MEDSCI 705 : Infection, Immunity and Disease

Medical and Health Sciences

2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Examines the ways in which host immune mechanisms control infection, infectious organisms evade host defence mechanisms, and the consequences of these processes for the host. Examples of human infectious diseases will include: HIV, hepatitis B, influenza, tuberculosis and streptococcal infections. Consideration of the consequences of infection will incorporate discussion of immune self/non-self discrimination, immune tolerance and autoimmune mechanisms, including the impact of response against infections on autoimmunity.

Course Overview


The central component of this course is a series of 12 two hour seminars on diverse topics. All seminars will consist of two 20 minute student presentations, supplemented by an overview of the topic provided by the teacher, and a wide ranging discussion of the topic, with all students encouraged to participate. 

Seminar 1. Immune Responses to Pathogenic Microbes. (Assoc Prof Roger Booth, Dr Stephen Ritchie)

We will review the innate, adaptive responses to microbial antigens, including antibody and T-cell mediated responses, with a view to ensuring that all students have a good understanding of the range of immune responses to infection.

Seminar 2. Vaccines - from smallpox to SARS-CoV-2. (Assoc Prof Mark Thomas, Assoc Prof Roger Booth)

We will review the history of vaccination, discussing vaccines against viral and bacterial pathogens, considering the advantages and disadvantages of live, killed, subunit, and genomic, methods of delivery.

Seminar 3. Hepatitis B - the disease and immune responses. (Dr William Abbott, Assoc Prof Mark Thomas)
We will discuss the epidemiology of hepatitis B infection in New Zealand, the immune responses to acute infection and to chronic infection, and strategies to prevent or cure the disease.

Seminar 4. Influenza. (Assoc Prof Mark Thomas, Dr Reuben McGregor)

We will discuss the epidemiology and course of influenza infection. We will discuss the mechanism of viral attachment and cell entry, and review how antibody and T-cell mediated responses confer immunity.

Seminar 5. SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 (Dr Reuben McGregor, Dr Steve Ritchie)

We will discuss the epidemiology and course of SARS-CoV-2 infection.  We will discuss antibody responses to infection, and review the development and efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Seminar 6. HIV infection and AIDS. (Dr Stephen Ritchie, Assoc Prof Mark Thomas)

We will discuss the epidemiology, pathogenesis and outcomes of HIV infection. We will consider the current approaches to control of the HIV pandemic and the difficulties that  have prevented the development of effective vaccines.

Seminar 7. Streptococcus pneumoniae infection and disease. (Assoc Prof Mark Thomas, Dr Jacelyn Loh)

We will discuss the epidemiology, pathogenesis and diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae.  We will focus on the role of S. pneumoniae capsular polysaccharides in the evasion of host defences, and how immunisation with these capsular polysaccharides can prevent diseases caused by S. pneumoniae.

Seminar 8. Streptococcus pyogenes  pathogenesis and disease. (Dr Jacelyn Loh, Dr Reuben McGregor)

The success of Streptococcus pyogenes as a human pathogen is due to a large arsenal of virulence factors that assist the bacterium with colonisation, spreading, and immune evasion. This seminar will discuss some of the most important virulence factors, their molecular mechanisms, and how they contribute to disease.

Seminar 9. Progress towards a Streptococcus pyogenes  vaccine. (Dr Jacelyn Loh, Dr Reuben McGregor)

Streptococcus pyogenes is in the WHO's top ten list of infectious agents that cause death, but as yet there are no vaccines available to prevent disease. This seminar will discuss current efforts in vaccine development. 

Seminar 10. Meningococcal disease. (Dr Stephen Ritchie, Assoc Prof Mark Thomas)

We will discuss the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and outcomes of Neisseria meningitidis infection.  We will review  complement function and how Neisseria meningitidis avoids complement mediated killing. We will discuss how regulation of the innate immune system (e.g. complement) is essential to avoid collateral damage to other cells/tissues.

Seminar 11. The microbiome and host regulatory mechanisms. (Assoc Prof Roger Booth, Dr Stephen Ritchie)

We will discuss interactions between recent changes in the environment,  the human microbiome, and the development and maintenance of human regulatory systems. 

Seminar 12. Implications of host microbiome relationships. (Assoc Prof Roger Booth, Assoc Prof Mark Thomas)

We will discuss how a better understanding of the impact of the microbiome on host regulatory and immune processes is leading to new ways of understanding human disease and novel approaches to treating some conditions.


Students will be required to submit two concise essays, one at the start of week 5, and one at the start of week 7. These essays must contain no more than two single-spaced pages, of 12 point text, and no more than five references. A range of essay topics relevant to the course content will be provided to allow students to choose topics that particularly interest them.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Course Contacts

Mark Thomas (Course Coordinator)
Roger Booth (Course co-Coordinator)
Clara Chong (Course Administrator)

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and explain the range of immune responses that have significant roles in the prevention, and in the elimination, of major microbial diseases. (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Understand and describe the mechanisms used by some major human pathogens to evade host immune responses and cause disease. (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Understand and describe the strategies, that either have been developed or are under investigation, for the prevention or treatment of disease caused by these major human pathogens. (Capability 2 and 3)
  4. Understand and describe the methods used to investigate host immune responses, pathogen evasion of host immune responses, and the efficacy of preventive or treatment interventions. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Understand and explain the major advances in knowledge of host pathogen interactions described in one or more related articles selected by the teachers of this course. (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  6. Communicate clearly and succinctly, in two concise essays, a synthesis of relevant up-to date information about two infection related topics, derived from a small number of carefully selected source materials. (Capability 1, 2, 4 and 5)
  7. Communicate in writing, an assessment of presentations provided by fellow students, to assist other students to improve their presentation skills. (Capability 4 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Essay 25% Individual Coursework
Presentation 20% Individual Coursework
Discussions 5% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Final Exam

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 22 hours of seminars, 72 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 24 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience or Online

This course is offered in two delivery modes:

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at the weekly seminars to receive credit for components of the course.
Seminars will be available as recordings approximately 2 hours after the end of each seminar.
Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.


Attendance is expected at the weekly seminars to receive credit for components of the course.
Seminars will be available as recordings approximately 2 hours after the end of each seminar.
Attendance on campus is not required for the exam.
Where possible, study material will be available at course commencement.
This course runs to the University semester timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester 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 and respond with summaries and actions.

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

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

The course has been evaluated by students in previous years and has consistently received very positive evaluations. In 2020 responses to a SET evaluation were provided by 4/22 enrolled students. In response to the statement:"Overall, I was satisfied with the quality of this course" 1 student responded "neutral", 1  student responded "agree" and 2 students responded "strongly agree". 
We expect to continue to provide a course that students rate very highly.

Digital 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.

Each seminar, including presentations  by teachers and students, and class discussion, will be recorded and the recording made available on Canvas within 2 hours of the  end of each seminar.

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 against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

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 your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

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 you may be asked to submit your 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. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 13/04/2021 09:56 a.m.