MSc Medical and Molecular Virology / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course description

As demonstrated by the recent pandemic, many of the world's greatest global health challenges arise from viral infections such as SARS-CoV-2, other novel coronaviruses, HIV, and the Ebola and Zika viruses. To tackle these major health threats, we need well-trained virologists with the knowledge and skills to diagnose, treat and prevent such disease.

Our MSc Medical and Molecular Virology course will provide education and training in medical virology to equip you with the molecular skills and knowledge to understand the increasingly important role molecular and bioinformatic analysis plays in modern virology.

You will acquire in-depth knowledge and understanding of viruses, the diseases they cause and how they cause them. You will also learn how to diagnose, control and prevent infections in individuals and in communities.

Later in the course, you will choose a research project and carry it out under the supervision of an academic or clinical supervisor, depending on your interests. This is your opportunity to study a relevant and topical question in medical virology using state-of-the-art techniques and facilities.

By combining academic study with the practice of clinical virology in the health service, our MSc is highly relevant and at the cutting edge of medical and molecular virology.


Our graduates will possess the knowledge, understanding, specialist practical skills and critical analysis skills to take up roles as virologists in the context of clinical, medical, diagnostic, academic or research settings.

They will understand the Global health impact of viral infections and be able to make a positive contribution to tackling the challenges associated with managing this impact.

Each student will develop an appreciation and understanding of research along with the practical and intellectual skills needed to undertake independent problem solving in virology.

Special features

Clinical virology expertise

Clinical Virologists from local NHS laboratories contribute to teaching on our course and offer research projects based on current clinical problems in their everyday clinical and laboratory practice.

Hands-on laboratory experience

You will gain practical laboratory experience during all of our taught units and then undertake a substantial laboratory based research project. In silico projects based on viral genome sequence analysis are also available.

Various study options

You can study either full-time or part-time on both the MSc and Certificate routes, enabling you to fit learning around your other commitments if needed. The part-time route requires full-time attendance for certain periods.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through lectures, seminars, e-learning, group discussions and extended case study-based practical laboratories. You will be encouraged to develop independent thinking and leadership skills.

You will also learn to plan and design a research project using a blended learning approach through online resources and discussion with an individually assigned supervisor.

You will carry out a 6 month research project that addresses a real-world problem in virology.

Coursework and assessment

We use a range of methods to assess your progress, including coursework, oral and poster presentations, written examinations and a laboratory skills portfolio.

Course unit details

  • Introduction to Medical and Molecular Virology (15 credits)
  • Viruses and Disease 1 (15 credits)
  • Viruses and Disease 2 (15 credits)
  • Viruses and Disease 3 (15 credits)
  • Viruses and Disease 4 (15 credits)
  • Research Skills in Practice (30 credits)
  • Research Project and Dissertation (90 credits)

Our first unit introduces the concepts and tools used in medical and molecular virology and how they are applied. The next three units cover the various infections, diseases and syndromes caused by viruses. You will learn how to identify, diagnose, treat and prevent such infections and about the immense global impact of viruses.

The second part of the course gives you the practical skills needed to undertake research in virology and then allows you to apply this learning to a real-life laboratory or in-silico based research problem in virology under the supervision of an academic or clinical virologist.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Introductory Medical and Molecular Virology BIOL65201 15 Mandatory
Viruses and Disease 1 BIOL65211 15 Mandatory
Viruses and Disease 2 BIOL65221 15 Mandatory
Viruses and Disease 3 BIOL65231 15 Mandatory
Research skills in Practice (short version) BIOL65242 30 Mandatory
Research Project BIOL65252 90 Mandatory

Course collaborators

Our course has strong links with clinical virology labs in the local hospital trusts. We also have close links with industry, particularly in the area of diagnostics and antiviral testing.


Most of the teaching on this course takes place in Stopford Building on Oxford Road, on the main University campus, and is delivered in a newly refurbished and state-of-the-art teaching laboratory.

Our virology research labs are nearby, and interaction between our master's students and PhD students and our virology community of practice is facilitated and strongly encouraged.

We hold the regular Manchester Infection Seminar series with external speakers, and students are welcome to attend.

Stopford Building has a medical library and various social spaces, including a postgraduate hub available only to postgraduate students.

You will also have access to facilities across the wider University campus.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email:

CPD opportunities

Short practical courses of three days in length, plus online learning, are available for CPD purposes, subject to capacity.