01071 - Virology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

After completing this module the student knows the principles of taxonomy, the structure of viruses, their replication and interactions responsible for the onset of illness and recovery. The student is able to deal with virus-related illnesses and undertake the most appropriate strategies to control them.

Course contents

The teaching course of Virology is part of the integrated course of Microbiology and Parasitology, which also includes the teaching courses of Parasitology and Mycology and of Bacteriology and Immunology. At the end of the Integrated Course of Microbiology and Parasitology, the student knows the principles of taxonomy, structure and morphology, biology and interactions with the host of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites of major importance in Veterinary Medicine and Public Health. He also knows the basic principles of immunology and the main methods of immunization, as well as the laboratory methods used for diagnostic purposes in virology, bacteriology, mycology and parasitology.

The academic lectures of the teaching course of Virology are subdivided into a general section and a special section.
The general section aims to describe:

  • the viral structures and symmetries;
  • the different chemical components (nucleic acids, proteins and viral membranes);
  • the basis of viral classification with special reference to the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) classification;
  • the viral genomic properties as well as their evolutionary mechanisms;
  • the different phases of the replication cycle: attachment, penetration, nucleic acid replication, protein synthesis, viral assembly and release;
  • the mechanisms of viral infection and dissemination;
  • the collection, packaging and transport of the specimens and the methods used for direct and indirect diagnosis;
  • the direct and indirect prophylactic strategies against viral diseases, with particular reference to vaccination;
  • the principal antiviral molecules available and the use of viruses for gene delivery in vaccination and gene therapy.

In the special section the principal RNA and DNA viruses responsible of animal diseases will be illustrated with particular emphasis to their replication strategies and pathogenetic mechanisms.

Practical exercises will address the identification of the viral etiologic agent responsible for the disease in an animal population through various diagnostic approaches. The methods of sampling and the methods of sample preparation to be used in direct and indirect diagnostic tests will be investigated. Particular importance will be given to the viral isolation.


On-line lesson material.

Recommended text books:

Poli G, Dall’Ara P, Martino PA, Rosati S e collaboratori. Microbiologia e Immunologia Veterinaria, Terza ed. Edizioni EDRA S.p.a. Milano. IT. 2017. ISBN: 978-88-214-4227-8.

Alessandra Scagliarini, Mara Battilani, Sara Ciulli, Andrea Balboni, Laura Gallina . Manuale di Virologia Veterinaria, Bononia University Press, 2013.

Fenner's Veterinary Virology (Fourth Edition) 2011 Edited by: N. James Maclachlan and Edward J. Dubovi Academic Press.

Teaching methods

The module will comprise academic lectures (18 hours) and practicals (2×2 hours).

The academic lectures are supported through the use of power point slides, video clips, quiz on-line (Kahoot!).

Practicals complement the academic lectures applying the theoretical notions into practice and to develop team work and communication skills. Students will be divided in four groups attending the same lessons: interactive session carried out with computer simulations and laboratory practicals to learn the principal virological diagnostic's techniques.

In consideration of the types of activities and teaching methods adopted, all students have to carry out the e-learning modules 1 and 2 [https://www.unibo.it/it/servizi-e-opportunita/salute-e-assistenza/salute-e-sicurezza/sicurezza-e-salute-nei-luoghi-di-studio-e-tirocinio] and carry out the module 3 of specific training on safety and health in study places. Information on dates and methods of attendance of module 3 can be consulted in the specific section of the degree program website.

Assessment methods

Student assessment will be based on a final written test and an oral exam

The written test:

  • it lasts 1 hour;
  • it aims to verify that students have attained the necessary knowledge and skills;
  • it consists of 9 general and special virology questions with “true/false” response of 1 point value if correctly answered or 2 points if the response is also reasonably explained and 3 open questions that will mark 0 to 5;
  • it will be passed when a minimum mark of 18 points will be obtained;
  • an unsuccessful test involves repeating the test by the candidate.

The results of the test will be available within 1 week.

The date of the oral test is communicated during the written test. In the date of oral exam, the written test is viewed and the mark obtained is communicated. The candidate can decide to accept or not the mark or take the oral exam to improve the mark. The oral exam can be taken only in case of positive result (at least 18 points) to the written test and last about 20 minutes. The oral exam consists in discussing the written test together with the teacher to clarify the main gaps.

If the candidate not come to the oral exam, the mark obtained in the written test will be automatically accepted and registered.

If the student assessment could not be carried out in the presence but only online, it will only consist of the oral exam and will last about 20 minutes. In this case, the aim of the oral exam is to verify the acquisition of knowledge related to the course contents. The oral exam consist in two or three main questions relating to the topics covered during the course and is considered passed if the student answers correctly. The evaluation of the candidate's preparation may require additional questions. Particular attention is paid to the student's ability to connect the concepts of the various parts of the course with information derived from lessons from previous years. In the evaluation of the candidate's responses, particular attention is paid to the acquisition of a logical-deductive content method.

During the tests, the use of support materials such as textbooks, notes and IT supports is not allowed.

The examination of the teachings of virology and bacteriology and immunology takes place at the same time, the two parts cannot be performed separately and the single parts of the exam that could be passed are not considered valid. The final mark of the integrated course of "Microbiology and Parasitology" is obtained from the weighted average of the teachings that compose it.

Prof. Marialetizia Fioravanti is the verbalising teacher.

Teaching tools

Power point presentations, videos, on-line quiz, informatic tools and virology laboratory.

Office hours

See the website of Andrea Balboni