Undergraduate School

Medical Microbiology

C521 BSc Medical Microbiology

E coli being burst by penicillinMedical Microbiology offers a fantastic opportunity to excel in a rapidly evolving and up-to-the-minute discipline.

This course offers:   

  • the chance to study in a faculty ranked 4th in the UK for research in biological sciences by the leading scientific journal 'Nature' based on members of staff producing research that was "world leading or internationally excellent"

What is Medical Microbiology?

Medical microbiology is the study of the ways in which microbes, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, affect our health and this is the major focus of the BSc Medical Microbiology programme. However, a broader knowledge of microbiology and the biosciences in general is essential for a full understanding of medical microbiology. For this reason you will also learn about a range of biosciences, including the disciplines of:

  • immunology
  • biochemistry
  • genetics
  • molecular biology

There is hardly an area of medicine unaffected by microbes and microbes are essential for the environmental cycles that regenerate our planet.

We offer four microbiology degrees, each with a slightly different emphasis. The first year content is the same for all four degrees, but as you progress you are able to specialise in certain areas.

See also: Microbiology, Microbiology with Immunology and Microbiology with Virology.

 

Why study Medical Microbiology?

Because of the huge importance of microorganisms to all aspects of our lives, to human health and to the health of the planet.

 

Microbes – friends or foe?

There is hardly an area of medicine unaffected by microbes, for example:

  • one third of the world's population dies from infectious diseases – e.g. AIDS affects more than 40 million individuals worldwide
  • the foot and mouth epidemic during 2001 was estimated to have cost the UK economy £8 billion
  • the emergence of avian influenza (bird flu), with its high mortality, reminds us that new diseases are always on the horizon
  • bacteria are constantly evolving mechanisms enabling them to resist antimicrobial agents used to treat infections, driving the quest for new antibiotics


Headlines tend to focus on the dangers to human and animal health from pathogenic microorganisms, but these are hugely outweighed by the positive effects of microorganisms. Beneficial microorganisms are so abundant, they have an immense effect on the health of the planet eg:

  • microorganisms constitute over 90% of the living biomass in oceans. They in turn play host to an estimated 1030 viruses, which, if placed end to end would reach from the earth to beyond the nearest 60 galaxies (Suttle, C. A., 2007, Nature Reviews Microbiology 5, 801-812)
  • photosynthetic microorganisms in the oceans help alleviate global warming by fixing as much CO2 as all of the land plants
  • microorganisms degrade industrial waste and clean up oil spills
  • microbes are used as agricultural pest controls
  • advances in food technology mean that a fungus once only known to cause plant infections, is now an important protein source for vegetarians
  • microbes are used in the production of antibiotics and a new generation of medicines, e.g. human insulin

But, of course, not all microorganisms are beneficial. For example:

  • one third of the world's population dies from infectious diseases – e.g. AIDS affects more than 40 million individuals worldwide
  • the foot and mouth epidemic during 2001 was estimated to have cost the UK economy £8 billion
  • the emergence of avian influenza (bird flu), with its high mortality, reminds us that new diseases are always on the horizon
  • bacteria are constantly evolving mechanisms enabling them to resist antimicrobial agents used to treat infections, driving the quest for new antibiotics

Medical microbiology is an exciting, challenging and rewarding subject, which has a key role to play in human welfare. Because of this, medical microbiologists will always be in demand.

Microbiology on the web

There are some excellent web sites:



Entry Requirements

2014 entry requirements

BSc Medical Microbiology - UCAS code C521

A Level or Advanced Higher: AAA-ABB from 3 A2/Advanced Higher including Chemistry or Biology and another science or science-related subject. Critical Thinking and General Studies excluded.

We consider applications on an individual basis and an offer will depend on the information given on your UCAS form. Applications are assessed from a combination of the following; the balance, nature and quality of A2, AS and GCSE subjects (or equivalents); the referee's comments and your personal statement.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (QCF): DDD in Applied Science, including Distinctions in 10 units. Four of these will be from the Mandatory Suite. Fundamentals of Science, Scientific Investigations, Scientific Practical Techniques, Using Mathematical Tools in Science. The remaining six will be from Biology, Chemistry and Maths units which will be specified if you are made an offer.

