Course overview

This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. You will spend a lot of time in our £5 million Super Lab gaining hands-on lab experience. Practical learning and laboratory experience starts early in semester one of the first year. Your lab skills will improve throughout the first and second years. In your final year, you will become a member of a research laboratory and carry out your own year-long research project. Some students have even had their work published in scientific journals.

All microbiology teaching staff are actively involved in research. This ensures that you are learning up-to-date topics and ideas. We aim to produce graduates who are ready to go out and help tackle some of the biggest problems facing our world today.

What you will study

Microbiologists play an important role in helping to prevent disease, develop new treatments, clean up the environment, and keep food safe. You will study the micro-organisms which affect the environment, human, animal and plant health, and find out how to use microbes to make medicines and vaccines.

You will explore the use of good and bad bacteria, viruses and eukaryotic microbes, and learn different methods needed for the safe handling of level 2 pathogens. These are biological agents that can cause disease, including Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria and Salmonella. Our range of optional modules in the second and third years allows you to tailor your study to your interests.

When you graduate you will be qualified to work with microbial pathogens. This means you can work in a laboratory in research or a pharmaceutical company.

You will learn:

  • sterile technique
  • how to identify bacteria (including pathogenic bacteria)
  • how to grow and characterise bacteria in the laboratory
  • the mechanisms of anti-microbial resistance
  • how to detect and count viruses
  • gene analysis and cloning

Year in Computer Science

You can choose to add this optional additional year when you start your degree. It takes place between your second and third years. You’ll learn how to bring together the latest developments from across science disciplines. This is increasingly important to help solve some of the biggest challenges we face. Module topics will cover:

  • Programming
  • Software Development
  • Modelling
  • Databases
  • Problem Solving
  • Image Processing

You'll study at our Jubilee Campus, taught by experts from the School of Computer Science. If you choose this option, your degree certificate will change to ‘…with a Year in Computer Science'.

Why choose this course?


student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2020


different areas of microbiology, including disease, health, food and the environment


by the Royal Society of Biology, who cited good practice in having a research-led curriculum and the progressive development of laboratory skills

Optional industry year

supported by our placement team, for real-life experience

One-to-one support

on your research project from academic supervisors and lab mentors

Study abroad

for a semester or year, to gain an international perspective 

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level BBC in Clearing for home students

Please note: Applicants whose backgrounds or personal circumstances have impacted their academic performance may receive a reduced offer. Please see our contextual admissions policy for more information.

Required subjects

A levels to include two science-based subjects 

IB score 28; 5,5 in two science subject at Higher Level in Clearing for home students

A levels

BBC in Clearing for home students, including two science-based subjects.

Accepted subjects include: biology, chemistry, physics, maths, further maths and geography.

General studies, critical thinking, citizenship studies and leisure studies are not accepted.

Mature Students

At the University of Nottingham, we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on the mature students webpage.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Computer labs
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Problem classes

How you will be assessed

We use a range of assessment methods, including exams, essays, verbal presentations and practicals. You will receive a copy of our marking criteria which provides guidance on how we will assess your work. Your work will be marked on time and you will receive regular feedback.

Your final degree classification will be based on marks gained in your second and third years of study.

You must pass each year to progress. This typically means that you will need to achieve marks of at least 40% in each module. Full details on our marking criteria and structure will be provided at your induction.

To study abroad as part of your degree, you must meet minimum academic requirements in year one.

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Group project
  • Lab reports
  • Poster presentation
  • Research project
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

In your first year, you will take 120 credits in core modules. As a guide, one credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. You will spend around half of your time in lectures, seminars and practicals. The remaining time will be independent study. Core modules are typically taught by professors or associate professors. PhD students help supervise or demonstrate in some practical classes.

Study abroad

There are a number of options to apply to study abroad during your time at Nottingham. We offer designated support to guide you through the entire process. You can apply to: 

  • study in Australia or Canada. We'll help you apply to spend a semester of your second year at one of our highly ranked international partner universities
  • study in France, Austria or Spain for an additional year between years two and three

Year in industry

We have excellent links with companies, and can help to find the best placement for you. Often a placement year can help you to secure to a graduate job.

