BSc Microbiology

The information on this page relates to September 2016 entry. For 2017 information, including grade requirements, please check our prospectus.

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Microbiologists study bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and their role in infectious diseases in humans, other animals and plants. You will also learn how microorganisms contribute to environmental nutrient cycling, brewing, food, and biotechnology industries, whilst you develop the scientific and analytical skills demanded in a broad range of professions.

Here’s why we think Aberystwyth is a great place to study microbiology.

  • Passionate teaching staff that conduct research in all areas of microbiology
  • Fantastic bio-imaging and microscopy suite, modern laboratories and fermentation facilities
  • Farms and woodlands for studying environmental microbes and those that impact on animal health

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Overview

If you are fascinated by bacteria, fungi and viruses, the organisms we cannot see but which surround and inhabit our bodies, then microbiology is for you. Here’s why we think Aberystwyth is the very best place to make your journey of discovery… 

Passionate teaching staff who are expert in their field 

You’ll be taught by experts in microbiology who conduct research ranging from medical microbiology to biotechnology and environmental systems. Our lecturers are qualified teachers as well as active researchers, and they are passionate about their subject areas. You may already have seen some of them on TV documentaries, or listened in to them on your favourite science radio show.

Fantastic facilities 

As a budding microbiologist, you’ll need access to top-notch research and teaching facilities. We have modern, well-equipped teaching laboratories, lecture theatres, and seminar rooms. You’ll also benefit from other facilities including: 

  • An advanced microscopy and bio-imaging laboratory
  • A Mass Spectrometry and Analytical Unit 
  • Fermentation facilities from lab scale to pilot plant

Unrivalled environment for studying microbiology 

Whether you prefer laboratory or field-based study, Aberystwyth has the facilities you need. There are 5 well-equipped teaching laboratories as well as research laboratories where you will have the opportunity to conduct final year research projects. Within a stone’s throw you’ll find: 

  • Beautiful habitats, including marine, moorland, mountain, grassland and coast, providing you with a fabulous variety of fieldwork and recreational opportunities
  • Charismatic microbial species such as waxcap fungi 
  • Farms with livestock to support study of impacts of microbes on animal health
  • Opportunities to take a residential field course away from Aberystwyth too. 

A world renowned teaching and research institute 

  • IBERS (the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences) is one of the largest and best resourced institutes of its kind in Europe.  
  • IBERS was awarded the “Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology” award at the 2013 Times Higher Education Awards. 
  • IBERS students won the “Biology Student of the Year” award at the European Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Awards in 2011, and were finalists in 2013. Could you be the next winner? 
  • Top 10 in the UK for research intensity in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment (2014).
  • 78% of research assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2014 REF.

93% of our 2014 IBERS graduates were in employment or further study 6 months after graduating, up 6 percentage points from the previous year (DLHE 2014). This increase reflects our investment in innovative and strategic student-focused employability initiatives which encompass all our academic Institutes and which we firmly believe are likely to improve our employability ratings still further.

The 2015 National Student Satisfaction survey results also show a significant improvement with 92% of students satisfied with the quality of the teaching on their course (5 percentage points higher than the UK average).

International opportunities 

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take the chance to study abroad during your degree? We have exchange agreements with universities in Europe, USA, Canada, and elsewhere, so you can apply to spend all or part of your 2nd year studying microbiology overseas. You’ll miss Aberystwyth, but you’ll love the new perspectives international study can bring.

Want to study in Welsh? 

Students can elect to study a number of IBERS modules in the medium of Welsh. Ask the department for further details.

Our Staff

The majority of teaching staff at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences are qualified to PhD level and are research active. Vocational courses also have staff whose background lies within industry.  The Institute has a large number of research only staff with whom students may have contact.

Course Content

Welsh medium modules available

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

Year 1 Core (70 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

Biology Of The Cell BR10310

Genetics BR11310

Animal Diversity BR11500

Biological Molecules And Methods BR11710

Semester 2

Animal Diversity BR11520

Metabolism BR12010

Molecular Laboratory Skills BR12210

Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 1

Sgiliau Astudio A Chyfathrebu BG12410

Study And Communication Skills BR12410

Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 2

Llystyfiant Ac Ecosystemau BG12920

Vegetation And Ecosystems BR12920

Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 2

Amrywiaeth Microbau BG12110

Microbial Diversity BR12110

Year 1 Options Choose 10 credits

Semester 1

Biological Thought And Discovery BR12510

The Biosphere BR13210

Year 2 Core (30 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

Applied Molecular Biology And Bioinformatics BR20620

Infectious Diseases BR22310

Year 2 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 2

Ecoleg Microbau Dyfrol A Daearol BG20810

Aquatic And Terrestrial Microbial Ecology BR20810

Year 2 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 2

Sgiliau Ymarferol Microbioleg BG23010

Practical Skills In Microbiology BR23010

Year 2 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 1

Profiad Gwaith BG24200

Work Experience BR24200

Semester 2

Profiad Gwaith BG24210

Work Experience BR24210

Year 2 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 1

Dulliau Ymchwil BG23400

Research Methods BR23400

Semester 2

Dulliau Ymchwil BG23420

Research Methods BR23420

Year 2 Options Choose 40 credits

Semester 1

Molecular Cell And Cancer Biology BR22720

Monitoring The Environment BR22810

Proteins And Enzymes BR23210

Semester 2

Immunology BR22220

Biochemistry In Practice BR24510

Advances In Human Biosciences BR24610

Final Year Core (40 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

Microbes In Industry And Research BR33620

Semester 2

Microbial Pathogenesis BR33720

Final Year Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

Semester 1

Traethawd Estynedig BG32300

Dissertation BR32300

Semester 2

Traethawd Estynedig BG32330

Dissertation BR32330

Final Year Options Choose 50 credits. Where modules are offered bilingually: choose your preferred language if applicable. One module listed runs in both semester 1 OR 2. (Note: due to limited spaces on field courses, attendance must be agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator)

