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91819 Virology

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science: Life Sciences
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Recommended studies:

91314 General Microbiology; 91401 Immunology 1; 91132 Molecular Biology 1 (these subjects are recommended but not compulsory and students without these subjects may still enrol in this subject)

Description

This subject in virology is designed to provide students with an introduction to viruses and their importance in nature. In this subject students gain a comprehensive understanding of how viruses exist, infect cells and replicate within host cells to produce new progeny viruses which are capable of infecting neighbouring uninfected cells. This knowledge is the basis from which to understand the selective actions of anti-viral drugs and the capacity of viruses to develop resistance to such agents. The subject also considers the factors that influence the emergence of viral quasi-species and new (or re-emerging) viruses in epidemics.

Students learn about how the host cells 'see' or 'sense' a virus infection and the main anti-viral immune defence strategies that the host uses to combat the infection. They discuss the ability of viruses to be transforming, i.e. cause cancer, and consider some of the potential uses of viruses in biotechnology, e.g. vaccination.

Students engage with current issues relevant to viruses and virus infection, be it in the context of medicine, biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences, animal husbandry, agriculture, or environmental sciences, and are asked to consider the importance of viruses to society and their impact on society.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Describe the molecular and cellular aspects of virus replication in host cells and discuss how host cells, and whole organisms, respond to viral infection. You will also be able to discuss viral vaccines, recognize their value to society, and identify the factors that contribute to the emergence of a virus outbreak or epidemic.
2. Apply your knowledge of the basic laboratory and sequence based techniques for the detection of viruses and apply this knowledge to correctly identify an undefined (unknown) virus.
3. Describe how viruses can be used in contemporary biotechnology-based industries and as medical treatments.
4. Apply research skills for scientific writing and develop the skills to confidently organise, facilitate and present in meetings.
5. Develop independent critical thinking and analysis skills, i.e. to evaluate data and explain the logic behind your conclusions.
6. Develop and demonstrate team work and collaboration skills.
7. Develop new ideas and innovatively apply them, with critical analysis, to the production of a publishable research manuscript or for the purpose of identifying a novel (newly emergent) unknown virus.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:

  • An understanding of the nature, practice and application of the chosen science discipline. (1.0)
  • Encompasses problem solving, critical thinking and analysis attributes and an understanding of the scientific method knowledge acquisition. (2.0)
  • The ability to acquire, develop, employ and integrate a range of technical, practical and professional skills, in appropriate and ethical ways within a professional context, autonomously and collaboratively and across a range of disciplinary and professional areas, e.g. time management skills, personal organisation skills, teamwork skills, computing skills, laboratory skills, data handling, quantitative and graphical literacy skills. (3.0)
  • The capacity to engage in reflection and learning beyond formal educational contexts that is based on the ability to make effective judgements about one's own work. The capacity to learn in and from new disciplines to enhance the application of scientific knowledge and skills in professional contexts. (4.0)
  • An awareness of the role of science within a global culture and willingness to contribute actively to the shaping of community views on complex issues where the methods and findings of science are relevant. (5.0)
  • An understanding of the different forms of communication - writing, reading, speaking, listening, including visual and graphical, within science and beyond and the ability to apply these appropriately and effectively for different audiences. (6.0)
  • An ability to think and work creatively, including the capacity for self-starting, and the ability to apply science skills to unfamiliar applications. It encompasses skills such as understanding risk management and risk taking, 'thinking outside the box', questioning the norm to suggest new solutions for old problems. (7.0)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application.

You will gain knowledge of viruses, replication strategies, infection modes, the impact of virus infection on host cell biology, and the utilisation of this knowledge in medicine, agriculture and biotechnology. You will also gain practical laboratory experience with procedures related to the detection and identification of viruses. Discipline-specific knowledge in virology will be assessed in part through your tutorial work (assessment task 1) and the research you do to prepare a research manuscript, particularly your individual component (Assessment task 2), but also in the practical lab report identifying an unnamed virus (Assessment task 3) as well as in the final exam (Assessment task 4).

