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Unit information: Plant Disease in 2021/22

Unit name Plant Disease
Unit code BIOL20008
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2C (weeks 13 - 18)
Unit director Dr. Andy Bailey
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

We rely on crop plants to provide the majority of our food, and with an increasing world population there is a need for plant productivity to be maintained or improved. Plant disease and food loss during storage are amongst the most serious threats to agricultural production and so must be controlled in order to protect our food supply. This unit will cover topics such as which pathogens cause particular diseases, how microbes can infect their hosts, how plants can naturally defend themselves against attack, and how plants can be protected from infection using approaches such as plant breeding, GM, pesticides and crop management. The unit will include information about how different aspects of pathogenicity and resistance are controlled at a genetic level and therefore attendance at BIOL20015 Molecular Genetics or an equivalent unit is very strongly recommended.


  • to complement interests in all areas of biology
  • to provide a secure grounding for more advanced courses involving food security and agricultural biotechnology
  • to provide a secure grounding for practical projects involving plant pathology and pathogens

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of the unit students will be familiar with the range of microbes that commonly cause disease in crop plants. They will have gained a basic understanding of the strategies that microbes use to establish and spread plant infections and of how the plant responds to attempted infection by both pathogens and non-pathogens. In addition they will have an understanding of how this knowledge can be applied to reducing the impact of such diseases in agriculturally important crops.

Teaching Information

Lectures, directed reading, research and/or problem-solving activities; practical exercises and independent study.

Assessment Information

Coursework (40%) plus summative written assessment (60%) with one essay question to be selected from a choice of two.


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. BIOL20008).

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.