Gain an advanced education and training in the biological sciences, within the context of a range of human diseases that affect a significant proportion of the global population.
The programme provides training in the modern practical, academic and research skills that are used in academia and industry. Through a combination of lectures, small-group seminars and practical classes, you apply this training towards the development of new strategies to combat the spread of infectious diseases.
You learn skills in experimental design using appropriate case studies that embed you within the relevant research literature. You also gain experience of analysis and statistical interpretation of complex experimental data.
The programme culminates with a research project under the supervision of faculty that currently perform research on disease-causing microorganisms.
New Institute for Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine
Biosciences' research excellence will be further enhanced by a new 'Institute of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine' research facility. The new building will be completed in 2020, and will house additional staff and research facilities.
Think Kent Video Series
Dr Mark Shepherd talks about combating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
About the School of Biosciences
The University of Kent’s School of Biosciences ranks among the most active in biological sciences in the UK. We have recently extended our facilities and completed a major refurbishment of our research laboratories that now house over 100 academic, research, technical and support staff devoted to research, of whom more than 100 are postgraduate students.
Research in the School of Biosciences revolves around understanding systems and processes in the living cell. It has a strong molecular focus with leading-edge activities that are synergistic with one another and complementary to the teaching provision. Our expertise in disciplines such as biochemistry, microbiology and biomedical science allows us to exploit technology and develop groundbreaking ideas in the fields of genetics, molecular biology, protein science and biophysics. Fields of enquiry encompass a range of molecular processes from cell division, transcription and translation through to molecular motors, molecular diagnostics and the production of biotherapeutics and bioenergy.
In addition to research degrees, our key research strengths underpin a range of unique and career-focused taught Master’s programmes that address key issues and challenges within the biosciences and pharmaceutical industries and prepare graduates for future employment.
Kent and Medway Medical School
Kent is moving forward with the Kent & Medway Medical School (KMMS), due to take the first cohort of students in September 2020.
KMMS will be a significant addition to the University, with exciting opportunities for education and research in the School of Biosciences.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Biosciences was ranked 7th for research intensity and in the top 20 in the UK for research output.
An impressive 93% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality, with 88% of this judged world-leading or internationally excellent. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development research of international excellence.
The MSc in Infectious Diseases involves studying for 120 credits of taught modules, 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.
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
BI853 - Bacterial Pathogens
The module aims to develop an in depth understanding of bacterial pathogens, based around lectures and interactive workshops. Key topics include Gram-negative pathogens (e.g. E. coli, Pseudomonas), Gram-positive pathogens (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis), current and emerging virulence traits (e.g. adhesion, invasiveness, enhanced spread, toxin production, antimicrobial drug resistance). The module will involve a rotation of seminars covering key theoretical concepts, mechanistic insights into host:pathogen interactions, and discussion of practical approaches to combat the spread of bacterial infections. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops wherein students will analyse, present and discuss the relevant research literature. In addition, a computer workshop will provide bioinformatics training for the analysis of genomic traits pertaining to bacterial virulence. The students will gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientific communication and the analysis and interpretation of complex experimental data.View full module details
BI854 - Fungi as Human Pathogens
The module aims to develop an in depth understanding of fungal pathogens, based around lectures and interactive workshops. Key topics include severe, recurrent and chronic fungal diseases (such as cryptococcal meningitis, candidiasis and chronic pulmonary aspergillosis).and molecular mechanisms underlying resistance to anti-fungal drugs. The module will involve a rotation of seminars covering key theoretical concepts, mechanistic insights into host:pathogen interactions, and discussion of practical approaches to combat the spread of fungal infections. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops 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 and interpretation of complex experimental data.View full module details
BI855 - Advances in Parasitology
The module aims to develop an in depth understanding of eukaryotic pathogens, based around lectures and interactive workshops. Key topics include: Introduction to parasitology (parasitism as a strategy), Evolution and taxonomy of parasitic protozoa, Cell structures and functions, Molecular biology of parasitic protozoa, The unique biochemistry of parasitic protozoa, Apicomplexa (Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, Babesia, Cryptosporidium), Parasitic Excavates (Trypanosoma, Leishmania, Naegleria, Trichomonas), Overview of medically important helminths, Host-parasite-vector immune interactions. The module will involve a rotation of seminars covering key theoretical concepts, mechanistic insights into host: pathogen interactions, and discussion of practical approaches to combat the spread of parasitic infections. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops wherein students will analyse, present and discuss the relevant research literature. In addition, a laboratory workshop will provide training for the identification of medically important parasites using microscopy and molecular biology techniques. The students will gain experience in scientific design, literature analysis, scientific communication and the analysis and interpretation of complex experimental data.View full module details
BI856 - Viral Pathogens
The module aims to develop understanding and analytical skills in virology, based around seminars and interactive workshops. The initial stages of the module will involve an intensive rotation of seminars covering key practical and transferable skills in virology and molecular biology. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops 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 and statistical interpretation of complex experimental data.View full module details