Our students have been on placement with:

  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Newquay Zoo
  • Long Clawson Dairy
  • RedX Pharma

The industry placement takes place between years two and three of your degree. You can apply during year two of your degree, subject to meeting minimum academic requirements.

Study Abroad and the Year in Industry are subject to students meeting minimum academic requirements. Opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university’s control. Every effort will be made to update information as quickly as possible should a change occur.


Core modules in your first year build your foundation science. You will learn how microbial products contribute to healthcare and food production. You'll be introduced to biochemistry, cell biology and genetics. Practical sessions will develop your laboratory skills and techniques.  

Core modules

Introduction to Biotechnology

The aim of the module is to introduce the you to the broad based biotechnology discipline. You will study plants, animals and microbial systems and the impact and ethics of biotechnology in different sectors. An active learning approach is coupled with tutorials to understand the impact of the discipline. 

Introduction to Genetics and Biochemistry

This 30 credit module will give you a solid foundation in the growth and development of cells. You will gain understanding in cellular processes and the key macromolecules. Understanding the chemistry of these macromolecules is important in many areas of bioscience.

You’ll apply your learning of basic concepts though practical sessions and workshops.

You will study:

  • Mitosis, meiosis, cell division and differentiation. 
  • Basic genetic principles and gene expression processes
  • Areas of nucleic acid structure
  • Genetic variation; mutation and repair
Microbes and You

Through this module, you will be given perspective on how microbes interact with humans, animals, plants and other organisms.

You'll study:

  • how they influence environmental processes
  • how microbial products contribute to healthcare, food production, and manufacturing
  • the influence of technological developments
  • scientific understanding of microbes and the public perception of them

This is a 20 credit module.

The Physiology of Microbes

This module will develop your knowledge of bacterial cell structures and growth. You'll understand the mechanisms that allow bacteria to respond to their environment. You'll study:

  • how to handle data commonly used in microbiological experimentation
  • basic practical methods required for all microbiological laboratory work

You'll learn through a three hour practical and four hours of lectures each week. This is a 20 credit module.

Foundation Science for Bioscientists

This module covers essential topics in the following scientific areas:

  • physics - radiation, thermal methods, units and measurements
  • chemistry - moles and atoms, organic chemistry, thermodynamics 
  • mathematics - equations, functions, logs and exponentials and graphical representations
  • statistics - mean, standard deviation, standard statistical tests and biases in data
Essential study skills

This module is intended to enhance your transition into university and guide you through the academic expectations of your degree. This module includes three generic sessions on ‘study skills and plagiarism’, ‘study opportunities’ and ‘career and personal development’, and a series of small group tutorials with your academic tutor to develop core skills such as finding crucial information, oral presentation, data handling and presentation of results, preparation for examinations, and essay writing skills relevant to biosciences.

Micro-organisms and Disease

This module introduces you to a range of important human pathogens. You'll cover:

  • human pathogen interactions with the immune system
  • mechanisms of disease causation
  • the laboratory procedures involved in diagnosis and treatment of infections

Each week you’ll spend four hours in lectures to study for this module. This is a 10 credit module.

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 Friday 02 September 2022.

In the second year core modules include medicinal microbiology, gene expression and research techniques. You'll study virology, the structure of viruses and their significance. In laboratory practicals you'll learn core practical methods for the safe handling of level 2 pathogens.

In your second and third years you can choose a selection of optional modules depending on your interests.

Core modules

Medical Microbiology

This module will introduce you to the properties, mechanisms of resistance and clinical use of antimicrobial agents in the treatment of microbial infections. Options relating to disease prevention will be explained, and you’ll be provided with an insight into the role of the laboratory and the Public Health Laboratory Service in the diagnosis, management and control of infection in hospital and the community. During an average week, you’ll have a three hour lecture to study for this module.

