Virology MSc

Course fees (figures quoted are for 2016 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home cost per credit: £30.00
International full time annual tuition fee: £62.00 per credit (Distance Learning course only)

More about course fees »

Course type


Master of Science


Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Study mode


About your course

Offered by Liverpool John Moores University, this online distance learning Masters-level course in Virology is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science.

  • Complete this Masters degree part time, via distance learning, in three to five years
  • A unique online distance learning MSc in Virology, this programme is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science
  • Follow the course from anywhere in the world and work as you study part time over three years
  • Enjoy a supportive learning environment and personal tutor system
  • Qualify for Chartered Scientist (CSci) status (other criteria apply)

The MSc in Virology is the best choice for future proofing your career as many of the new technologies that are appearing in laboratories for the identification of viruses are molecular techniques.

Sarah, Royal Oldham Hospital

The organisation of the course is ideal for the distance learning format, with the ability to structure the study around your existing work. Coupled with the support provided by your tutor and the University, the structure allows you to progress steadily. The content is broad and there is a good range of topics and methods covered.

Samreen, Public Health England

Introduction to the School

The multidisciplinary School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences is one of the oldest providers of Pharmacy education in the world and has been delivering industry-relevant courses since 1849.

We guarantee all of our students a supportive, flexible academic environment, well-structured programmes and 24/7 access to extensive resources.
The School offers high quality education and training in areas including Pharmacy, Applied Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Forensic Science and Biochemistry.
We also have an established reputation for supporting postgraduate students returning to education after a break and for delivering professionally-orientated courses that can be studied alongside full time employment.

All of our courses are influenced by the latest research, ensuring that course content is at the forefront of developments in the field. Indeed, in the 2014 REF, some 68% of LJMU’s health-related research was considered world leading or internationally excellent.

Why study this course at LJMU?

Virology is a dynamic and exciting discipline and its importance has never been more prominent with viral diseases such as HIV, swine flu and SARS having a significant impact on modern society.

Established in 1996 and offered online since 2010, this well-respected programme covers the applications of virology principally – but not exclusively – in human disease and stimulates a personal and professional interest in the future development of the subject. You will learn how viruses cause disease and how to treat and manage them.

As the only distance learning course of its kind, the MSc in Virology is an ideal choice for practicing Biomedical Scientists and suitably qualified students looking for a Masters course accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science. As a graduate of the programme you will be eligible for the title of Chartered Scientist and the designation CSi on meeting other eligibility criteria of corporate membership and CPD requirements. See for further information.

Programme outline and structure

With learning material developed by practicing virologists working at the forefront of UK diagnostic virology, the online curriculum for this course is regularly updated to reflect the dynamic nature of the subject.

All learning materials are delivered by Blackboard, LJMU’s Virtual Learning Environment. You will also have access to an extensive database of e-journals and e-books to extend your reading.

The programme has good IT support and you can communicate with fellow students via Blackboard discussion boards, ensuring a sense of community which is often lacking from distance learning courses.

As a UK home student or an international student you will be allocated a tutor, usually a practicing virologist, who will provide support principally by email and there will also be some online tutorial sessions.

The role of the tutor is at the heart of the MSc Virology programme. Your tutor will give general advice about assessments and point you in the direction of recent publications. You will also receive support from the programme manager, module leaders and programme administrator and will be appointed a specialist supervisor for your final year project/dissertation.

What you will study on this degree

Please see guidance below on core and option modules for further information on what you will study.

  • Principles of Virology
    Introduces the study of viruses and the fundamental principles of immunology. It enables you to understand the principles of diagnosis of viral infections.
  • Understanding and controlling viral infections
    Provides an understanding of epidemiology as related to viral disease and the principles of controlling viral infections. It also introduces the role of viruses in cancer.
  • Viral zoonoses
    Develops an understanding of viruses transmitted by insect or mammalian vectors and evaluates the problems of controlling these infections.
  • Research methods for virology
    Develops and embeds a critical and rigorous approach to the research process.

  • Viral infections of the respiratory and alimentary tracts 
    Introduces the anatomy, physiology and pathology of the above tracts. It provides current knowledge of viruses causing disease in these tracts, along with an appreciation of the epidemiology, diagnosis and control of these infections.
  • Viral infections of pregnancy and childhood
    Introduces the physiology of pregnancy and changes to the immune system. It provides current knowledge on viruses causing infection to the mother, foetus and young children, and evaluates the effects of these infections.

  • Blood-borne viral infections and sexually transmitted infections
    Introduces viruses transmitted by bodily fluids and the potential long term effects on individuals, their partners and children. It enables you to understand the laboratory and symptomatic diagnosis of these infections.

The following options are typically offered:

  • Research project
    Comprises an independent in-depth laboratory research study of an aspect of virology.
  • Dissertation
    Comprises an independent in-depth research study of an aspect of virology, researched by a critical review of the literature.

How will I be assessed?

Study materials for this course include: tutorials, PowerPoint lecture slides and notes which can be found on Blackboard – the University’s virtual learning environment. Here you will also find links to electronic reference material and learning resources.

In terms of personal support, your tutor will provide you with feedback on draft assignments. You will also receive extended written feedback on all your assignments and examinations.

Most taught modules feature a written exam and an assignment eg essays, critique of a scientific paper, poster presentation or short answer questions.

One of the modules is assessed by assignments only and one module by examination only. The research project and dissertation are examined by a written report and an oral presentation.

As a UK/Irish student, you will come to Liverpool for the research project/dissertation presentation. As an international student, you can deliver this via video link.

Exams for UK and Irish students are held in Liverpool and for some exam sittings we currently offer an additional venue in London.

