One year full-time or two years part-time
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 and you would like to develop an academic or professional career as a researcher into global infectious diseases. The course is research-focused and it will help you develop the research skills and subject-specific, laboratory-based expertise you need to develop as a microbiological researcher. You will develop the knowledge and learn the skills you need to undertake an original, independent research project and dissertation.
In addition to your own laboratory work, you will attend group laboratory meetings and seminars, to deepen your theoretical knowledge and practical skills, and to contextualise your research.
- Develop a range of research skills and subject-matter expertise in global infectious diseases.
- Undertake a laboratory project in a research-intensive environment, under the guidance of leading-edge researchers.
- 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.
- Ideal if you want to gain qualifications necessary for pursuing a research career.
- You will join an existing research group under the guidance of a research supervisor.
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.).
We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.
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.
We offer advice on all the options for financing your studies. You can pay your fees interest-free by direct debit and postgraduate loans are available for all Home/EU students.
To be confirmed.
Teaching and assessment
Our innovative, engaging teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments.
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
Lectures, seminars, tutorials, group work and a research project.
Key teaching staff on this programme
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.
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 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.
Methods of assessment on this course
Take-home examinations, one-hour unseen examinations, essays, dissertation.
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
To help you get ahead in your career, we offer free advice and training and our recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, can connect you with employers.
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 the destinations of graduates in this subject.
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
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.
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.
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