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Microbiology courses

Microbiologists study micro-organisms, the diseases they cause and the benefits they can bring, and use this knowledge to improve the world we live in. Topics include global health issues, such as HIV and TB, forensics for criminal investigations, ecosystems and the genetic engineering of crops. You will spend time in the lab and on fieldwork. Microbiologists work in research, universities and hospitals, pharmaceutical industries, biotechnology companies, forensic science labs, water and food industries and environmental organisations.

Studying microbiology at university

Example course modules

  • Genetic manipulation
  • Metabolism and molecular biology
  • Molecular ecology and evolution
  • Genome expression and organisation
  • Advanced microbial function
  • Bacterial genetics
  • Animal biodiversity
  • Virology
  • The multicellular organism
  • Principles of pharmacology

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 63%
    Male : 37%
  • Mature : 14%
    School leaver : 86%
  • Full-time : 97%
    Part-time : 3%

What students say about microbiology

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • Biology

Useful to have

  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Mathematics

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
If you want a career in microbiology, then this is the degree to take. Although jobs are very competitive, microbiology graduates who want to leave the lab can find jobs in most industries - not just in health and hospitals, but in the food and drink, water and ecology sectors, too. Only a few hundred people take microbiology courses every year, and going on to further study is fairly common for graduates. Last year was a bit difficult for new microbiology graduates, so the figures above are a bit gloomier than you'd usually expect, but we'd hope they'd improve in the next few years.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Science, engineering and production technicians

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • MLSO (Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer)
  • Microbiologist (includes bacteriologists, virologists and mycologists)
  • Clinical research associate

Other real-life job examples

  • Toxicologist
  • Quality assurance officer
  • Immunologist

What employers like about this subject

Students taking a microbiology degree can gain a range of subject-specific skills including genetics, biochemistry and the use of microbiology in industry. Transferable skills you can develop include advanced numeracy, written and spoken communication, presentation, project management and research skills, and microbiology graduates are in demand from employers such as hospitals, universities, clinical and scientific analysts, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry and the water industry. If you are aiming for a career in research, you will usually need to take a postgraduate qualification (probably a doctorate) after your first degree, and so postgraduate study is a common option for microbiology graduates.