MSc Infection Biology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course description

Our MSc Infection Biology course will equip you with the knowledge and skills required to join the global fight against infectious diseases which threaten humanity.

Infectious disease remains a major cause of human death but the efficacy of antimicrobial interventions continues to decline. The discovery of novel preventative and therapeutic interventions now critically dependent upon a detailed mechanistic understanding of disease processes, their impact upon human pathobiology and the feasibility of therapeutically targeting such mechanisms.

With a view to training a generation of infection biologists equipped with the skills to tackle this global challenge, the MSc in Infection Biology provides outstanding academic and research training in the molecular and cellular basis of host-microbe interactions in health and disease.

You will learn directly from internationally recognised scientists through joint research, thereby securing a sustained interaction with expert mentors for the duration of the course.

The course provides research training in fundamental aspects of infectious diseases, microbial pathogenesis, host interactions, antimicrobial immunity, and antimicrobial therapy. For the talented student this course provides an excellent training prior to registration for a PhD.

This course will equip you with: 

  • a detailed theoretical and practical understanding of molecular microbiology and antimicrobial immunology;
  • a thorough understanding of methods for analysing the biological functions and physiological relevance of microbial virulence factors and host responses to pathogenic challenge; 
  • a working knowledge of mechanistic approaches to problem-solving in molecular and cellular biomedical science;
  • an understanding of a wide repertoire of cutting edge scientific methods including flow cytometry, single cell technologies, imaging and proteomics;
  • transferable skills in critical reasoning and reflection, collaborative team working, scientific communication, use of IT/health informatics, innovation in the application of knowledge to practice and logical/systematic approaches to solving problems and making decisions.

Aims

This course aims to:

  • equip you with a detailed theoretical and practical understanding of molecular microbiology and immunology, delivered in-context during laboratory-based research and self-directed research of the literature; 
  • enable you to integrate molecular and cellular information to understand the genetic basis of microbial virulence, host responses to pathogen challenge, and complexity of infectious disease, diagnostics, and antimicrobial therapies; 
  • give you an understanding of the principles of modelling of host and microbial aspects of infection to help characterise the host-pathogen interaction; 
  • equip you with an understanding of methods for analysing the biological functions and physiological relevance of microbial virulence factors and host responses to pathogenic challenge; 
  • provide you with a working knowledge of mechanistic approaches to problem-solving in molecular and cellular biomedical science;
  • ensure you have a working understanding of the application of a wide repertoire of advanced scientific methods at the cutting edge of scientific research, including flow cytometry, single cell technologies, imaging and proteomics;
  • give you transferable skills in critical reasoning and reflection, collaborative team working, communication, use of IT/health informatics, innovation in the application of knowledge to practice and logical/systematic approaches to solving problems and making decisions.

Special features

  • In our unique technology workshops you will learn, from the skilled experimental officers and technicians who support these key technologies, how to harness modern research technologies including single cell methodologies, live cell imaging, CRISPR, flow cytometry, proteomics, and next generation sequencing technologies to address cutting edge questions in infectious diseases research.
  • You will learn from clinician scientists and global leaders in infectious diseases research by attending our fortnightly seminars in infection.
  • In our grant writing exercise you will learn how to budget for, and become competitive in, securing funding for scientific research programmes.
  • You will benefit from studying amongst a small, talented and motivated peer group, selected at interview for their competitive potential.

Teaching and learning

The course comprises an induction period, sessions to introduce research areas and fundamental background knowledge, two linked research projects (initial literature research and proposal development, followed by a minimum of 25 weeks related laboratory research).

Technologies workshops

These will provide practical training in advanced research methods, giving you exposure to techniques which you may otherwise not be exposed to through your projects. Each session will be led by an expert and will consist of an explanation of the technique, followed by a practical demonstration including, where relevant, hands-on experience and data analysis.

Journal clubs

In these sessions, you will meet to review and discuss relevant research papers. Each session will be led by a senior researcher who will suggest papers for discussion.

Research seminars

You will be expected to attend departmental seminar programmes. This will include presentations provided by external speakers.

Research projects

You will complete one extended research project during the year, designed to give you practical experience of laboratory research. The experience gained will help you develop and focus your research skills in modern biomedical research laboratories. Research projects will be written up and formally evaluated. Upon commencing the course you will be issued with a list of potential research projects and appropriate reading material.

You will attend the 3 week Foundation Lecture Course: Host-Microbe Interactions in Heath and Disease, which will include presentations from research groups that describe the breadth of research opportunities available, and will be able to discuss projects with potential supervisors.

Grant writing exercise

The grant writing exercise will provide hands-on experience of the grant writing process from the initial idea to the submission and peer review of the proposal.

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
Research Project 1 BIOL66121 30 Mandatory
Research Project 2 BIOL66132 90 Mandatory
Technologies Workshops BIOL68911 15 Mandatory
Host-pathogen interactions in health and disease BIOL68921 15 Mandatory
Journal Club Tutorial Unit BIOL68931 15 Mandatory
Grant Application Writing BIOL68941 15 Mandatory

Facilities

The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health provides a range of research facilities to help researchers in the Faculty to carry out ground-breaking work in biological, medical and health sciences.

The University of Manchester offers extensive library and online services to help you get the most out of your studies.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk