Masters degrees in Parasitology involve advanced study of the transmission and control of parasitic diseases and their vectors (the organisms which carry disease). Some courses may also cover aspects of entomology (the scientific study of insects).
Popular postgraduate specialisms include Pathogen Biology, Vector Biology and Medical Entomology. Entry requirements normally include an undergraduate degree in a relevant Biological Science subject.
Parasites can cause major implications for many aspects of everyday life, from ill health in animals and humans, to destroying valuable crops and agricultural produce. By monitoring and controlling parasites, Parasitologists can ensure the security of our food through the development of pesticides, improve the efficiency of our medications, and prevent the spread of disease.
Through techniques such as bioimaging and bioinformatics, you will explore the molecular aspects of parasite/vector relationships, analysing their chemical compounds and biological processes. You will also examine immune responses triggered through host-pathogen relationships, undertaking laboratory research to formulate solutions to issues such as antibiotic-resistant parasites and diseases.
Traditional careers follow routes in industry such as agriculture and pharmaceuticals, but many others take on careers in foreign aid, public policy, or undertake ongoing research through PhD study.
The two contributing universities - Salford and Keele - have considerable complementary research experience in the biology of parasites and the vectors which transmit them. This has led to the development of this pioneering joint masters degree, focusing on the molecular aspects of parasite infections and vector biology. It aims to provide you with a sound insight into the biology of parasites and their control.
This course will educate you in contemporary studies of research on immunological and molecular aspects of selected parasites and vector/parasite relationships. You will also gain research experience in parasitology and/or entomology. Individual research projects can be based in either of the two institutions, choosing a topical aspect of parasitology, or vector biology.
Teaching is delivered by research active staff from the University of Salford and Keele University. Teaching sessions are primarily based at Salford, though the facilities at Keele are also utilised with transport being provided for classes based at Keele.
Teaching sessions include lectures, laboratory practicals, field work, tutorials, guest lectures and guided reading. Your Dissertation can be based at Salford or Keele.
Part-time students study Fundamentals of Parasitology and Molecular Biology of Parasites in year 1, Vector Biology and Control, and Research Skills (Parasitology) in year 2. Students may wish to complete the Dissertation in year 2, or year 3 depending upon commitments.
The Research Skills (Parasitology) and Dissertation modules are assessed by coursework. The remaining modules are assessed by coursework and examination.
Graduates from this course have entered employment as research assistants or research laboratory technicians in pharmaceuticals, drug design and pesticide research. Other career paths have included pollution microbiologists with water authorities, and work in hospital laboratories investigating the haematology, molecular biology and immunology of infectious diseases.
This MSc also equips students for PhD research and former students have gone on to study at international universities that include our partner university in Toledo (USA). Several students at Toledo have now completed their PhD studies and have gained employment at US Ivy League Institutes (Harvard Medical School and Cornell).
After completion of this course you may wish to specialise in a chosen subject area in one of the School’s two main research centres: Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre (EERC) or Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).
The taught Infection Biology MSc will help you to develop your knowledge and understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which bacteria, viruses and parasites cause disease in humans and in domesticated animals, and the immune responses generated by these hosts to such pathogens. You can choose to specialise in virology, microbiology (bacteriology) or parasitology.
The MSc programme will consist of five taught courses and a project or dissertation, spread over 11-12 months. Three courses are compulsory, and two are chosen from a series of options.
The PgDip programme will consist of five taught courses, spread over 7-8 months, with three compulsory courses and two chosen from a series of options.
The PgCert programme consists one core taught course over 3-4 months.
Teaching and learning methods
A variety of methods are used, including lectures, tutorials, workshops, laboratories and problem-based learning. These are supplemented by a wide range of course specific electronic resources for additional learning and self assessment. As a result, you will develop a wide range of skills relevant to careers in infection biology research, diagnostics or drug development. These skills include team-working, data interpretation and experimental design. You will use primary scientific literature as an information resource.
Our online resources were voted the best in the United Kingdom in the International Student Barometer in 2012, and include
About half of our MSc students enter a research career, mainly by undertaking further postgraduate research studies towards a PhD, or by working in research laboratories in clinical or academic settings, including national government laboratories.
Other students go on to work in the pharmaceutical, diagnostic or biotechnological industries.
