Undergraduate School

Microbiology with Virology

C540 BSc Microbiology with Virology

Microbiology with Virology offers a fantastic opportunity to excel in a rapidly evolving and up-to-the-minute discipline.

virus particleThis 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 the numbers of staff producing research that was “world leading or internationally excellent”

What is Microbiology with Virology?

HIV virusMicrobiology with virology is the study of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, with particular emphasis on viruses and how they affect human and animal health. A full understanding of virology requires a good knowledge of a variety of the biosciences, including the disciplines of:

  • immunology
  • biochemistry
  • genetics
  • molecular biology

There is hardly an area of medicine unaffected by viruses and other microbes and they 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: Medical Microbiology, Microbiology with Immunology and Microbiology

Why study Microbiology with Virology?

Microbiology with virology is the study of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, with particular emphasis on viruses and how they affect human and animal health. A full understanding of virology requires a good knowledge of a variety of the biosciences, including the disciplines of:

Foot and Mouth Disease Virus structure Microbes – friends or foe?

Viruses and other microorganisms have an enormous influence on human and animal health. 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 adverse effects of viruses and other microorganisms, but their positive benefits hugely outweigh the negatives. Beneficial microorganisms are so abundant they have an immense effect on the health of the planet:

  • 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
  • viruses and other microbes are used as agricultural pest controls
  • advances in food technology means 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

Microbiology and virology are exciting, challenging and rewarding subjects. They have key roles to play in the welfare and development of human civilisation and, as a consequence, experts trained in these two disciplines will always be in demand.

Microbiology on the web

There are some excellent web sites:



Entry Requirements

2014 entry requirements

BSc Microbiology with Virology - UCAS code C540

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 levelL 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) Microbiology with Virology 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) Microbiology with Virology 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 (C540)
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. UG brochure 2014

See also

BSc Microbiology, BSc Medical Microbiology and BSc Microbiology with Immunology

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

Admissions tutor

Dr. Stephanie McBurney
Tel: 0113 343 1457
Email: s.j.mcburney@leeds.ac.uk

Department

Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School

Programme Leaders

Dr Eric Hewitt

Course brochure

Download a course brochure

BSc 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 increasing emphasis on virology.

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

Hepatitus virus 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

All 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:

Microbiology with Virology 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.

Microbiology with Virology Year 2

Viruses and Virus-Host Interactions

In this module you will learn about the fundamentals of virus structure and growth. You will discover how these affect the various strategies that viruses exploit in order to replicate themselves in a host organism, and will learn how we propagate viruses in the laboratory. You will learn about the principal mechanisms by which viruses cause infections, spread between individuals and through populations, and how virus infections may be controlled. This includes a consideration of antiviral drugs and their targets, immunological controls through vaccination strategies.

Medical Immunology and Microbial Pathogenicity

In this module you will learn about advanced aspects of immunology in relation to disease and host-pathogen interactions, with particular reference to the outcome of microbial infections. You will acquire an up-to-date knowledge of: 1) pathological immune mechanisms and immunodeficiency diseases, including diagnosis and treatment; 2) mechanisms of microbial virulence. Finally, you will become aware of the excitement of scientific discovery and the continuing transformation in our understanding of host/pathogen interactions at the molecular and cellular level.

Eukaryotic Genes: Cloning and Expression

In this module you will learn about a wide variety of molecular techniques used for the cloning and expression of eukaryotic genes and the manipulation of DNA, and the academic, medical, agricultural and industrial applications of this technology. In practicals you will have the chance to practice some of these techniques by, for example, preparing and analysing DNA from recombinant bacteria.

Essential Techniques in Biochemistry

During this module you will learn about: working with cells, including light microscopy, electron microscopy, immunocytochemistry, cell culture and subcellular fractionation; techniques for protein purification and nucleic acid isolation; measurement of ligand binding and assay validation; sequencing techniques for proteins and nucleic acids along with an introduction to the determination of 3-D structure.

Microbiology with Virology Year 3

Medical Microbiology

In this module you will learn about the role of microorganisms as causative agents of infectious disease, the ways in which they may be controlled and the laboratory diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases of the major organ systems. You will find out about the modes of action of the major antimicrobial agents and their uses and the special nature of microbial infections in particularly vulnerable groups, including neonates and the immunocompromised.

Advanced Virology

In this module you will learn about selected aspects of medical and molecular virology to an advanced level so that you will become familiar with recent developments. On completion of this module you will have developed a thorough understanding of a range of topics, including: how and why viruses cause disease and the outcome of virus infection, the importance of the virus diagnostic laboratory, current trends in chemotherapy and vaccination, RNA and DNA tumour viruses, the use of viruses as vectors for gene expression and their potential for use in human gene therapy.

Microbiology and Virology Today

During this module you will become aware of up-to-date developments, hypotheses and controversies in modern microbiology and virology. You will develop skills in the analysis and interpretation of experimental data and the construction of arguments. You will develop the ability to express yourself clearly during oral and written presentations (to both scientific and lay audiences).

bacteriophage plaques in a lawn of bacteria

Module 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:

Giant viruses

Recently a number of viruses with very large genomes have been identified. The best characterised example is Mimivirus with a genome of 1.2 Mb (bigger than some bacteria). Although first identified in amoeba in a Bradford hospital cooling tower, Mimivirus has recently been implicated in human disease. This project set out to review the rapidly expanding literature about the genome organisation and content of these viruses, and to investigate what is known or hypothesised about their origin and evolution.

Retroviral restriction factors

This project reviewed the recent explosion of information about these cellular proteins that are able to specifically block retrovirus replication. This is an exciting area of virology with potential implications for both therapy of retroviral disease (e.g. HIV/AIDS) and also for our understanding of the evolution of retroviruses - these two aspects formed a major focus for the project.

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, laboratory practicals and fieldwork, 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 Microbiology programmes foster the development of transferable skills highly valued by employers throughout the world.

"I am now doing a microbiology PhD and feel very well equipped to deal with the diversity of problems and questions that I face on a daily basis. Furthermore, the Leeds course has taught me how to learn and think about new situations, a skill which is invaluable both in the research field, and in all other professions."

Ben LibbertonBen Libberton, BSc Microbiology (2007) now studying for a PhD in Microbiology at The University of Liverpool.

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

Some of 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.

Recent graduate jobs include:
Recent graduate employers include:
  • Assistant Editor
  • Head of Science
  • Microbiologist
  • Research Fellow and Lecturer
  • Harlan UK
  • Health Protection Agency
  • Microbiology Today
  • University of Leeds

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

Rebecca Surtees

Rebecca SurteesRebecca did a year in industry at the Mayo Clinic, Florida.

"As an undergraduate I was fortunate enough to have the work I did included in two published papers."


James White

James White"I receive a lot of support on my course; lecturers often wait at the end of a lecture so you can ask any questions."

 


See more student profiles.

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