Microbiology is the study of bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa and viruses, and is of immense importance in relation to the environment, agriculture and food, biomedical sciences and biotechnology. Graduates in microbiology are therefore highly sought after in these fields. Microbiology is very central to many aspects of the biological sciences, from pure research to diverse industrial, medical and environmental applications.
Microorganisms play major roles in the diseases of man, animals and plants. Microbiologists have been central to their diagnosis and in combating such diseases through the discovery of effective therapies.
Microorganisms also play a central role in the biosphere, through global environmental processes and recycling of elements and waste products.
In biotechnology and synthetic biology, microbes are also crucial in the manufacture of beverages, pharmaceuticals, biofuels and many other useful products.
Microbiology Degree highlights
- Microbiologists are needed in many different fields – from medicine to biotechnology to environmental science. The subject is actually very broadly applicable and can lead to very diverse career paths.
- The Microbiology degrees follow the National Subject Profile for Higher Education Programmes in Microbiology as published by the Centre for Bioscience (Higher Education Academy). The degrees also broadly align with the core curriculum in Microbiology as described by the American Society for Microbiology. Our degrees are highly regarded – scoring consistently highly in the National Student Survey.
Royal Society of Biology
This course has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. This highlights the academic quality of the course and recognises the course in enabling graduates to meet the needs of the employer through development of technical and transferable skills.
- Past students have gained work placement with organisations such as Northern Ireland Water Ltd, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Forensic Science Service, the NHS, Norbrook Laboratories, Randox Laboratories, the Almac Group, and Moy Park.
World Class Facilities
- Microbiology is linked closely to the Institute for Global Food Security and is primarily taught by associated staff.
- Work placements on these programmes provide students with the opportunity to utilise the practical skills gained during the teaching of their degree and apply these in a work environment.
“As a mature student, I was a little worried at the idea of going to university, but my fellow students are a lot of fun and my lecturers are very supportive, and I have gained a greater appreciation of how something as little as a virus, bacterium or fungus can affect our lives.“ Denver Mooney BSc Microbiology Graduate
|Introduction||Microbiology provides fundamental training in data analysis, problem solving, teamwork and communication. Microbiologists can use these skills in a wide range of careers in research, medicine, industry, education, business and communications, or as a route to further study.|
People teaching youDr Jeanette Robertson
School of Biological Sciences
Contact Teaching Times
|Large Group Teaching||12 (hours maximum)|
Typically around 9 hours teaching [3 hours for each subject/module studied – see later information on course content] and 3 hours practical every two weeks for each subject/module.
|Personal Study||28 (hours maximum)|
For private study and writing assignments each week.
Learning and Teaching
At Queen’s, we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning. On the BSc in Microbiology we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in a global society and make use of innovative technologies and a world class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners.
- Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are:
E-Learning technologies, lectures, personal tutoring, practicals, self-directed study, seminars/tutorials, supervised projects, and work placements.
The way in which you are assessed will vary according to the Learning outcomes of each module. Details of how each module is assessed are shown in the Student Handbook which is provided to all students during their first year induction.
- Some modules are assessed solely through project work or written assignments.
- Others are assessed through a combination of coursework and end of semester examinations.
As students progress through the BSc in Microbiology at Queen’s they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and peers. University students are expected to engage with reflective practice and to use this approach to improve the quality of their work. Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:
formal written comments, face to face comments, placement employer comments or references, online or emailed feedback, pre-submission advice, feedback and outcomes from practical classes and others.
Microbiology is linked closely to the Institute for Global Food Security at QUB and is primarily taught by associated staff. The Institute is one of three major research centres in the University.
Microbiology is linked closely to the Institute for Global Food Security at QUB and is primarily taught by associated staff. The Institute is one of three major research centres in the University.
|A level requirements|
BBB including Biology and at least one from Chemistry (preferred), Geography, Mathematics or Physics + GCSE Chemistry grade B or GCSE Double Award Science grades BB + GCSE Mathematics grade C
BBB including Double Award Applied Science or Double Award Life & Health Sciences + GCSE Biology grade C and Chemistry grade B or GCSE Double Award Science grades BB + GCSE Mathematics grade C
ABB including Biology + GCSE Chemistry grade B or GCSE Double Award Science grades BB + GCSE Mathematics grade C.