Semester 1

Cwrs Maes Ecoleg Ddaearol, Iwerddon BG32110

Bioinformatics And Functional Genomics BR31420

Terrestrial Ecology Field Course BR33110

Parasitology BR33820

Veterinary Infectious Diseases BR34120

Semester 2

Biochemistry And Pharmacology BR31220

Gene Expression And Developmental Genetics BR33320

Threats To Natural Ecosystems BR34210

Both Semesters

Cyfathrebu Ymchwil BG31710

Communicating Research BR31710

Employability

You will be fully supported with developing your employability skills throughout the degree scheme. The degree will allow you to develop specialist skills such as using bioinformatics tools to analyse and interpret DNA and protein sequences and using a range of culture-dependent and independent methods for characterising microbes as well as developing a range of transferable skills highly valued by employers. You will join a department that has excellent facilities to support your studies; £55 million pounds has been invested over the last five years in IBERS infrastructure. Many students as part of their supervised final year project have access to highly specialised facilities for example The Genomics Facility which has the largest DNA sequencing capacity in Wales. These facilities enable students to develop their specialist skills and knowledge preparing them for a successful transition into the workplace. IBERS staff have close links with many learned societies such as the Society for General Microbiology which provide a route for students to network with others in their discipline and explore funding opportunities and recognition for their work. Guest lecturers and expert external teachers also contribute to the curriculum to pass on their expertise and knowledge.

The department has resources on the virtual learning environment, Aberlearn Blackboard to support your development and has a dedicated Twitter feed to keep students informed of developmental opportunities and work experience. Students have participated in a work experience module to help them identify and reflect on the employability skills they are developing through their work experience.

The department has a close working relationship with the Careers Service who can help and support you sourcing work experience opportunities locally and nationally. You will be eligible to take part in the GO Wales scheme which offers opportunities for work tasters and paid placements to develop your experience in the workplace. Students from the department have participated in work taster opportunities in local secondary schools to gain experience of teaching science and the local hospital to experience work in a healthcare setting. You can also participate in the Year in Employment Scheme (YES) to gain graduate level work experience and IBERS students have successfully gained placements with a number of employers including GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. 

Your degree will open up a range of exciting opportunities for employment and further training. You will be a strong candidate for work as a biomedical scientist, haematologist, toxicologist, technical brewer, and science writer. Your training you will also develop a wealth of skills that can be easily transferred into almost any graduate or professional employment.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This course will nurture both your intellectual curiosity and your general scientific practice. You will investigate subjects including genetics, cellular biology, infectious diseases, ecosystems and animal diversity. As you study, you will be able to choose options including immunology and aquatic and terrestrial microbial ecology.

This course will be delivered through a balanced programme of lectures, seminars and lab work. You will receive thorough training in biological concepts and practical methods. You will explore this learning in laboratory research and experimentation, in individual and group tasks. You will also have access to a personal tutor throughout your degree scheme who will meet with you regularly and handle your queries.

Among many skills, you will learn to: synthesize information from scientific literature; understand and explain the implications of developments in areas such as gene expression as it relates to cancer; scrutinise data in terms of quality and quantity; and respond to new data through laboratory investigation.

You will be assessed through essays, practical exercises, oral presentations and exams. You will also be required to complete additional assignments and work with others on particular tasks. In all these areas you will need to demonstrate scientific rigour and apply a systematic approach to the problems with which you are presented.

You will be assigned a personal tutor throughout your degree course, who will help you with any problems or queries, whether these are academic-related or personal issues. You should feel free to contact them at any time for help and advice.

You will also have the opportunity to complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) at Aberystwyth. This is a structured process of self-appraisal, reflection, and planning, which will enable you to chart your personal, academic and professional development throughout your time at university. By recording your academic performance, and highlighting the skills you already have and those you will need for future employability, the PDP portfolio will equip you with the necessary tools to plan effectively, develop successful approaches to study, and consider your future career options and aspirations.

The lectures, seminars and the Department's supportive staff will greatly assist you in your biological training. You will also benefit from the many opportunities within the department and the university to develop your academic rigour and professionalism so that, upon graduation, you are perfectly positioned for the next stage of your career.

Key Information Set

Key Facts

UCAS Code: C500

Tariff Required: 290 - 330

Entry Requirements: GCSE: grade C in English or Welsh and Mathematics and a science subject. A level: grade B in Biology or Human Biology required. Lower tariff points offers will be given to students studying more science subjects at A level, in addition to Biology or Human Biology.

Course Length: 3 Years

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