Core Theory and Practical Techniques in Infection and Immunity

Module code: MB7308

Modern laboratory techniques in molecular and cellular biology are essential tools in the fight against infectious diseases. They have revolutionised understanding of pathogenic micro-organisms, of the mechanisms whereby they colonise host tissues, of their molecular vulnerabilities which allow novel therapies (including antibiotics) to be developed, and of the host immune responses which serve to protect against infections.

In this module students will learn about the key molecular theory that underpins molecular and cellular biology, and then apply this theory in a series of laboratory practicals which show exactly how these techniques can be applied at the laboratory bench to real biological problems relevant to infectious diseases. We will examine both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell biology, as well as molecular regulation and infectious disease progression.

This is a vital module for increasing students' employment prospects as a biomedical scientist, bridging the gap between theory and practice, and preparing them for the six month supervised laboratory research project which takes up the whole of Semester 2 of the MSc.


Key tools

  • Introduction to Basic Molecular Cloning
  • Gene libraries, cDNA
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and primer design
  • Antibody production
  • Protein purification and analysis

‘Big data’ – its generation and interpretation

  • Micro-array and its applications
  • Proteomics

Molecular biology in whole organisms

  • Transgenic models  
  • Identifying genetic causes of disease
  • Manipulation of genes and gene expression in vivo
  • The prokaryotic genome
  • Gene expression and regulation in prokaryotes

Additional topics of clinical relevance covered in the coursework

  • Principles of diagnostic microbiology
  • Biotechnological contributions to the management of infectious disease
  • Genetic polymorphisms in bacterial diagnostics and virulence


  • 44 hours of lectures
  • 12 hours of tutorials
  • 55 hours of practical classes
  • 189 hours of independent study


  • Exam, multiple choice, 1 hour (20%)
  • Presentation (20%)
  • Practical-based set questions (10%)
  • Practical write-up (20%)
  • Essay, 3,000 words (30%)