A maximum of one BTEC/OCR Single Award or AQA Extended Certificate will be accepted as part of an applicant's portfolio of qualifications with a Distinction* being equated to a grade A at A-level and a Distinction being equated to a grade B at A-level.
|Irish leaving certificate requirements|
H3H3H3H3H4H4/H3H3H3H3H3 including Higher Level grade H3 in Biology and at least one from Chemistry (preferred), Geography, Mathematics or Physics + if not offered at Higher Level then Ordinary Level grade O3 in Chemistry and O4 in Mathematics
H3H3H3H3H3H3/H2H3H3H3H3 including Higher Level grade H3 in Biology + Ordinary Level grade O3 in Chemistry and O4 in Mathematics
Successful completion of a relevant Science based Access Course (120 credits) with an average of 80% and no less than 70% in any module. A relevant Access Course will normally include a minimum of 60 credits at Level 3 (preferably 80 credits) in appropriate Biology and Chemistry modules (eg: two Biology modules + one Chemistry; one Biology Module, one Microbiology module and one Chemistry module) + GCSE Mathematics grade C/4 or equivalent in Access Course.
|BTEC Level 3 Extended/National Extended Diploma|
QCF Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma (180 credits), with DDD + GCSE Chemistry grade B/6 or GCSE Double Award Science grades BB/6,6 + GCSE Mathematics grade C/4.
RQF Level 3 BTEC National Extended Diploma (1080 Guided Learning Hours (GLH)), with DDD + GCSE Chemistry grade B/6 or GCSE Double Award Science grades BB/6,6 + GCSE Mathematics grade C/4
Applicants must have Distinction grades in four specified units to include:
Principles of Applied Science I
Principles of Applied Science II
and two from the following:
Biological Molecules & Metabolic Pathways
Genetics & Genetic Engineering
Diseases and Infections
Microbiology & Microbiological Techniques
All applicants must have GCSE English Language grade C/4 or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.
In addition, to the entrance requirements above, it is essential that you read our guidance below on 'How we choose our students' prior to submitting your application.
In addition, to the entrance requirements above, it is essential that you read our guidance below on 'How we choose our students' prior to submitting your UCAS application.
Applications are dealt with centrally by the Admissions and Access Service rather than by the School of Biological Sciences. Once your on-line form has been processed by UCAS and forwarded to Queen's, an acknowledgement is normally sent within two weeks of its receipt at the University.
Selection is on the basis of the information provided on your UCAS form, which is considered by the Selector for the School of Biological Sciences along with a member of administrative staff from the Admissions and Access Service. Decisions are made on an ongoing basis and will be notified to you via UCAS. These decisions can only be made on the basis of the information given and applicants must show due care and diligence when completing their applications. In particular, full details must be included about qualifications completed or still to be completed.
For entry last year, applicants for programmes in the School of Biological Sciences must have had, or been able to achieve, a minimum of five GCSE passes at grade C or better (to include English Language and Mathematics), though this profile may change from year to year depending on the demand for places. The Selector also checks that any specific entry requirements in terms of GCSE and/or A-level subjects can be fulfilled.
For applicants offering Irish Leaving Certificate, please note that performance at Junior Certificate is taken into account. For last year’s entry applicants for this degree must have had, a minimum of 5 IJC grades C/Merit, though this profile may change from year to year depending on the demand for places. The Selector also checks that any specific entry requirements in terms of Leaving Certificate subjects can be satisfied.
Offers are normally made on the basis of three A-levels. Two subjects at A-level plus two at AS would also be considered. The minimum acceptable is two subjects at A-level plus one at AS though candidates offering this combination will be considered on an individual basis depending on the degree for which they have applied. The offer for repeat candidates may be one grade higher than for first time applicants. Grades may be held from the previous year.
