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MSc Medical Microbiology

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Clinical Microbiology

Unit code MEDN68662
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Division of Medical Education
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit will be delivered over a six week period and will include a significant amount of practical laboratory-based study. There will be a strong emphasis on how the clinical laboratory is crucial to timely and effective diagnosis, management and prevention of infectious disease.

Students will examine the microbiology, diagnosis and management of infections including, but not limited to, those listed below using case scenarios and evidence-based methods. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to select one of the disciplines (bacteriology, virology, mycology and parasitology) to explore clinical cases in depth.  

  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Community acquired infection
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Endovascular infections
  • Device-related infections
  • Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Common agents of hospital acquired infection
  • Infection in pregnancy
  • Pre/co-requisites

    Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
    Understanding Infection MEDN68621 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
    Molecular Diagnostics MEDN68631 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
    Practical Microbiology MEDN68511 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


    This unit will cover specialism material and aims to:

    • produce students with a sound understanding of the role of bacteria, fungi/yeasts, viruses and parasites in causing community and hospital acquired disease and travel related infections;
    • provide understanding and knowledge of the methods available for therapy of these infections and identification of the causative agents of disease; and
    • provide students with practical laboratory skills to allow accurate identification of the more commonly encountered microbial agents of infection.

    Teaching and learning methods

    A variety of learning and teaching methods will be included:

    • a knowledge framework will be provided in the form of lectures, seminars and guidance to electronic resources.  This will be used by students working together to embed and extend knowledge and understanding to meet specific ILO’s via self-directed learning (including the use of e-discussion forums) and via face-to-face seminars and oral presentations; and
    • intellectual and practical skills will be obtained via laboratory based practical sessions structured around individual patient case histories; students will be helped to design the laboratory investigation to diagnose the patient based on clinical information given in “real-time” during practical sessions.

    Knowledge and understanding

    Students should have or be able to:

    • understand the classification of microbial pathogens and be able to identify those that cause significant disease in humans;
    • have a broad knowledge of symptoms associated with microbial infection and how these present in different patient groups;
    • acquired detailed knowledge of the pathogenesis of bacterial and viral infections in the community and hospitals;
    • a conceptual understanding of the principles of infection and be able to relate them to current best practice in diagnosis;
    • a detailed understanding of all relevant aspects of antimicrobial chemotherapy;
    • understand the sources and route of transmission of microbial pathogens in relevant settings; and
    • understand the role of decontamination and the infection prevention and control team in disease prevention and management.

    Intellectual skills

    Students should have or be able to:

    • analyse, evaluate and interpret the results of controlled experiments;
    • able to identify and differentiate the symptoms associated with major microbial infections;
    • evaluate clinical case histories and be able to identify appropriate management and treatment strategies; and
    • integrate theory and practice with respect to laboratory aspects of medical microbiology.

    Practical skills

    Students should have or be able to:

    • safely and competently carry out a range of routine and advanced practical skills in laboratory based microbiology; and
    • present primary and secondary data in written and oral forms, including the safe recording of laboratory data.

    Transferable skills and personal qualities

    Students should have or be able to:

    • learn to improve their time and resource management by working in a laboratory environment where data is required within a given timeframe and using limited reagents;
    • learn to manage effective team working by carrying out tasks within a small group in a structured laboratory situation;
    • use information technology and appropriate related software to a high standard; and
    • present complex ideas to informed but non-specialist audiences in written and oral form.

    Employability skills

    The ability to work efficiently and safely in a working or research facility dealing with a wide assortment of microbial pathogens.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment task



    Practical examination

    8 hrs over 3 days


    Unseen written examination

    1.5 hr


    Case history report, discipline specific.

    1500 words


    Feedback methods

    • Formal summative assessments
    • Real time educative formative assessments during practical classes
    • Formal feedback end of unit FROM students 

    Recommended reading

    • Cowan and Steel’s Manual for the Identification of Medical Bacteria – 3rd Edition
    • Mims Medical Microbiology - 5th Edition
    • Clinical Bacteriology, Struthers & Westran
    • Microbiology (Lippincotts illustrated reviews)  Harvey et al., 
    • Disinfection in Healthcare – 3rd Edition, Hoffman et al.,

    Study hours

    Scheduled activity hours
    Lectures 20
    Practical classes & workshops 50
    Independent study hours
    Independent study 230

    Teaching staff

    Staff member Role
    Jenny Herbert Unit coordinator
    Carol Yates Unit coordinator

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