BIOSCI 764 : Human Virology


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The COVID-19 pandemic was a global health crisis without parallel in the modern era and has evoked an unprecedented scientific response. Explores aspects of virus biology to illustrate principles of emergence, transmission and disease caused by viruses with pandemic potential and discusses how emerging pandemics can reshape our ability to respond to future viral threats with pandemic potential.

Course Overview

The course examines the molecular biology of human viruses,  their transmission and the virus-host interactions that underpin immunity and disease. The course will establish core concepts in these areas with reference to different viruses but will reference these concepts to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The course is designed for students that wish to apply their knowledge of biological and biomedical science in a subject area of huge global significance. Teaching will comprise 3 seperate modules each of which will introduce content  through a lecture, followed by two sessions per module in which the class will dissect and discuss specific issues related to the module through consideration of research papers in-class. It is an explicit expectation of all students that they will read all literature that is prescribed by the teaching staff, engage in the discussion of topics introduced through such literature - both within small groups and in the wider class  and take an active part in the delivery of academic content through student presentation of research papers or parts thereof.   A knowledge of basic microbiology and immunology from undergraduate courses is assumed but not essential. Recommended preparative UoA courses include  BIOSCI 349,  MEDSCI 301  and MEDSCI 314 Immunology.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Graduate Profile: Master of Biotechnology

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Develop and demonstrate an understanding of the topics covered in this course through in-class discussion, assessments and presentation. (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  2. Perceive, reflect upon and discuss the impacts of viral pandemics on indigenous communities living in the Pacific region and understand cultural and biological factors that influence outcomes in these populations. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  3. Critically evaluate the relationship between virus biology and host disease in different populations by interpreting research into the molecular pathology and immunopathology of viral infections (Capability 2, 3 and 4)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of of potential reservoirs of zoonotic transmission that have (and could in future) cause viral pandemics in the human population (Capability 1 and 2)
  5. Communicate technical information available through primary scientific literature by synthesising coherent written paragraphs as used in an abstract or technical summary. (Capability 6)
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of of fundamental principles of virology and virus infections and the underlying biology of virus infections that establishes them as human pathogens. (Capability 3, 4 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Reports 40% Individual Coursework
Presentation 20% Group & Individual Coursework
In-class written abstract 10% Individual Test
Final Exam 30% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
In-class written abstract
Final Exam


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

Key Topics

 The course is based around four thematic modules;

Module 1. Basic virus biology and the cycle of infection at the molecular level, including key biological similarities between viruses and differences that define taxonomic divisions.

Module 2. Transmission of human viruses in populations, including an analysis of human genetic and cultural factor that influence virus spread.

Module 3. Immunity and Pathogenesis - a closer look at the immune response to virus infection and how this is related to the symptomology of virus disease.

Module 4. Vaccines and oncolytic viruses - using viruses for beneficial medical outcomes.

Special Requirements

 Attendance of all scheduled classes is expected from all students

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 

8-12 hours pre-lecture online content delivery

24 hours in-class activity

 24 hours assessment

24 hours student group learning

 36 hours self-directed learning

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at all scheduled activities to receive credit for assessment components of the course.
Lectures will not be available as recordings.
The course will include live group discussions.
Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

The reading required for this course will be identified via Canvas prior to the commencement of the Semester

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

In year 1 of this course, students expressed the view that the workload was challenging yet the course engaging. In this year the overall performance in the course was very high. In the subsequent year, staff reduced the in-course workload. Student feedback was uniformly positive as a result but student outcomes were significantly poorer. We have sought to introduce a more structured way for students to participate in the class in 2024 through assigning specific  sections of literature to individual students during flipped class learning sessions.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 15/01/2024 01:53 p.m.