This 1 year course leads to an internationally recognised MRes qualification that provides training in transferable skills essential for those wishing to pursue post-graduate PhD, commercial or industrial research opportunities. Focusing on parasites and the diseases that they cause, you will gain expert knowledge in the detection, prevention and control of protozoan as well as metazoan animal and human pathogens. You will be trained in specialisms including biochemistry, molecular biology, whole organism/cell culture and manipulation, bioinformatics, proteomics, transcriptomics, genomics, functional genomics, drug discovery, vaccinology, biomarker discovery, genetics/epigenetics, epidemiology, vector/intermediate host biology and ecology.
At the end of the course you will understand how interdisciplinary methods can be brought to bear on controlling some of the deadliest infectious organisms on the planet and be ready to pursue your career in parasitology.
Parasitism is the most successful lifestyle on the planet and leads to diverse and highly-damaging infectious diseases of agricultural, veterinary and biomedical significance. Therefore, a greater understanding of the parasite species responsible for these conditions and the means by which they are controlled remain a priority for scientists, health care professionals and farmers in this 21st Century. For example, it is recognised that parasitic worms infect greater than 1 billion people worldwide with some species causing between $700 million-$1 billion USDs in economic losses per annum. The development of novel, creative and integrated control strategies are urgently needed to combat the growing threat of changing parasite distributions due to climate change, human migration, animal transportation and farming practices. This MRes course will provide you with a range of vocational skills and prepare you for professional employment or further post-graduate PhD studies in Parasitology or related disciplines (i.e. infectious diseases, public health, epidemiology, etc.).
IBERS continuously maintained an excellent internationally-recognised reputation in parasitological research since the 1930s. One of the British Society of Parasitology’s founding members and two of its past presidents were IBERS Parasitologists. More recently, IBERS appointments and University investments have increased critical mass in Parasitology leading to the formation of the Parasitology and Epidemiology Research Group (in 2007) as well as the Barrett Centre for Helminth Control (in 2016). The creation of both research groupings has facilitated greater interactions with animal health and pharmaceutical/biotech companies as well as increased research grant capture derived from government, research council and charitable funding bodies.
With 360 members of staff (principle investigators, technicians and post-doctoral fellows), 1350 undergraduate students and more than 150 postgraduate students, IBERS is the largest research and teaching institute within Aberystwyth University. Excellence in teaching was recognised by outstanding scores in the National Student Satisfaction Survey (NSS 2017) and being awarded University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. Employability data from the Recent Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE, 2017) shows that 97% of IBERS graduates were in work or further study six months after leaving Aberystwyth University. The economic and social impact of IBERS research was recognised in 2011 when IBERS won the national BBSRC Excellence with Impact Award.
An aspect of this course that uniquely positions itself from other Masters level Parasitology courses in the UK is the 12-month dissertation project (Semesters 1-3). Working under the supervision of active researchers in the field, you will collaboratively develop a research project on diverse topics such as (but not inclusive) intermediate host and vector control, anthelmintic drug and target discovery, biomarker identification, visual cue selection for arthropod vectors, mathematical modelling of disease transmission, host responses to parasite biomolecules, parasite and host population studies and functional genomics manipulation of parasites. A list of available projects and supervisors will be advertised closer to the start of each academic year. Your supervisor/supervisory team will mentor you in hypothesis and discovery driven experimental design, provide training in lab-based and computer-assisted methodologies, arrange instruction in analytical techniques, aid in the trouble-shooting of experimental challenges, assist you in the interpretation of results and prepare you for successful oral presentations. You will also be guided in how to most efficiently communicate your results during the dissertation write-up. It is expected that during this year long research project you will become an expert in your topic.
Please refer to our couse web pages for full details of course modules.
This course is an ideal training programme for those wishing to:
- Pursue PhD studies;
- Work in industry, charities or funding bodies;
- Improve animal and human health;
- Influence governmental policies.
Throughout this course you will:
· Develop strong data collection/analysis, fieldwork and laboratory skills;
· Enhance your scientific communication and team work skills;
· Write for a range of audiences including academics and the wider public;
· Enhance your analytical abilities, critical thinking and problem solving skills;
· Develop study and research skills;
· Direct and sustain a self-initiated programme of study underpinned by good time management skills;
· Work effectively and independently;
· Hone your project management skills to deliver a demanding combination of research, analysis, communication and presentation
During the one year of full-time study students complete 40 60 credits of core modules centred on parasitology, parasite control and a further 20 credits focusing on laboratory techniques & research methodologies. The taught modules are assessed by scientific writing assignments (such as reports, critical reviews, essays and journalistic articles), presentations, contribution to group discussions in seminars and online assignments. The core element of this course is the 120 credit MRes Dissertation, during which students will have supervision meetings to give them guidance before undertaking a prolonged period of experimental work/data gathering, research, and writing up of the dissertation. All postgraduate students in IBERS also have a named personal tutor, with whom they can discuss personal or domestic concerns that impact on their studies. Subsequent successful submission of your dissertation leads to the award of an MRes.
