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Microbiology is the branch of the life sciences which deals with the biology of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms - bacteria, fungi (moulds and yeasts), protozoa and viruses. In terms of basic molecular and cell biology, microbiology has many elements in common with biochemistry and genetics. Aspects of these subjects form important parts of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in Microbiology. The Department has a strong commitment to basic research, with the core research themes being in molecular biology of pathogenic microbes, preventive medicine, and microbial systems biology.

The Department of Microbiology has an establishment of eight full-time academic staff and has teaching and research links with the Department of Clinical Microbiology, School of Medicine at St. James's Hospital The Department occupies the Moyne Institute of Preventive Medicine, a building presented to the College in 1953 by Grania Guinness (now the dowager Marchioness of Normanby) in memory of her father, the first Baron Moyne. Lady Normanby has taken a keen interest in the development of the Department, funding the construction of major extensions to the research space in the building most recently in 2011.

What will you study in the Microbiology Department:

Topics include:

  • Microbial and Molecular Genetics
  • Microbial Physiology
  • Biomembranes and Cell Surfaces
  • Virology
  • Molecular Biotechnology
  • Microbial Genome Structure & Gene Regulation
  • Bacterial Pathogenicity
  • Applied & Environmental Microbiology
  • Molecular Protozoology
  • Molecular Biology of Yeast
  • Medical & Clinical Microbiology
  • Antimicrobial Agents & Antibiotics

Microbiology is closely related to genetics and biochemistry. Students take complementary courses from these disciplines. Laboratory training covers the safe handling of pathogenic microorganisms, separation of their components and products, research technologies, genetic analysis and biotechnological techniques.

In the Senior Sophister(4th) year, all students take three core courses that cover molecular and cell biolog and microbial pathogenicity. Optional courses offer study of selected topics at the cutting edge of knowledge and cover such diverse areas as:

  • Genome structure and gene regulation and expression in bacteria and eukaryotic microbes
  • Molecular and cellular biology of microbial pathogens
  • Molecular pathogenesis (disease mechanisms) and control of viral, bacterial and protozoal infections
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Using yeasts as models for understanding human diseases
  • Clinical microbiology
  • Regulation, issues and standards in current microbiological practice.

Each student conducts an original research project under the supervision of a department-based or cognate research group.

Career Opportunities

Graduates in Microbiology find employment in pharmaceutical and medical research laboratories, as quality control officers in the preparation of drugs, in food processing and packaging, science publications, science journalism, and in public utilities. Such employment may involve working with the newer biotechnologies and using microorganisms for the commercial production of drugs, enzymes, antibiotics, vaccines and agricultural products. Many graduates go on to study for a higher research degree.