Microbiology started in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1965 as a service unit headed by Professor L. C. Ferguson, who was also the Dean of the Faculty of Science. The first indigenous academic staff of the unit was Prof. Nduka Okafor. In 1967, he was joined by Prof. A. N. U. Njoku Obi from the University of Lagos, who subsequently succeeded Prof. Ferguson as Head of the Unit. The Unit was upgraded to the status of a full department in 1970, with a core staff of seven individuals made up of five academic and two technical staff.
The Department admitted 18 pioneer students for both single and combined honours programmes. These pioneer students graduated in 1973. However, the Department graduated one student ahead of the pioneer set in 1972. This student had transferred to the University of Nigeria from the University of Ibadan following the civil war and was placed in the second year, ahead of the pioneer students.
In addition to its single and combined honours degrees, the Department also organized a Medical Laboratory unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Enugu Campus and employed the staff of the Department to teach microbiology to medical students. The unit at Enugu remained under the administration of the Department at Nsukka until 1984 when it became an autonomous department of Medical Microbiology.
The Department of Microbiology, today, offers courses leading to a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Microbiology. Admission is either by Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) or by Direct-Entry. Students admitted by UTME undergo a four-year degree programme while those admitted by direct entry do a three-year degree programme.
The field of biology is one which has undergone a lot of evolution and continues to evolve everyday, moreso, since the early twentieth century. Early studies in Biology were devoted more to the study of life-cycles of organisms and similarities in their physical appearances. But with advancements in the field of genetics, aided mainly by studies of microorganisms, Microbiology emerged as one of the most important areas of study in the life sciences.
As the pioneer Department of Microbiology in the country, the Department of Microbiology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is planned to be at the forefront of teaching and learning, research and development, knowledge creation and dissemination in the field of Microbiology, aimed at producing world class microbiologists.
Microbiology has taken a pivotal role in the study and advancement of life sciences, being the foundation on which Modern Biotechnology was built. It is therefore relevant in all fields of research and development for the improvement of human life. Its many applications have brought advancements, through Biotechnology, in such areas as Medical Diagnosis, Brewing, Agriculture, Industrial Production of food and pharmaceuticals, Environmental Monitoring, Bioremediation, Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and other emerging areas of Biotechnology. Hence, it is imperative that the student of Microbiology should be properly equipped to play the expected roles in these important areas of life.
The programme is designed to:
1. To give students a sound exposure to the theory and practice of Microbiology.
2. To equip students with adequate research techniques to enable them function as lecturers in universities and other tertiary institutions, research officers and consultants in the many fields of application of Microbiology.
3. To equip students with adequate practical knowledge to enable them become self reliant as producers of many food and industrial products of microbial activity.
4. To produce world class microbiologists who can compete with their counterparts the world over and fit into advanced programmes within the country and outside it.
The Department offers a very robust and forward-looking programme in the general and applied areas of Microbiology to prepare its graduates for their important role in the advancement of life. The core courses are designed to give students wide exposure in the main areas, which include Medical, Industrial/Food and Environmental Microbiology, including Climate Change studies. The students undergo industrial attachment during their third year of study, which affords them practical experience in diagnostic techniques and other microbiological processes in hospitals and industries.
The Department also offers, in conjunction with the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, B.Sc. combined degree in Microbiology/Chemistry and Microbiology/ Biochemistry.
In addition, service courses are offered to students in other areas of Biological Sciences, Medical Sciences, Veterinary Sciences, Agricultural Sciences and Health and Physical Education.
Students, on successful graduation, can take up careers such as lecturing and/or research in universities, polytechnics and biomedical research centres. They can find employment opportunities in some government agencies such as centres for disease control, Food and Drug Administration agencies, water corporations, waste management agencies, environmental control and protection agencies, environmental impact assessment agencies and other quality control agencies.
Graduates can also find employment in a variety of industrial (e.g. food/pharmaceutical industries) establishments as well as in medical, public health, agricultural and veterinary laboratories. Opportunities also exist for graduates in the fermentation industries as represented by the breweries, alcohol distilleries, as well soft drink and fruit juice production industries.
(a) UTME Entry Requirements
Candidates who have satisfied the minimum university requirements for admission are required to obtain credit level passes in English language, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics in the West African School Certificate (WASC)/General Certificate of Education (GCE)/Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE), National Examination Council (NECO) or any other acceptable equivalent certificate.
(b) Direct-Entry Requirements
Candidates are required to obtain passes at Higher School Certificate or GCE A/L in Chemistry and Biology or Chemistry and Zoology or Chemistry and Botany in addition to the UTME Entry requirements.
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