Postgraduate study
This accredited course provides training in clinical microbiology with an emphasis on patient management and infection control.
MSc Clinical Microbiology (Distance Learning)
3 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 6.5 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
Delivered through distance learning

School of Life Sciences




The Clinical Microbiology MSc (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 career in healthcare, 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. This course is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS).

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

Key facts

  • 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.
  • We've been recognised as delivering a Gold standard in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which aims to recognise and reward excellent learning and teaching.
  • Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings.

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


Full course details

The course has been developed so you can study at your own pace. There are three qualifications available depending on how many credits you obtain and whether you do a Research Project, which is worth 60 credits:

  • PGCert (60 credits of taught modules, taught over one year)
  • PGDip (120 credits of taught modules, taught over two years)
  • MSc (180 credits: 120 credits of taught modules and a 60-credit Research Project)

You will study a series of modules which 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.

What you'll study

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 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 audit 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

How you'll be taught and assessed

You will be taught through a blended learning approach, using different mediums such as:

  • podcasts
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • interactive learning materials
  • lecture notes and handouts

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 development of online networks to facilitate communication between students on the course and the tutors.

The course will be assessed by coursework based on the materials taught, which will be submitted electronically. Some of the coursework will be assessed online in a time-limited manner with full access to reading materials.





For the PGCert and PGDip qualifications you'll need to complete taught modules totalling 60 credits and 120 credits respectively.

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.

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.
Viral Pathogenesis and Infection
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
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.

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

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.



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

UK students

For general funding advice, please see our guide to funding.

Government loans for masters courses

Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international and EU 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 you apply for your course with enough 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.

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. In addition, you will gain numerous transferable skills which are applicable to a wide variety of vocations and career opportunities.

Many UK-based students will go on to do FRCPath exams, take up positions as trainee diagnostic microbiologists (Biomedical Scientists) or Clinical Scientists, or pursue higher degrees such as PhD or MD.

Students from our microbiology courses have found employment and further training in a very wide variety of positions, including:

  • Senior House Officer in Medical Microbiology
  • Research Technician in Oncology
  • Senior Registrar 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 Manager
  • Application Specialist in Biological Sciences (Japan)
  • Biomedical Scientists (BMS1)
  • PhD (School of Molecular Medical Sciences, University of Nottingham)
  • Research Technician (School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Nottingham)

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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