The range of research in the School of Biosciences enables you to tailor your Master's degree to your career requirements. Expertise in biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, cancer biology, protein biochemistry, reproductive biology, computational biology and aging, allows you choice and flexibility in your studies.
The MSc in Infectious Diseases provides advanced research skills training within the context of diseases that affect significant proportions of the UK and global populations. With the UK being a world leader in infectious diseases research and pharmaceutical development, and Kent having a strong research focus in this area, there are significant opportunities for career progression for graduates of this programme in both academia (PhD) and industry.
Learn skills in experimental design using appropriate case studies that embed you within the relevant research literature, and gain experience of analysis and statistical interpretation of complex experimental data. The course culminates with a research project under the supervision of faculty that currently perform research on disease-causing microorganisms.
Minimum 2:2 honours degree in a biosciences-related subject.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
The MSc in Infectious Diseases involves studying for 120 credits of taught modules (compulsory and optional), as indicated below. The taught component takes place during the autumn and spring terms. You will undertake a period of advanced training in research, technical and transferable skills with application in medical microbiology area, including an extended practical training in cutting-edge genome editing. This training will be harnessed with a range of modules specialising in advanced studies of infectious disease. A 60-credit research project takes place over the summer months.
The assessment of the course will involve a mixture of practical classes, innovative continuous assessment to gain maximum transferable and professional skills, and examinations.
In addition to traditional scientific laboratory reports, experience is gained in a range of scientific writing styles relevant to future employment, such as literature reviews, patent applications, regulatory documents, and patient information suitable for a non-scientific readership.
The modules listed below are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. All modules listed below are compulsory – this programme does not have any optional modules.
You take all compulsory modules and chose one optional module from the list below.
The module aims to develop understanding and practical skills in molecular biology, based around interactive workshops, practical sessions and group work. The module will involve practical sessions covering key practical and transferable skills in molecular biology and biotechnology. The module will feature an extended mini-project focused on CRISPR-Cas9-based genome editing - a cutting-edge technology with wide application in the biological sciences – alongside presentation of findings in extended written report format to provide experience of the dissemination platform widely used in biological research.
This module will develop the advanced research skills that are required in modern biological research and transferable across biological research disciplines. This will include the development of skills in bioinformatics, statistical analysis, research publication and peer review through a combination of online exercises, seminars and group work. These skills will be discussed, enhanced and contextualised in tutorials that consider their application of these skills through consideration of literature and case studies drawn from the field of infectious disease research.
Science has a profound influence on public life. This module considers the ways in which different professional and public groups interact with science and scientists, and how this influences the work that scientists do. It considers the social roles and responsibilities of scientists beyond their own scientific research, the context in which science operates, and the careers that exist for scientists outside of the traditional laboratory environment. In considering specific scientific developments in light of ethics, policy, media and public perception, the module will develop a range of academic skills that support learning in more specialised modules. It also provides transferable skills valued in the science sector, particularly science communication.
As microbial pathogens pose an increasing threat to human health it is imperative to improve our fundamental understanding of how these organisms survive during infection and cause disease. This module will cover the molecular pathogenicity of a variety of globally important microbial pathogens, and will provide students with the ability to critically analyse the molecular mechanisms that enable certain key pathogens to cause disease. Examples may be drawn from bacteria, fungi, viruses and/or eukaryotic parasites.
As COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated, there is an urgent need to improve our understanding of disease outbreaks and how to mitigate their impact upon human health. This module will cover the fundamentals of epidemiology, including the theory and practical approaches to study disease outbreaks. High profile examples will be analysed in terms of their human impact and disease tracking, and aspects of public health strategies and policy will be addressed.
As we face the threat of a post-antimicrobial era, it is of paramount importance that we understand the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in the context of infection. This module will cover the fundamentals of clinical microbiology, antimicrobials and their targets, mechanisms underpinning antimicrobial resistance, and the host:pathogen interactions that influence antimicrobial efficacy.
