Clinical Microbiology MSc (Distance Learning)


Fact file

MSc Clinical Microbiology (Distance Learning)
3 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 - upper second class UK honours bachelor degree (or international equivalent) from a recognised institution.
Other requirements
Applicants with a lower second class degree (or international equivalent) may be considered on an individual basis.
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
Delivered through distance learning
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This accredited course provides training in clinical microbiology with an emphasis on patient management and infection control.
Read full overview

The MSc Clinical Microbiology course is delivered through distance learning meaning you can study with us from anywhere in the world. It is offered part-time providing flexibility to study alongside work or around your lifestyle.

The course is aimed at healthcare professionals or new graduates aiming for a career in healthcare, specialising in clinical microbiology. It is also appealing to medically qualified students who wish to pursue training towards obtaining Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath) status. The course is open to home, EU and international students and is 100% online-based.

You will be trained in clinical microbiology and infectious diseases, with particular attention on patient management and infection control. It is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS). We also provide training for higher professional qualifications such as FRCPath.

Key facts

  • The course has received full accreditation by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)
  • 95% of the research carried out in the School of Life Sciences was deemed to be of international quality according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014
  • The school has been awarded Athena SWAN Silver status. Athena SWAN champions good working practices to advance the representation of women in STEMM subjects.
  • We've been recognised as delivering a Gold standard in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which aims to recognise and reward excellent learning and teaching.
  • Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings.

Course details

You can undertake this masters part-time over a maximum of four years. It has been developed so you can study at your own pace. There are three qualifications available:

  • PGCert (60 credits)
  • PGDip (120 credits)
  • MSc (180 credits)

You will study a series of modules which have been designed to appeal to applicants from different professions and organisational roles. There is the flexibility to undertake modules on an individual, stand-alone basis too.

What you'll study

You'll gain a wide range of knowledge and skills relating to clinical microbiology including:

  • knowledge of key human infections, with particular emphasis on medically important bacteria, viruses and parasites
  • management of patients with infections
  • diagnostic tests carried out in routine and specialised laboratories
  • anti-microbial chemotherapy
  • infection control and management of outbreaks in hospitals and the community
  • research in clinical microbiology
  • capability to assess and provide leadership in investigating complex clinical scenarios relating to infection
  • analyse and critically assess scientific data and make decisions on their significance
  • understand, assess and assist in management and prevention of outbreaks of communicable diseases
  • independently acquire knowledge and utilise it for applied or research purposes
  • recognise signs and symptoms of infection and manage patients effectively
  • process laboratory specimens competently and offer sound advice on diagnostic issues
  • carry out audit and surveillance to monitor infection and antibiotic resistance in hospitals and community
  • investigate and manage outbreaks of infection in hospitals and community

In addition, you will gain the following transferable skills:

  • work closely with colleagues to conclude on clinical scenarios and outbreaks
  • effectively communicate microbiology results to colleagues and patients for the delivery of quality care
  • plan and organise workload and time
  • use available resources (computer programmes, specialised services etc) effectively
  • undertake self-education and analytical self-assessment

How you'll be taught and assessed

You will be taught through a blended learning approach, using different mediums such as:

  • podcasts
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • interactive learning materials
  • lecture notes and handouts

Materials are prepared by a panel of leading national and international experts including:

  • academics from the University of Nottingham
  • experts in their respective fields from other leading institutions
  • practicing healthcare professionals working in the National Health Service (NHS), Public Health England and other relevant bodies

The online learning environment also supports development of online networks to facilitate communication between students on the course and the tutors.

The course will be assessed by coursework based on the materials taught, which will be submitted electronically. Some of the coursework will be assessed online in a time-limited manner with full access to reading materials.





All modules are compulsory

Year 1

Introduction to Medical Microbiology (10 credits)

This module will highlight the properties and host range of various micro-organisms involved in infection, and will outline the development of appropriate immune responses. Students will gain the necessary foundations in medical microbiology.

Viral Pathogenesis and Infection (20 credits)

This module will illustrate how viruses interact with cells, what are the underlying molecular mechanisms of infection and replication, and how these interactions lead to clinical disease.

Human Pathogens (20 credits)

The module will provide an overview of the major bacterial, fungal and parasitic human pathogens of clinical importance (viral pathogens are covered in the complementary module MBD404; Viral Pathogenesis & Infection). Pathogens covered include Campylobacter jejuni; Legionella pneumophila; Staphylococcus aureus; Helicobacter pylori; Anaerobes of Clinical Importance; Coagulase negative Staphylococci; Haemophilus spp.; Listeria monocytogenes; Burkholderia and Stenotrophomonas; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Yeast and yeast-like fungi; Filamentous and dimorphic fungi; Vibrionacea; Pathogenic Neisseria Spp.; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Group A Streptococci; Mycobacterium tuberculosis and atypical mycobacteria; Enterococcus; Escherichia coli; Enterobacteriaceae; Leishmania and Trypanosoma; Protozoa (Intestinal, Toxoplasma, Trichomonads and Amoebae); Bacillus Spp.

Year 2

Diagnostic Microbiology and Laboratory Methods (20 credits)

Practical sessions covering conventional and molecular methods applied in routine and specialised laboratories for the diagnosis of bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections. Diagnostic microbiology: From Specimen to final report: Blood, CSF, respiratory, enteric, urinary and other tissue specimens. Specimens from sterile sites. Agar-based detection methods; molecular diagnostics; antibiotic sensitivity testing.

