Posted by: idm04 | 2010/08/21

MICB 202 (Introductory Medical Microbiology)

MICB 202

Course:  MICB 202 – Introductory Medical Microbiology
Session Taken:  Summer 2010
Course Duration:  July 05 to Aug 13.


Custom “Textbook” for MICB 202 – click for a slightly bigger version.

Course Material

This course is meant to be an introduction to medical microbiology and immunology.  The three main topics that are discussed in this course are immunology, bacterial diseases, and virology.  In immunology, you get to learn about the cells of the human body’s immune system and their purpose, as well as the intricate processes that occur when the body encounters a pathogen or foreign substance.  In bacterial diseases, you learn about the scientific terms used to describe bacteria or bacterial diseases, and also about specific virulence factors that specific bacteria use to infect and cause disease in a human host (case studies like Salmonella, Cholera, Pertussis, etc).  In virology, you learn about how viruses infect human hosts, and specific case studies that discuss different types of replication cycles (HIV, Influenza and poliovirus).

I took MICB 202 in the Summer of 2010.

The way the course was structured was that we would go through each of the three topics one by one, starting with immunology and ending with virology.  The instructor gave us “review sessions” in between topics where we could ask questions about the topic that we had just finished.  These review sessions were quite useful.  It was in a sense like a break so that we could stop learning new material and therefore finish absorbing the recently finished topic.

1. Immunology

Immunology is a topic that I found quite challenging to learn at first.  We were supposed to learn about how the immune system responds to pathogens, yet we did not know the terminology/jargon used to describe such processes.  Thus, we first learned about the basic stuff/terminology, starting with the cells of the immune system, including red blood cells, T cells, B cells, monocytes, polymorphonuclear leukocytes (neutrophils), hematopoietic stem cells, macrophages, basophils, eosinophils, mast cells, dentritic cells, etc.  There is a lot of different cells to memorize here, and each is involved in the immune response to a pathogen.  However, the problem is that since we do not have any knowledge of the immune system processes, learning about these specific cells was difficult since there was no relevance to anything that we knew of from previous courses, and thus specific cell types were easily forgotten.  After “getting through” the basic terminology, we then learned about the specific processes in which the different cells were involved.  But since I kinda forgot what some cells were or what they did, learning about the processes was also difficult.  It was also difficult to be able to remember certain steps in the right order.  I usually had to go back to the terminology/cells of the immune system to refresh myself, then back to the processes to be able to understand and absorb the processes.

An example of a process – the innate immune response to an extracellular bacterium:

Mast cells in the tissue release substances including histamine and tumor necrosis factor which increases blood flow to the area.  Complement protein enter the tissue from the blood, which can kill many bacteria and also act as opsonins, and furthermore are able to cause further inflammation.  Neutrophils and monocytes arrive.  Neutrophils ingest bacteria by phagocytosis immediately.  Monocytes differentiate into macrophages which secrete bactericidal substances but also phagocytose bacteria.

You can see that the level of detail and the amount of jargon can be at first, overwhelming.

Material covered in immunology include cells of the immune system, the innate and adaptive immune response (T and B cell development/activation, antibodies), immune responses to pathogens, unwanted immune responses, disorders of the immune system (e.g. AIDS), and antibodies used in the lab.

2. Bacterial Diseases

Bacterial Diseases was the easiest out of the three topics for me.  It had a lot of information too, but rather than learning about specific and very detailed and ordered processes like in Immunology, it just had simpler facts to understand and memorize.  Basically, it just had descriptions of different things rather than descriptions of long, intricate processes.  We learned about the normal flora, biofilms, host defense mechanisms, antibiotics, epidemiology, pathogenesis and bioterrorism.  In addition, we learned about at least five specific case studies of different species of bacteria that have a specific virulence factor that they use to infect and cause disease in humans.  For example, Vibrio cholerae is a species of bacteria that secretes cholera toxin (an exotoxin) that causes intestinal cells to excrete water, causing a 20 L/day diarrhea.

3. Virology

Virology is the shortest topic out of the three, but it wasn’t easier than bacterial diseases in my opinion.  Back we go to detailed processes that you must memorize to fully understand the material.  The material discussed in this topic include virus structure, virus genome, replication cycle, classification, cultivation of viruses in the lab and vaccines.  In addition, you get to learn about three specific case studies (Poliovirus, Influenza, and HIV) that detail the intricacies of the replication cycle processes of these viruses.  Everything in virology other than the three specific case studies merely involve understanding and memorization of relatively simple facts, while the case studies themselves involve understanding and memorizing of all the steps of how the virus replicates and how these steps tie in with each other.  I found that most of the final exam questions in virology focused on these three case studies.



