A chemist at work in a laboratory


Why this course?

This single Honours course specialises in Microbiology. Microbes and their activities are vitally important to virtually all processes on earth.

Microbes matter because they affect every aspect of our lives – they are in us, on us and around us.

Microbiology is the study of all living organisms that are too small to be visible with the naked eye. This includes bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, prions, protozoa and algae. These microbes play key roles in nutrient cycling, biodegradation/biodeterioration, climate change, food spoilage, the cause and control of disease, and biotechnology. Microbes can be put to work in many ways: making life-saving drugs, the manufacture of biofuels, cleaning up pollution, and producing/processing food and drink.

Microbiologists study microbes, and some of the most important discoveries that have underpinned modern society have resulted from the research of famous microbiologists, such as Jenner and his vaccine against smallpox, Fleming and the discovery of penicillin, Marshall and the identification of the link between Helicobacter pylori infection and stomach ulcers, and zur Hausen, who identified the link between papilloma virus and cervical cancer.

Microbiology research is central to meeting many global challenges, such as maintaining food, water and energy security for a healthy population on a habitable earth. Microbiology research will also help to answer big questions such as 'How diverse is life on Earth?', and 'does life exist elsewhere in the Universe'?

This course will allow you to go into specialist biomedical science areas such as drug research, biochemistry, microbiology and bacteriology.

What you'll study

Years 1 & 2

Students on all the biosciences degrees study the same classes in the first two years. This means you can defer your ultimate choice of degree until the end of Year 2.

In Year 1, you’ll study classes in cells and their molecules, organisms and diseases and Bio-organic chemistry.  These are all underpinned by the ‘Being a Biomolecular Scientist’ class which begins with basic laboratory skills, statistical and data analysis and presentation, report writing, health and safety and ethics.

You also choose 20 credits of elective subjects from across the University.

In Year 2, you’ll gain an introduction to each of the four discipline biochemistry, immunology, microbiology and pharmacology again supported by the ‘Being a Biomolecular Scientist’ class which develops various skills gained in Year 1.

Years 3 & 4

You’ll undertake specialised lecture and laboratory classes learning about the molecular, clinical and applied aspects of microbiology. In your final year of study, you’ll participate in a research project focusing on a defined microbiological topic. We offer various types of research projects including laboratory based, critical analysis of literature, bioinformatics, enterprise or education which would be applicable to a variety of careers.

Transfer to the Year 5 MSci in Microbiology may be possible at the end of Year 4, subject to performance.

Student competitions

Prize Awarded to the student with the best academic performance in the final Microbiology classes (BM425 and BM424) and Microbiology-coded 40-credit project component of BM432.

Course content

Year 1

Being a Biomolecular Scientist 1

This class aims to give students:

  • the foundation practical skills required for a biological biochemistry
  • the foundation practical skills based around 'health and the body'
  • foundation presentation skills
Cells & their molecules

The aims of this class are to:

  • provide Foundation level knowledge relating to basic functions of cells
  • set out principles of biological action and function that will be encountered through all four years
  • expose students to the basic suite of teaching, learning and assessment paradigms used throughout their degree with particular focus on oral communication and presentation
Organisms & Disease

From this class, students will gain:

  • foundation level knowledge relating to basic evolution, species diversity, development, homeostasis, and infectious disease
  • principles of biological action and function that will be encountered through all four years
  • learn about methods of teaching, learning and assessment used throughout the degree, with particular focus on finding, citing and using information, and teamwork
Bio-Organic Chemistry

The aims of this class are to:

  • understand nucleotide/nucleic acid molecular structure, stereochemistry and conformation as the foundation of nucleic acid chemical and biological potential
  • understand amino acid/protein molecular structure, stereochemistry and conformation as the foundation of protein chemical and biological potential
  • understand monosaccharide/polysaccharide molecular structure, stereochemistry and conformation as the foundation of carbohydrate chemical and biological potential
  • understand the chemistry, stereochemistry and biological roles of polyketide/polyisoprene natural products and their biosynthetic origins

Year 2

Being a Biomolecular Scientist 2

The aims of this class are to:

  • give students the fundamental practical skills required for a biochemist
  • give students the fundamental practical skills required for an immunologist
  • give students the fundamental practical skills required for a microbiologist
  • give students the fundamental practical skills required for a pharmacologist
  • give students fundamental skills in presentation and teamwork
Introduction to Biochemistry

The aims of this class are:

  • to understand gene structure and function and the regulation of gene expression
  • to understand how human genetic variation arises and its uses in medicine and forensics
  • to understand the basic structure and function of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates
  • to appreciate the key metabolic pathways in the absorptive and post-absorptive states
  • to understand the pathways involved in cell growth and cell death
Introduction to Immunology

By studying this class, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of how immune cells recognise antigens
  • an understanding of key concepts in induction of acquired immunity
  • an understanding of effector mechanism of the immune system
  • an understanding of helpful immune responses
  • an understanding of harmful immune responses
Introduction to Microbiology