International Baccalaureate: 35-34 (with 18-16 at higher level) including 6 in higher level Chemistry or Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

Irish Leaving Certificate: AAAAAB-AAABBB including an A in higher level Chemistry or Biology and another science at higher level.

Scottish Higher: Scottish Highers not accepted on their own.

Cambridge Pre-U: D3/D3/D3-D3/M2/M2 including Pre-U Biology or Chemistry plus one other science or science-related subject.


Science subjects: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics.
Science- related subjects: Computing, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, ICT, P.E, Psychology, Science in Society, Statistics and Sports Science.

BSc (Hons) Medical Microbiology with Industrial Placement

If you are interested in this programme, apply via UCAS for the standard BSc programme above. We will provide you with further details of the placement and study abroad schemes in year one, and you can transfer at the end of year two (subject to academic performance).

Read more about Industrial Placements

BSc (Hons) Medical Microbiology with Study Year Abroad

If you are interested in this programme, apply via UCAS for the standard BSc programme above. We will provide you with further details of the placement and study abroad schemes in year one, and you can transfer at the end of year two (subject to academic performance).

Read more about Study Year Abroad

Duration of the course 3 Years Full Time (C521)
An Industrial Placement or Study Year Abroad will add a year to the duration of the course
English language requirements If English is not your first language, please check our minimum English language requirements.

See also:

BSc Microbiology, BSc Microbiology with Immunology and BSc Microbiology with Virology.

Admissions policy Download our Admissions Policy for 2014 entry. (PDF format). This includes information on the application process, our admissions intake and the selection process.

Admissions enquiries

Mrs Joan Gillson
Tel: 0113 343 3021
Email: fbsadmissions@leeds.ac.uk

UG brochure 2014

Admissions tutor

Dr. Stephanie McBurney

Tel: 0113 343 1457
Email: s.j.burney@leeds.ac.uk

Department

Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School

Programme Leaders

Dr Eric Hewitt

Course brochure

Download a course brochure

Course Structure

We offer four microbiology degrees, each with a slightly different emphasis. The first year content is the same for all four degrees, but as you progress you are able to specialise with more emphasis on microbiology as related to medicine.

The structure of your course will vary dependent upon which of the following pathways you choose:

Qualification Course Title Duration
BSc Medical Microbiology 3 years
BSc Medical Microbiology with industrial placement year 4 years
BSc Medical Microbiology with a study year abroad 4 years

BSc Course Structure

In the first and second year, lectures, practicals and tutorials are the most important forms of teaching. You will have lectures and tutorials each week, and regular laboratory sessions. In the final year, you will be able to choose your favourite topics to study under the guidance of leading experts; your research project will take up about one third of your time with the rest devoted to lectures and tutorials. Formal examinations are held twice a year, in January and May/June, to spread the assessment load.

Modules

hair follicleAll degree programmes are modular and offer wide choice.

Modules may be core (you have to take them), optional (you can choose from a list of alternatives) or elective (you have a free choice); the balance depends upon your year and programme of study. We offer a wide range of modules. Examples include:

Medical Microbiology Year 1

Microbes and Man

This module will introduce you to the full range of microscopic life forms and viruses. It gives a sound introduction into the practical aspects of microbiology and it explores the diversity of microbial life, with emphasis on how we interact with microbes. You will learn how microbes interact with each other and how they influence the lives of more complex organisms, for good or ill.

Microbiology and Immunology in Action

This module will acquaint you with microbiological techniques, explain the concepts behind them and give you practice with a problem-solving approach to microbiology. You will learn how to classify, identify, enumerate, detect and dispose of microorganisms safely. This module also reviews fundamental immune mechanisms with emphasis on human immunology and its relationship to health and disease.

Introductory Biochemistry - Macromolecules and Metabolism

This module will give you an understanding of how simple inorganic elements are organised into the large macromolecular structures and polymers (nucleic acids, proteins, polysaccharides and lipids) which are crucial for life. The importance of chemical structure in determining biological roles is a key theme. You will study the properties and kinetics of enzymes, the biological catalysts which control metabolic processes, and see how energy can be harnessed and utilised through metabolism. Practical classes for this module will provide you with experience of biochemical laboratory techniques and the skills of data analysis and interpretation.