Parasitism is the most common lifestyle on earth and parasites are an integral part of every ecosystem. Even though they are neglected on a regular basis, their contribution to overall biodiversity outnumbers that of free-living organisms and they often have major impacts on ecosystem functioning. Food webs illustrate trophic interactions between auto- and heterotrophs. They are a standard ecological heuristic for the exploration of complex interactions, and provide a foundation for the analysis of regular patterns that may reflect fundamental ecological rules. Parasites are routinely ignored in food web studies, although their impact has the potential to affect not only ecosystem functioning but also ecosystem services. Parasites might control populations of economically important fish species, thereby affecting food-provisioning services for higher trophic levels, including humans. Thus, there is a growing interest to incorporate them (Lafferty et al., 2008). In the published research that does include parasites, they were considered either as the top predators or as prey items. New research focuses on how to include parasites in food webs in ways that reflect their impacts on the host organisms (Dunne et al., 2013).
A food web has been developed for a typical North Sea benthic community based around the bivalve Tellina fabula, characteristic for fine sands in the German Bight. This food web includes the dominant 35 taxa. The proposed Master thesis will build on this substantial body of work by adding the likely and proven parasite links to this food web. It will involve an extensive literature review on all the organisms that are included in this food web starting with a checklist of metazoan parasites of fishes in German coastal waters (Palm et al., 1999). This publication lists ~86 different parasite species for the fishes in the North Sea. Key parasite species will be identified and information about the lifecycles of those relevant parasites will be gathered. This parasite knowledge will feed into an already existing trophic link database, in order to include trophic parasite links into the benthic food web by using the R package ‘Cheddar’ (R Core Development Team 2008; Hudson et al., 2013, 2015).
To validate what was found in the literature, the two most important fish species in this food web will be dissected for parasites. Parasite isolation and identification will serve as ground truthing of parasites proposed for the web and will potentially show differences between ‘historical’ literature and newly obtained data.
The study will provide a thorough foundation for a topological food web incorporating parasites and exploring their ecological relevance in a North Sea benthic system.
The University of Aberdeen is highly regarded for Clinical Pharmacology as the discipline has been taught and delivered for 30 years and research spans 50 years. The programme draws on strengths within the university and medical area within disease discovery and treatment. The major innovation of Insulin was first developed at University of Aberdeen in the 1920s, winning the inventors a Nobel Prize and giving the world a major step forward in the management and regulation of insulin. Since this time the discovery of drug process, treatment and design has been developed and researched at Aberdeen. The University is also known for its research in food and nutrition, bacteria, gut issues researched at the world famous Rowett Institute and growing knowledge of disease process and latest innovative treatments.
Clinical pharmacology forms a critical part of the drug development process and our graduates are employed in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. These industries are now in rapid growth due to a combination of innovations and strength within customised and other types of medicine and treatment industry areas. The industry is also a major contributor of GDP in the UK. Further innovations which link into this industry come from easier upscaling processes, customisation and the Internet of Things and more ability to treat and diagnose at source.
There is always a strong need for the discipline to provide a foundation to any new innovations which often come from multidisciplinary teams. Our aim is to train students in the major areas of clinical pharmacology including molecular pharmacology, drug metabolism and toxicology, therapeutics, pharmacokinetics, pharmcovigilance, regulatory affairs and experimental medicine. The programme aims to achieve this by a multi-disciplinary approach.
This programme is ideal for newly qualified graduates in medical science disciplines such as biomedical sciences, biochemistry, pharmacology, pharmacy, medicine and similar degrees. Careers can include work in clinical trials and NPD in pharmaceutical industries, doctoral research towards teaching, spin-outs and major innovations, regulation in the pharmaceutical industry and more.
Find out more detail by visiting the programme web page
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*Please be advised that some programmes have different tuition fees from those listed above and that some programmes also have additional costs.
View all funding options on our funding database via the programme page
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