2. An enquiry-oriented approach.

You will be taught within a context requiring your contribution to interactive lectures and enquiry-oriented student lead discussion-based tutorial study and workshop sessions. The subject curriculum is delivered in alignment to selected sections of the prescribed Virology textbook, with a weekly tutorial class study that requires you to read and consider, independently (or in groups), before attending class. The subject assignment is broad, open-ended and contemporary, and you will be encouraged to develop and expand your knowledge of viruses in relation to your personal interests in science and career aspirations. The opportunity for student leading tutorial class discussion and learning activities (Assessment task 1), together with the research manuscript preparation (Assessment task 2), form the assessment of this graduate attribute.

3. Professional skill and their appropriate application.

You will be taught several virology laboratory-based techniques that are used for the identification of different viruses. You will then use your knowledge of these techniques, and understanding of the test limitations, to interprete data and identify an unnamed virus.

You will gain experience in scholarly research techniques and preparation of scientific manuscripts. More specifically, you will research published literature (identified in PubMed, Google Scholar etc), summarise the current state of knowledge, appropriately embed references (via Endnote or similar biblographic referencing software) and format a review document ready for submission to a peer-reviewed virology discipline journal. For this you will be required to work together to develop the reivew outline and divide up sections to individually research (Assessment task 2, 5%), work on the given section individually (Assessment task 2, 25%). The team then demonstrates appropriate communication and social skills to work effectively together, synergistically, to produce a final group document that is ready for publication (Assessment task 2, 10% including 5% peer-assessed). Also, the opportunity for students to lead a tutorial class discussion (Assessment task 1), and to identify an unnamed virus within the laboratory classes (Assessment task 3), these activities provide avenues to develop important professional skills within this discipline.

4. The ability to be a life-long learner.

You will actively engage with the discipline of virology formally via interactive lectures, student-lead tutorial classes, and workshop (research) activities. By engaging with open-ended and challenging tutorial-type study questions you will have the opportunity to seek knowledge according to your interests, career ambitions and life experiences. Both the student-led tutorial class exercises (Assessment task 1) and research manuscript (Assessment task 2) will involve assessment, in part, of your initiative and capacity for independent self-directed learning, i.e. important skills for life-long learning. Since you will lead two tutorial classes this provides the opportunity to personally engage with the feedback from the first tutorial class and to apply it for the delivery of the second tutorial class.

5. Engagement with the needs of society.

You will consider and discuss knowledge of viruses with respect to the mechanics of an infectious disease outbreak, the factors affecting disease transmission, and the impact of this knowledge both personally and within the realms of how it affects your family, your friends, and your work colleagues, as well as society more broadly. For example, you will be able to analyse laboratory data related to identifying viruses, interpret its meaning and significance for you, your family, your friends, and colleagues, and to consider the importance of identifying gaps in knowledge (e.g. test capabilities) and thereby the need (or not) for more testing/more information or precautionary measures that can prevent infection. Your ability to relate topics in virology to the needs of society (in diverse cultures) both now and in the future is provided through the the weekly tutorial class exercise questions (Assessment task 1) and the research manuscript (Assessment task 2). The incorporation of critical discussions based on the movie "Contagion" in the lectures and tutorial classes will provide you with an awareness of how science underpins society and the application of virology knowledge by the general public as well as health officials spanning diverse cultures in a variety of countries.

6. Communication skills.

You will engage with this subject through highly interactive classes that provide diverse opportunities to communicate with your peers, both on an individual and group level. You will practice and further develop communication skills in reading, speaking, reflective listening, in leading verbal and written discussions of discipline-specific and community-relevant contemporary virology topics. Thus there are multiple occasions where your written, oral and listening communications skills are practiced and assessed - these include the Movie Contagion, the interactive lectures, and especially the student-led tutorial classes (Assessment task 1) and the research manuscript (Assessment task 2).

7. Initiative and innovative ability.

You will be able to develop and showcase your initiative, critical thinking and insights, both in verbal and written formats i.e. through leading interactive student lead tutorials, and through researching and producing a section of a review.. You will also demonstrate your individual knowledge and abilities to interpret virology based laboratory data, personally, and (if needd) request appropriate additional test result data that you will then use for the identification of an unnamed virus.

Thus as this subject is being delivered in an innovative manner, involving high levels of student involvement, your creativity and initiative will contribute to the assessments.

Teaching and learning strategies

Lectures - 1 hour per week.

Tutorial classes - 1 hour per week.

Workshop (break-out group study) classes - 1 hour per week.

Practical classes - 2 hours per week.

