Clinical and Molecular Microbiology MSc


Fact file

MSc Clinical and Molecular Microbiology
Full time 12 Months
Entry requirements
Upper second class (2:1) UK honours bachelor degree (or international equivalent) from a recognised institution
Other requirements
Applicants with a lower second class degree (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 are available
Start date
Queen's Medical Centre and University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This fully accredited course provides training in theoretical and practical aspects of medical microbiology with emphasis on molecular biological techniques.
Read full overview

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. 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.

Skills gained

On completion of the course you will have acquired relevant 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 


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.

Key facts

  • You will undertake a five-month research project that is conducted in the laboratory of an academic within the School of Life Sciences or Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The research carried out within laboratories housing students on the clinical and molecular microbiology course is recognised at an international level.
  • The course has received full accreditation by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS).
  • 95% of the School of Life Sciences research was deemed to be of international quality according to the Research Excellence Framework 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 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.

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 (PBL), and involve student-centred learning methods to develop and manage your teaching and learning.

What you'll study

Lectures are delivered by a panel of leading national and international experts including academics from the University of Nottingham as well as leading experts in their respective fields from other leading institutions and relevant organisations. You will have the opportunity to learn state-of-the-art microbiology techniques, acquire a broad base of theoretical knowledge and gain hands-on practical experience in clinical microbiology. 

In addition to the taught modules, you will also undertake a 60-credit research project conducted over five months in the laboratory of a member research staff within the school or faculty. This module will enable you to experience contemporary research methods by following a research programme and performing experiments, systematic reviews, or other research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem or hypothesis.

We have introduced a PBL theme to the Applied Molecular Microbiology and Bacterial Pathogenesis and Infections modules. This 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.

The last module, the Research Project, is a practical module which allows an efficient cooperation between the student, bench supervisor and the principle investigator of the project, and provides you with hands-on experience of practical techniques, time management skills, and critical analysis that you can develop during your research project.

The Research Project is conducted during the spring semester and continues into the summer months.

All modules and module resources 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 Research Methods 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.

SOLAR, 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 (10 credits)

This module will highlight the properties and host range of various micro-organisms involved in infection, and will outline the development of appropriate immune responses. Students will gain the necessary foundations in medical microbiology.

Research Methods I (10 credits)

Human Pathogens (20 credits) 

The module will provide an overview of the major bacterial, fungal and parasitic human pathogens of clinical importance (viral pathogens are covered in the complementary module MBD404; Viral Pathogenesis & Infection). Pathogens covered 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 (20 credits)

This module will illustrate 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 Infection (20 credits) 

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

Research Project (60 credits)  

This module enables students to experience contemporary research methods by engaging them to design a research programme and perform experiments, surveys, or other research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem. Each student will be allocated an academic supervisor with whom they will discuss the research project prior to commencement. Students will first collect, analyse data, read and collate previous results relevant to their project, then embark on a period of research before preparing, writing and submitting a scientific paper. They will write a clear and concise report and will discuss their work with academic members during a viva voce examination. This module is reserved for students registered on a School of Life Sciences MSc course in Immunology & Allergy, Microbiology & Immunology, Clinical & Molecular Microbiology, Clinical Microbiology (distance) or Molecular Genetics & Diagnostics. The form of project may vary and it will be based on laboratory work, bioinformatics or an extended literature review. The principal activities will be completion of the practical work and submission of a final report in the form of a dissertation and oral examination.

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

Group 1:

Bacterial Pathogenesis and Infections (20 credits) 

Initial lectures will highlight the different mechanisms associated with disease pathogenesis for a selection of bacteria. Subsequent lectures and problem based learning will provide the students with an opportunity to gain an understanding of clinical syndromes using a systematic approach including the microbiology of important diseases, diagnostic approaches and choice of antibiotic. 

Applied Molecular Microbiology (10 credits)

This module provides students the opportunity to gain 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.

Research Methods II (10 credits)

Group 2:

Clinical Syndromes in Infectious Disease (10 credits)

The module will provide a clinical syndrome-focused view of important infectious diseases. It will be 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, management of human and financial resources. Clinical syndromes covered: Respiratory infections; Anaerobes of Clinical Importance; Bone and Joint Infections; STDs, Pathogenesis of Food-Bourne Bacterial Diseases; Infections of Travellers/Rickettsiae; Epidemiological, Clinical and Laboratory Aspects of Pneumonia due to Atypical Pathogens; The Clinical Microbiology of Cystic Fibrosis; Malaria; Endocarditis and HACEK; Septicaemia & Bacteraemia; Blood Cultures; Skin and soft tissue infection; Septicaemia; CNS infections; UTI; PUO; and Infection in the immunocompromised host.

Diagnostic Microbiology and Laboratory Methods (10 credits)

Practical sessions covering conventional and molecular methods applied in routine and specialised laboratories for the diagnosis of bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections. Diagnostic microbiology: From Specimen to final report: Blood, CSF, respiratory, enteric, urinary and other tissue specimens. Specimens from sterile sites. Agar-based detection methods; molecular diagnostics; antibiotic sensitivity testing.

Infection Control and Public Health (10 credits) 

Hospital infection control: Infection control team, Infection control manual, sterilisation and dis-infection, surveillance, antibiotic policy. Special focus on alert organisms including MRSA, VRE, multi-drug resistant bacteria (gram negatives and mycobacteria). 
Epidemiology and public health: Management of outbreaks in the community: natural, man-made or deliberate. 
National and regional bodies and their roles: HPA, with special reference to HPUS, CFI and Reference laboratories, Stregic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts, Local authority, Public Health. 
Health professionals and their roles: CCDC, Health Protection Specialist, Regional Epidemiologists, District nurses, school nurses, Environmental Health Officers. 
Reference facilities: Practical sessions on typing schemes, water and environmental microbiology, 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 modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



School of Life Sciences scholarship 

The School of Life Sciences is offering 12 scholarships amounting to £1,000 each for students starting in 2018-19. 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.

Application deadlines

Home/European Union students: The closing date for scholarship applications is 12 mid-day (UK time) Friday 17 August 2018. Successful applicants will be notified via email by 31 August 2018.

International students: The closing date for scholarship applications is 12 mid-day (UK time) Friday 25 May 2018. Successful applicants will be notified via email by Friday 8 June 2018.

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.





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 2016, 92.6% 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 £26,847 with the highest being £70,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates, 2015/16. 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.  

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

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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