MRes Microbial Genomics

Start date
October 2023
Full-time (1 year)
Course Type
Postgraduate, Combined research and taught, Taught

Annual tuition fee for 2024/25:
UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £29,340 full-time

More details on fees and funding

Microbial genomics is the study of the genomes of all microorganisms and its application to help us tackle global challenges in microbiology and infectious disease. In this MRes programme you will learn about microbiology and infection, the breadth of applications of microbial genomics and be trained in cutting edge bioinformatic and research techniques. 

Microorganisms cause the biggest impact on the quality of our lives. Lower respiratory tract infections, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, HIV, are an enormous disease burden worldwide. Antimicrobial resistance is common and increasing this burden. Microbial genomics has emerged as a key tool in understanding and combatting infectious disease as currently seen in the COVID pandemic and Ebola and Zika virus epidemics. This research-led programme leverages current world-leading expertise in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection to train modern genomic-literate microbiologists for further research, public health and industry roles.

The MRes is a research focused programme with a taught component. The first term is taught by research active lecturers and includes core skills in microbiology and infection, broad training in microbiology and infectious diseases including the application of genomics to microbiology, the microbiome, infection and antimicrobial resistance. It also includes an intensive hands-on course in microbial bioinformatics to give you cutting edge skills and knowledge to apply in your research project.

The main component of the MRes Microbial Genomics is a substantial research project, embedded in a research group and supervised by a leading microbiology researcher. This leads to production of a PhD-style dissertation and provides the perfect spring-board into further research or careers in the field. You will be embedded as a researcher in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection, fully participating in the activities of one of the largest groups of microbiology researchers in the world.

Key skills you will develop:

  • Microbiology analytical, laboratory and computational skills
  • Bioinformatics
  • Research presentation, writing and communication skills

Why study this course?

  • We believe this is the only MRes of its kind in the UK
  • Skills in Microbial Genomics are sought after in careers in scientific research and allied careers
  • The Institute of Microbiology and Infection is world-leading in this field
  • The research projects cover the breadth of microbiology fields
  • Microbial Genomics is a key tool to tackle global infectious disease


  • Core Concepts and Skills in Microbiology (20 Credits)

This module refreshes key microbiology knowledge, including practical laboratory, data analysis skills and science communication skills. The content is centred on the diversity of microbial life and the microbiome.

  • Microbiology and Infectious Disease (20 Credits)

This intensive two-week module focuses on the impact of microorganisms in human health and disease, including the emergence of pathogens, zoonotic transfer, spread of antimicrobial resistance and the global impact on health and disease.

  • Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics (20 Credits)

This is an intensive practical module giving hands on experience of analysing microbial genomic data and teaching computational skills necessary to handle it.

  • Research Project, dissertation and viva (120 Credits)

This substantial research project will be carried out in the active research labs of microbiologists in the institute. They will involve conducting original research, similar to a PhD, which will be written up as a dissertation for examination.


Annual tuition fee for 2024/25:

UK: £10,530 full-time
International: £29,340 full-time


Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

As a UK resident you can apply for a government loan for postgraduate Masters study. This is a contribution towards the costs of study and whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs will be at the discretion of the student.

Find out more about the Postgraduate Loan


International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. Visit our website for information about scholarships for international students.

For information about all Home and International funding opportunities please visit the Postgraduate Funding Database.

How To Apply

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

 A first or upper second-class honours degree in microbiology, biomedical or biological sciences or related subject. 

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of international qualifications - use the dropdown box below to select your country and see the equivalencies to the above UK requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band.

If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not already meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course. If you successfully complete this, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without needing to take a further qualification.

International Requirements

As a student at the University of Birmingham, you will learn from world-leading academics and researchers, as well as from your peers. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

For the taught component, teaching is provided in a variety of ways, including lectures, workshops, tutorials, laboratory and computational practicals. Teaching may take a flipped format, with content provided for students’ own review, then consolidated in discussion-based face-to-face sessions. Students will be taught alongside students on other courses and alongside professionals and current researchers for the Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics workshop, allowing them to build their professional networks. 

Contact hours per week will be 3-5 hours per module, but will vary depending on module. The Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics module is taught as an intensive module, rather than across the semester. 

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in the autumn term, followed by an in depth research project hosted by a microbiology research group. 

Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

Assessment Methods

Assessment of the taught components uses a variety of methods including presentations, exams, computer marked assignments and other forms of in-course assessment. The main research component is assessed by dissertation and oral examination as for PhD theses.


Upon completion of this degree you will be an excellent candidate for PhD studentships in the UK and globally. 

The strong analytical transferable skills learned through this course will position graduates to take up PhDs or employment in microbiology and a range of related fields.

Careers Support for Postgraduate Students

Careers Network – We can help you get ahead in the job market and develop your career

We recognise that as a postgraduate student you are likely to have specific requirements when it comes to planning for your next career step. Employers expect postgraduates to have a range of skills that exceed their subject knowledge. Careers Network offers a range of events and support services that are designed for all students, including postgraduates looking to find their niche in the job market. The Careers Network also have subject specific careers consultants and advisers for each College so you can be assured the information you receive will be relevant to your subject area. For more information visit the Careers Network website