You will start the session in Week 1 by accepting an invitation to view the movie "Contagion" (Warner Brothers Pictures; Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winselet). This will provide an avenue from which to begin to prepare a Glossary document defining several important key terms that are frequently used in virology and viral-based infectious disease. We will constantly update and refer to this document throughout the session; it will be a valuable unmarked study tool as it ensures that all students have a correct understanding of the key terms in virology.

In Week 1 you will also be invited to participate in an ONLINE QUIZ (via UTSOnline) that is designed to remind you of prior learning in earlier subjects (e.g. subjects such as 91161 Cells Biology and Genetics, 91314 General Microbiology and/or 91132 Molecular Biology 1) and to establish a baseline of foundation knowledge for this subject. For example, the quiz will ask you to review and understand the structure of nucleic acid molecules (both DNA and RNA), and the basic structure and function of sub-cellular organelles in mammalian and plant cells (e.g. cell well/cell membranes, cytoplasm, ribosomes, Golgi, nucleus, nucleolis, etc). This is an open-book online quiz where you may use any resource you choose and the quiz will be marked (for your feedback) but the mark is not included in the subject assessment. Consider this your first form of feedback.

As stated above, you will be encouraged to participate in a class activity to prepare a GLOSSARY OF TERMS document relevant to virology. This document will include terms that are (a) used in cell biology, biochemistry, immunology and epidemiology, where they are relevant the context of virus infection, and (b) highly specific and selective to the study of viruses and virology more generally. This document should facilitate your understanding of virology and ensure that we are all communicating with the same intended meanings when using specific scientific terms. Your contribution to this document is entirely voluntary and it will be marked (corrected) by peer review and continually amended (e.g. in the tutorial class sessions, etc), but the glossary exercise itself is not included as an assessment. This is another form of feedback to help you prepare for later assessments.

In this virology subject most of the discipline-specific knowledge will be learnt through weekly (i) Interactive LECTURES, and (ii) Student-lead (academic teacher facilitated) TUTORIAL classes. Here, you will be directed in learning new ideas about virology and virology-related topics (lectures), before then applying this information in tutorial class discussions that focus on specific issues in virology. As such, your contribution to leading tutorial classes will count as 10% towards the subject assessment (once from tutorial classes in the weeks 3-6 or again during a second tutorial class in weeks 7-10). You will be provided with feedback on your tutorial class led presentations, hence you can incorporate the feedback into the second tutorial class that you lead. Of note: The disciple-specific learning will be closely aligned to sections and chapters of the prescribed textbook: Principles of Virology I and II (Flint et al, American Society for Microbiology Press). The textbook is available in the UTS Library (print or e-copy) or you may purchase your own printed (paper-back) copy through the Co-Op Book Store or directly online.

You will also participate in weekly WORKSHOP activities that are embedded within the Practical classes. Here, you will first choose a topic from which to prepare a publishable manuscript. Initially, you will discuss the topic together with your classmates, divide up sections, then then gain skills in researching the topic using various database search engines and in writing scientifically and succinctly, whilst using bibliographic software (e.g. EndNote). From these workshop sessions you will each write a short mini-report on your designated section of the review manuscript (worth 25%). As a group, you will then combine the individual sections, edit them for consistency (smooth out differences in individual writing styles), prepare illustrations and/or tables, and ultimately prepare a document that is ready for submission to a scientific journal for publication (worth an additional 10%; including 5% peer assessed). The final (group) manuscript will be submitted to a scientific journal for publication where all students will be listed as co-authors with equal contribution. As indicated above, the assessment of this review paper will combine both the group planning (5%), individual group work (your individual mini-report; 25%), as well as a peer-assessment for your contribution to the final review manuscript (10%).

You are required to attend weekly PRACTICAL classes that provide you will an opportunity to perform and/or learn about several techniques that are widely used for the identification and detection of diverse types of viruses. You will then use this knowledge, to work through several Case Studies data, to identify the virus most likely to be causing the infection in each of the scenarios. Finally, you will use your practical test knowledge, and critical thinking skills, to identify an unnamed virus and to demonstrate your understanding of the tests and their limitations by way of preparing a succinct report (proforma provided) that summarises the evidence for proposing a likely virus identification. As this process reflects on the session's practical skills and data interpretation is worth 20% of subject assessment. A practice session is included in the practical class timetable.