BI830 - Science at Work
Science has a profound influence on professional practice in the private and public sector. This module considers the ways in which different professions interact with science and scientists, and how this influences the work they do. Their interaction with the public will also be discussed. A series of speakers with diverse professional backgrounds (education, industry, government, policy making, the law, the media) will describe their work, the role of science in the profession, and the way in which science influences their actions and interactions with the public and other professions. This will relate to scientific content in a range of scientific contexts, including cancer, reproductive medicine, biotechnology and healthcare. This will be illustrated by case studies presenting challenges and dilemmas concerning the communication of science in the context of different professions and their target audiences.View full module details
BI836 - Practical and Applied Research Skills for Advanced Biologists
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. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops and classes that review the theory of these techniques, and will use case studies to illustrate their impact and importance in both academic and industrial settings. Students will learn skills in experimental design using appropriate case studies that will embed them within the relevant research literature. They will also gain experience of analysis and statistical interpretation of complex experimental data.View full module details
BI845 - MSc Project
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 experiments 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.View full module details
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is by examination, coursework and the research project.
This programme aims to:
- provide an excellent quality of postgraduate level education in the field of infectious diseases, their biology and treatments
- provide a research-led, inspiring learning environment
- provide a regional postgraduate progression route for the advanced study of diseases that affect a high proportion of the global population
- promote engagement with biological research into infectious diseases and inspire students to pursue scientific careers inside or outside of the laboratory
- develop subject-specific and transferable skills to maximise employment prospects
- promote an understanding of the impact of scientific research on society and the role for scientists in a range of professions.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and Understanding of:
- principles and application of key techniques in modern molecular bioscience
- molecular, cellular and physiological basis of infectious diseases
- virulence factors associated with infectious diseases
- epidemiology of infectious diseases
- current therapeutic strategies and their application in the treatment of different infectious diseases
- how scientific knowledge is disseminated to different stakeholders: eg, media, policy-makers and public.
You gain intellectual skills in:
- research skills: how to formulate research questions and hypotheses to address scientific issues
- analytical skills: interpretation of data, marshalling information from published sources, critical evaluation of own research and that of others
- information technology: use of appropriate technology to retrieve, analyse and present scientific information
- statistical evaluation: the use of appropriate statistical analysis methods in handling scientific data.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- experimental skills: how to design experiments to address specific research questions and hypotheses
- practical skills: key techniques in modern molecular biology and their application in molecular bioscience to solve research problems
- data handling: how to record experimental procedures and data appropriately using good laboratory practice
- presentation of scientific research: how to write research articles in an appropriate style in keeping with high impact factor scientific journals, and posters and oral presentation for conferences and symposia
- science writing: how to present scientific information to scientific and non-scientific audiences
- careers: a recognition of career opportunities for scientists outside of the laboratory.
You gain transferable skills in:
- communication: ability to organise information clearly, present information in oral and written form, adapt presentation for different audiences
- reflection: make use of constructive informal feedback from staff and peers and assess own progress to enhance performance and personal skills
- self-motivation and independence: time and workload management in order to meet personal targets and imposed deadlines
- team work: the ability to work both independently and as part of a research group using peer support, diplomacy and collective responsibility.
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.
To give you an idea of possible career destinations, recent 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.
Help finding a job
The School of Biosciences has a dedicated Placements and Employability Officer 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:
- apply for jobs
- write a good CV
- perform well in interviews.
These services are available to you for 3 years after completing your course.
This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. Masters Accreditation by the Society recognises programmes that support the development of specific skill sets, competencies and training which will enhance life and health science research. Programmes submitted for accreditation must satisfy the general requirements for Advanced Accreditation, which includes a significant period of practice.
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 research students are supervised closely and are regularly monitored online using the University progression and monitoring system. 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. All research students are allocated a Postgraduate Supervisory Team, consisting of one or more day-to-day supervisors, and one or more members not involved in day-to-day supervision whose task it is to serve as independent monitors of progress.
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.
An active school
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.
Dynamic publishing culture
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.
Global Skills Award
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.
Minimum 2:1 honours degree in a biosciences-related subject.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
English language entry requirements
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.
Need help with English?
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.