Bacterial Biological Diversity

This module is designed to provide an understanding of the extent of bacterial biological diversity. Following introductory lectures on bacterial taxonomy and classification and web-page design, you’ll undertake two student-centred exercises. The first will be the production of an essay on a chosen organism covering its taxonomy, biology and ecology. The second will be a group exercise to design a web site including the material collated for the essay.


The module will provide an introduction to viruses and their interactions with their hosts (bacteria, plants and animals including humans) as well as discussing the structure of viruses and their significance including pathogenesis and molecular biology. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures studying for this module.

Analysis of Bacterial Gene Expression

This module covers the major techniques required for analysis of gene expression including methods for gene sequence and transcriptional analysis. An in depth study of vectors and gene constructs provides an understanding of the different strategies used in creating mutants and identifying gene function in bacteria. As well as practical's, the coursework exercises are designed to illustrate the topics covered in the lecture course and will give students experience of experimental design and critical analysis of research data and an introduction to bioinformatics for the analysis of DNA and protein sequences.

Microbial Mechanisms of Foodborne Disease

This module provides a fundamental understanding of the microorganisms causing food-borne disease. You'll learn about the mechanisms by which they do this and their routes of transmission.

In laboratory practicals you will learn a number of core practical methods needed for the safe handling, culture, isolation, enumeration and identification of a range of level 2 pathogens.These are biological agents that can cause disease including Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria and Salmonella. 

Research Techniques for Bioscientists

You'll cover the core research process and data analysis skills including literature searches, data collection and processing, and statistical analysis. This will prepare you for your third year research project. Research projects are also selected during this module.

Optional modules

Molecular Biology and the Dynamic Cell

This module offers a detailed study of the core molecular processes that enable cells to function such as DNA biochemistry, gene expression, protein synthesis and degradation. You will learn about the basic molecular processes that underpin the function of eukaryotic cells and to describe how different organelles within the cell function, with an emphasis on the dynamic nature of cell biology. You will have lectures, practical classes, a poster presentation and tutorials.

The Genome and Human Disease

In this module you will learn about the structure and function of the eukaryotic genome, including that of humans, and the approaches that have led to their understanding. You will learn about techniques that are employed to manipulate genes and genomes and how they can be applied to the field of medical genetics. By using specific disease examples, you will learn about the different type of DNA mutation that can lead to disease and how they have been identified. Practical elements will teach you about basic techniques used in medical genetics such as sub-cloning of DNA fragments into expression vectors. Practical classes and problem based learning will be used to explore the methods used for genetic engineering and genome manipulation.

Infection and Immunity

You will study microbiology, learning about pathogenic microbes including viruses, fungi, parasites and the roles of bacteria in health and disease. You will learn how the body generates immunity; the causes of diseases associated with faulty immune responses will be considered. In applied microbiology you will be introduced to recombinant DNA technology and prokaryotic gene regulation.

Structure, Function and Analysis of Genes

This module will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the structures of DNA and RNA and how the information within these nucleic acids is maintained and expressed in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell types. Additionally, this module describes how nucleic acids can be manipulated in vitro using molecular biological approaches. Practical classes will focus your learning on the cloning and manipulation of DNA to express recombinant proteins in bacterial systems.

Fundamental and Applied Yeast Physiology

This module considers fundamental and applied aspects of cell biology and yeast physiology. A combination of lectures, practical sessions and online self-guided exercises will be used to introduce you to the subject of yeast, focusing on aspects particularly relevant for the production of foods, beverages and other fermented products.

You will gain an understanding of:

  • yeast cell functionality
  • including yeast cytology,
  • the cell cycle
  • growth and division

We will also cover yeast genomics and how this relates to yeast diversity, taxonomy and identification. Finally, practical aspects of working with yeast will be addressed, including storage and preservation strategies, quality analysis, and how yeast cultures for commercial applications can be produced and handled.

Bacterial Genes and Development

Molecular events that occur during the control of gene expression in bacteria will be explored. You'll learn by considering case studies, which will show you how complex programmes of gene action can occur in response to environmental stimuli. You will also study the regulation of genes in pathogenic bacteria.

Microbial Biotechnology

You'll cover the key groups of eukaryotic and prokaryotic microorganisms relevant to microbial biotechnology, principles of GM, and strain improvement in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The impact of “omics”, systems biology, synthetic biology and effects of stress on industrial microorganisms are explored, alongside the activities of key microorganisms that we exploit for biotechnology.

Computer Modelling in Science: Introduction
The aim of this module is to introduce the use of computing programming and modelling in the biological and environmental sciences for model simulation and image processing.
Structure, Function and Analysis of Proteins

This module considers the structure and function of soluble proteins and how individual proteins can be studied in molecular detail. More specifically you will learn about the problems associated with studying membrane-bound proteins and build an in-depth understanding of enzyme kinetics and catalysis. You will learn about the practical aspects of affinity purification, SDS PAGE, western blotting, enzyme assays, bioinformatics and molecular modelling approaches.

Yeast and Fermentation Technology

This module considers fundamental aspects of yeast biochemistry, metabolism and the fermentation process. A combination of lectures, practical sessions and online self-guided exercises will be used to introduce you to the subject of yeast and fermentation, focusing on aspects particularly relevant to the production of fermented beverages and related products.

You will gain an understanding of the different ways yeast can be employed for a range of applications. The specific characteristics of yeast which make this organism valuable will be described in detail, including properties, functionality, pathways and their ability to convert substrates into commercially valuable end products. The different types of industrial fermentation systems that can be employed will also be considered, along with how they can be controlled and monitored, and how yeast key performance indicators are evaluated.

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

Your final year research project enables you to use your skills to work on a piece of original research. You will design the study, use techniques, collect data and prepare a report. 

Core modules

Microbiology Research Project

You will choose and plan a research project in consultation with a supervisor, based around ongoing research in the University. You'll carry out a literature review and produce an experimental outline. You will be required to design experiments, collect, analyse and interpret the data obtained. You'll spend at least three full days per week in this year undertaking your work. Examples of recent project areas include: antimicrobial resistance, synthetic biology, immune response to virus infections, rapid detection of Mycobacteria, phage therapy, immobilised microorganisms for fermentation and improve yeast performance for high gravity fermentations.

Optional modules

You must select optional modules from three groups:

  • Group one – you must take a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 40 credits from this group
  • Group two – you must take a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 30 credits from this group
  • Group three – you can take up to a further 60 credits from this group

Group 1

The Microbial Isolation and Identification Methods

You’ll gain an understanding of:

  • micro-organisms which are important in foods
  • factors which control the development of the microflora of food products
  • methods which can be used to isolate and identify bacteria from food products

You’ll study over the year in both lectures and practicals.


This module gives a detailed understanding of the genetics and biochemistry behind the properties of parasites and microorganisms that cause major human diseases in the present day. You will have a three-hour lecture once per week for this module.

Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology

This module will enable you to comprehend the opportunities that protein engineering provides in applied microbiology and to appreciate some of the practical limitations associated with technology. You’ll gain a detailed understanding of prokaryotic protein expression and examples of its application to biotechnology. Practical classes and seminars will provide an insight into the necessary constraints and practicalities of experimental design and execution. The major coursework assignment introduces you to the rigour required for writing scientific papers.

Group 2

Microbial Fermentation

This module commences with a review of microbial fermentation, including beer, cheese, yoghurt, meat and single-cell protein production, as well as sewage treatment. The underlying principles of microbial fermentation will be discussed, in addition to specific examples which will be examined in depth. From this basic knowledge the problems of microbial contamination and spoilage of the finished product will be analysed. You’ll spend four hours in lectures and have a four hour practical each week to study for this module.

Virology and Cellular Microbiology

The module will provide an in depth induction into the relationship of bacterial and viral pathogens and their hosts. Including understanding the underlying molecular basis of the adaptive response of bacteria to various environments and the mechanisms by which bacteria and viruses subvert cellular machinery. You’ll have a four hour weekly lecture to cover material for this module.

Rapid Methods in Microbiology

This module will enable you to understand where new methods can replace traditional techniques of microbial detection and recording. You’ll spend four hours in lectures and have a three hour practical each week to study for this module.

