The programme is comprised of two parts; a taught component which is given over the first two terms (approximately five months) and a full-time laboratory based research project (7 months) which is carried out over the remainder of the session. The taught component is comprised of lectures, laboratory practicals, tutorials and student presentations and covers the most important aspects of viruses and viral diseases under the six topic headings:

Background information

Recent advances have led to the identification of some viruses which are important agents of disease e.g. human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Much of this progress has come about through the application of the techniques of molecular biology to the identification and characterisation of these viruses. This, in turn, has led to the prospects of new therapies being developed against these and many other important pathogenic viruses. There is also a growing concern that viruses may play a role in some other (particularly chronic) diseases. Also, there is the threat of new diseases due to the emergence of novel viruses or virus-like agents.

The Imperial College Faculty of Medicine has first-rate research groups with a wide range of expertise in human pathogenic viruses including hepatitis viruses (especially HBV and HCV), retroviruses (including HIV and HTLV-1), respiratory syncytial virus, poxviruses, Epstein-Barr virus and human papilloma viruses. Most of the teaching on the MSc in The Molecular Biology and Pathology of Viruses is carried out by members of these research groups. In October 2000, a new Institute for Infectious Diseases (The Wright-Fleming Institute), was formed by these groups on the St Mary's Campus. This now provides an even greater focus for research on human viral pathogens at Imperial College and excellent opportunities for student research projects.

Imperial College works closely with employers and industry, including Industrial Advisory Panels to design Master’s courses which provide graduates with technical knowledge, expertise and transferable skills and to encourage students to take internships and placements. All Master’s programmes are designed with employer needs in mind with some Master’s programmes accredited by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies. Most Master’s programmes offer an opportunity to carry out research projects in industry.