Taught course

Microbiology and Infection

University of Birmingham · School of Biosciences

Visit the institution website for COVID‑19 updates

Entry requirements

Lower second-class honours degree in a Biosciences subject. The course should include at least 40 credits of Microbiology.

Months of entry


Course content

Aims of the course are to provide graduates in the Biosciences with a sound theoretical background and hands-on laboratory experience in leading edge microbiology. Students will gain specialist knowledge and insight in key aspects of bacterial infection.

The Institute of Microbiology and Infection at Birmingham brings together a group of researchers and lecturers from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences and the College of Medical and Dental Sciences with expertise in a wide range of aspects of microbiology in infectious disease. The MSc Microbiology and Infection draws on this expertise to highlight the impact of recent advances in understanding of microbes in infection.

The course will enable students to develop basic abilities and skills on which to build professional capability in a healthcare or related microbiology or biomedical research setting.


You will take six 20-credit taught modules and in addition will carry out a 12-week research project. The project will be conducted within a research group in the School of Biosciences or another part of the University. You will be working alongside research scientists on an original research topic integrated with the ongoing work of the group

1. Core concepts and skills in Microbiology (20 credits)

This module acts as a refresher on the fundamentals of molecular and cellular microbiology. You will have the opportunity to develop key quantitative, analytical and critical analysis skills. It will also include important aspects of working in the laboratory and how to handle microorganisms safely.

2. Medical microbiology practice and applications (20 credits)

You will study infectious disease; emerging infections; epidemiology and the impact of change; diagnosis; typing and clinical practice

3. The role of the host in infection and immunity (20 credits)

You will study important aspects of the role of the host including inflammation and its role in disease and resistance; septic shock; apoptosis; immunity, innate and acquired; vaccination; vaccine discovery, research and development and immunocompromise and opportunistic infection

4. Bacterial surface structure and its significance. (20 credits)

The bacterial surface plays a key role in the interaction between host and pathogen. This module focuses on bacterial virulence factors and their underlying mechanisms. It will include: protein secretion systems and their importance in disease causation; extracellular toxins; extracellular structures and interactions; biofilm formation, quorum sensing; adhesion to host structures; cellular and systemic invasion and other factors such as iron acquisition and motility

5. Antibiotics and antimicrobials (20 credits)

You will learn about the diversity, modes of action and targets of antibiotics, their uses and abuses and resistance and its mechanisms. New approaches to tackling the emerging threat of antibiotic resistance and antimicrobial drug design and discovery will also be considered.

6. Molecular Microbiology: ‘omics’ and knowledge-based applications in medical microbiology (20 credits)

Our understanding of Microbes has been revolutionised by our ability to sequence their genomes and by other ‘omics’ techniques. This module will cover sequencing technology, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metagenomics and explore how these have advanced our understanding of microbial pathogens. You will consider issues which arise from the need to analyse large data sets and will gain hands on experience of bioinformatics tools.

Explore postgraduate study at Birmingham at one of our on-campus open days.

If you can’t make it to one of our on-campus open days, our virtual open days run regularly throughout the year.

Fees and funding

Please visit our website

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Postgraduate enquiry service
0121 414 5005