can discuss Vision Mātauranga as relevant to reviewing scientific research (GP3).

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.
· GP2 Employable, innovative and enterprising.
· GP3 Biculturally competent and confident: K1 The nature of 'knowledge' and 'norms', K7 Application of bicultural competence and confidence in a chosen discipline and career.


Subject to approval of the Head of School. RP: At least one of BIOL313, BIOL332-335, BIOL352, BIOL455, BIOL460, and/or BCHM305.



Recommended Preparation

At least one of BIOL313, BIOL332-335, BIOL352, BIOL455, BIOL460, and/or BCHM305.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Ian Dickie


Heather Hendrickson


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Review 1 35%
Review 2 35%
Final Exam 30%

Aromatawai | Assessment
● Active participation in all aspects of the course (online and in-class discussions, group writing projects) is essential, and participation will be a part of your grade.
● If you are unable to participate in a discussion due to minor illness or Covid-19 exposure, please make every effort to participate via Zoom. If you are unable to do so, please contact the instructors as soon as feasible.
● There are two assignments, and an exam:
○ Working as part of a collaborative team, you will write two reviews. Each student will be responsible for taking an active role in researching, writing, editing and leading the process of review writing. This requires active and ongoing participation, and your participation will be a major component of the grade.
■ More information is here:
■ Note that each student will receive an individual grade for the research reviews, based on their own individual contribution.
○ The final exam will be drawn from the same topics as your collaborative reviews. The exam tests whether you have understood and integrated the findings of the whole group and can extend those findings.

Textbooks / Resources

Information about the course, including the course handout, notices, and other details, will be placed on Learn. The primary goal of this course is to assist your development as a scholar and advance your research skills within the discipline of microbiology. The course focuses on the synthesis of information from the scientific
literature and communication. We will provide some papers to you, but we expect that most readings will be identified by the students as part of report writing.
We will focus on two topics, working as a group to learn about each topic.

Course links

Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,084.00

* 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 BIOL456 Occurrences

  • BIOL456-22S2 (C) Semester Two 2022