What have flu pandemics got to do with beer? Both involve microbes. Since the birth of civilisation humans have had an uneasy alliance with the microbial world. These microscopic organisms have brought us terrible afflictions such as Black Death, flu pandemics and food poisoning, but at the same time they ferment our wine, help our bread rise and work in the soil to enable our crops to grow.
This Science: Microbes course from The Open University UK provides an introduction to microbes, explaining their importance in disease and environmental issues and their role in making and spoiling food. You will learn how many microbes exist harmlessly on and in the human body with key beneficial roles, such as in the human digestive system, and how they can cause disease if this natural balance is disturbed. Microbes are used to manufacture the antibiotic drugs to treat these infections but bacteria can evolve to become resistant to such drugs, requiring continual scientific work to develop new antibiotics against these 'superbugs'.
Microbes play a major role in the environment, influencing climate and playing a vital part in recycling elements in the soil, the atmosphere and other natural systems. On a more mundane level, microbes are involved in making cheese and pickled foods, fermenting beer and producing a huge variety of other foods. Food spoilage is also caused by microbes and is a major problem for food distribution and preservation.
You will learn about: the biology of microbes and how they have been studied and cultured from historical times to the present; the efforts made to combat the negative effects of microbes in the health and food industries; how microbes are beneficially used to make drugs and food; the basic ideas behind genetic engineering; and some of the science behind the major environmental cycles in which microbes are involved. This will enable you to understand more about the role and importance of microbes in human society.
By the end of the course you will have developed a range of study skills associated with microbiology and its diverse practical uses from health to environment. You will be able to apply this knowledge to making your own assessments of the ways in which microbiology is reported in the media.
This programme requires students to demonstrate proficiency in English.
Check the programme website for information about funding options.
StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.
Together with the ISIC Association and British Council IELTS, StudyPortals offers you the chance to receive up to £10000 to expand your horizon and study abroad. We want to ultimately encourage you to study abroad in order to experience and explore new countries, cultures and languages.