As recent outbreaks of infectious diseases have illustrated, it is imperative to develop rapid diagnostics, effective therapeutics and new vaccines to combat emerging infections that are difficult to treat. This module will cover the approaches used in pathogen diagnosis as well as the cutting edge therapeutics available for the treatment of infectious diseases. The module will also focus on the biotechnological aspects of vaccine development.
Recent events have illustrated the importance of ensuring that science is communicated effectively to non-scientific audiences. This module considers best practice in science communication, making use of case studies that illustrate its importance in developing an informed and empowered public, while developing skills in different modes of communication that enhance future employability.
The module aims to develop understanding and analytical skills in virology, based around interactive seminars wherein students will analyse, present, and discuss the relevant research literature. The students will gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientific communication, and the analysis of experimental data.
Part A: Eukaryotic pathogens (parasites):
• Parasites and pathogenicity, transmission and diversity.
• Mechanisms of Pathogenesis and methods for studying them.
• Microbial pathogenicity: variations on a common theme.
• Definitions on parasitic lifestyle.
• Investigations on worldwide parasitic outbreaks and their socio-economical effects.
• Eukaryotic pathogens and their effect in the microbiome.
Part B: Bacterial pathogens:
• Methodology of studying bacterial pathogenesis.
• Virulence factors including toxins and adhesins.
• Applications of virulence factors in the treatment and prevention of disease.
Part C: Viral pathogens:
• Viruses and Human Disease - transmission and spread, overview of important human virus infections, mechanisms of transmission (Aerosol, Oral-faecal, Sexual etc.), epidemiology - patterns of endemic and epidemic disease.
• Mechanisms of Pathogenesis - spread in the body, disease mechanisms, mechanisms of cell killing (Herpes simplex and Polio), immunopathology and auto-immune disease.
• Virus infection – long term consequences for the host, escape through mutation and natural selection, disabling the immune system, avoidance mechanisms.
• Viruses and Cancer - mechanisms of virus transformation (EBV, Retroviruses & Papilloma), viruses and human cancer (Cervical carcinoma, Hepatocellular Carcinoma & Burkitt Lymphoma).
Part D: Human fungal pathogens:
• Fungi and Human Disease - overview of major human fungal infections, clinical picture, diagnosis and mechanisms of transmission, epidemiological aspects of fungal infections.
• Mechanisms of Fungal Pathogenesis - adherence, invasion of eukaryotic cells, morphogenesis, virulence factors.
• Host resistance to infection and antifungal chemotherapy - host defence mechanisms to fungal infections, role of the humoral and cellular immune response, antifungal chemotherapy: azoles, polyenes, echinocandines and antimetabolites, future developments for the treatment of fungal infections.
Bioinformatics Data sources & Sequence analysis: Databases and data availability. Using sequence data for analysis – sequence searching methods, multiple sequence alignments, residue conservation, Protein domains and families.
Protein Bioinformatics Methods: Protein structure and function prediction. Prediction of binding sites/interfaces with small ligands and with other proteins. Bioinformatics analyses using protein data.
Genomics: An introduction to the analysis of genomic data, primarily focussing on the data available from genome sequencing – how it can be used to study genetic variants and compare genomes (i.e. comparative and functional genomics).
Students will undertake an independent research project that will be designed by the student, in consultation with an academic supervisor, to address specific research questions. Students will be trained in key techniques relating to the project, and will work independently under the supervisor's guidance to design and execute e6xperiments that will address the questions formulated earlier. The students will spend approximately 14 weeks in the laboratory and with then write up their findings in the style of a scientific report for publication in a high impact factor scientific journal. They will present a poster and an oral presentation in research symposia arranged by the School.
Assessment is by examination, coursework and the research project.
This programme aims to:
You gain knowledge and Understanding of:
You gain intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You gain transferable skills in:
The fees for the 2024/25 year have not yet been set. As a guide, the tuition fees for postgraduate study in 2023/24 are shown below.
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Biological Sciences research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for impact and environment.
Within our collaborative research community, the School offers an inspiring environment where researchers at all levels can produce their best work.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Biological Sciences research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for impact and environment.
