Infectious Diseases - MSc


The MSc in Infectious Diseases has been designed for students who wish to 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.

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 70 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.

National ratings

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.

Course structure

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 following modules 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.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Modules may include Credits

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, Salmonella, Campylobacter, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by examination, coursework and the research project.

Programme aims

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.

Learning outcomes

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.

Intellectual skills

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.

Subject-specific skills

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.

Transferable skills

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.

Professional recognition

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.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

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 additionally monitored online using the University progression and monitoring system. Within Biosciences all students are given an e-Postgraduate Development Folder, providing information on a series of training events plus a record of attainment, which helps to log progress, keep reports, and catalogue research training and transferable skills modules. These form essential elements of your CV for subsequent job applications. Additionally, all research students are allocated a Postgraduate Supervisory Committee. The Committee helps you set realistic research objectives and regularly monitors your progress throughout the course.

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.

Worldwide partnerships

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.  

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 honours degree in a biosciences-related subject.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

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.

Research areas

Research in the School of Biosciences is focused primarily on essential biological processes at the molecular and cellular level, encompassing the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology and biomedical research.

In the most recent REF (2014) 100% of the research submitted for Biological Sciences by the School was judged to be of international quality.

The School houses a dynamic research community with five major research themes:

  • industrial biotechnology 
  • infection and drug resistance 
  • cancer and age-related diseases 
  • cellular architecture and dynamics 
  • reproduction, evolution and genomics

Each area is led by a senior professor and underpinned by excellent research facilities. The School-led development of the Industrial Biotechnology Centre (IBC), with staff from the other four other schools in the Faculty of Sciences, facilitates and encourages interdisciplinary projects. The School has a strong commitment to translational research, impact and industrial application with a substantial portfolio of enterprise activity and expertise.

Associated centres

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.

Dr Anthony Baines: Reader in Molecular Cell Biology

The proteins of the membrane-associated cytoskeleton, in particular the protein spectrin; the role of spectrin and protein 4.1 in acute heart failure.

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Dr Ian Blomfield: Senior Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology

The regulation of gene expression in bacteria in response to environmental signals  encountered in the animal host; phase variation in E coli and other bacteria; the regulation of bacterial adhesions.

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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.

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Dr Alessia Buscaino: Lecturer in Fungal Epigenetics

Genetics and epigenetics of repetitive DNA domains.

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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.

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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.

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Professor Michael Geeves: Professor of Physical Biochemistry

How the mechanochemistry of the myosin motor domain is tuned to produce widely differing activities and how the motor activity is regulated.

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Dr Ben Goult: Lecturer in Biochemistry

Research Interests

  • Cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion complexes, FERM domains
  • Structural Biology: NMR Spectroscopy, X-Ray Crystallography and Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS)
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Dr Campbell Gourlay: Senior Lecturer in Cell Biology

Investigating the role that the actin cytoskeleton and its regulation plays in cell homeostasis and mitochondrial function, with emphasis on the mechanisms of ageing and apoptosis.

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Professor Darren Griffin: Professor of Genetics

The cytogenetic basis of male infertility, in particular the role of genetic recombination and changes in genome organisation; chromosomes in early human development and the application for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; comparative genomics and genome evolution in avian species.

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Dr N.M. Kad: Lecturer in Molecular Biophysics

Key research areas are:

  • DNA repair
  • Single Molecule Biophysics
  • Muscle Contractility
  • Amyloid disease and inhibition
  • Molecular Motors
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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.

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Professor Martin Michaelis: Professor of Cell Biology

The investigation of anti-cancer drugs in chemoresistant cancer cells; the influence of chemoresistance development on cancer cell biology.

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Dr Dan Mulvihill: Reader in Cell and Molecular Biology

The characterisation of myosins from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which have been implicated in diverse roles in its life cycle; characterising enzymatic properties of these myosins and correlating these with established in vivo assays.

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Dr Pauline Phelan: Senior Lecturer in Cell Biology

Gap junctions in nervous and immune systems; assembly, regulation and functions of innexin-based junctions.

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Professor Colin Robinson: Professor in Biotechnology

Mechanisms of protein transport across biological membranes; the twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system in bacteria and chloroplasts; protein sorting in cyanobacteria.

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Dr Gary Robinson: Senior Lecturer in Microbial Technology

The use of micro-organisms for biotransformations and bioremediation; microbial communication in host-pathogen interactions.

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Dr Jeremy Rossman: Lecturer in Virology

The role of morphology on the influenza virus lifecycle and pathogenesis.

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Dr Mark Shepherd: Lecturer in Microbial Biochemistry

Biosynthesis of haem; the structure/function of bacterial globin proteins; resistance mechanisms of bacterial pathogens to nitric oxide; disulphide folding; the use of haem precursors and derivatives as novel antimicrobials.

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Professor Mark Smales: Professor of Mammalian Cell Biotechnology

Protein and cell biotechnology; animal cell engineering; proteomics and protein bioprocessing.

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Dr A. Tsaousis: Lecturer in Molecular and Evolutionary Parasitology

Understanding the role and evolution of mitochondria in eukaryotic parasites.

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Professor Mick Tuite: Professor of Molecular Biology

The mechanism and control of translation in yeast; yeast prion proteins; molecular chaperones.

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Dr J.M.A. Tullet: Lecturer

Current, key research topics include;

  • Understanding the roles of transcription factors in the regulation of ageing.
  • Deciphering the relationship between diet and lifespan.
  • Examining the role of energy balance in regulating lifespan.
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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.

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Professor Martin Warren: Professor of Biochemistry

Metabolic and genetic engineering; protein structure and function; biosynthesis of natural products including vitamins, cofactors and prosthetic groups.

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Dr Mark Wass: Lecturer in Computational Biology

The use of structural bioinformatics tools to analyse genetic variation and the functional effects that they may have in disease.

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Dr Richard Williamson: Senior Lecturer in Protein Biochemistry

The structure and function of proteins that play key biological roles within the body or that are known to be important in human disease; protein folding.

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Dr Wei-Feng Xue: Senior Lecturer in Chemical Biology

Investigation of the structure, the assembly mechanism, the biological and disease-associated properties, and the physiochemical properties of forms of protein known as amyloid.

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Dr Martin Carden: Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Biology

The composition and function of the chaperonin CCT inside cells, especially as related to cytoskeletal organisation; cell cycle control; avoiding pathological protein aggregation.

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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.

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Dr Christopher Mulligan: Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences

The molecular mechanisms of transport proteins; how they recognise compounds, how they harness an energy source to pump compounds across the membrane, and how they move during transport.

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The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Infectious Diseases - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7300 £18400
Part-time £3650 £9200

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 information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


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