Small and Mighty: Introduction to Microbiology

FutureLearn Small and Mighty: Introduction to Microbiology

University of Reading
3 hours/week
3 weeks
Paid Certificate Available
Course Link
Discover the fascinating world of microbes

Microbes may be invisible to the eye, but they dominate every environment on Earth – including you. Microbes are often associated with disease yet the majority of species help to keep us alive. How can you distinguish the good from the bad?

On this course, you’ll explore a general introduction to the field of microbiology and investigate the amazing diversity of microbial life. Learn about the significant roles microbes play in health, food, and the environment through expert interviews, lab demonstrations and practical experiments you can try at home.

This course is for anyone interested in microbiology. There should be something for everyone – whether you are coming to the course with a fair amount of previous knowledge, or none at all. There will be plenty of help available for those who are completely new to the subject. The course will be of particular interest to those who are studying biology at school or considering applying to a microbiology degree.
What topics will you cover?
  • What microbes are: recognise the differences between the 5 major groups (Viruses, Bacteria, Archaea, Fungi and Protists) and where they appear in the tree of life.
  • How microbes function: understand how microbes replicate, grow and exchange genes with each other.
  • Where microbes live: learn how microbes survive and thrive throughout the world, from extreme environments to the surface of our skin.
  • How to study microbes: watch practical demonstrations of common microbiology techniques and learn how microbiologists can identify the culprit of an infection.
  • How to test a hypothesis: carry out your own microbiology experiments and find out how to analyse your results.
  • Why studying microbes is so important: explore how microbiology research benefits society in three key areas - Medical, Food and Environment.
  • How studying microbes can answer questions about evolution: discover how a microbe can rapidly rewire its genes following a life-threatening mutation.
Taught by
Glyn Barrett
First release
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