Individual arrangements are made for international students to sit exams at an institution appropriate to their learning location (administration charges apply).

Staff research interests

Many of the staff based at the School are internationally recognised experts and leaders in various areas of research.

Experts include:

  • Dr Glynn Hobbs in biomedical microbiology
  • Professor Mark Cronin and Dr Judith Madden who specialise in the area of chemoinformatics (predictive toxicology)
  • Professor Satya Sarker, an expert in natural products drug discovery and phytochemistry
  • Professor Khalid Rahman in nutraceuticals
  • Professor Mark Wainwright in photochemistry
  • Dr Gillian Hutcheon in nanopharmaceutics 
  • Dr Simon Brandt and Dr Phil Riby in analytical chemistry

We offer researchers access to outstanding facilities and exceptional expertise. Other areas of interest in the School include:

  • Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products Research focussing on prevention and cure of human diseases
  • Biomedical Sciences focussing on oncology, toxicology, cell-signalling, immunity and infections
  • Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Forensic Analysis
  • Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics focussing on various aspects of clinical pharmacy

Entry requirements (Home)

Entrants should have a minimum 2:2 degree in Biosciences e.g. Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, etc.

Professional experience, publications, CPD activities and other suitable evidence of accomplishment will be taken into account. Candidates may be interviewed by the Programme Manager.

Industry experience: please contact the Programme Manager to discuss whether your work experience is relevant to the programme.

In addition, international students should hold IELTS English language at a minimum of 6.5 or equivalent in all categories.

Applicants who do not hold an Honours degree in a relevant biological science will be considered on their individual merits in relation to the programme. Please contact the Programme Manager for details.

All applicants must provide satisfactory references from a suitable person such as their employer, line manager or previous University tutor.

An intake of students is recruited in August every year.

International students: Please note: as this is a distance learning programme, the usual rules in terms of UK Visas and restriction to full time study do not apply to MSc Virology.

To discuss the programme, please contact the Dr Anne Humphreys (Programme Manager) at or call 0151 231 2205.

Entry requirements (International)

LJMU welcomes applications from international students. In addition to normal entry requirements, you will be expected to demonstrate a very good level of English language competence, for example an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent. Please note: specific courses may require higher levels of English language competence.

For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team.

Will I be interviewed?



6.5 (Across all components)


58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

Financial support

Tuition fees

All full and part-time students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or pay by instalments. If you need advice about how you will pay your tuition fees, please email LJMU’s Student Funding Team as soon as possible.

Sources of funding

Postgraduate loans

Postgraduate Masters loans are available for the 2016/17 academic year. The new loans, of up to £10,000, will be available for students attending eligible full and part-time Masters courses, in line with the existing qualification framework for England. Administered by the Student Loan Company, the loans will be available to those under 60 at the start of their course.

Loan repayments will begin the April after course completion, with the first cohort of borrowers commencing repayments in April 2019. Repayments will be made at a rate of 6% of income above an earning threshold of £21,000. This threshold will be frozen until 2021. For details of loan terms, conditions and eligibility, go to: 

LJMU Alumni Award

Final year undergraduates and alumni of the University are eligible to apply for a 20% reduction in their postgraduate tuition fees if they choose to progress onto a higher degree programme at LJMU. Both Home and international LJMU students and alumni can apply for this award (subject to eligibility criteria*).

Earn While You Learn

Working while you study means you may be able to pay for your course without taking out any further loans or at least reducing the amount you need to borrow. Working while you study also gives you the skills valued by employers, such as managing your workload and prioritising your time.

LJMU’s Vacancy website can help you find graduate vacancies, sandwich/industrial placements, internships / summer work, part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities and work-based learning placements. Over 1,000 local and regional employers regularly list opportunities on the website.

Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL)

Many students fund their postgraduate studies via Professional and Career Development Loans. This is a bank loan which you will have to pay back once you’ve completed the course. However, while you are studying any interest on the loan will be paid for you by the Skills Funding Agency. PCDLs worth between £300 and £10,000 are available for eligible postgraduates to fund up to two years of study (three if the course includes work experience). The loan is split into course fees and living costs. 

Employer sponsorship

Some organisations and companies fund the cost of postgraduate studies for their employees as they recognise the value of having well qualified staff. Check out our courses and see if there are any on offer that could enhance your current career. Remember, employer support doesn’t always have to be financial; it can take other forms too, such as flexible working arrangements, day release and time in lieu of study.

Support for disabled students

Disabled Students’ Allowances or DSAs are designed to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability, on-going health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. DSAs don’t have to be paid back and the type of support you receive will be determined by your specific needs not your household income. Please contact LJMU’s Disability team for further advice: 0151 231 3164/3165.

Council tax exemption

All full-time postgraduate students studying courses lasting one year or more are eligible for a council tax exemption certificate.

Graduate employment

Many of our students are already working as biomedical scientists, doctors, nurses, consultants etc. during their MSc Virology studies, and successful completion of the programme often leads to career advancement.

Some past students have gone on to enrol for a PhD and one recent graduate was accepted onto an accelerated degree in Medicine, shortly after being awarded a Distinction.

“Our graduates study a very wide range of medically important viruses in depth. It is important that health professionals have up to date knowledge of viral disease enabling them to provide medical personnel with diagnosis and advice.

There is a need for more trained virologists worldwide, our graduates are able to identify and diagnose viral infections; advise on treatment and preventative measures to prevent the spread of disease.”

Dr Anne Humphreys, Programme Manager

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

The University may make changes to a programme of study or module where such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University.
Further guidance on programme changes

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