In-Class Activities

Basically, just writing notes, reading the Powerpoint, sometimes watching videos, and clicker questions.

Grade Scheme/Statistics on Student Grades

The grade scheme is as follows:

Final Exam – 90%
Assignments/other activities – 10%

The assignments/activities included i-Clicker questions, Peerwise participation, and written assignments.  Written assignments were a bit tricky sometimes.  Make sure your units make sense…

It is not too hard to get a decent grade in this course.  Basically, you need to study for the final exam since it is worth 90% of your final mark.  The assignments/activities are for the most part straightforward and a 8-10% should be almost guaranteed.  In 2010S (my session), the average final mark was 76.9%.   52.9% of the entire class got 80% or higher as their final mark.  Around 20% of the entire class achieved 90% or higher.  For 2009S, these values were similar.  For 2009W, these values were also similar, except that only about 6% of the entire class achieved 90% or higher.

Final Exam

About the final exam – the 2.5 – 3 hr final exam consisted of a multiple choice section and a written section.  The written section had three questions – one on immunology, one in bacterial diseases, and one on virology.  The multiple choice section had 84 questions in total, with a third of the questions for each section.  The practice final exam questions that the professor posted online was easier than the actual exam.  For many of the final exam questions, you had to choose two answers that were both correct answers to the question.  85% of the final exam questions came from the reading package, and the other 15% came from in-class stuff that the professor says.  Also, the final exam questions on the case studies (e.g. Salmonella, HIV, etc.) almost always only involved the one virulence factor that was featured, and not the other features of the pathogen.


The ‘textbook’ in this course was the MICB 202 note package that is pictured above that consists of 3 booklets.  They were very important to read (many times) since most of the final exam questions will be based on the material in them.  The pages in the booklet are your regular 8.5 by 11 inches paper, and there are approximately 140 pages of actual reading material in all.  There were also diagrams at the back of each book, most of which I found not too useful.  I really wish that they had integrated the diagrams into the main text of the book because it was annoying flipping back and forth.  There are also pre-reading questions and learning objectives at the front of the book.  I considered taking notes off the book and using the learning objectives as “guide phrases” but I decided that it would be more worthwhile to simply read the books many times instead of copying it out to then read the same thing anyway.  The note package (3 booklets) costs ~$20 in total and can be bought from the Microbiology and Immunology Student’s Association only at a specific time at the beginning of the course.





If you plan to take MICB 202 during the Winter Session instead of the Summer Session (the Winter Session is the more popular option by far), some of the information above will be different.  Here were some major differences.

Tentative Schedule (Winter) for Topics:

January 5 – February 2: Immunology
February 4 – March 9: Bacterial Diseases
March 11 – April 6: Virology

There is a midterm exam for the Winter Session.  In 2011, it was in the second week of February.  As there are multiple sections of MICB 202 in the Winter Session, exams are common to all sections and therefore written at the same time (in the evening, presumably).

The Midterm Exam focused solely on Immunology and is worth 34% of the final grade.  The Final Exam was worth 66% and focused solely on Bacterial Diseases and Virology (edit: apparently, it could also have immunology, but to a lesser extent).  A student must pass two of these three segments to pass the course.  MICB 202 (and MICB 201) grades are not scaled.

In addition to the reading package (see above), there was also an E-text available that contains chapters from several textbooks that are relevant to the course.  It was obtained through the UBC Bookstore.  Hard copies were also available at the Bookstore.  This option was not offered in the summer session so I am not sure how useful or ‘required’ it is.

edit: Seems like they finally combined the three note booklets into one



  1. Hi, do you stil have ur microbio 202 textbooks from last summer? thanks

    • Hi – technically I do, if you’re talking about the course package that I mentioned in this post, seen in the picture above (green). It cost about $20 or $30 and they use a different cover for each session but I am not sure how much the main material/content changes (probably not much, though).

  2. Hi, do you still have the peerwise code for your micb 202 summer term? Dr. Kion isn’t using peerwise this summer and I would like to get some extra practice doing multiple choice questions.

    • Hello,

      Apologies for the extremely late response; I understand that any response might be useless by now… but if you are still interested, try the code 5070 on the UBC Peerwise site. If it doesn’t work, I have no idea.


  3. Hi, i’m in this huge dilemma where i don’t know if i should take micro 202 or math 221 (they’re in the same time slot–its the only time slot i can fit into my schedule). micro helps me get into pharm and/or microbiology and immunology next yr whereas math 221 helps me get into chem (incase i don’t get into pharm or micro). I’m not sure if ubc’ll let me major in chem if i’m missing some second yr courses for it (i’m missing 4 if i take math and 5 if i don’t) where as micro is just one course i can make up for later on.