The Biochemistry of Cells and Organisms

This module will give you an understanding of cell structure and function from a biochemical perspective, including the structures and functions of proteins and biological membranes. The importance of chemical structure in determining biological roles is a key theme. Topics which you will study include: metabolism in health and disease; cell movement; gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. Practical classes for this module will provide you with experience of biochemical laboratory techniques and the skills of data analysis and interpretation.

Medical Microbiology Year 2

Microbes and Man

This module will introduce you to the full range of microscopic life forms and viruses. It gives a sound introduction into the practical aspects of microbiology and it explores the diversity of microbial life, with emphasis on how we interact with microbes. You will learn how microbes interact with each other and how they influence the lives of more complex organisms, for good or ill.

Microbiology and Immunology in Action

This module will acquaint you with microbiological techniques, explain the concepts behind them and give you practice with a problem-solving approach to microbiology. You will learn how to classify, identify, enumerate, detect and dispose of microorganisms safely. This module also reviews fundamental immune mechanisms with emphasis on human immunology and its relationship to health and disease.

Introductory Biochemistry - Macromolecules and Metabolism

This module will give you an understanding of how simple inorganic elements are organised into the large macromolecular structures and polymers (nucleic acids, proteins, polysaccharides and lipids) which are crucial for life. The importance of chemical structure in determining biological roles is a key theme. You will study the properties and kinetics of enzymes, the biological catalysts which control metabolic processes, and see how energy can be harnessed and utilised through metabolism. Practical classes for this module will provide you with experience of biochemical laboratory techniques and the skills of data analysis and interpretation.

The Biochemistry of Cells and Organisms

This module will give you an understanding of cell structure and function from a biochemical perspective, including the structures and functions of proteins and biological membranes. The importance of chemical structure in determining biological roles is a key theme. Topics which you will study include: metabolism in health and disease; cell movement; gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. Practical classes for this module will provide you with experience of biochemical laboratory techniques and the skills of data analysis and interpretation.

Medical Microbiology Year 3

Microbes and Man

This module will introduce you to the full range of microscopic life forms and viruses. It gives a sound introduction into the practical aspects of microbiology and it explores the diversity of microbial life, with emphasis on how we interact with microbes. You will learn how microbes interact with each other and how they influence the lives of more complex organisms, for good or ill.

Microbiology and Immunology in Action

This module will acquaint you with microbiological techniques, explain the concepts behind them and give you practice with a problem-solving approach to microbiology. You will learn how to classify, identify, enumerate, detect and dispose of microorganisms safely. This module also reviews fundamental immune mechanisms with emphasis on human immunology and its relationship to health and disease.

Introductory Biochemistry - Macromolecules and Metabolism

This module will give you an understanding of how simple inorganic elements are organised into the large macromolecular structures and polymers (nucleic acids, proteins, polysaccharides and lipids) which are crucial for life. The importance of chemical structure in determining biological roles is a key theme. You will study the properties and kinetics of enzymes, the biological catalysts which control metabolic processes, and see how energy can be harnessed and utilised through metabolism. Practical classes for this module will provide you with experience of biochemical laboratory techniques and the skills of data analysis and interpretation.

The Biochemistry of Cells and Organisms

This module will give you an understanding of cell structure and function from a biochemical perspective, including the structures and functions of proteins and biological membranes. The importance of chemical structure in determining biological roles is a key theme. Topics which you will study include: metabolism in health and disease; cell movement; gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes; photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. Practical classes for this module will provide you with experience of biochemical laboratory techniques and the skills of data analysis and interpretation.

bioassay plateModule Details

This link takes you to detailed information (on another part of the University of Leeds website) about this degree for the 2012/13 academic year. Please bear in mind that programme details may change and that entry requirements refer to previous years.

Research Projects

Recent examples include:

Aspergillosis in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

The aim of this project was to review the relatively new interest in the fungal infection aspergillosis in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to compare aspergillosis in COPD with the infection in other patient groups, look at aspects such as epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment and to make use of research data generated in Leeds on this subject.

What is a superbug?

The aim of this deceptively simple project was to use a news media database (e.g. Lexis-Nexus) to review the history of the use of the term "superbug", with a view to developing a standardised definition. The project tested the hypothesis that it is not possible to define the word "superbug" (a word with no meaning is meaningless).

Visit the Studying with us pages to find out more about studying in the Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School.