Applicants offering two A-levels and one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent qualification), or one A-level and a BTEC Diploma/National Diploma (or equivalent qualification) will also be considered. Offers will be made in terms of the overall BTEC grade(s) awarded. Please note that a maximum of one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent) will be counted as part of an applicant’s portfolio of qualifications. The normal GCSE profile will be expected and all subject requirements must be met.
Applicants offering other qualifications, such as BTEC Extended Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, the International Baccalaureate, Irish Leaving Certificate or an Access course, will also be considered.
For applicants offering a relevant HNC, the current requirements are successful completion of the HNC with 1 Distinction and remainder Merits.
For those offering a Higher National Diploma, there may be the possibility of advanced entry to Stage 2 depending on relevance of the HND and first year results (at least half of the first year units must be at Merit grade). Where offers are made for entry to Stage 2 students would be required to achieve 2 Distinctions and remainder Merits in all units assessed in final year. Those not eligible for entry to Stage 2 would be considered for entry to Stage 1 provided at least one first year unit is at Merit grade. Students would be required to achieve Merits in all units assessed in final year.
For those offering a HNC or HND, some flexibility may be allowed in terms of GCSE profile.
Candidates offering Access/Certificate in Foundation Studies courses will be considered individually on their own merits.
The information provided in the personal statement section and the academic reference together with predicted grades are noted but, in the case of degree courses in the School of Biological Sciences, these are not the final deciding factors in whether or not a conditional offer can be made. However, they may be reconsidered in a tie break situation in August.
A-level General Studies and A-level Critical Thinking would not normally be considered as part of a three A-level offer and, although they may be excluded where an applicant is taking four A-level subjects, the grade achieved could be taken into account if necessary in August/September.
Candidates are not normally asked to attend for interview.
If you are made an offer then you may be invited to a School Visit Day, which is usually held in the second semester. This will allow you the opportunity to visit the University and to find out more about the degree programme of your choice and the facilities on offer. It also gives you a flavour of the academic and social life at Queen's.
If you cannot find the information you need here, please contact the University Admissions and Access Service (firstname.lastname@example.org), giving full details of your qualifications and educational background.
Our country/region pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country/region. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country/region.
English Language Requirements
An IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each test component or an equivalent acceptable qualification, details of which are available at: http://go.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
- Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
- Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.
International Students - Foundation and International Year One Programmes
INTO Queen's offers a range of academic and English language programmes to help prepare international students for undergraduate study at Queen's University. You will learn from experienced teachers in a dedicated international study centre on campus, and will have full access to the University's world-class facilities.
These programmes are designed for international students who do not meet the required academic and English language requirements for direct entry.
The INTO progression course suited to this programme is
INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Microbiology is an interdisciplinary subject with key links to the other Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Environmental Engineering and Medicine.
Graduates are qualified to take up both scientific and non-scientific careers.
Many job opportunities are available in biomedical, industrial and government organisations, and in universities and colleges of higher education.
These jobs cover innovative research, the development of new products, advisory and consultancy work or teaching. All are aimed at improving the health, environment and economy of countries in both the developed and developing world. In particular, companies and organisations concerned with animal and plant health, food and beverage processing, water quality, environmental management, pharmaceutical products and biotechnology require graduates in microbiology.
Job opportunities exist across a number of areas including:
Healthcare: Microbiologists are essential in the fight against infectious diseases working in hospitals and Health Protection Laboratories. Here they diagnose infections, monitor treatments, develop vaccines, provide advice or track disease outbreaks.
Basic research: In order to either solve the problems caused by microorganisms or exploit their capabilities fundamental research on their biochemistry and genetics is required. Many microbiologists work in universities and research institutes exploring the detailed workings of microbial cells.
Environment: One of the greatest challenges currently facing society is that of climate change and environmental protection. Microbiologists are key players in the development of waste treatment technologies, recycling processes, pollution warning systems and in the production of green energy.
Agriculture: Pest management is an essential component of modern agricultural practice.
Microbiologists have key roles to play in the development of pest control systems and in the diagnosis and treatment of animal pathogens.