Finally, you will provide evidence of your new discipline-specific knowledge and understanding of the broader issues in virology by undertaking a FINAL EXAM (worth 30%) the final exam questions will relate to all topics covered in the lectures, tutorial and practical classes. The final exams includes multiple choice and long-answer questions.

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Tutoral Class Lead

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Discipline knowledge and its appropriate application.
2. An enquiry-oriented approach.
3. Professional skills and their appropriate application.
4. Ability and motivation for continued intellectual development.
5. Engagement with the needs of society.
6. Communication skills.
7. Initiative and innovative ability.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 10%
Criteria:

Your skills in leading the tutorial classes will be assessed according to: (1) scientific content i.e. disciple specific knowledge accuracy, (2) your ability to ask provocative questions and identify an area that is unresolved or controversial e.g. given current knowledge that may conflict with previously held dogmas' etc, (3) your ability to communicate clearly (i.e. speaking, reflective listening, use of a critical diagram and/or the inclusion of key example in society, (4) and logic rationale of your information presentation i.e. the ability to construct your learning exercises / discussion sensibly and provide relevancy, and (5) your ability to engage all members of the class into active discussion and participate in the tutorial learning activity.

Assessment task 2: Research Manuscript

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Discipline knowledge and its appropriate application.
2. An enquiry-oriented approach.
3. Professional skills and their appropriate application.
6. Communication skills.
7. Initiative and innovative ability.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 6.0 and 7.0

Type: Literature review
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 40%
Criteria:

You will be assessed for (1) Demonstrating competence in research skills, (2) Accuracy and relevance of contemporary virology knowlegde of the chosen topic, (3) Written communication skills (grammar, clarify of expression, spelling) and clear unambiguous explanation of concepts in virology, including provision of adequate and appropriate citations to peer-reviewed scientific journals, (4) Presentation clarity and style such as in the use of diagrams, tables, and/or summary sections. A marking rubric will be provided to you.

Additionally, you will work together to compile the individual written works into a single coherent, comprehensive and publishable review manuscript. This final manuscript preparation will be assessed by your peers assessing your contributions to the project.

Assessment task 3: Virus Identification Skills

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Discipline knowledge and its appropriate application.
2. An enquiry-oriented approach.
3. Professional skills and their appropriate application.
6. Communication skills.
7. Initiative and innovative ability.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 4, 5 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 6.0 and 7.0

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%
Criteria:
  • Ability to accurately and clearly defend your answers
  • Accuracy in description of results
  • Correct identification of virus
  • Correct description of expected treatment outcomes
  • Accurate analysis of data
  • Accurate selection of additional tests if required

Assessment task 4: Discipline Specific Knowledge Exam

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1. Discipline knowledge and its appropriate application.
2. An enquiry-oriented approach.
3. Professional skills and their appropriate application.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1 and 5

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

1.0, 2.0 and 3.0

Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%
Criteria:

You will be assessed for your level of understanding via a written exam comprising of multiple choice, matching, true/false questions, data interpretation questions and/or short answer questions. The exam is marked for correctness.

Minimum requirements

You must attend a minimium of 80% of the weekly lectures and tutorial classes, as well as 80% of the weekly practical (and workshop) classes, in order to pass the subject. There are several learning enhancement activities embedded within this subject, including viewing a movie, undertaking an online quiz and preparing a glossary document (group work), and students must participate in all of the subject activities in order to pass the subject - even if the activity does not count towards to the subject assessment.

Required texts

The textbook used extensively for Virology 91819 is:

Principles of Virology I (Molecular Biology) and Principles of Virology II (Pathogenesis & Control). Flint J, Racaniello VR, Rall GF & Skalka AM. 4th Edition (2015). American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Press. ISBN: 978-1-55581-951-4 (paperback) or 978-1-55581-952-1 (eBook). Printed copies are available for loan in Open Research in the UTS Library.

PLEASE NOTE: Electronic (online i.e. "soft") copies of this textbook are also available either through (1) the UTS library or (2) your own personalised subscription e.g. via "RedShelf" or "VitalSource" etc.

Other resources

A selection of recent review papers (via UTS Online) or copies of relevant textbook chapters and sections (via Open Reserve in the UTS Library) are provided to facilitate the successful completion of the Foundation Knowledge Online Quiz.