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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2010 Undergraduate - Area of Study

All areas of study information should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. The units listed for this area of study relate only to the 'Requirements' outlined in the Faculty of Science component of any bachelors double degrees.

Managing facultyFaculty of Science
Offered byDepartment of Microbiology
Course coordinatorProfessor John Davies (Department of Microbiology)


Microbiology is an absorbing science that is at the core of exciting new developments that have occurred in modern molecular biology. It involves the analysis and genetic manipulation of bacteria, parasites and viruses.

Recent developments such as mad-cow disease, HIV infection, legionnaire's disease and the rise of antibiotic resistance emphasise the importance of understanding infectious diseases for human health. Microbiology is concerned with the study of these emerging diseases and micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses, their structure and way of life, how they interact with people and other living organisms in both harmful and beneficial ways and how they can be exploited to our advantage. All these aspects are featured in units commencing at level two. These involve the study of the diversity of the microbial world, food microbiology and an analysis of how microbes grow and survive. At the practical level, students will learn about how micro-organisms interact with their environment, and about how they interact with the human body to cause disease. Several major diseases such as malaria, influenza and tuberculosis will be studied in depth.

At level three, studies progress to the molecular biology of bacteria and viruses, bacterial and viral pathogenesis, and medical microbiology. In the current era of recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering, bacterial plasmids and viruses provide the essential vehicles for genetic manipulation and expression in recipient cells, emphasising the core role of microbiology in the biomedical sciences. Practical classes in microbiology are designed to provide laboratory skills in safe handling of micro-organisms, experimental procedures illustrating their properties and functions, laboratory diagnosis, and genetic manipulation and expression. There is a strong emphasis on training in the techniques of recombinant DNA technology.

A sequence that integrates the study of microbiology with molecular biology is also offered.


On completion of the sequence in microbiology students will:

  • have achieved a broad understanding of the diversity and range of microorganisms, and their role in the development of the techniques that underpin modern molecular biology
  • have developed a broad understanding of the interactions between humans and microorganisms, and a deeper understanding of particular aspects of medical microbiology that relate to infectious diseases, including the study of pathogenic mechanisms, bacterial toxins, the expression strategies of various viruses, and the threats to world health of emerging diseases
  • be proficient in a set of core microbiological and molecular biological technical methods, in terms of understanding the principles of the methods as well as their utilisation in laboratory settings
  • be familiar with the nature and scope of the scientific literature in the area of microbiology and will have had experience in seeking information using both the library and electronic sources of scientific information, including computer database networks, to prepare reports on experimental work and assigned topics
  • have developed skills in the critical analysis of research papers and in the preparation of scientific book chapters using cooperative small group writing, planning and editing
  • be prepared for a range of further learning or training activities in microbiology or related areas, including but not exclusively honours studies with a research focus
  • be suitable for employment in a range of activities in which their studies in microbiology and related areas can be applied in a specific or generic manner to the requirements of the position (that may entail further specific training), in areas that include teaching, biotechnology-based industry, diagnostic and analytical laboratories, sales and marketing, commercial organisations, media and government bodies.


Level two

  • MIC2011 Introduction to microbiology and microbial biotechnology
  • MIC2022 Microbes in health and disease

Level three

  • MIC3011 Molecular microbiology
  • MIC3022 Molecular virology and viral pathogenesis
  • MIC3032 Pathogenesis of bacterial infectious diseases
  • MIC3041 Medical microbiology
  • MIC3990 Action in microbiology research project

Sequence requirements


Minor sequence in microbiology (24 points)

Major sequence in microbiology (48 points)

Microbiology and molecular biology

Major sequence in microbiology and molecular biology (48 points)

Double major sequence in microbiology and molecular biology (72 points)

The BCH, MOL and GEN units and related sequences are described in the biochemistry, biological sciences and molecular biology entries in this section of the Handbook.


Level two

Students enrolling in MIC2011 and MIC2022 are strongly advised to enrol in the molecular biology units MOL2011 and MOL2022. Useful companion units are available from biochemistry, immunology, genetics and pharmacology. Students should also note that MIC2011 and MIC2022 are prerequisites for MIC3032 and MIC3041. Microbiology units are recommended for students planning future studies in medical or paramedical fields. They are also recommended for those students who are uncertain about the direction of their future career, as they offer a basic grounding that is considerably adaptable.

Level three

The final year of microbiology offers a broad range of specialist units that in combination provide well-structured training in most modern aspects of microbiology. Four of the five level-three MIC units are required for accreditation in the workforce as a professional microbiologist.


Students with an appropriate level of performance in level-three MIC or related units may be eligible to undertake a year of research training under the direct supervision of the leader of one of the research groups in the department.

Full details regarding entrance requirements and course structure for honours is described in the course entry in this Handbook for the course 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science.