Course overview

Be trained in clinical microbiology and infectious diseases, with particular emphasis on patient management and infection control.

You will study a series of modules that have been designed to appeal to applicants from different professions and organisational roles. There is the flexibility to undertake modules on an individual, stand-alone basis too.

MSc Clinical Microbiology (Distance Learning) is delivered through distance learning meaning you can study with us from anywhere in the world. It is offered part-time to provide flexibility to study alongside work or around your lifestyle. The course is open to home, EU, and international students and is 100% online-based.

The course will benefit healthcare professionals or new graduates aiming for a healthcare career, specialising in clinical microbiology. It is also suitable for medically qualified students who wish to prepare for higher professional qualifications, including Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) status.

Why choose this course?

We're accredited

The course has received full accreditation by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)

World-Leading research

100% of UoA24 (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism) and 84% of the UoA5 (Biological Sciences) research submitted was judged to be "world-leading" (4*), or "Internationally Excellent" (3*).

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Gold-standard teaching

Our teaching is recognised as the highest standard

Course content

Students progressing toward the MSc need to complete 180 credits, consisting of 120 credits of taught modules and a 60 credit Research Project.

All modules are compulsory.


Core modules

Introduction to Medical Microbiology 10 credits

You will gain the necessary foundations in medical microbiology through this introductory module, through studying the properties and host range of various micro-organisms involved in infection, as well as the development of appropriate immune responses.

Viral Pathogenesis and Infection 20 credits

This module illustrates how viruses interact with cells, what are the underlying molecular mechanisms of infection and replication, and how these interactions lead to clinical disease.

Human Pathogens

An overview of the major bacterial, fungal and parasitic human pathogens of clinical importance is provided on this module.

Pathogens covered may include: Campylobacter jejuni; Legionella pneumophila; Staphylococcus aureus; Helicobacter pylori; Anaerobes of Clinical Importance; Coagulase negative Staphylococci; Haemophilus spp.; Listeria monocytogenes; Burkholderia and Stenotrophomonas; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Yeast and yeast-like fungi; Filamentous and dimorphic fungi; Vibrionacea; Pathogenic Neisseria Spp.; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Group A Streptococci; Mycobacterium tuberculosis and atypical mycobacteria; Enterococcus; Escherichia coli; Enterobacteriaceae; Leishmania and Trypanosoma; Protozoa (Intestinal, Toxoplasma, Trichomonads and Amoebae); Bacillus Spp.

Diagnostic Microbiology and Laboratory Methods

Based on the campus based practical module, you will gain an understanding of conventional and molecular methods applied in routine and specialised laboratories – for the diagnosis of bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections using short videos, recorded podcasts and working case studies. You will study diagnostic microbiology, from specimen to final report: blood, cerebro-spinal fluid, respiratory, enteric, urinary and other tissue specimens.

Specimens from sterile sites and agar-based detection methods, such as molecular diagnostics and antibiotic sensitivity testing, are also covered by this module.

Research Methods and Statistics

The overall aim of this module is to ensure that the trainee has the underpinning knowledge of the importance of research, development and innovation across the NHS and in healthcare science in particular and to provide the underpinning knowledge for the research project.

Topics will include experimental research methods, statistics and critical analysis of data.

Clinical Syndromes in Infectious Disease

You will develop the ability to apply a clinical syndrome-focused view of important infectious diseases. This module is delivered primarily using lectures on clinical and scientific aspects of: bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections; management of infectious diseases; organ-based microbiology; management of the laboratory service and the management of human and financial resources.

Content includes: respiratory infections; anaerobes of clinical importance; bone and joint infections; STDs; pathogenesis of foodborne bacterial diseases; infections of travellers and rickettsiae; epidemiological, clinical and laboratory aspects of pneumonia due to atypical pathogens; cystic fibrosis; malaria; endocarditis and HACEK; septicaemia and bacteraemia; blood cultures; skin and soft tissue infection; central nervous system infections; UTIs; pyrexia of unknown origin; and infection in the immunocompromised host.

Prevention and Treatment of Infection

This module facilitates an understanding of antimicrobial therapies for the control of infection and disease – encompassing the study of the action of specific antimicrobial compounds, mechanisms of resistance and the development of preventative and therapeutic vaccines.

Infection Control and Public Health

This module examines aspects of:

  • hospital infection control including: infection control team; infection control manual; sterilisation and dis-infection; surveillance and antibiotic policy
  • alert organisms including MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococcus and multi-drug resistant bacteria, such as gram negatives and mycobacteria
  • epidemiology and public health, as well as the management of natural, man-made or deliberate outbreaks in the community
  • national and regional bodies and their roles, such as: the Health Protection Agency – with special reference to HPUS – the Centre for Infections, reference laboratories, Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts, local authorities and Public Health.
  • health professionals and their roles: Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, Health Protection Specialist, regional epidemiologists, district nurses, school nurses, environmental health officers
  • reference facilities and their uses – through practical sessions on typing schemes, water and environmental microbiology, as well as antibiotic resistance monitoring

Research project

Research Project 60 credits

You will design and execute a research programme performing experiments, surveys, analysing data and undertaking other research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem in immunology or immunotherapeutics.

