Skip to 0 minutes and 14 secondsI'm Dr. Glyn Barrett, a researcher in the School of biological sciences based here at the University of Reading. As a microbiologist, I'm aware that there are trillions of microbes all around me. It's just that they're too small for me to see without the help of a microscope.

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 secondsMicrobiology is a broad and fascinating subject to study. In this course, we will learn the basics of what a microbe is, how we study them, and how they affect each of us in our daily lives. You'll be amazed to know just how much life there is in the soil beneath my feet. In this course, I'm going to show you just that by growing some of the microbes in our labs.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 secondsMicrobes live in every environment on Earth, including on and inside other organisms. You're currently considered home to a huge host of microorganisms. And as you will find out from this course, they played key roles in both health and disease. You will meet a range of experts based here at the University of Reading who will show you just how important microbiology research is to our society.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 secondsYou will be able to enter into our labs and see some of the research going on there, as well as conduct some of your own experiments at home. You are at the beginning of a journey into the hidden world of life all around you. Why not introduce yourself in the comment area below and keep an eye out for our student mentors who will be here to guide you through the course discussion.

Welcome to the course

Hello and welcome to ‘Small and Mighty: Introduction to Microbiology’, a three week course produced by the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading.

I’m Dr Glyn Barrett, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University and I’m delighted to present this online course. The academic content was developed by my colleague, Dr Geraldine Mulley, Teaching Fellow and Admissions Tutor for BSc Microbiology taught at the University of Reading.

Microbes may be invisible to the eye, but they dominate every environment on Earth – including you. On this course, you’ll explore a general introduction to the field of microbiology and investigate the amazing diversity of microbial life.

Meet the team

Each week I’ll be meeting with my colleagues from the Department of Microbiology and Department of Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Reading.

In the course discussions, I’ll be joined by a team of mentors:

Tim Williamson

Spencer Long

Matthew Shepherd

Follow the team (click the link to their profile and then the pink button under their biography), to view their responses to common queries. By following other profiles, any comments made will appear in your activity feed on your profile, which you can filter by ‘Following’.

Additional resources

We’ve provided additional resources for many of our Steps which you may want to work through. Or if you prefer, you can download the materials to look at another time. Keep an eye on the bottom of the Step under ‘Downloads’.

Also to help you get to grips with the terminology used within the course, we have provided a glossary which you may want to print and keep to hand as you go through the course. The glossary can be found at the beginning of each week.


Now you’ve met the team and know what to expect from the course, we’d really like to meet you.

What interests you most about microbes? Which area of microbiology do you feel is most important to you; health, food or environment? What are you hoping to gain from the course?

If you’re mentioning the course on social media let us know by tagging us with #FLintromicrobiology on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Small and Mighty: Introduction to Microbiology

University of Reading