Postgraduate study
This fully accredited course provides training in theoretical and practical aspects of medical microbiology with emphasis on molecular biological techniques.
MSc Clinical and Molecular Microbiology
1 year full-time; 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2:1 hons degree or international equivalent
Other requirements
Applicants with a 2:2 or international equivalent may be considered on an individual basis
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
MSc: £7,785; PGDip: £5,190; PGCert: £2,595 - Terms apply
International fees
MSc: £22,815; PGDip: £15,210; PGCert: £7,605 - Terms apply
Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)
Queen's Medical Centre and University Park



The MSc Clinical and Molecular Microbiology course is ideal for biomedical scientists pursuing a career in diagnostic medicine, or students wishing to enter a research career and gain high-level skills in molecular medical microbiology.

You can choose to study this course full-time for one year or part-time for two years. Students wanting to register on a part-time basis must be affiliated to a NHS trust laboratory whereby they can attend academic lectures at the University of Nottingham on one day release per week from their place of work, and conduct their research project in their employer laboratory.

We welcome applications from home, EU and international students.

The course aims to provide training in theoretical and practical aspects of medical microbiology with a focus on clinical methods for diagnosis and patient management and molecular biological techniques in research and diagnostic labs. You will gain basic and advanced knowledge of important viral, bacterial and parasitic infections and how these infections are diagnosed and treated in the clinic.


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.

Skills gained

On completion of the course you will have acquired transferable skills such as:

  • data management
  • interpretation and presentation
  • time management and organisation
  • critical analysis
  • effective verbal and written communication skills
  • analytical and creative thinking 


Key facts

  • Undertake a four-month research project in the laboratory of an academic within the School of Life Sciences or Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • The course has received full accreditation by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)
  • The School of Life Sciences has an excellent reputation for cutting-edge research in a range of biomedical and related fields*
  • The school has been awarded Athena SWAN Silver status. Athena SWAN champions good working practices to advance the representation of women in STEMM subjects
  • Our alumni have varied prospects and inspirational careers - including working for NASA  as a Planetary Protection Engineer

* 95% of the School of Life Sciences research was deemed to be of international quality in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. 


Full course details

This course comprises 180 credits, split across 120 credits worth of taught modules and a 60-credit Research Project. The taught modules are delivered through lectures or problem-based learning, and involve student-centred learning methods to develop and manage your teaching and learning.

What you'll study

On this course, you will learn state-of-the-art microbiology techniques, acquire a broad base of theoretical knowledge and gain hands-on practical experience in clinical microbiology. Lectures are delivered by national and international experts including academics and clinicians from the University of Nottingham as well as other leading institutions and relevant organisations.

In addition to taught modules, you will also undertake a 60-credit Research Project conducted over four months in the laboratory of a member of research staff within the school or faculty. This module will enable you to experience contemporary research methods by performing experiments, systematic reviews, or other research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem or hypothesis. The Research Project is conducted during the spring semester and continues into the summer months.

The problem-based learning approach on the Applied Molecular Microbiology and Bacterial Pathogenesis and Infections modules allows you freedom for investigative research of a given topic. You can work as individuals, in pairs or collectively in groups to solve a problem.

All modules and module resources, such as lecture PowerPoints, podcasts and supporting literature are uploaded and accessed through Moodle, the University’s online virtual learning environment. The University has invested in the lecture capture software, Echo 360 which allows faithful recording of all lectures that are timetabled in University lecture rooms.


How you'll be assessed

This course uses a variety of assessment methods that are adopted by the nature of the module. Forms of assessment include:

  • examinations - essay paper in the form of short answer questions (SAQ) and online multiple-format questions (MFQ)
  • assessed coursework - both written and verbal
  • practical examination in the Research Methods module
  • viva voce examination for the Research Project module

MFQ for all taught course modules are delivered online through the University’s Rogo™ software which is accessed through the Student Portal. This allows each test to be marked by the software quickly and accurately.

