Veterinary Microbiology MSc

This novel programme is run in partnership with local world-leading veterinary research institutes the AHVLA and the Pirbright Institute.

Why Surrey?

Our MSc Veterinary Microbiology programme provides students with an in-depth understanding of veterinary infectious diseases and their associated impact on man. As well as taught components, it offers students unique specialist practical training in the diagnosis of important viral and bacterial diseases of global importance.

Programme overview

On this novel programme, you will acquire an excellent grounding in molecular biology, immunology and microbiology relevant to the study of veterinary microbiology. This will lead on to the study of the complex mechanisms of host/microbe interactions that are involved in the pathogenesis of specific animal diseases, and will provide insights into diagnosis and interventions, such as vaccines, essential for disease control.

Practical elements will be delivered during placements at nearby prestigious partner institutes including the Pirbright Institute (PI) and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). Further research training will be provided by undertaking a practical research project within the Faculty or at one of the partner institutes.

Course content

This is a full-time programme, intended mainly for graduates and those already working in veterinary diagnostic/research laboratories. Staff from other laboratories who want to enhance their understanding of the role of microorganisms in animal health and disease will also benefit. This includes pharmaceutical research personnel, policymakers, veterinarians, public health personnel and environmental biologists.

The programme consists of nine taught modules totalling 135 credits, practical modules (split over two weeks) worth 15 credits, and a research project worth 30 credits.

Most modules are offered as standalone short courses. The fee structure for short courses is different to that for registered students, and details may be obtained via admissions enquiries, please refer to the contact details on this page.


  • Microbiology and Veterinary Immunology
  • Microbial Genetics
  • Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
  • Transmission and Control of Infectious Diseases of Animals (Non-Vector)
  • Transmission and Control of Infectious Diseases of Animals (Vector)
  • Infectious Diseases of Animals (Practical Session PI/AHVLA/Public Health England)/ Veterinary Medicines Directorate)
  • Diseases of Animal Systems: Gastro-intestinal Diseases of Animals
  • Diseases of Animal Systems: Respiratory Diseases of Animals
  • Diseases of Animal Systems: Multi-systemic Diseases of Animals
  • Diseases of Animal Systems: CNS and Skin Diseases of Animals
  • Veterinary Microbiology Research Project

Module overview

Microbiology and Veterinary Immunology

This module introduces students to the major groups of veterinary pathogens and provides a basic understanding of how to culture and classify them. Coverage will be extensive in order to cover farmed, exotic and wild animals. In this module you will also learn how disease status may be determined and how to analyse data (such as research data or outbreak data) using statistical methods. Basic veterinary immunology and vaccine development will also be covered.

Microbial Genetics

This module first covers the basics of molecular biology and microbial genetics, with examples of the application of molecular biology to diagnosis. It will then progress to the detailed study of gene function and regulation particularly relevant to survival, transmission, host adaptation and pathogenesis. This will be underpinned by discussing how new approaches such as next-generation sequencing, proteomics, metabolomics and systems biology provide new insights into the disease process and aid in the diagnosis and advancement of veterinary microbiology research.

Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases

This module will provide you with a deep understanding of the molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases of animals, with a particular focus on food-borne pathogens and veterinary public health.

The following modules will include aspects of the diagnosis, epidemiology, immune response and mechanisms of pathogenesis.

Transmission and Control of Infectious Diseases of Animals (Non-Vector)

This module will provide an in-depth coverage of the important non-vector transmitted pathogens that infect animals, such as FMDV and Mycoplasma.

Transmission and Control of Infectious Diseases of Animals (Vector)

This module will provide an in-depth coverage of the important vector-transmitted pathogens that infect animals, such as Blue tongue virus and Leishmania.

Diseases of Animal Systems: Gastro-intestinal Diseases of Animals

This module will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of important pathogens of the gastrointestinal tract of animals (mainly livestock), such as E. coli, Clostridia, Brachyspira, Parvovirus, BVDV, nematodes and others.

Diseases of Animal Systems: Respiratory Diseases of Animals

This module will consider a number of important pathogens of the respiratory tract of animals (mainly livestock), such as Pasteurella, Streptococcus, Actinobacillus, influenza, corona virus and others. Lectures and self-directed learning will result in you gaining expertise in all aspects of disease mechanisms, diagnosis and control.

Diseases of Animal Systems: Multisystemic Diseases of Animals

This module will provide you with a deep understanding of important pathogens implicated in multi-systemic and reproductive diseases of animals (mainly livestock), such as Leptospira, Contagious Equine Metritis, Brucella, Schmallenberg, PMWS and CSF.

Diseases of Animal Systems: CNS and Skin Diseases of Animals

This module will provide you with a deep understanding of important pathogens implicated in CNS and skin diseases of animals, such as Listeria, Staphylococcus, Echinococcus, West Nile and others. Bee and fish diseases will also be covered.

