This course will provide graduates in the Biosciences with a sound theoretical background and hands-on laboratory experience in leading-edge microbiology. Students will gain specialist knowledge and insight in key aspects of bacterial infection.
The Institute of Microbiology and Infection at Birmingham brings together a group of researchers and lecturers from the College of Life and Environmental Sciences and the College of Medical and Dental Sciences with expertise in a wide range of aspects of microbiology in infectious disease. The MSc Microbiology and Infection draws on this expertise to highlight the impact of recent advances in understanding of microbes in infection.
The course will enable students to develop basic abilities and skills on which to build professional capability in a healthcare or related microbiology or biomedical research setting.
The course provides a foundation in the fundamental molecular microbiology that underlies the ongoing and increasing challenge of bacterial infectious disease in healthcare, diagnosis and treatment. The course will equip you to progress to employment in biomedical science, or to embark on a postgraduate research degree in a related field.
The course is set within the context of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham which brings together experts in areas of microbiology from fundamental science of model organisms to translational research on key pathogens of medical and veterinary importance.
Continuing developments in infection including increasing resistance of pathogens to antibiotics and the emergence of ‘superbugs’ such as Clostridium difficile and E. coli O157, and the increasing problem of tuberculosis as a worldwide killer disease, emphasise the need for experts in this field now and into the future.
1. Core concepts and skills in Microbiology (10 credits)
This module acts as a refresher on the fundamentals of molecular and cellular microbiology. You will have the opportunity to develop key quantitative, analytical and critical analysis skills. It will also include important aspects of working in the laboratory and how to handle microorganisms safely.
2. Medical microbiology practice and applications (30 credits)
The module will introduce you to pathogenic microorganisms that cause human diseases including bacterial, viral and fungal diseases, and diseases caused by eukaryotic microorganism. The module will take a systematic approach looking at diseases of the respiratory system, urinogenital system, gastrointestinal tract, and at skin, wound and blood-brain infections. Additionally, the module will build on research strengths in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection by highlighting examples such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and enteric diseases. While emphasis will be on the mechanisms, diagnostics and prevention of microbial disease, the module will also cover clinical components of medical microbiology including hospital acquired infections, and the clinical aspects of drug resistance taught by practicing clinical microbiologists from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
3. Antibiotics: past, present and future (10 credits)
The module will begin with a look into the historical perspectives of both the discovery and use of antibiotics in the clinic. The module will then cover the current situation of global antibiotic usage and how misuse and over prescription has lead to the emergence of antibiotic resistance. A series of lectures will cover modern techniques and methodologies that are used to both discover and develop new antibiotic compounds into the next generation of drugs. In this regard, students will gain hands-on practical experience of screening antibiotics and novel natural product extracts (of their own choosing) against a panel of bacterial species. Students will have access to state-of–the-art High throughput Screening facility in the IMI.
4. Host-Pathogen interactions (20 credits)
In this module you will be introduced to several key concepts in understanding host-pathogen interactions, including: virulence, the evolution of virulence and the Red Queen hypothesis, pathogen lifestyles, such as intracellular parasitism and latency and genetic variation in hosts and pathogens
5. Antibiotics, Microbial Surfaces and Surface Interactions (30 credits)
This module will cover the key elements present at the microbial surface, and relate these in part to antibiotic targets. The threat of antibiotic resistance will be covered in detail and provide the student with a thorough understanding of both drug target and resistance mechanisms.
6. Omics of Pathogens (20 credits)
Our understanding of Microbes has been revolutionised by our ability to sequence their genomes and by other ‘omics’ techniques. This module will cover sequencing technology, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metagenomics and explore how these have advanced our understanding of microbial pathogens. You will consider issues which arise from the need to analyse large data sets and will gain hands on experience.