A particular emphasis will be placed on the problems of technology transfer into industry.

Practicals will compare methods for isolating and identifying microorganisms using both standard and newer methods and will evaluate the limitations of these procedures.

Group 3

Basic Introduction to Omic Technologies

Over the past few years major developments have been made regarding the study of genomes. Sequencing programmes now mean that the complete DNA sequence is now known for many species. Such information is revealing the high degree of similarity and conservation between different species and organisms, revolutionising the way in which gene function analysis is carried out. This module will provide a basic overview of recent research in the field of post-genomic technologies known as “omics” with emphasis on genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Case studies will show how different approaches have been used to study genomes and how such developments are influencing the way genetic analysis and biotechnological improvement can be made. You will study by hands-on experience with problem-based lab and computer training sessions.

Molecular Parasitology
Ageing, Sex and DNA Repair

Examine the molecular causes of the ageing and malignant transformations of somatic cells that are observed during a single lifespan, and gain an understanding of the necessity to maintain the genome intact from one generation to the next. Around three hours per week will be spent within lectures studying this module.

Plant Cell Signalling

How does a plant know when it is being attacked? In this module you’ll learn about plant signalling molecules and the ways in which these signals are integrated to ensure appropriate responses to environmental conditions or plant pathogen attack. You’ll gain a detailed knowledge of how plants use intercellular and intracellular signalling strategies to provide information about their environment, with particular emphasis on the use of molecular genetics in enabling us to determine the nature of the signals and the cross-talk that takes place between them. You’ll have lectures and demonstrations, as well as laboratory sessions to gain practical experience of the techniques for studying plant hormone signalling.

Plant Disease Control
Discusses applied aspects of plant disease control, comprising transmission, epidemiology, detection and diagnosis, and control options. You will cover control strategies based on application of fungicides, biological control, deployment of disease resistant varieties and biotechnological approaches. You will also consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches. This module consists of a four-hour lecture once per week.
Environmental Biotechnology

In a series of lectures, this module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production.

Molecular Microbiology and Infections

This module focuses on the molecular biology that drives the fundamental principles behind the survival of microorganisms and their interaction with humans.

Lectures will discuss the interaction between the host and pathogens and how they drive the mechanisms of infection and immunity.

There will be two hours of lectures a week.

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

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

Per year

*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

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) .

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.

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies. If you do these would cost around £40.

Due to our commitment to sustainability, we don’t print lecture notes but these are available digitally. You will be given £5 worth of printer credits a year. You are welcome to buy more credits if you need them. It costs 4p to print one black and white page.

If you do a work placement, you need to consider the travel and living costs associated with this.

Personal laptops are not compulsory as we have computer labs that are open 24 hours a day but you may want to consider one if you wish to work at home.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

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

International scholarships


This hands-on lab experience will give you skills to work in a laboratory when you graduate. You could work in healthcare and medical research, or the pharmaceutical or food industry.

You will be qualified to work with microbial pathogens, this means you can work in a laboratory immediately. You could work in industry or study for a PhD.

Microbiologists work in:

  • hospitals
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • biotechnology companies
  • regulatory and environmental agencies
  • the food industry

Recent destinations of graduates include:

  • research institutes and universities
  • pharmaceutical and food industries
  • healthcare and medicine research and development
  • agricultural and environmental disciplines
  • biotechnology research
  • advisory and management roles in government agencies such as Defra, the Food Standards Agency and the Health Protection Agency
  • scientific writing and communication

Average starting salary and career progression

85.3% of undergraduates from the School of Biosciences secured employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £24,418.*

*Data from UoN graduates, 2017-2019. HESA Graduate Outcomes. Sample sizes vary.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

Accredited by the Royal Society of Biology

The RSB has cited the programme as examples of good practice in having:

  • A research-led curriculum 
  • The student experience with respect to understanding the health and safety aspects of working with ACDP/ACGM category 2 microorganisms
  • The progressive development of laboratory skills, including at RQF level six 
  • A solid foundation in physical sciences and mathematics in year one
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Important information

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.