Biology (BIOL) 325

Introductory Microbiology (Revision 7)

BIOL 325

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook). Four days of in-person supervised laboratory work offered five times per year in Athabasca, Alberta.

BIOL 325 lab exemption

Check dates and locations of supervised lab prior to registering for the course. This course is charged a lab fee.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Science

Prerequisite: BIOL 204; and BIOL 205 or BIOL 207 or the equivalent. Professor approval required

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

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BIOL 325 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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BIOL 325 is a three-credit, university-level course that covers fundamental elements of the study of microorganisms and their environment. This course emphasizes the impact microorganisms have in nature. The course provides an overview of microbial environments, with special emphasis on structural and functional differences among bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, and viruses.

Upon completion of this course, the student will be well-versed in the current classification system of bacteria, in microbiological techniques, and in biochemical function. Clinical and industrial applications in microbiology will be discussed. As there is a laboratory component in this course, students will gain experience in microbiological techniques, and in isolation and identification of bacteria.


BIOL 325 comprises the following 15 units.

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Microbiology
  • Unit 2: Microbial Anatomy
  • Unit 3: Microbial Biochemistry
  • Unit 4: Microbial Growth
  • Unit 5: Microbial Genetics
  • Unit 6: Classification of Microorganisms
  • Unit 7: The Prokaryotes: Domains Bacteria and Archaea
  • Unit 8: The Eukaryotes: Fungi, Algae, Protozoa, and Arthropods
  • Unit 9: Viruses, Viroids, and Prions
  • Unit 10: Diseases and Epidemiology
  • Unit 11: Pathogenicity
  • Unit 12: Immunology
  • Unit 13: Microbial Diseases
  • Unit 14: Environmental Microbiology
  • Unit 15: Microbiological Applications

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to

  • understand how key historical experiments and theories have shaped our knowledge of microorganisms.
  • demonstrate familiarity and competency with a wide variety of microbiological laboratory techniques, including transfer, culture, isolation and identification, growth rates and antibiotic sensitivity.
  • describe the components and cellular structure of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
  • explain the bacterial genetic processes of replication, transcription and translation.
  • understand the principles of microbial pathogenic mechanisms and strategies to identify and manage infectious disease transmission.
  • define immunity and understand the mechanisms of the immune response.
  • outline the applications of microorganisms in the food industry, biotechnology, industrial processes, and the development of medical treatments.


To receive credit for BIOL 325, you must obtain at least 50 percent on each of the Assignments and examinations and on the laboratory component. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
4 Assignments (10% each) 40%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 20%
Laboratory Exercises 20%
Total 100%

The midterm and final examinations for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Tortora, G. J., Funke, B. R., & Case, C. L. (2010). Microbiology: An introduction (11th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Resources

Leboffe, M. J., & Pierce, B. E. (2005). A photographic atlas for the microbiology laboratory (3rd ed.). Englewood, CO: Morton. (Mailed to students.)

All other learning resources will be available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the BIOL 325 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Paper Exam

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 7, May 15, 2014.

View previous syllabus