Postgraduate study
Gain in depth knowledge in two complementary disciplines and understand the challenges posed by pathogens and how they shape immune responses.
MSc Microbiology and Immunology
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2:1 hons degree or international equivalent
Other requirements
The course is also offered to medical and veterinary graduates wishing to pursue a career in immunology or microbiology. 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
£7,785 - Terms apply
International fees
£22,815 - Terms apply
Queen's Medical Centre

School of Life Sciences




Open to UK, EU and international students from a medical, veterinary or biological sciences background, our course is suited to students who want a balanced training in microbiology and immunology. The depth of study into both areas is a speciality of the course. 

Key topics that the course will cover include:

  • immunity
  • infections
  • medical microbiology
  • pathogens
  • the immune system
  • viruses

You’ll be taught by active researchers in both areas with exposure to research groups in the University who are tackling the latest problems such as the Zika virus, Ebola and Antimicrobial resistance.

Research in the school

At Nottingham, we research to bring about positive change. Our innovative ideas are designed to work in the real world. Postgraduate students directly contribute to the impact of our research and are important to the work we do. 

The school is responsible for the main biological and biomedical research in the University. Current research divisions include:

  • Cells, Organisms and Molecular Genetics
  • Infections, Immunity and Microbes
  • Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience

Recent research publications

Human Adaptation of Ebola Virus during the West African Outbreak.
Urbanowicz RA, McClure CP, Sakuntabhai A, Sall AA, Kobinger G, Müller MA, Holmes EC, Rey FA, Simon-Loriere E, Ball JK.
Cell. 2016 Nov 3;167(4):1079-1087.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.013.

Environmental modification via a quorum sensing molecule influences the social landscape of siderophore production.
Popat R, Harrison F, da Silva AC, Easton SA, McNally L, Williams P, Diggle SP.
Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Apr 12;284(1852). pii: 20170200. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0200.

Diagnostic and prognostic significance of systemic alkyl quinolones for P. aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis: A longitudinal study.
Barr HL, Halliday N, Barrett DA, Williams P, Forrester DL, Peckham D, Williams K, Smyth AR, Honeybourne D, L Whitehouse J, Nash EF, Dewar J, Clayton A, Knox AJ, Cámara M, Fogarty AW.
J Cyst Fibros. 2017 Mar;16(2):230-238. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Oct 20.

The fitness burden imposed by synthesising quorum sensing signals.
Ruparell A, Dubern JF, Ortori CA, Harrison F, Halliday NM, Emtage A, Ashawesh MM, Laughton CA, Diggle SP, Williams P, Barrett DA, Hardie KR.
Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 12;6:33101. doi: 10.1038/srep33101.


Programme Leader profiles

Dr Kim Hardie

I’m an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences and Programme Lead for MSc Microbiology and Immunology. 

My teaching focusses on molecular bacteriology, with a particular slant towards pathogenicity and includes lectures on motility and a student-led group poster preparation tutorial on intracellular pathogen virulence strategies. I also transfer my experiences of working in scientific publishing and with professional societies to the students. For example, I facilitate workshops on ‘critical appraisal of journal articles’ and ‘creating impact and accessibility for research output’, as well as hosting an afternoon showcasing external speakers from a range of careers.

My research interests include understanding the way bacteria form complex communities called biofilms with novel imaging techniques including optical nanosenors that detect pH in microniches and relate this to antimicrobial resistance. I also look at how virulence factors contribute to the formation of biofilms in chronic infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa in lungs and skin models. More information on my research can be found on my website.

Dr Luisa Martinez-Pomares

I’m an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences and Programme Lead for MSc Microbiology and Immunology. 

I convene and teach the module Innate Immune Recognition. My teaching which is mainly focussed on the cellular and molecular components of the innate immune system and the decision process leading to the induction of the inflammatory response in the context of infection. My passion is to establish factors that contribute to the development of non-resolving chronic inflammation and the role that bacterial biofilms play in this setting.

For my research, I combine expertise in molecular biology, biochemistry, cellular biology and immunochemistry to study the molecular characteristics of lectin receptors and identify ligands of endogenous and microbial origin. I also investigate the in vivo tissue distribution of receptors and their ligands as a mean to determine their contribution to immunity under steady state and inflammatory conditions. I have recently developed novel reagents to specifically reduce MR function both in vitro and in vivo that are being evaluated in a therapeutic context for the control of ischemia-reperfusion injury. 

As well as my work at the University, I am Section Editor for Journal of Leukocyte Biology and Associate Editor for Molecular Antigen Presenting Cell Section of Frontiers in Immunology. I also review for a range of scientific journals.


International applicants

You will be joining a course with staff and students from all over the world including France, Germany, Iran, Spain, Nigeria, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India, China, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and the UK. 

The University has dedicated teams to support international applicants through the application and registration processes. There is also a welcome programme to help you settle in to life in the UK and meet other students. The Students’ Union is also a source of support. 


Key facts

  • 95% of the School of Life Sciences research was deemed to be of international quality according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.
  • The School of Life Sciences was ranked 9th for Research Power in our unit of assessment (REF 2014).
  • 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 features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings.