Infectious Diseases of Animals (practical session PI/AHVLA/Public Health England/Veterinary Medicines Directorate)

Our programme provides you with the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the diagnosis of important veterinary diseases within the world reference laboratories of the AHVLA and Pirbright Institute (PI). During two week-long placements you will familiarise yourself with a range of diagnostic techniques, including culture, ELISA-based assays, PCR and molecular/forensic microbiology methods for outbreak studies (for example, next-generation sequencing, PFGE and DGGE). These study visits will provide you with detailed knowledge of the role of reference laboratories in the context of global animal health. There will also be an opportunity to visit Public Health England (PHE) to gain a detailed knowledge of how zoonotic diseases outbreaks are investigated. Visits to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), a livestock abattoir and an intensive livestock farm will also form part of this module.

Research project

All students will undertake a novel research project and submit a dissertation. This project can be carried out in the University research laboratories or at the AHVLA or the PI. This will provide you with an excellent training in state-of-the-art veterinary microbiology research techniques and data analysis.

Teaching and assessment

Each taught module will be assessed by examination and/or coursework. This may take the form of essays, data manipulation and analysis, practical reports, presentations, multiple choice questions or literature searches.

Programme objectives

The programme leads to the award of Master of Science. It will provide advanced training in veterinary microbiology for those working in veterinary research, veterinary medicine, disease control, veterinary public health, all branches of microbiology and environmental health. The programme has been designed to increase your understanding and development of critical and analytical skills, such that you may identify problems, formulate hypotheses, design experiments, acquire and interpret data, and draw conclusions. Upon successful completion of the programme, you will have a greater depth of knowledge of animal infectious diseases and research skills.

Why study Veterinary Microbiology?

  • The programme is unique in being run jointly with local world-leading veterinary research institutes the AHVLA and the PI. It also provides you with the unique opportunity to undertake practical training and a research project within these laboratories
  • The programme covers both endemic and exotic animal diseases, with much of the teaching by experts from the AHVLA and the PI which host WHO and OIE reference laboratories
  • You will gain a broad appreciation of subjects such as biological and pathogenic properties of microorganisms, their role in health and disease of animals (and indirectly humans), the response of the host to infection, and the scientific basis for the detection, control and anti-microbial treatment of infectious diseases
  • You will learn about the latest advances in research that are contributing to our understanding of animal health and disease
  • You will be uniquely positioned as a veterinary microbiologist to contribute to a number of scientific disciplines including animal, human and environmental health issues
  • You will acquire knowledge that provides a global perspective on animal and zoonotic diseases and gain unique insights into how to control diseases that have social, economic and political impact
  • The programme offers flexibility in the method of study, allowing you to meet personal and professional commitments. You may choose to undertake the whole MSc at once or build up modules over time (up to five years)
  • You will benefit from the facilities at the University’s new School of Veterinary Medicine, due to open in autumn 2015
  • The University of Surrey has a long tradition as an international university and you will have access to all the facilities that such an institution can provide
  • The programme is run within the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, which was rated as one of the top research faculties in the country in the last Research Assessment Exercise

Academic staff associated with the programme have research expertise in the fields of microbial physiology and biochemistry, molecular biology, virology, mycology, parasitology, bacteriology, food microbiology, immunology, toxicology, nutrition, veterinary microbiology, pathology and epidemiology.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme director

Roberto La Ragione

Find out more

General Enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions Enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24-60 months

Start date:

Sep 2014

Entry Requirements

Applicants should normally possess at least a 2.2 honours degree in a relevant subject (biosciences) or a degree in medicine or veterinary medicine.

However, relevant research experience may also be considered. Selection will be based upon the candidate’s application, references and an informal interview. In special circumstances, a student may be set work for assessment before being offered a place on the programme.

You may take up to three modules as standalone courses before registering retrospectively for the MSc and counting the accumulated credits towards your degree.

English language requirements

IELTS min overall 7.0

IELTS min by component 6.5

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2014 £6,330 £18,460
Part-time Sep 2014 £550 per taught module, £2,200 per practical module, £1,100 per research project. £1,000 per taught module, £4,410 per practical module, £2,200 per research module.

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2014/15 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Surrey and Santander Scholarships

The University of Surrey is pleased to offer four scholarship schemes aimed at further enhancing our cultural diversity:

For more details

Tullow Oil Scholarship Scheme

The University of Surrey is delighted to announce it has recently been selected to participate in the Tullow Oil Scholarship Scheme.

For more details

Indonesia-UK DIKTI Scholarship Scheme

Open to lecturers and administrative staff at Indonesian universities.

For more details

Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumni of Surrey you could be eligible for a 10% discount on our Taught Masters programme fees.

For more details

International students

Experienced staff in our International Student Office are available to help from the moment you consider studying at the University. We offer professional advice on immigration, visa issues, entry qualifications, pre-departure information, employment regulations and international student welfare.

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Upcoming Events

Our alumni