Please be aware that course details do change from time to time. ...

... If in doubt, please contact us to verify course content and availability. Whilst the University endeavours to ensure that the information on this website is accurate at the date of publication it does not accept liability for any inaccuracies. The University reserves the right to change or cancel its courses or services at any time without liability even after students have registered at the University. The University's contract with its students does not confer third party benefits for the purposes of Contracts (Right of Third Parties) Act 1999.

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Teaching and Assessment

Laboratory practicalOur approach to teaching and learning is based around developing your knowledge and skills, and training you to be independent and to think critically. This means that you will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials with additional time allocated to private study, project work and laboratory practicals, the balance of which will vary through your course and as you become more confident and experienced. At Leeds you will learn in many different ways:

Typical timetable (3 year BSc)

A typical week

  • in year one includes nine to twelve hours of lectures, a three hour practical session in the lab, additional tutorials, workshop and seminar sessions, plus use of computer-based learning exercises and private study.
  • in year two consists of (typically) eight lectures per week, a tutorial, laboratory classes lasting between three and six hours, plus use of computer-based learning exercises and private study time.
  • in year three consists of project work, which takes about two and a half days (mainly in Semester 1). You will also attend lectures, seminars, small-group teaching exercises (mostly in Semester 2) and occasional workshops, together with private study time.

Assessment

We use a variety of assessment methods including:

  • multiple-choice testing
  • practical work
  • data handling and problem-solving exercises
  • group work
  • discussion groups (physical and online)
  • computer-based simulation
  • essays
  • posters
  • oral presentations

Current assessment details for each individual module can be accessed via the programme catalogue.

Careers

Career prospects for microbiology graduates are good and are markedly better than those for many other graduates because of the economic importance of microbes and their impact on human health and well-being. Microbiology training opens up opportunities in scientific and non-scientific careers alike. Our Medical Microbiology programmes foster the development of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers throughout the world.

"Recently, I was able to secure a highly prestigious PhD studentship funded by BBSRC in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline. I feel that this could only have been possible due to the high calibre of academic abilities and social skills instilled in me by the University of Leeds ."

Khush photoKhush Bakht, BSc Microbiology (2007)

Medical Microbiology Careers

View scientific careers

Many of our graduates pursue a career in which they make direct use of their degree in microbiology e.g. biotechnology, pharmaceutical, food, drinks and brewing industries. Medically related posts in the NHS and medical research establishments.

View non-scientific professions

Our graduates also go into non-scientific professions such as industrial management, consultancy, media, journalism, sales, banking, law, accountancy, computing, advertising, the Police, the Armed Forces and marketing.

View further study

A lot of our students go on to further study mostly for an MSc or PhD, but also PGCE and medicine.

Careers Support

Faculty careers events

We organise regular careers workshops especially for biological sciences students. We also organise an annual Bioscience Careers Networking Event, offering a chance to meet bioscience employers, speak to alumni, attend workshops and get masses of information. Browse the careers fair photo gallery.

University Careers Service

Our on-campus Careers Centre is one of the largest in the country, with experienced advisers and strong relationships with graduate recruiters. The Careers Centre will help you to find out how to develop your employability right from the start and provide support after you graduate. Find out what the Careers Centre has to offer. .

Gaining work experience

Work experience is increasingly important in a competitive job market and Leeds offers many opportunities to develop skills valuable to employers, including our industrial placement and year abroad schemes, laboratory placement schemes, and volunteering via Leeds for Life..

Industrial Advisory Board

Our Industrial Advisory Board gives employers the chance to input directly into programme and module content. This ensures that our programmes include appropriate training and skills so that our students and graduates are desirable to a broad range of graduate employers.

Join a global network of Leeds graduates

A remarkable variety of opportunities result from our relationships with our graduates, including access to the Leeds Graduate Careers Network.

Read about more graduates...

Careers Resources

For more information on our approach to graduate employability, please see: www.leeds.ac.uk/employability

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Students' Experiences

Christie Marie Gaskell

Christie Marie Gaskell"Lecturers were always available for meetings and willing to explain any concepts I didn't understand."

 


Robert Calladine

Robert Calladine"Being a Russell Group university, the University's cutting-edge research means that any teaching material is both relevant and interesting."


See more student profiles.

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