Global Infectious Diseases (MRes)

Year of entry

2018

Start date

October 2018

Location

Central London

Status

Fully Approved

Duration

One year full-time or two years part-time

Attendance

One to two evenings a week, plus full-time laboratory attendance for project work, October to September

Global infectious diseases are rarely out of the news, as new communicable diseases - Ebola, Zika, bird flu - along with some old familiar ones - tuberculosis (TB), cholera, HIV, malaria - raise concerns about outbreaks and global pandemics. In our ever-changing, rapidly globalising world, the free movement of people and goods, social change, urbanisation and environmental degradation mean that microorganisms can move quickly between and across populations, crossing natural and human-made borders with ease. A communicable disease that develops in one country has the potential for global impact. On top of this, microorganisms are constantly adapting and developing resistance to existing antibiotic and other treatments, leading to the resurgence of old diseases and the evolution of new ones. 

In response, new and improved treatments are constantly required to combat parasitic, bacterial and viral infections. These pathogens have the potential to adversely affect the health of millions of people and they challenge scientists, particularly in the field of microbiology, to respond swiftly and preemptively. 

This course is ideal if you have an undergraduate degree in a relevant scientific subject. It is research-focused and will help you develop the research skills and subject-specific, laboratory-based expertise you need to develop an academic or professional career as a researcher into global infectious diseases.

In addition to your own laboratory work, you will attend group laboratory meetings and seminars, to deepen your theoretical knowledge and practical skills, and contextualise your research. You will also undertake an original, independent research project and dissertation.

Highlights

  • The Department of Biological Sciences is part of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB), a joint initiative with University College London.
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), in a joint submission with UCL, Biological Sciences at Birkbeck were ranked 11th in the UK, with a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • You will join an existing research group under the guidance of a research supervisor.

Course structure

The research component of this degree occupies about two-thirds of the programme. The remaining third comprises postgraduate taught modules that will provide the necessary theoretical and practical background for you to pursue your chosen research topic.

You take the compulsory module Research in Microbiology (30-credit taught module, taught in the day), choose taught option modules (worth 30 credits) and complete a research project and dissertation (120 credits, full-time laboratory work, attendance at seminars, journal club, etc).

Module groups

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Minimum second-class honours degree in a relevant science discipline.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    FEES

    Part-time home/EU students: £4600 pa
    Part-time international students: £7425 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.

    Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.

    Academic support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Take-home examinations, one-hour unseen examinations, essays, dissertation.

    Feedback

    As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.

    Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.

    Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.

    Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates go on to careers in the NHS or wider health sector, including laboratory-based positions, or in public health settings. Possible professions include microbiologist, biomedical scientist, or research scientist (life sciences). This degree can also be useful in becoming a clinical research associate, science writer, higher education lecturer, or scientific laboratory technician.

    Find out more about these professions.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.