Research course

Dental Microbiology

University of Liverpool · Faculty of Medicine

Entry requirements

We can accept up to five students each year for postgraduate training by research to MPhil or PhD level. For entry to the programme you will need to have obtained a good Honours degree (2:1 or above) in biological or biomedical sciences from a UK university, or a degree in medicine or veterinary medicine or an international degree at an equivalent level. You should include with your application a curriculum vitae and details of the research area in which you are interested. The typical entry requirement is a Bachelors degree (with Honours) at 2:1 level or better in an appropriate field of study. Individual consideration is given to mature students with significant and relevant experience and with professional qualifications. All applicants must have reached a minimum required standard of English language and are required to provide evidence of this. Qualifications accepted by the University can be found on our International webpages. Please see for English Language requirements specific to your country. If you meet the academic requirements of the course but do not have the required level of English Language, it is possible for you to come and study at the University on one of our Pre-sessional EAP programmes. Please see the English Language Centre website for further information about these programmes; If you require additional English Language training during your study, the University is able to provide tuition and arrange IELTS tests through its English Language Centre, details of which are available at

Months of entry

January, December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February

Course content

Oral microbiology is the study of the functioning of normally commensal microorganisms present in the oral cavity, and how their pathogenic properties may change to cause the common diseases of man i.e., caries and periodontitis (gum disease). In IGH the focus on oral microbes is centred on the virulence mechanisms of sub-gingival bacteria and their involvement in the pathogenesis of periodontal disease. The long term aims of such studies is to yield insights into potential for novel therapeutic strategies to treat gum disease.

Subject Overview

Research in oral microbiology (conducted by Dr John Smalley) is based in new laboratories in the Ronald Ross Building and in the Dental School Research Wing. It encompasses studies of the pathogenic properties of sub-gingival Gram-negative anaerobes which are associated with initiation and progression of periodontal disease. One of the major focuses is on the black (haem)-pigmenting anaerobic bacteria (Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia) and the role of haem as a central virulence up-regulator for these species. On-going projects include the roles of cysteine proteases (gingipains and interpains) and outer-membrane haem-binding haemophores in haem acquisition from host haem-proteins. Interest is also focussed upon the modulation virulence properties of the above organisms in the periodontal tissues of diabetics (who suffer from increase incidence and severity of gum disease) during chronic hyperglycaemia.

Research interest has also been extended into understanding the role played by periodontal disease-causing anaerobes in lung infections in cystic fibrosis (CF) and how extracellular products from Pseudomonas aeruginosa may enhance the virulence of black-pigmenting anaerobes which are major co-infecting species in the lungs of CF patients.

Fees and funding

UK students
Full-time: £4,195, Part-time: £2,098 (2017)

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months


full time
36 months


full time
60 months

Course contact details

PG Recruitment
+44 (0)151 794 5927