Full course details

You’ll have 120 credits of taught modules and undertake a 60 credit research project and dissertation. A full list of the modules is available under the modules tab.

For the research project, you’ll have a choice from topics provided by academics across multiple research areas such as microbiology, immunology, host-pathogen interaction, genetic engineering, microbial virulence, biotechnology and biochemistry. Many students work on exciting novel research projects.

You could be working with a team in the Medical School or on University Park Campus. Alternatively, some projects will take you to City Hospital in Nottingham or Sutton Bonington Campus.

Past projects have included:

  • Impact of an educational intervention upon the hand hygiene compliance of children
  • A novel virulence strategy for Pseudomonas aeruginosa mediated by an autotransporter with arginine-specific aminopeptidase activity
  • TLR-induced miRNA in HBD9 regulation during Pseudomonas infection
  • Forward genetics in Clostridium acetobutylicum
  • Re-use of antimicrobial solution for antimicrobial biomaterials
  • Engagement of inhibitory signalling on human basophils
  • Changes in the bacterial biofilm due to sub-inhibitory antimicrobial
  • Viral Discovery
  • Interbacterial interactions within a polymicrobial model
  • Development of next generation biosensors for Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • RT-qPCR for meningococcal carriage density
  • Role of cigarette smoking in multiple sclerosis

What you'll study

By studying this course, you will:

  • acquire basic and advanced knowledge of medical microbiology and immunology which will  prepare you for future scientific research
  • gain direct experience of a variety of molecular biology, microbial and immunological techniques
  • train to carry out critical evaluation of published scientific papers, and understand the applicability of the techniques used and results obtained to a variety of related and unrelated scientific problems
  • study in greater depth one aspect of microbiology and/or immunology by conducting research and develop reporting and result interpretation skills through completion of a dissertation

How you'll be taught and assessed

Course material is delivered through lectures, problem-based learning, practical sessions and tutorials. 

Assessment varies depending on the topic being studied but you can expect:

  • examinations delivered electronically (multiple choice, multiple response and extended matching questions)
  • written examinations
  • oral presentations
  • essays
  • poster preparation
  • dissertation

Skills and facilities

Through the taught modules and the research project, you’ll gain practical skills in various areas. The school has excellent research facilities to support your practical training. 

  • qPCR
  • imaging
  • FACS
  • biochemistry
  • genomics
  • tissue culture
  • sterile microbiology
  • molecular genetic engineering
  • biofilms
  • interface with biosurfaces

In addition to subject-specific skills, you’ll also gain the following transferable skills:

  • time management
  • critical analysis
  • research ethics
  • study design
  • presentation – short, long and oral

Student support

All students will have a personal tutor for academic and pastoral support. In addition, you’ll have two supervisors for the research project – a primary supervisor and a senior laboratory supervisor.

The course is an inclusive environment. We have students from different work and educational backgrounds as well as various nationalities and cultures so there is often strong peer support within each cohort. 

The University offers wider student support relating to money matters, health and welfare, and careers. 

Course video




You’ll have 120 credits of taught modules and undertake a 60 credit research project and dissertation. 

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.
Immunity and the Immune System 
The aim of this introductory 10 credit module is to define the basic mechanisms and concepts underpinning the science of immunology and allergy.
Core Research Methods: Transferable Research 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.
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.
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.

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.
Innate Immune Recognition
This module focuses on the basic mechanisms and concepts underpinning: immune activation within the context of infection with extracellular and intracellular pathogens; tumour recognition; immunoevasion and immunopathology. You will also gain insight in to how this understanding could be used for developing new vaccination or therapeutic strategies.
Therapeutic Immunology
The analysis of current and potential therapeutic strategies of immunological-based clinical conditions is covered on this module. You will also assess the use of cytokines, engineered antibodies, in utero stem cell transplantation and peptide vaccines for treating immunological diseases.
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

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


UK/EU students

For 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

The skills gained from this course will provide knowledge and practical skills at the host-pathogen interface, which will prepare you for a range of career paths.

The molecular medical microbiology aspects of the course are very desirable for employers in both the private and public sectors. Moreover, the comprehensive understanding of immunological mechanisms enables you to gain entry to careers in research, industry and clinical settings.

Whatever your career path, the research background provided by the research project/dissertation component of the course will ideally place you to establish a career at a higher level. 

Students from our MSc courses have gone on to positions including:

  • PhD – Immunology
  • PhD - School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Cambridge
  • PhD - University of Nottingham
  • Senior House Officer (SHO) in Medical Microbiology 
  • Research Assistant in Immunology
  • Research Technicians 
  • 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
  • Clinical Trial Data Managers
  • Application Specialist Biological Sciences – Japan
  • Biomedical Scientists (BMS1)
  • Graduate Entry Medicine
  • Biomedical Scientist Scientific Training Programme (STP)

To help you decide on the best career choice, an annual event is held which includes presentations from people currently working within different environments eg Big Pharma, SME, Biomedical Science, Clinical Science, Media relations and as a Patent Attorney. Tips on application procedures, qualification requirements and daily responsibilities are provided.

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

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service.   

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.


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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