The aims of this class are to help students to:

  • understand the fundamental taxonomic grouping and evolutionary relationships of microbes
  • appreciate physiological, structural and molecular differences between different microorganisms
  • understand the role and control of microorganisms in disease
  • learn how organisms adapt to hostile environments and appreciate the biotechnological exploitation of extremophiles
Introduction to Pharmacology

This class aims to:

  • develop understanding of systems biology and homeostasis
  • develop understanding of the somatic, autonomic and central nervous systems
  • develop understanding of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  • develop understanding of the hepatic and renal systems
  • develop understanding of the endocrine and reproductive systems

Year 3

Being a Biomolecular Scientist 3

The aims of this class are to:

  • give students generic practical skills in biomolecular science
  • further develop students' practical skills in specific discipline (A) that align with the class choices of the degree programme
  • further develop students' practical skills in specific discipline (B) that align with the class choices of the degree programme
  • further develop students presentation skills
Fundamental Microbiology

The aims of this class are to:

  • understand the basis of gene regulation in microorganisms and how this influence bacterial physiology
  • describe the key mechanisms that drive evolution of microorganisms
  • demonstrate an understanding of the principles of mathematical modelling in predicting microbial growth and death
  • describe the basis of microbial form and function and how bioinformatics are fundamental to microbiology
Biomedical Microbiology

The aims of this class are to:

  • understand the difference between taxonomic and phylogenetic classification of microorganisms
  • understand the principles that underpin bacterial, fungal and viral identification
  • understand the structure, function and growth characteristics of bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. Apply that knowledge to their role in disease development
  • describe the distinguishing features, pathogenic properties, epidemiology, treatment and control of medically important bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa

You’ll also choose two other classes from the Year 3 curriculum.

Year 4

Being a Biomolecular Scientist 4

The aims of this class are:

  • to give students the opportunity to carry out original research
  • to provide students with the skills to critically interpret data and develop conclusions or hypotheses based upon their findings
  • to provide students with the skills to analyse and present their data
  • to provide knowledge in a key area that is relevant to the career aspirations of the student
Advanced Microbiology

The aims of this class are to:

  • understand how to analyse and interpret the genomes of microorganisms
  • understand the mechanisms that permit bacteria to sense and interact with the environment
  • understand of the mechanisms of bacterial growth and development
  • understanding microbial populations through ‘omic analysis
Clinical Microbiology

The aims of this class are to:

  • understand the principles of epidemiology in infectious diseases
  • understand the diagnosis of microbial identification using genotyping and viable and non-viable approaches
  • understand the mechanisms of antimicrobial agents and antimicrobial resistance as well as the significance of biofilms in antimicrobial resistance
  • understand the mechanisms and importance of infection control in the immune-compromised host
Applied Microbiology

The aims of this class are to:

  • understand the basics of fermentation technology and how microbes can be exploited for human benefit
  • understand the impact of modern molecular biology techniques on industrial biotechnology and how this can be employed in an industrial setting
  • understand the importance of bioprocess monitoring and downstream processing
  • provide an understanding of how microbial processes affect our environment in beneficial and deleterious ways

You'll also choose one other class from the Year 4 curriculum.


Knowledge and understanding are assessed by written examinations, essays, presentations and computer-aided learning (CAL) exercises and quizzes, available on our virtual learning environment, Myplace.

Competence is assessed through practical tests, practical write-ups, project reports and CAL exercises and quizzes.

Communication skills are assessed through essays and oral presentations.

Project work is assessed from project reports and oral presentations.

There’s an individual research project in the final year of the course where you’ll demonstrate research skills, problem-solving and a research approach.

Learning & teaching

You’ll gain knowledge and understanding through lectures, including review-type lectures, practical classes, tutorials and computer-aided learning.

To allow you to prepare, class hand-outs are available in advance from Myplace. Hand-outs will also be supported by guided reading and tasks such as essays, oral and tutorial/workshop presentations.

Quantitative skills are taught by the Department of Maths & Statistics, the Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry as well as the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences.

Most laboratory classes, including the chemistry classes in Year 1, include number and numeracy and statistical skills that are used in the institute. Communication skills are taught throughout the course. Information retrieval, interpretation and research skills are gained through project work which also develops team-working skills.

Entry requirements

Required subjects are indicated following typically accepted grades.


Standard entry requirements

Year 1 entry: AABB or AAAC (two sciences, including Higher Biology/Human Biology B or Chemistry B; Chemistry |(if not at Higher) National 5 B/Standard Grade 2/Int 2 B; Maths National 5 B/Standard Grade 2/Int 2 B; English National 5 B/Standard Grade 2/Int 2 B)

Advanced Highers

Year 2 entry: BB (Chemistry B and Biology/Human Biology B, in addition to requirements for Year 1 above)

A Levels

Year 1 entry: BBB (two Sciences, including Biology B or Chemistry B; Chemistry (if not at A Level) GCSE B, Maths GCSE B, GCSE English Language B or English Literature B

Typical entry requirements: ABB

Year 2 entry: ABB (Chemistry and Biology (AB/BA), Maths and English as for Year 1 entry)

Typical entry requirements: AAA

Please note if you are taking the newly reformed Biology A level, we'll require you to pass the practical assessment included in the A level.