    • If anyone else is in the same situation, I would recommend talking with Science Advising. MATH 221 is usually offered in both semesters whereas MICB 202 is offered in the second one only or the summer. I probably would have chosen to take MICB 202.

      I am really sorry, for some reason I didn’t see this question until now. I hope things worked out okay :x

  4. can you check if the summer course notes is the same for this term 2012 W session?

    • I don’t see why it wouldn’t be the same, and I think they were the same last year (between summer and winter). However, I can’t check to make sure because I don’t happen to have a copy of the 2012W version, so it may be best to ask your professor or compare with someone who does have it. Good luck!

  5. Hey, were there any practice exams/problems when you were taking it? I heard that these exams, like BIOL112, are top-secret, which is bad for me since Iplan on taking it this summer. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

    • Unfortunately, I wasn’t provided with any practice exams when I was taking the course, other than some VISTA quizzes online which hopefully you’ll have access to (since I don’t really have them anymore). Exam questions are somewhat similar to the Clicker questions that you will get in class, and what I did to study for the exams was just memorize (from the custom textbook) and practicing recall. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Ugh, that sucks! I learn best by doing practice questions. Thanks for the feedback, though. I’ll have to work extra hard on this!

  6. Hi, so I am taking micb 202 this summer 2012, and I was wondering if bio 112 was much harder than micb 202 or are they the same difficulty? And what was the class average for your class? It would be great if you can let me know!

    • It’s been a while since I took MICB 202, but I don’t think it was that hard when I was taking it in the summer. The immunology was very new and took getting used to but the exam format is the same as BIOL 112 (multiple choice mainly). As for grades, please see the main post.

  7. Hi I wanted to ask you about microbiology. Since you took micb 202 in the summer did you have to ask the department to reevaluate your application to get admission for third year at dnd of second year or were you already in the program in second year? I don’t have bio 112 but I am taking bio 200, 201, micb 201, etc.. In winter session and micb 202 in summer session. If I want to apply to the microbio program to gain admission at end of second year can I ask them to reevaluate my application after I complete micb 202? Thanx. The Acvisor said I can substitue bio 112 for an upper level micro course once I’m admitted into the program.

    • Hello —

      I took MICB 202 during the summer right after first year, so it wasn’t a problem. Taking BIOL 112 in the first term of second-year and MICB 202 in the second term sounds like a good plan to me, because MBIM doesn’t reevaluate according to their website (although there could be exceptions, and you should e-mail dept head Dr. Ramey to make sure). I think not having MICB 202 by the end of second-year will give you less admission points which puts you at a disadvantage, although if your grades in the other courses are high enough you may still be able to be admitted.

      Edit: You can take MICB 201 in first term and MICB 202 in second term because MICB 201 can be used as a prereq to MICB 202.

      Good luck~

      • Thanx for your reply but I messages Karen smith and she told me to take micb 202 in summer because otherwise She said it’s too many science courses to take. I’m s transfer student and I’m not sure if I want to burn myself out. My schedule would look like this then:
        Term 1: bio 112, bio 200, Chem 233( yuck), Chem 235, elective.
        Term 2: micb 201, micb 202, elective, Chem 205, bio 201. She told me to indicate on my application that I would take micb 202 in the summer… It stated on website that if I complete the course in summer I can ask them to reevaluate me. Man I’m so confused… Thanx anyway.

        • It seems to be the case that you can be asked to be reevaluated if you are on the waitlist and you take a “core course” in the summer between second and third-year that would affect/help your application. I must have missed that when I read the website before or forgot.

          If you think it’s too much work to take MICB 202 in the winter session then what you plan to do seems to be fine too. I agree that your second term would be quite busy if you took MICB 202. Sorry, I know this wasn’t too informative lol. Best of luck!

          Edit: For anyone else out there in the same situation: Dr. Ramey supposedly recommended taking BIOL 112 in first term and then MICB 201/202 in the second term. If a course needs to be deferred to summer for the purpose of lightening the course load, then MICB 201 is a better choice because it would be offered earlier in the summer. Taking MICB 202 late in the summer would not really allow for reevaluation because by that time the waitlist would be ‘frozen.’

  8. Hey, man. I’d just like to say this is a great blog but I also have a question: is biol 200 really “recommended” for microbiology 202? I’m taking micro without biol 200 this upcoming year and I’d just like to know if it’s more difficult without biol 200. Thanks.

    • Hey,

      When I took MICB 202, I didn’t have BIOL 200 and did fine. I don’t really see why they would recommend BIOL 200 because those two courses are hardly related. I highly doubt that not having BIOL 200 would be detrimental!


  9. Okay. Thanks a lot!

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