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Plant & Microbial Sciences

Programme Specification: Part IB Plant & Microbial Sciences

This course is taught by the Department of Plant Sciences.


  1. to extend the interest and knowledge of modern plant and microbial science acquired during Part IA courses;
  2. to consider fundamental physiological processes such as photosynthesis, water relations and nutrient uptake; the interaction of plants with micro-organisms and animals; plant development; conservation; exploitation of plants and plant products;
  3. for each topic, to deal with the major issues and ideas that have arisen both from studying plants and microbes in the field, and to describe current understanding of the relevant processes at the cellular and molecular levels;
  4. to provide experience of practical experiments that stimulate, educate and illustrate experimental approaches to plant and microbial sciences, both in the laboratory and in the field, and in local industrial settings;
  5. to provide the opportunity to compose and present individual discussions of specific topics in oral presentations;
  6. to provide a framework for further study of plant and microbial sciences in Part II courses.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students should:

  1. have developed a sound knowledge of key concepts and current experimental approaches in plant and microbial sciences;
  2. be able to provide reasoned arguments both for and against current hypotheses in plant and microbial sciences;
  3. be able to assimilate and provide critical analysis of review articles in plant and microbial sciences;
  4. be able to design, perform and interpret experiments to analyse fundamental aspects of plant sciences.

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, supervisions, practical classes, including integrated class research projects and a vacation field trip.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • two unseen written examinations, based on the content of the lecture courses (for aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-3)
  • practicals are assessed as two components: marks given for practical write-ups and one unseen written examination, based on practical work conducted throughout the year (for aims 4-5 and learning outcomes 1, 2 and 4).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None.

Recommended: One or more of the following NST Part IA courses: Biology of Cells, Physiology of Organisms, Evolution and Behaviour.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.