Business: Microbiologists work in many bioscience and food companies, carrying out research, developing new products or carrying out quality control of manufacturing processes to ensure the microbiological safety of goods such as medicines, cosmetics, food, drink etc.
Outside the lab: Many trained microbiologists never go on to work in the microbiology field. However, they can use their skills and knowledge to pursue careers in marketing, technical support, regulatory affairs, education, as patent attorneys, and in public relations, journalism and publishing.
The School of Biological Sciences employs a dedicated careers adviser who has developed an extensive portfolio of employers, both nationally and internationally, within the science sector. Advice is also provided on CV preparation, interview techniques and securing summer work or longer placements.
Students and graduates have secured placements and jobs with:
• Northern Ireland Water Ltd
• Environment Agency
• Forensic Science Service
• Moy Park
• Randox Laboratories
• Norbrook Laboratories Ltd
• The Almac Group
• Health Service
Additional Awards Gained(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Prizes and Awards
A level 2 prize is awarded for the best overall student in conjunction with the UK Microbiology Society.
Degree Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills
In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Degree Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.
Fees and Funding
|Northern Ireland (NI) 1||£4,750|
|Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2||£4,750|
|England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1||£9,250|
|EU Other 3||£25,300|
1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.
2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees.
3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.
All tuition fees quoted relate to a single year of study and will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Note that the tuition fees quoted above are for the 2023-24 academic year and are for indicative purposes only as the fees for 2024-25 have not yet been finalised. These fees will be subject to an inflationary increase. All tuition fees quoted relate to a single year of study and will be subject to an annual inflationary increase for each year of the course, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Tuition fee rates are calculated based on a student’s tuition fee status and generally increase annually by inflation. How tuition fees are determined is set out in the Student Finance Framework.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.
Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library.
If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. A programme may have up to 6 modules per year, each with a recommended text.
Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.
Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.
If a final year includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.
Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.
There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Year 1 students are required to buy a laboratory coat at a cost of £13.50 and an E-Book at a cost of £30.
The following optional module has a compulsory field trip:
Year 1 Biological Diversity Module has a field trip costing £120.
All students may apply to go on a School Workplace Tour at a cost of £100.
How do I fund my study?
There are different tuition fee and student financial support arrangements for students from Northern Ireland, those from England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain), and those from the rest of the European Union.
Information on funding options and financial assistance for undergraduate students is available at www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/Fees-and-scholarships/.
Each year, we offer a range of scholarships and prizes for new students. Information on scholarships available.
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at www.qub.ac.uk/Study/international-students/international-scholarships/.
How and when to Apply
How to Apply
Application for admission to full-time undergraduate and sandwich courses at the University should normally be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full information can be obtained from the UCAS website at: www.ucas.com/students.
When to Apply
UCAS will start processing applications for entry in autumn 2024 from 1 September 2023.
Advisory closing date: 31 January 2024 (18:00). This is the 'equal consideration' deadline for this course.
Applications from UK and EU (Republic of Ireland) students after this date are, in practice, considered by Queen’s for entry to this course throughout the remainder of the application cycle (30 June 2024) subject to the availability of places.
Applications from International and EU (Other) students are normally considered by Queen’s for entry to this course until 30 June 2024. If you apply for 2024 entry after this deadline, you will automatically be entered into Clearing.
Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as is consistent with having made a careful and considered choice of institutions and courses.
The Institution code name for Queen's is QBELF and the institution code is Q75.
Further information on applying to study at Queen's is available at: www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/How-to-apply/
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study. Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.
Additional Information for International (non-EU) Students
- Applying through UCAS
Most students make their applications through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) for full-time undergraduate degree programmes at Queen's. The UCAS application deadline for international students is 30 June 2024.
- Applying direct
The Direct Entry Application form is to be used by international applicants who wish to apply directly, and only, to Queen's or who have been asked to provide information in advance of submitting a formal UCAS application. Find out more.
- Applying through agents and partners
The University’s in-country representatives can assist you to submit a UCAS application or a direct application. Please consult the Agent List to find an agent in your country who will help you with your application to Queen’s University.
Fees and Funding