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Unit information: Geomicrobiology in 2021/22

Unit name Geomicrobiology
Unit code EASC30051
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2C (weeks 13 - 18)
Unit director Dr. Buss
Open unit status Not open

EASC20043 Geochemistry 1 or equivalent knowledge. Students who have not taken EASC20043 should contact the unit director before registering for this unit.



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

An overview of concepts, techniques, and issues in geomicrobiology as they relate to environmental geosciences.


  • to learn about and examine microbial properties, metabolisms, diversity and abundance in the natural environment;
  • to appreciate the coupling of biological with chemical and physical processes in the natural environment;
  • to examine specific ways in which microorganisms create or contribute to normal geological processes, environmental problems, and remediation of environmental problems;
  • to summarise current techniques for assessing microbial influences on the environment.

In addition to summative assessment, formative feedback is given throughout the unit by way of in-class quizzes and 2 problem sets.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, the student will be able to:

  • describe the variety of microbial metabolisms;
  • explain microbial roles in: pollution, remediation of mining waste, degradation of organic pollutants, biomineralisation, mineral weathering, and global element and greenhouse gas cycling;
  • quantitatively apply understanding of microbial catalysis of chemical reactions to redox processes in the environment;
  • apply knowledge about geomicrobiological processes and environmental conditions to select appropriate bioremediation strategies
  • collaborate with others to present an informative talk to an appropriate audience

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials and, if subsequently possible, synchronous face-to-face lectures
  • synchronous office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative activities and exercises
  • guided, structured reading
  • practical work in the laboratory

Students who either begin or pursue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete laboratory work, or alternative activities, in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Information

Students will assessed by one written exam at the end of the unit (summative 100%).


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EASC30051).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.