Microbial Life (MICR2021)


Microorganisms are by far the most ubiquitous organisms on the planet, and underpin healthy ecosystems through nutrient recycling and biodegradation, as well as providing many aspects of plant and animal nutrition. They are used in many industrial processes such as producing enzymes, vitamins and antibiotics, and in the manufacture of some foods and beverages. Microorganisms can also cause problems, however, such as human, animal and plant diseases, poisoning, pollution and spoilage. The small size of most microrganisms means special techniques are required to view, measure, classify and identify them. In this unit of study, the diversity of microbial life, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae and protozoa, and their importance to humans, are introduced. The course is designed for the students wishing to major in microbiology as well as those requiring microbial skills while specializing in related fields, such as molecular biology.
Theoretical aspects of microbiology are supplemented with laboratory classes that teach the safe handling and viewing of microrganisms, and draw on research in microbiology laboratories.

Further unit of study information


Two 1-hour lectures per week, plus an additional six 1-hour tutorials per semester. Eleven 3-hour practicals per semester.


One 2-hour theory exam, continuous assessment in practicals, two assignments, two quizzes, practical assessment exercises (100%)


Willey et al. Prescott's Microbiology. 8th edition. WCB/McGraw-Hill. 2010.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Prerequisites and assumed knowledge

6cp of Junior Biology and 6cp of Junior Chemistry and (6cp from MBLG1001 or MBLG1991 or MBLG1901 or PLNT2001 or PLNT2901)


MICR2921 or MICR2024 or MICR2001 or MICR2901 or MICR2003 or MICR2007 or MICR2011 or MICR2909

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.