The form of project may vary from laboratory-based work, bioinformatics, or extended literature reviews, depending on the expertise of your project supervisor.  As well as gaining the technical and project management skills required for contemporary research, you will develop the ability to write scientific texts through producing a dissertation based on your research findings.

This report is discussed with academic staff during an oral examination. 

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 15 April 2024.

Due to timetabling availability, there may be restrictions on some module combinations.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • eLearning
  • Podcasts
  • Presentations
  • Interactive learning
  • Distance learning materials
  • Audio lectures

You will be taught through a blended learning approach, using different mediums.

Materials are prepared by a panel of leading national and international experts including:

  • academics from the University of Nottingham
  • experts in their respective fields from other leading institutions
  • practicing healthcare professionals working in the National Health Service (NHS), Public Health England, and other relevant bodies

The online learning environment also supports the development of online networks to facilitate communication between students on the course and the tutors.

How you will be assessed

  • Examinations
  • Coursework
  • Practical exams
  • Presentation
  • Dissertation
  • Viva voce

It is assessed similarly to the campus based Clinical and Molecular Microbiology course. Thus the majority of the modules are taught by online examination through our e-assessment software. Either MCQ or SAQ papers. The course is also taught through coursework, such as presentations and written dissertations. There is also a viva voce examination through skype of the research project.

You'll gain a wide range of knowledge and skills relating to clinical microbiology including:

  • Knowledge of key human infections, with particular emphasis on medically important bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites
  • Management of patients with infections
  • Diagnostic tests carried out in routine and specialised laboratories
  • Anti-microbial chemotherapy
  • Infection control and management of outbreaks in hospitals and the community
  • Research in clinical microbiology and transferable (generic) research methods
  • Capability to assess and provide leadership in investigating complex clinical scenarios relating to infection
  • Analyse and critically assess scientific data and make decisions on their significance
  • Understand, assess and assist in the management and prevention of outbreaks of communicable diseases
  • Independently acquire knowledge and utilise it for applied or research purposes
  • Recognise signs and symptoms of infection and manage patients effectively
  • Process laboratory specimens competently and offer sound advice on diagnostic issues
  • Carry out audits and surveillance to monitor infection and antibiotic resistance in hospitals and community
  • Investigate and manage outbreaks of infection in hospitals and community

In addition, you will gain the following transferable skills:

  • Plan and organise workload and time
  • Use available resources (computer programmes, specialised services, etc) effectively
  • Undertake self-education and analytical self-assessment

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 honours degree in any relevant subject


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK £9700
International £28,600

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

Our online library resources contain all relevant books and research journals you might require, however, if you wish to purchase these materials for yourself, you should take this into consideration.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

Our MSc graduates are very much in demand by employers in both the private and public sectors and have the opportunity to establish successful careers in a range of areas.

The Clinical Microbiology MSc (Distance Learning) enables you to acquire advanced knowledge of molecular and clinical microbiology to prepare you for hospital-based clinical microbiology, infectious disease and public health positions.

Students from our full suite of MSc courses have gone on to a wide variety of positions – here are a few examples:

  • Senior House Officer (SHO) in Medical Microbiology
  • Research Technicians in Oncology
  • Senior Registrar (SpR) in Medical Microbiology
  • PhD London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Infection Control Nurses
  • NHS Clinical Scientists
  • Regulatory Affairs Specialist – AMGEM Biotech
  • PhD School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Cambridge
  • Clinical Trial Data Managers
  • Application Specialist Biological Sciences, Japan
  • Biomedical Scientists (BMS1)
  • PhD School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • Research Technician – School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • Research Scientist – Glaxo SmithKline

Career progression

81.5% of postgraduates from the School of Life Sciences secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £25,679 was the average starting salary*

HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time, postgraduate, home graduates within the UK.

Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)

The course has full accreditation of the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), which is a professional acknowledgement of the quality and relevance of the course to individuals employed as biomedical scientists. It helps career progression of biomedical scientists already employed and state registered, allowing those BMS1 technical officers to apply for promotion and higher grades.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" It has always been a dream of mine to study abroad at a prestigious university that allows exploration of the field of microbiology. The highlight of the course was having a suite of research projects to choose from while given the opportunity to learn and work with leading experts in the field. "
Emily Pui-Yee Seto, MSc Clinical Microbiology

This content was last updated on Monday 15 April 2024. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.