The Core Research Methods: Molecular Techniques module has an element of peer assessment where student members of the audience are invited to assess their colleagues’ performances according to set criteria and descriptors, and the research project dissertation will be written up as a scientific paper.

BlueCastle, the student online learning and administrative system of the school, can be accessed through the University portal and provides a central point for you to access your assessment results and tutorial records. Timetables are accessed through University central timetabling.

You will be expected to work both independently and as part of a group.


Student support

Each student is allocated a personal tutor at the beginning of the course, and regular meetings are scheduled throughout the year. Your personal tutor is your first point of contact for any issues you may have, both academically and personally. They can also help you access wider University services. 




This course requires you to complete the following core modules:

Introduction to Medical Microbiology
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.
Core Research Methods: Transferable Skills
You will gain an understanding of how to plan, prepare and execute research in the field of molecular biology, microbiology immunology and genetics. As well as learning how to manage the various stages of research projects, you will gain experience presenting research data and preparing publications. This module will also enhance your ability to critically assess published literature and analyse data.
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.

Viral Pathogenesis and Infections
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.
Prevention and Treatment of Infections
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.
Research Project

On this 60 credit module 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 the subject area you are studying. You will discuss the research project with your academic supervisor before the project begins.

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 topic and form of project may vary from laboratory-based work, bioinformatics or extended literature reviews, depending on the expertise of our academic staff and which course you are enrolled on.


In addition, you will be able to choose from one of the following groups of optional modules: 

Group 1:

Bacterial Pathogenesis and Infections
This introductory module will enable you to obtain practical experience in using bioinformatics software available for the analysis of genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic data.

The module is taught using a combination of lectures and practical sessions. You are required to produce a poster for assessment which includes information gathered from online databases about a particular gene or disease.

Applied Molecular Microbiology
This module provides you with the opportunity to gain an understanding of the theory and potential applications of molecular biological techniques in diagnostic and research microbiology. This is achieved via a series of problem-based learning activities.
Core Research Methods: Molecular Techniques
During these practical laboratory sessions, you will gain experience of standard techniques related to laboratory research in the fields of immunology, microbiology and molecular genetics. From this, you will appreciate the workflow of gene cloning, followed by sequence analysis of genes and their variability, as well as cloning and expression of recombinant proteins.


Group 2:

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.

Diagnostic Microbiology and Laboratory Methods 
Through practical sessions, 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. 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.

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


We provide some background material for students to look at prior to starting the course, to make sure that everyone is starting off from a similar level of knowledge. This material is delivered online, with quizzes that enable self-testing. The same software is used throughout the course to provide additional learning material.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

School of Life Sciences scholarship 

The School of Life Sciences is offering 12 scholarships amounting to £1,000 each for international students joining our MSc courses in 2019/20. To apply for these scholarships you need a copy of an acceptance letter confirming that you have a place to study. This is a competitive scheme and students will be awarded a scholarship on academic and individual merit.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon (GMT) Friday 24 May 2019. Successful applicants will be notified via email by Friday 14 June 2019.

Full details and application forms for these scholarships can be obtained by contacting:
Anita Purshottam


Home/EU students  

For funding advice, please see our guide to funding


Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Careers and professional development

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.

Some graduates will go on to do MRCPath exams, take up positions as trainee diagnostic microbiologists (biomedical scientists) or clinical scientists, or pursue higher degrees such as PhD or MD. Others gain employment in industry such as large pharmaceutical companies or other private enterprises.

The course is the choice for healthcare professionals of NHS England, Nottingham Trust. These trainees generally have previous experience of diagnostic microbiology but come to us either to increase their awareness of the uses of molecular biology in the diagnostic laboratory or to increase their understanding of current advances in medical microbiology.

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 - 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 Molecular Medical Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • Research Technician - School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Nottingham 
  • Research Scientist – Glaxo SmithKline 

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2017, 94.9% of postgraduates from the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,400 with the highest being £40,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.


Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from  careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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