MEDSCI 707 : Antimicrobials and Resistance

Medical and Health Sciences

2023 Semester One (1233) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Antimicrobial resistance is a public health concern developing worldwide. The nature of antimicrobial agents will be explored by examining their discovery, development and mechanisms of action. Antimicrobial resistance will be studied to understand both mechanisms of resistance and the factors that drive resistance. Emphasis will be placed on recent advances in the discovery of antimicrobials and the development of novel strategies for the control of infectious agents.

Course Overview

The course will be organised around two main themes and the following questions:
What is antimicrobial resistance and why is it a problem?
What are antimicrobials: How do they work and what do we use them for?
Pathogens and Resistance: What is resistance and which are the key pathogens?
What are the drivers of resistance?

What are the solutions?
How can we deal with resistance today?
Biodiscovery: how can we broaden the options for tomorrow?
New applications and new strategies: what else can we do to kill pathogens and combat resistance?

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Course Contacts

Simon Swift Course Director

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. List and describe the antimicrobials in use today, identifying modes of action and how we use them. (Capability 1.1, 4.1 and 4.2)
  2. Explain antibiotic resistance and why it is important (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 4.1, 4.2 and 5.1)
  3. Describe and critically evaluate the pathogens threatening health to the greatest degree through antibiotic resistance. (Capability 1.1, 2.2, 4.1 and 4.2)
  4. Explain the drivers of the development of antimicrobial resistance (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 4.1, 4.2 and 5.1)
  5. Identify, explain and evaluate ways in which we might deal with antimicrobial resistance today (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 4.1 and 4.2)
  6. Identify, explain and evaluate the routes to new antibiotics (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 4.1 and 4.2)
  7. Identify, explain and evaluate new approaches to killing pathogens and dealing with resistance. (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2 and 5.1)
  8. Evaluate research publications effectively and critically (Capability 3.1, 3.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1 and 6.2)
  9. Communicate effectively with people ranging from the general public to experts in the field, using a range of media and approaches (Capability 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1 and 6.2)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Infographic 10% Individual Coursework
Fact sheet 20% Individual Coursework
Essay 10% Individual Coursework
Summary of a teaching session 5% Individual Coursework
Presentation 15% Individual Coursework
Reflective Journal 20% Individual Coursework
Video/online presentation 10% Individual Coursework
Poster 10% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Fact sheet
Summary of a teaching session
Reflective Journal
Video/online presentation

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, each week you can expect a 2 hour tutorial (which may include about 30 minutes of discussion with people from various professions who might use the knowledge gained in this course), 3-5 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 3-5 hours of work on assignments. The course does not have an exam and so increased coursework with respect to courses that do have an exam should be expected. 

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including tutorials to complete components of the course.

Class sessions may be available as recordings.

The course may include live online events including group discussions and tutorials.

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.

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.

Here’s what you said you liked about the course:
Group discussions, in-person classes
Discussion about important terms
Different types of assignments, and the challenge of doing things differently.

Here’s what you said you would like to see improved:
(last 2 years) Content too heavy, too many assignments, too few marks for assignments, more details needed about the expectations from the assignments.
Inclusion of exemplars for coursework.
Summaries of key points from teaching sessions.
Engagement of all class in sessions so they work well.

These are the changes I/we will make for the next delivery of the course:
Overview. Medsci707 aims to provide a continuous story through antibiotics, rise of resistance, and potential solutions. It is a postgrad course that expects student-centred learning. The coursework aims to allow students to gain knowledge of key aspects of topic areas, and the class sessions allow students to further explain aspects of their topic and discuss wider aspects in small groups with other students and staff. The course is assessed via multiple low-impact pieces of coursework that are hoped to allow students to build skills and confidence in communicating science, with the assumption that to communicate topics well, they first need to be understood.
Volume of Coursework. In 2022 the density of course submissions was reduced while retaining a “low impact” piece each week to inform discussions. In 2023 coursework for 2 sessions has been combined (ie 1 piece instead of 2) to make room for a summary of key points by different students each week. The course does not have an exam and so increased coursework with respect to courses that do have an exam should be expected.
A challenge since removing the final exam has been to include coursework that links understanding through the course. For 2022 we introduced a reflective journal that covers the discussion questions posed for each session; this went well eventually but some students left submission of the whole to the deadline. Each submission will have a deadline in 2023 so feedback can be given and acted upon.
Antibiotics or Communication. The criticism that the course is more about communication than antibiotics and resistance is something we frequently review; the important theme is to understand the key points, and to illustrate them with examples. Some coursework marks are for how well you communicate, and how well you communicate depends on how well you understand the material and the message you are communicating. The different modes of communication are aimed to give students different tools to develop these skills, and I hope students do find some more interesting and/or more challenging than: write an essay, do a powerpoint, sit an exam.

Class discussions (which are thought to be good, and I think get better as the course progresses) rely on students doing the coursework to get the knowledge to participate in discussions, this is why there is coursework most weeks. If there is no coursework, no preparation is done and discussions are poor. I find this is a better approach than simply giving students marks for participating.
In 2022 teaching was mainly online and attendance and engagement suffered; this was discussed with the class-rep. In 2023 coursework deadlines will be before the teaching session (so all students can engage with it beforehand) and marks will be lost for late or incomplete submissions. Each week selected student(s) will be tasked with providing a summary of the key points of the previous week’s session.

Marks for coursework. There are 10 or 11 weeks of class, so about 10 marks a week seems fair. Feedback is given if content is too basic or doesn’t include illustrative details/evidence or is poorly presented, and the first piece of coursework is marked with that in mind.

Rubrics and Exemplars. Marking schemes were included in 2022 on the relevant pages on Canvas. The marking schemes are simple combinations of Key points, Illustrated with details, and Clarity and style. Generally 40/40/20. I have given very detailed rubrics in the past, but these can be prescriptive and essentially boil down to key points, details and style. Detailed marking schemes do tend to be prescriptive and my experience is that students get lower marks when I use them.
A “what makes a good...” segment was included in the introductory session to inform students what was required for coursework items. I don’t give overly detailed exemplars because then that is what I get back, and creativity is stifled. In the end it is a postgraduate course and an increasing degree of self-directed learning should be expected. On occasions when I have sought to give extra information, I have found the best sources are “how to” make a good infographic/poster/blog post etc articles on line or YouTube videos. I will share the ones I like, but is it too much to expect a self-directed postgraduate student with access to google to find this information themselves?

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.

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.

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.