Our research is focused on biological processes at the molecular and cellular level and spans the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology and biomedical research. The five main research themes within the School are:
Each theme is supported by specialist facilities.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
The MSc in Infectious Diseases provides advanced research skills training within the context of diseases that affect significant proportions of the UK and global populations. With the UK being a world leader in infectious diseases research and pharmaceutical development, and Kent having a strong research focus in this area, there are significant opportunities for career progression for graduates of this programme in academia (PhD) and industry.
There are also opportunities for careers outside the laboratory in advocacy, media, public health and education.
Recent kent graduates have gone on to the following roles: Healthcare Scientist at Public Health England, QC Microbiologist at ThermoFischer, Medical Lab Assistant at Guy’s Hospital, Environmental Health Technician in the Royal Air Force, Microbiologist at Leatherhead Food Research, and onto PhDs at the University of Kent, Lancaster University and University of Southampton.
The School of Biosciences has a dedicated Placements and Employability Team and your academic supervisor will be able to advise you and give you access to professionals in their network.
The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service, which can give you advice on how to:
These services are available to you for 3 years after completing your course.
The School is well equipped, with excellent general research laboratories, together with a range of specialised research resources including facilities for growing micro-organisms of all kinds, extensive laboratories for animal cell culture and monoclonal antibody production and an imaging suite providing high-resolution laser confocal and electron microscopy. Additionally, the macromolecular analysis facility provides resources for protein and mass spectrometry, CD and fluorescence spectroscopy, surface plasmon resonance, and HPLC and FPLC systems for all aspects of biochemical and microbiological research. Notably, the School has a new state-of-the-art Bruker Avance III four-channel 600 MHz NMR spectrometer equipped with a QCI cryoprobe. Our NMR spectrometer was upgraded to this status via an equipment research award from the Wellcome Trust.
All postgraduate students have access to electronic and other resources providing information regarding technical issues relevant to their degrees, as well as subject-specific and transferable skills training.
Students on taught programmes are assigned a personal academic tutor to provide additional support in their postgraduate study. Throughout the course, you are fully embedded in the research culture of the School by attending research seminars and careers guidance sessions, and also participating in our vibrant outreach programme within the local community. In addition to taught modules, an in-depth research project takes place during the summer under the guidance of members of academic staff. These projects benefit from our outstanding research environment and first-class facilities.
Every week, Biosciences runs school seminars where external guest speakers or staff, talk about recent research. In addition, the department runs FIREBio (Forum for Innovation, Research and Enterprise in Biosciences), which is a weekly informal meeting for staff, postdocs and postgraduates involving short presentations and discussions. Postgraduates can use the opportunity to present unpublished research findings and discuss them in a supportive environment.
Staff in the School of Biosciences not only collaborate extensively with other universities in the UK (Cambridge, Cardiff, King’s College London, University College London, Newcastle, Oxford, Sussex, York, Manchester, Durham and Sheffield), but also have a wide-ranging network across the world with institutes including: the Boston Biomedical Research Institute; University of Hanover; Monash University Melbourne; Harvard; University of California, Davis; Université Claude Bernard – Lyon 1; Goethe-Universität Frankfurt; University of Queensland, Australia; University of Utah; Texas A&M University; and Braunschweig University of Technology. We also collaborate with organisations such as the Marie Curie Research Institute, Cancer Research UK, National Institute for Medical Research, MRC London, GlaxoSmithKline and the European Union Framework 5 CYTONET.
The School currently receives funding from: BBSRC; Biochemical Society; British Heart Foundation; E B Charitable Hutchinson Trust; the EC; EPSRC; Kent Cancer Trust;The Leverhulme Trust; National Institutes of Health (USA); Nuffield Foundation; Royal Society; Wellcome Trust. It also receives funding on specific projects from a number of industrial organisations and collaborators.
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Nature Chemical Biology; Journal of Biological Chemistry; Cell; Molecular Cell; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA; PLOS One; and Journal of Cell Science.
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.