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, and we look at how microbes interact with us, each other, plants and animals. Microbial nutrition, physiology and genetics are also introduced. The course is designed for students wishing to major in microbiology as well as those requiring microbial skills while specializing in related fields, such as molecular biology.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

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.
Laboratory classes teach the safe handling and viewing of microrganisms. We study how they live and grow in various environments, and how we can manipulate them to make useful products for us through gene cloning.


One 2-hour theory exam (60%). Practical component comprises continuous performance assessment, one prac-based assignment, one MCQ quiz, and an in-semester practical exam (40%).


Willey et al. Prescott's Microbiology. 9th edition. McGraw-Hill. 2013.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


12cp from (BIOL1XXX, MBLG1XXX) and 6cp from CHEM1XXX


MICR2001 or MICR2011 or MICR2007 or MICR2003 or MICR2921 or MICR2909 or MICR2901 or MICR2024 or BMED2401 or BMED2402 or BMED2403 or BMED2404 or BMED2405 or BMED2406 or BMED2801 or BMED2802 or BMED2803 or BMED2804 or BMED2805 or BMED2806 or BMED2807 or BMED2808

Additional Information

Students are very strongly recommended to complete (MICR2021 or MICR2921 or MICR2024) before enrolling in MICR2022 in Semester 2.

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.