International Baccalaureate

32 (two sciences, Biology/Chemistry/Physics HL5, Maths SL5, English SL5)


Year 1 entry: relevant HNC, B in Graded Unit

Year 2 entry: relevant HNC, A in Graded Unit or relevant HND, BB in Graded Units

Year 3 entry: relevant HND, AB in Graded Units 

Additional information

  • Deferred entry is accepted

Widening access

We want to increase opportunities for people from every background. Strathclyde selects our students based on merit, potential and the ability to benefit from the education we offer. We look for more than just your grades. We consider the circumstances of your education and will make lower offers to certain applicants as a result.

Find out if you can benefit from this type of offer.

International students

Find out entry requirements for your country.

Degree preparation course for international students

We offer international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for an undergraduate degree at Strathclyde the option of completing an Undergraduate Foundation year programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.

Upon successful completion, you will be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?


All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.

  • £1,820 
Rest of UK
  • £9,250

Assuming no change in Rest of UK fees policy over the period, the total amount payable by undergraduate students will be capped. For students commencing study in 2017/18, this is capped at £27,750 (with the exception of the MPharm and Integrated Masters courses); MPharm students pay £9,250 for each of the four years. Students studying on Integrated Masters degree programmes pay an additional £9,250 for the Masters year with the exception of those undertaking a full-year industrial placement where a separate placement fee will apply.

  • £18,950

University preparation programme fees

International students can find out more about the costs and payments of studying a university preparation programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.

Please note: All fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my studies?

Students from Scotland and the EU

If you're a Scottish or EU student, you may be able to apply to the Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) to have your tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Scottish students may also be eligible for a bursary and loan to help cover living costs while at University.

For more information on funding your studies have a look at our University Funding page.

Students from England, Wales & Northern Ireland

We have a generous package of bursaries on offer for students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales

You don’t need to make a separate application for these. When your place is confirmed at Strathclyde, we’ll assess your eligibility. Have a look at our scholarship search for any more funding opportunities.

International Students (Non UK, EEA)

We have a number of scholarships available to international students. Take a look at our scholarship search to find out more.

Available scholarships

We have a wide range of scholarships available. Have a look at our scholarship search to find a scholarship.


Many of our graduates are involved in the development of drugs, food processing, protecting the environment, fighting disease or even slowing down the ageing process.

Our graduates find jobs in the pharmaceutical, biotech and agrochemical industries, hospitals and public service laboratories, environmental centres, analytical and forensic science labs, universities, the scientific civil service and teaching at all levels.

Many students also continue on to postgraduate studies and research.

The transferable skills you gain from this course will not only prepare you for a career in science but also in areas such as finance, management, marketing, sales, business and media.

Contact us


How to apply – 10 things you need to know

  1. All undergraduate applications are made through UCAS
    Go to the UCAS website to apply – you can apply for up to five courses.
  2. It costs £12 to apply for a course
    The cost is £23 for two to five courses.
  3. The deadline is 15 January each year
    This is the application deadline for most courses. However, please check the details for your particular course. View a full list of UCAS key dates.

    Applications are still welcome from international students (non-EU) and those living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  4. You might be asked to attend an interview
    Most of our courses make offers based on the UCAS application. However some might ask you to attend an interview or for a portfolio of work. If this is the case, this will be stated in the prospectus entry requirements.
  5. It’s possible to apply directly to Year 2
    Depending on your qualifications, you might be able to apply directly to Year 2 - or even Year 3 - of a course. Speak to the named contact for your course if you want to discuss this.
  6. There’s three types of decision
    • unconditional – you’ve already met our entry requirements
    • conditional – we’ll offer you a place if you meet certain conditions, usually based on your exams
    • unsuccessful – we’ve decided not to offer you a place
  7. You need to contact UCAS to accept your offer
    Once you’ve decided which course you’d like to accept, you must let UCAS know. You don’t need to decide until you’ve received all offers. UCAS will give you a deadline you must respond by.

    You’ll choose one as your firm choice. If the offer is unconditional or if you meet the conditions, this is the course you’ll study.

    You’ll also have an insurance choice. This is a back-up option if you don’t meet the conditions of your first choice.
  8. You don’t need to send us your exam results (Scotland, England & Wales)
    If you’re studying in Scotland, England or Wales, we receive a copy of your Higher/Advanced Higher/A Level results directly from the awarding body. However, if you are studying a different qualification, then please contact us to arrange to send your results directly.
  9. We welcome applications from international students

    Find out further information about our entry and English language requirements.

    International students who don’t meet the entry requirements, can apply for our pre-undergraduate programmes.

    There’s also an online application form.

    For further information:
  10. Here’s a really useful video to help you apply

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