BSc Microbiology - what you'll learn
Expand your knowledge of some of the planet's most dominant life forms, and take part in research projects with a global impact.
The world of biology under the microscope is as varied as any other aspect of the biological sciences: bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi and protozoa are all waiting to reveal their secrets. At Reading, we believe that you will learn best if you are able to approach microbiology both practically and academically. You will receive lectures from world-leading academics and carry out practical work in our new, cutting-edge laboratories. Working individually and in small groups, you will have the opportunity to hone your skills with the aid of peers and academics alike. You will also have the chance to customise your degree to suit your interests with our excellent selection of modules. Take a look at the examples below for a taster of what is available.
a Sample of fascinating modules
This second year module explores how certain microorganisms have adapted to infect other organisms and cause disease. Microorganisms are all around us, including in and on our bodies. The vast majority are harmless, some are even beneficial, and yet infectious diseases caused by microorganisms still kill more people than any other single cause globally.
You will learn how microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, protists and fungi cause diseases such as Polio, Ebola, AIDS, Meningitis and Malaria. You will also learn the different ways that pathogens are transmitted, how vaccines are developed and how they prevent infections, how antimicrobials such as antibiotics kill microorganisms, and how microorganisms fight back by evolving resistance mechanisms.
You will also gain hands on experience of methods used in hospital laboratories to identify bacterial pathogens from clinical samples and how viruses are cultured and studied in the laboratory.
Microbiology Field Courses
This third year module is part field and part lab-based and provides an exciting opportunity to study microorganisms that inhabit unusual environments. The field course takes place during the summer where you will spend two weeks investigating Arctic microbiology in Northern Iceland or tropical microbiology in Colombia. You will gain practical experience in a range of sampling techniques used to isolate microorganisms from diverse habitats such as glacial rivers and volcanic geothermal zones in Iceland, or tropical rainforests, banana plantations, dry forests and cocoa plantations in Colombia. In the laboratory, you will use a range of laboratory techniques to identify your isolates and discover if any of your isolates could be of benefit to society, such as producing new antibiotics or fungicides.
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This third year module explores how viruses function at the molecular level, including viruses responsible for diseases such as hepatitis, herpes, influenza and AIDS. You will learn the mechanisms viruses use to evade the immune system and why they only replicate within specific cell types. You will have the opportunity to debate current topical issues in virology (for example, the pros and cons of vaccination) using scientific literature as supporting evidence, to interpret and discuss breaking research published in academic journals with peers and academics, and to gain experience in a one-to-one interview. You will also learn about strange diseases known as spongiform encephalopathies (which roughly translates as "holes in the brain"), including 'mad cow disease', which are caused by infectious proteins (prions).
Find out more about BSc Microbiology
For information about this course, entry requirements and funding, take a look at our course specifications page.