Faculty of Science

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Science
Organisational UnitGippsland School of Applied Sciences and Engineering
OfferedSunway First semester 2013 (Day)
Gippsland Second semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Andrew Greenhill (Gippsland); Dr Adeline Ting Su Yien (Sunway)


This unit begins by examining the fundamental principles of microbial ecology and the basic methods used in this area. It then considers the role of micro-organisms in biogeochemical nutrient cycles. Some important natural habitats for micro-organisms such as air, fresh water and salt water are considered with the main discussion centred on soil. The roles of particular soil micro-organisms within their microenvironments are explained with special attention being given to micro-organisms involved in transformations of carbon and nitrogen. The role of micro-organisms in composting, the management of pollution and as agents of bioremediation is discussed.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Discuss principles of microbial ecology, recognising the role of micro-organisms as a mixed flora;

  1. Diagram the role of micro-organisms in biogeochemical nutrient cycles;

  1. Discuss the role of different micro-organisms in air, water environments, and soils, predicting the effects of changes in environmental parameters;

  1. Describe how micro-organisms can cause pollution and the use of micro-organisms as indicators of pollution;

  1. Discuss the role of micro-organisms in sewage treatment and composting;

  1. Explain how micro-organisms can be exploited in bioremediation;

  1. Demonstrate the use of molecular and traditional methods for detection and identification of micro-organisms.


Final written examination (3 hours): 60%
Laboratory reports: 30% +Assignment (2000 words) 10%. The laboratory reports comprise one major lab report worth 10%, and 5 smaller reports worth a total of 20%.

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week

Off-campus attendance requirements

OCL students will attend a 5-day residential program (offered in even numbered years)