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Global infectious diseases are rarely out of the news, as new communicable diseases - Ebola, Zika, bird flu - along with some old familiar ones - tuberculosis (TB), cholera, HIV, malaria - raise concerns about outbreaks and global pandemics. In our ever-changing, rapidly globalising world, the free movement of people and goods, social change, urbanisation and environmental degradation mean that microorganisms can move quickly between and across populations, crossing natural and human-made borders with ease. A communicable disease that develops in one country has the potential for global impact. On top of this, microorganisms are constantly adapting and developing resistance to existing antibiotic and other treatments, leading to the resurgence of old diseases and the evolution of new ones. 

In response, new and improved treatments are constantly required to combat parasitic, bacterial and viral infections. These pathogens have the potential to adversely affect the health of millions of people and they challenge scientists, particularly in the field of microbiology, to respond swiftly and preemptively. 

This course is ideal if you have an undergraduate degree in a relevant scientific subject and you would like to develop an academic or professional career as a researcher into global infectious diseases. The course is research-focused and it will help you develop the research skills and subject-specific, laboratory-based expertise you need to develop as a microbiological researcher. You will develop the knowledge and learn the skills you need to undertake an original, independent research project and dissertation. 

In addition to your own laboratory work, you will attend group laboratory meetings and seminars, to deepen your theoretical knowledge and practical skills, and to contextualise your research. 

Why study this course at Birkbeck?


  • Develop a range of research skills and subject-matter expertise in global infectious diseases.
  • Undertake a laboratory project in a research-intensive environment, under the guidance of leading-edge researchers.
  • The Department of Biological Sciences is part of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB), a joint initiative with University College London.
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), in a joint submission with UCL, Biological Sciences at Birkbeck were ranked 11th in the UK, with a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • Ideal if you want to gain qualifications necessary for pursuing a research career.
  • You will join an existing research group under the guidance of a research supervisor.


The research component of this degree occupies about two-thirds of the programme. The remaining third comprises postgraduate taught modules that will provide the necessary theoretical and practical background for you to pursue your chosen research topic.

You take the compulsory module Research in Microbiology (30-credit taught module, taught in the day), choose taught option modules (worth 30 credits) and complete a research project and dissertation (120 credits, full-time laboratory work, attendance at seminars, journal club, etc.).



Visit the Global Infectious Diseases (MRes) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!






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