Within our collaborative research community, the School offers an inspiring environment where researchers at all levels can produce their best work.
An impressive 93% of our active research staff submitted to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework and 88% of this research was classed as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'.
Our research is focussed 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:
- Cancer and ageing
- Cellular architecture and dynamics
- Industrial biotechnology
- Infectious diseases
- Evolution, reproduction and genome organisation.
Each theme is supported by specialist facilities.
Kent Fungal Group
The Kent Fungal Group (KFG) brings together a number of research groups in the School of Biosciences that primarily use yeasts or other fungi as ‘model systems’ for their research. One strength of the KFG is the range of model fungi being exploited for both fundamental and medical/translational research. These include Bakers’ yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and Fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) and yeasts associated with human disease, specifically Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans.
In addition to studying key cellular processes in the fungal cell such as protein synthesis, amyloids and cell division, members of the KFG are also using yeast to explore the molecular basis of human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as ageing. The KFG not only provides support for both fundamental and medical/translational fungal research, but also provides an excellent training environment for young fungal researchers.
Industrial Biotechnology Centre
The School houses one of the University’s flagship research centres – the Industrial Biotechnology Centre (IBC). Here, staff from Biosciences, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Computing and Engineering combine their expertise into a pioneering interdisciplinary biosciences programme at Kent, in order to unlock the secrets of some of the essential life processes. These approaches are leading to a more integrated understanding of biology in health and disease. In the Centre, ideas and technology embodied in different disciplines are being employed in some of the remaining challenges in bioscience. With such an approach, new discoveries and creative ideas are generated through the formation of new collaborative teams. In this environment, the Centre is broadening and enriching the training of students and staff in science and technology.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Professor David Brown: Professor of Structural Biology
The elucidation and role of protein structure and function in molecular processes, in particular those with a potential for therapeutic intervention through drug design.View Profile
Dr Alessia Buscaino: Senior Lecturer in Fungal Epigenetics
Genetics and epigenetics of repetitive DNA domains.View Profile
Dr Peter Ellis: Lecturer in Molecular Biology and Reproduction
Reproductive functions in models of infertility, genes on the mouse Y chromosome and their roles in spermatogenesis and in genome evolution, DNA repair mechanisms in meiosis and cancer.View Profile
Professor M.D. Garrett: Professor of Cancer Therapeutics
Research is focussed on cell signalling and cell division, and how these cellular processes can be targeted for the treatment of cancer.View Profile
Professor Darren Griffin: Professor of Genetics
The cytogenetic basis of gametogenesis, in particular genome organisation; chromosomes in early mammalian development and implications for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Comparative genomics and genome evolution in avian and mammalian species.View Profile
Dr Dan Lloyd: Reader in Pharmacology
Cellular responses to DNA damage, with particular emphasis on the repair of DNA damage in human cells induced by environmental and clinical agents; novel radiopharmaceuticals used in the imaging treatment of cancer.View Profile
Professor Martin Michaelis: Professor of Cell Biology
Cancer cell biology and cancer cell response to therapy with a focus on drug resistance; Virus biology, pathogenicity, and antiviral therapies.View Profile
Dr Gary Robinson: Senior Lecturer in Microbial Technology
Microbial communication and microbial biotechnology.View Profile
Dr Mark Shepherd: Lecturer in Microbial Biochemistry
Antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens; resistance mechanisms of bacterial pathogens to nitric oxide; biochemical/genetic studies on bacterial respiration; biofuel production using solventogenic Clostridium species.View Profile
Professor Mark Smales: Professor of Mammalian Cell Biotechnology
Protein and cell biotechnology; synthetic biology, metabolic enginering, animal cell engineering; proteomics and protein bioprocessing, biotherapeutic drug development.View Profile
Dr Anastasios Tsaousis: Senior Lecturer in Molecular and Evolutionary Parasitology
Exploring the biological role of parasites within the microbiome and their biochemical interactions with their hosts .View Profile
Dr Tobias von der Haar: Senior Lecturer in Systems Biology
How the protein synthesis apparatus is regulated in cells and how it can achieve synthesis of exactly the right proteome for the right occasion.View Profile
Dr Mark Wass: Senior Lecturer in Computational Biology
The use of bioinformatics approaches to analyse big data across many areas of biology. These include analysis of genetic variation and its link with disease, drug resistance in cancer and also analysis of determinants of virus pathogenicity including that of Ebola viruses.View Profile
Dr Tim Fenton: Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences
Wet lab and computational approaches, focusing on human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven carcinogenesis as a paradigm for understanding tumour development.View Profile
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Infectious Diseases - MSc at Canterbury:|
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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