Faculty of Science

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 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.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Science, Malaysia


Dr Andrew Greenhill (Gippsland); Dr Adeline Ting Su Yien (Malaysia)



  • Second semester 2016 (Day)
  • Second semester 2016 (Off-campus)


  • First semester 2016 (Day)


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%.

Workload requirements

Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

Off-campus attendance requirements

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

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study