The Human Microbiome

Course content

Humans harbour ten times more bacterial cells than human cells. Different parts of the human body are inhabited by specific microbial communities forming the human microbiome. Within recent years it has become clear that the human microbiome interacts extensively with their human host and is important for human health.


MSc Programme in Biochemistry
MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject
MSc Programme in Molecular Biomedicine

Learning outcome

This course will give students a thorough understanding of the microbial communities in and on humans. This includes the different roles of the communities in the well-being of humans and links to important human diseases like allergies, obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, and diabetes. Students will obtain detailed knowledge on the different microorganisms shaping the microbiome of key human habitats, i.e. the colon, skin, oral cavity, vagina and lungs.


By completing the course the student will be able to:

  • describe the main members of the microbiome of the human colon, skin, oral cavity, vagina, and lungs
  • describe key physiological aspects of the main members of the human microbiome
  • describe how the main members of the microbiome interact with their human host
  • describe how the human microbiome may be linked to human disease, i.e. obesity, allergies, inflammatory bowel diseases, and diabetes
  • describe how the human microbiome may affect the behaviour of humans
  • describe how human life style may influence the microbiome
  • describe the pros and cons of using specific animal models to study the links between microbiomes and human health


  • present orally and in writing key aspects of the human microbiome and its effects on human health
  • propose studies for investigating the human microbiome and its interactions with the human host


  • evaluate the effects of the human microbiome on human health
  • evaluate methods used to investigate the human microbiome and the interactions between the human microbiome and the human host
  • evaluate the use of animal models in the study of interactions between microbiomes and human health
  • independently retrieve and critically evaluate information from the primary scientific literature on the human microbiome and relationships between the human microbiome and human health
  • discuss original scientific articles and reviews on the human microbiome
  • submit a coherent brief research project proposal on a specific microbiome-related topic

All teaching will be online
In general, three hours of lectures and six hours of seminars per week for the first five weeks. The lectures will introduce the microbiome(s) forming the theme of the week. The seminars are based on discussions of scientific papers and involve student presentations of original research papers, lectures by invited guests, and, importantly, discussions between students and guests (and teachers). Over the duration of the course, the students will prepare a brief research project proposal on a microbiome topic of their liking (within the course scope). This will allow students to utilize and incorporate the knowledge they will learn over the course into their research proposal.

Textbook: “The Human Microbiota in Health and Disease” by Michael Wilson, CRC Press + articles uploaded on Absalon.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 2 hours under invigilation
Type of assessment details
The course has been selected for ITX exam
See important information about ITX-exams at Study Information, menu point: Exams -> Exam types and rules -> Written on-site exams (ITX)
Exam registration requirements

To participate in the exam, the student must perform all satisfactory assignments including handing in a coherent research project proposal on a microbiome-related topic and a presentation of a scientific paper. 

All aids allowed

As the exam is an ITX-exam, the University will make computers available to students at the exam. Students are therefore not permitted to bring their own computers, tablets, calculators, or mobile phones.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners/co-examiners

Oral examination 25 minutes, no preparation, no aids allowed.

If the requirements of performing all satisfactory assignments including handing in a coherent research project proposal on a microbiome-related topic is not fulfilled, the student must hand in a two page essay presenting a relevant scientific paper no later than three weeks before the reeexam.

If the requirements of presentation of a scientific paper is not fulfilled the student must hand in a satisfactory essay no later than three weeks before the reexam.

Criteria for exam assessment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 15
  • Preparation
  • 119
  • Project work
  • 40
  • Seminar
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 2
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 1
No limitation
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board for the Biological Area
Contracting department
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Food Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Søren Johannes Sørensen   (3-7a717a4769707635727c356b72)

Dennis Sandris Nielsen, Søren Johannes Sørensen, Anders Priemé, and guests from hospitals and research institutions.

Saved on the 11-05-2023

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