Research Methods and Statistics (10 credits)

The overall aim of this module is to ensure that the trainee has the underpinning knowledge of the importance of research, development and innovation across the NHS and in healthcare science in particular and to provide the underpinning knowledge for the research project. Topics will include experimental research methods, statistics and critical analysis of data.

Clinical Syndromes in Infectious Disease (10 credits)

The module will provide a clinical syndrome-focused view of important infectious diseases. It will be delivered primarily using Lectures on clinical and scientific aspects of bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections; management of infectious diseases; organ-based microbiology; management of the laboratory service, management of human and financial resources. Clinical syndromes covered: Respiratory infections; Anaerobes of Clinical Importance; Bone and Joint Infections; STDs, Pathogenesis of Food-Bourne Bacterial Diseases; Infections of Travellers/Rickettsiae; Epidemiological, Clinical and Laboratory Aspects of Pneumonia due to Atypical Pathogens; The Clinical Microbiology of Cystic Fibrosis; Malaria; Endocarditis and HACEK; Septicaemia & Bacteraemia; Blood Cultures; Skin and soft tissue infection; Septicaemia; CNS infections; UTI; PUO; and Infection in the immunocompromised host.

Year 3

Prevention and Treatment of Infection (20 credits)

This module will facilitate an understanding of antimicrobial therapies for the control of infection and disease. This will encompass study of the action of specific antimicrobial compounds, mechanisms of resistance and the development of preventative and therapeutic vaccines. 

Infection Control and Public Health (10 credits)

Hospital infection control: Infection control team, Infection control manual, sterilisation and dis-infection, surveillance, antibiotic policy. Special focus on alert organisms including MRSA, VRE, multi-drug resistant bacteria (gram negatives and mycobacteria). 
Epidemiology and public health: Management of outbreaks in the community: natural, man-made or deliberate. 
National and regional bodies and their roles: HPA, with special reference to HPUS, CFI and Reference laboratories, Stregic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts, Local authority, Public Health. 
Health professionals and their roles: CCDC, Health Protection Specialist, Regional Epidemiologists, District nurses, school nurses, Environmental Health Officers. 
Reference facilities: Practical sessions on typing schemes, water and environmental microbiology, antibiotic resistance monitoring

All years

Research Project (60 credits)

This module enables students to experience contemporary research methods by engaging them to design a research programme and perform experiments, surveys, or other research activities aimed at solving a specific biomedical problem. Each student will be allocated an academic supervisor with whom they will discuss the research project prior to commencement. Students will first collect, analyse data, read and collate previous results relevant to their project, then embark on a period of research before preparing, writing and submitting a scientific paper. They will write a clear and concise report and will discuss their work with academic members during a viva voce examination. This module is reserved for students registered on a School of Life Sciences MSc course in Immunology & Allergy, Microbiology & Immunology, Clinical & Molecular Microbiology, Clinical Microbiology (distance) or Molecular Genetics & Diagnostics. The form of project may vary and it will be based on laboratory work, bioinformatics or an extended literature review. The principal activities will be completion of the practical work and submission of a final report in the form of a dissertation and oral examination.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



UK students

For funding advice, please see our guide to funding

Fully funded places are available for health and social care professionals working in the East Midlands and having the support of their manager. These places are funded through the East Midlands Healthcare Workforce Deanery (SHA) contract with The University of Nottingham. To check if you qualify for funding please call (0115) 823 1213 or email



Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.




The MSc Clinical Microbiology will enable you to acquire advanced knowledge of molecular and clinical microbiology to prepare you for hospital-based clinical microbiology, infectious disease and public health positions.

You will be exposed to routine and specialised conventional and molecular techniques, trained to critically appraise clinical scenarios, and to make rational judgements for patient management.

You will also be trained on critical evaluation of published scientific papers, and be able to apply the results to a variety of related and unrelated scientific problems.

This course will encourage you to gain numerous transferable skills such as:

  • efficient time management and organisation
  • leadership skills
  • verbal and written communication skills
  • awareness of safety issues
  • decision making

These skills will be applicable to a wide variety of vocations and career opportunities, and make you highly desirable to the marketplace.

Our MSc graduates are very much in demand by employers in both the private and public sectors and have the opportunity to establish successful careers in a range of areas. Many UK-based students will go on to do FRCPath exams, take up positions as trainee diagnostic microbiologists (Biomedical Scientists) or Clinical Scientists, or pursue higher degrees such as PhD or MD.

Students from our full suite of MSc courses have found employment and further training in a very wide variety of positions. However, to give you a flavour of the possibilities, the list below provides a number of individual examples:

  • Senior House Officer in Medical Microbiology
  • Research Technician in Oncology
  • Senior Registrar in Medical Microbiology
  • PhD (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • Infection Control Nurses
  • NHS Clinical Scientists
  • Regulatory Affairs Specialist (AMGEM Biotech)
  • PhD (School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Cambridge)
  • Clinical Trial Data Manager
  • Application Specialist in Biological Sciences (Japan)
  • Biomedical Scientists (BMS1)
  • PhD (School of Molecular Medical Sciences, University of Nottingham)
  • Research Technician (School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Nottingham)

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2017, 94.9% of postgraduates from the school who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,400 with the highest being £40,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.


Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from  careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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