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Postgraduate Molecular Parasitology & Vector Biology

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  • Objectives
    The aims of the course are to provide: • A sound insight into the biology of parasitic diseases and the transmission and control of their vectors • Contemporary studies of current research on immunological and molecular aspects of selected parasites and vector/parasite relationships • Training in research and modern techniques in the study of vectors and parasites
  • Entry requirements
    A good BSc honours degree, normally at least at second class level (2.1 or 2.2) or overseas equivalent, in a bioscience, or medical or veterinary sciences.
  • Academic Title
    MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate Molecular Parasitology & Vector Biology
  • Course description
    Full-Time & Part-Time study


    The three contributing universities of Keele, Salford and Manchester have considerable complementary research experience in the biology
    of parasites and the vectors which transmit them. This has led to the development of this unique, pioneering joint MSc degree between the three institutions, focusing on molecular biology aspects of parasite infections and vector biology. The initial teaching is based at Salford but is undertaken by staff from all three institutions. Students are then able to carry out an extensive research project in one of the three universities. The course focuses on the molecular aspects of parasitic infections and on vector biology and control and will appeal to recent graduates wishing to further their training before embarking upon a research career in Entomology, Parasitology, Molecular Biology or Immunology; to those considering a career in Biotechnology; and to overseas students seeking specialist training before entering a career in managing parasitological or vector-related research and control appropriate to their own country. The School of Life Sciences at Keele has three principal research groups including the Centre for Applied Entomology and Parasitology, and gained a 4 rating in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise.

    Course Structure and Content

    Taught Masters programmes require satisfactory completion of at least 180 credits, 120 from taught modules and 60 credits from the research project. Students who complete their studies after satisfactory completion of 120 taught credits may receive a Postgraduate Diploma. Students gaining 60 credits will be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate. The programme is as follows:

    Course Modules

    Semester 1

    • Module 1 – Core Parasitology and Vector Biology (30 credits)
    • Module 2 – Immunology of Parasitic Infections (15 credits)
    • Module 3 – Vector Biology and Control (15 credits)
    • Module 4 – Molecular Biology of Parasites (15 credits)

    Semester 2

    • Module 5 – Research Skills module comprising Research Skill Applications and Analytical Parasitology (45 credits)
    • Module 6 – Research Project – 5 months (60 credits)

    Pg Dip students only

    • Module 7 – Literature Project (30 credits)

    Postgraduate Diploma students only

    Modules 1-5 are compulsory for all students. If modules are passed at 50% or higher, students may progress to module 6. Students also successfully completing module 6 will be awarded an MSc.

    If modules 1-5 are passed, students may be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma. If modules to the value of up to 30 credits are failed, then
    students may progress to module 7 and, on successful completion, be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma. Students successfully completing 60 credits may be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate.

    Module Descriptions

    • Core Parasitology and Vector Biology – An introduction to parasites and vectors concentrating on life cycles, transmission, pathology and control of parasitic infections.
    • Immunology of Parasitic Infections – Immunological aspects of parasitic infections including immunity, immunodiagnosis, regulation of immunity, immunoevasion and vaccine development.
    • Vector Biology and Control – Vector behaviour and control involving insecticides, trapping and transgenic technology.
    • Molecular Biology of Parasites – Genome analysis in parasites, molecular taxonomy, antigen cloning and molecular approaches to parasite/vector cell biology.

    Research Skills

    Designed to help students develop methods for assimilation and analysis of scientific information and will include student oral presentations, critical analysis of research papers, and the use of information technology, data bases, intellectual property protection, patenting, etc. This will be taught at all three institutes. An Analytical Techniques module incorporated into the Research Skills course will enable students to gain hands-on experience in modern molecular techniques including cDNA library manipulation, PCR, immunoassays and separation techniques.

    Towards the last part of the second semester (March/April) students will choose individual research projects which will be carried out at one of the three institutes for the remainder of the course and which will be presented as a dissertation for the final examination.


    Assessment is through a variety of methods including exams, essays and practical work. MSc students will be required in addition to carry out a research project and write it up in a dissertation.

    All Masters students must pass modules 1-6 at 50% to give them 180 credits.
    Students gaining 120 credits will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma.
    Students gaining 60 credits will be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate.


    Most students are self-funding though there may be some scholarships available for students from some overseas countries. Contact the Keele course director.

    Career Destination information

    Many students go on to do a PhD. Others gain employment as research assistants or research laboratory technicians in pharmaceuticals, drug design and pesticide research. Other careers include pollution microbiologists with water authorities, work in hospital laboratories, investigating the haematology, molecular biology and immunology of infectious diseases, teaching and publishing. Other graduates work overseas in the fields of disease control, epidemiology and public health.

    Erasmus Study

    There is the possibility for students to undertake a three-month Erasmus study period as part of the research project at Charles University, Prague – other destinations are being explored.

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