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Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry (GEOL30007)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codeGEOL30007
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry involve the study of interactions across interfaces of minerals, water, and microbes, and how such interactions impact environmental conditions and reflect evolution. This subject will survey the fundamental principles of geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry, explain how modern biological processes constrain many geochemical reactions, and show how palaeoenvironmental conditions impacted the evolution and preservation of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms across geologic time. This subject will demonstrate how geomicrobiological and biogeochemical knowledge can be applied to problems in academic and government research, and in the petroleum, mineral or environmental industries. We will also look at contemporary “cross-over” applications of geomicrobiology/biogeochemistry to medical microbiology (e.g., coevolution of metals and antibiotic resistance), the microbiology and biogeochemistry of urban/built environments and astrobiological investigation of life’s potential to exist elsewhere in the known universe

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject, students will gain insights into links among microbial diversity and metabolic activity, biogeochemical cycles, the evolution of life on Earth and possibly elsewhere in the universe, and the significance of Earth’s fossil record for interpreting past and modern environments, climate and oceanography. Students will also become familiar with how microorganisms and fossils can be used for resolving practical problems in the petroleum, mining and environmental industries

Generic skills

The generic skills acquired in this subject include:

  • learning how to approach scientific problems when there may be no clear and simple answer;
  • tackling complex exercises within a team environment in the field and laboratory; and
  • conducting experiments and observations in the laboratory environment.

Eligibility and requirements


Completion of

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
ERTH10002 Understanding Planet Earth
Semester 2

Or any tertiary level biology or microbiology subject



Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

Practical component (60% total) including:

o four short reading quizzes, approximately 250 words each due weeks 2, 4, 7 and 9(20%) and

o two lab reports totalling approximately 1000 words due weeks 5 and 11 (40%)

2-hour written examination will be given in the examination period (40%).

Topics selected from assigned readings will be assessed in the reading quizzes and final examination.

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorJohn Moreau
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hoursA total of 20 hours of lectures; 10 x three hour practicals; 2 x one day field trips
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period26 February 2018 to 27 May 2018
    Last self-enrol date 9 March 2018
    Census date31 March 2018
    Last date to withdraw without fail 4 May 2018
    Assessment period ends22 June 2018

    Semester 1 contact information

Time commitment details

Estimated total time commitment of 170 hours

Further information

Last updated: 10 August 2019