Honours degrees focussing on infectious diseases

BSc Honours degrees in with a focus towards infectious diseases

Infectious Diseases  –  Immunology  –  Medical Sciences

BSc Honours in Infectious Diseases  (Microbiology and Infection)

Programme description

This programme focuses on the mechanisms involved in infectious diseases by studying the properties of microbes and the host response to infection. Infectious diseases remain a major challenge to society in both the developed and developing world.

Our knowledge of the micro-organisms that can cause disease in human beings has advanced at a tremendous rate allowing us to understand many of the processes that lead to tissue damage. At the same time the workings of the immune system are being unravelled. Smallpox has been eliminated and soon other diseases, such as polio, will be eradicated. Scientists have discovered drugs to help in the control of many microbes. 

However, new infectious agents are evolving and many micro-organisms are becoming resistant to the current antimicrobial drugs. The further study of host and pathogen factors that can influence the disease process will hopefully lead to the development of new treatments and preventative strategies.

Honours research project

In the second semester of the 4th year students carry out a research-based project.  Some projects that were undertaken by students on the course in 2012/13 were:

  • Defining patterns of classical and non-classical MHC class I transcription in the lymph node and placenta of sheep
  • Wildlife Reservoirs of Potentially Zoonotic Cryptosporidium spp.
  • Using endogenous miRNAs and synthetic shRNAs to investigate viral pathogenesis
  • Cloning and expression of prion protein fragments
  • The role of children in controlling, eliminating and eradicating Onchocerciasis and Schistosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Use of fluorescence microscopy to study Rhodococcus equi infection of a surrogate host
  • What is the global prevalence of cancer caused by infectious agents?
  • The use of antibiotics in controlling Legionnaire's Disease
  • Viral entry in Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)
Further details of the 4th year programme components for 2014/2015 are given in the course catalogue.

Feedback from previous students

Lachlan Fotheringham, Infectious Diseases Honours 2012/13:

The course really helped me understand what science is, and how it works. I now feel much more able to grasp new developments in science and medicine, especially in the continually evolving world of antimicrobials.

Simon Durkin, Infectious Diseases Honours 2012/13:

The Honours year in Infectious Diseases provided a unique opportunity to equip myself with skills in laboratory biomedical research, evidence-based scientific writing, literature appraisal and independent thinking. In particular, it broadened my understanding of infectious diseases, and helped develop my interests within a global, holistic view of medicine and healthcare.

BSc Honours in Immunology

Programme description

Immunology deals with the molecules, cells and physiological processes whereby animals defend themselves against invaders (such as viruses, bacteria, fungi or even foreign organ transplants); it describes how immune responses are initiated, developed and regulated. However, its relevance extends far beyond this and it has thus become a popular subject in recent years. Among the reasons for this are its great variety - taking in aspects of molecular and cellular biology, microbiology, physiology, zoology and genetics, as well as human and veterinary medicine. It is also a well-founded, experimentally-based science, vitally important in a wide range of medical contexts in addition to infectious disease.

Further details of the 4th year programme components for 2014/2015 are given in the course catalogue.
More information about entry to study towards a degree in Immunology in 2015.

BSc Honours in Medical Sciences

Programme description

The Medical Sciences degree programme is aimed at the growing number of people planning careers in healthcare and healthcare-related professions.

Integrating learning in basic and clinical sciences, the programme is appropriate to a wide range of potential career paths including:

  • Medical postgraduate study/research
  • Biomedical/clinical laboratory sciences
  • Pharmaceutical industry/drug sales
  • Healthcare management and administration
  • Healthcare/medical teaching
  • Medical writing/publishing
  • Clinical trials management. 
Further details of the 4th year programme components for 2014/2015 are given in the course catalogue.

Links to all undergraduate degrees offered by the University of Edinburgh can be found on the Degree Finder page

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