Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module BSX-3159:
Parasites & Pathogens (Yr3)

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Henk Braig

Overall aims and purpose

The origins and effects of pathogens and parasites are used to deduct the biological principles unifying most human, animal and plant infectious disease processes. The module introduces the parasites and pathogens of the most important diseases and it analyses how and why the pathogens and parasites cause disease. The diversity of parasites and pathogens and the unique aspects of their biology are emphasised in the module. It highlights the possibilities and problems to control and treat these infections. Aspects relevant to ecology, conservation and other areas of biology are developed.

Course content

The list of content below is indicative. The final content is influenced by current events at the time of module delivery, such as in the past the outbreaks of SARS, MERS, or Zika, or breakthroughs in research and understanding of parasite and pathogen action and behaviour. If new content is added, present content is withdrawn to keep the number of lectures constant. It is the aim of the module to be as up-to-date as possible. During the first lecture students will also be asked about any special interests, for example, in parasitic plants, plant pathogens, influence of pathogens on the evolution of animals, or transmissible cancers of animals. • Pathogenesis – Pathogenesis cycle; asymptomatic infections; forms of transmission with examples of major human pathogens and parasites; cancer cells as infectious parasites; environmental effect on parasite diversity • Malaria of humans and animals – most important parasitic disease; biology of Alveolata; malaria life cycle; malaria and climate change; premunition • Coccidia – Eimeria, specificity of parasites; Hepatozoon transmission; Cryptosporidium and drinking water quality; Toxoplasma, premunition, behaviour alterations, environmental impact • Schistosomiasis – biology of flatworms, life cycle of blood flukes • Trypanosomiasis –cellular and molecular biology of kinetoplasts, African sleeping sickness as a human disease and as a zoonosis, immune evasion • Leishmaniasis – a range of symptoms, importance of Th1 and Th2 immune response • Nematodes (round worms) – pinworms (threadworms); Anisakosis, raw seafood, paratenic hosts; filariases, dog heartworm, elephantiasis, river blindness, summer bleeding, mansonelliases • from whitewater to Tyrannosaurus – Giardia and Trichomonas, amitochondriates, biology of diplomonads and parabasalids • Beneficial effects of bacteria, viruses, and parasites – probiotics, caries; beneficial viruses; parasites and endemicity of animals, nagana, brain worm; hygiene hypothesis and atopic diseases, wipworms, hookworms; schistosomes against artherosclerosis; Clostridium and cancer • Diarrheal diseases – food poisoning in humans and animals, keriorrhoea, rotavirus, winter-vomiting disease, E. coli (EPEC, EIEC, ETEC, EHEC), Cholera, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium botulinum in humans and animals • Tuberculosis of animals and humans – mycobacteria, Gram staining • HIV and AIDS – epidemiology, origins, pathogenesis • Influenza – Myxoviridae and hemagglutination • SARS and MERS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona virus, clinical perspective of an infection and difficulty of identifying new pathogens • Ebola infections • Epidemiology – investigating disease patterns; current disease outbreaks • Plaques, epidemics, and biological warfare

Assessment Criteria


A threshold student achieving a mark in the D range should have a basic knowledge of essential facts of parasitology and microbiology presented in the module. The extended essay and research proposal will show, if only limited, evidence of background study. The extended essay and research proposal will attempt to present an answer to a question (assessment brief) with only some irrelevant material and weaknesses in structure, trying to present relevant and coherent arguments. It will not contain a large number of factual errors.


A good student achieving a mark in the B range should have a thorough factual knowledge across major aspects of parasitology and microbiology. The extended essay and research proposal will show evidence of background study. The extended essay and research proposal will be well structured and focused and contain coherently presented arguments, and be mostly free of factual and/or computational errors. It will include some elements of original interpretation and describe well known links between topics It will analyze and/or explain problems using existing methods or approaches. The extended essay and research proposal will be presented to high standards.


A very good student achieving a mark in the A range should have a detailed and conceptual knowledge of of parasitology and microbiology. This is evidenced by extensive background study. The extended essay and research proposal will be well structured and highly focused, and will contain logically presented and defended arguments. It will be free of factual and/or computational errors. The extended essay and research proposal will include significant elements of original interpretation and demonstrate an ability to identify, develop and present new links between topics. It will include new approaches to analyzing and/or explaining a problem and be presented to very high standards.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the interaction between parasites, host and their environment. (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.2 subject knowledge & 3.5 intellectual skills)

  2. Develop an effective approach to exam revision by exploring the research interface. (Biosciences benchmark: 3.9 Self-management and professional development skills)

  3. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different parasites and pathogens and the diseases they cause. (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.2 subject knowledge & 3.5 intellectual skills)

  4. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of what unifies parasites and pathogens in pathogenesis cycles and evolution, and why parasites and pathogens cause disease or kill their host. (Biosciences benchmarks: 3.2 subject knowledge & 3.5 intellectual skills)

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Extended Essay - outline 0
MCQ's 30
Extended Essay -Final 45
Experimental Proposal - Final 25

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Practical classes and workshops

• Practicals - 9 hours (3 practicals of 3 hours)

Private study

Self study


• Feedback session


• Lectures - 29 hours


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Resource implications for students


Reading list

New textbooks have been announced for the end of the year, when a final decision will be made.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: