Vaccines and antibiotics save millions of lives each year, whilst advances in immunotherapeutics are at the forefront of new treatments for cancer, allergy and autoimmunity. However, there are many infectious diseases for which an effective vaccine is not yet available, the rise of antibiotic resistance threatens advances in surgery and cancer chemotherapy and there are increasing numbers of people with immune dysfunction due to old age and conditions such as diabetes or obesity. Furthermore, the immune system is a major barrier to the success of organ transplantation.

This course will cover essential concepts in immunology and infectious diseases that underpin vaccination, cancer immunology, allergy, autoimmunity, transplant biology, infectious diseases and antimicrobial therapy and resistance, using clinical examples. You will also receive training in research techniques, data analysis, science communication and presentation skills, discuss current and future challenges in immunology, infectious disease and immunotherapeutics, and gain research experience via a laboratory-based project within an active research group.

This course will equip students to understand current challenges in immunity and infection, and prepare them to apply their knowledge in the coming years via their research and clinical practice. The Course Director is Professor Steven Ley (

Aims and objectives

The course aims to:

  • Ensure that students are familiar with the fundamental elements of the molecular and cellular processes that underpin inflammation and immunological responses to infection, tissue transplants and tumours
  • Provide an insight into the importance, indications and limitations of immunological and pathological testing techniques and therapies in clinical practice
  • Foster the ability to criticise and comment on scientific research, work independently and as part of a group, and to develop oral and written presentation skills
  • Provide training in research through the project

By the end of the course the student will:

  • Have a broad understanding of how and why microorganisms cause human disease
  • Be able to discuss how the immune system recognises and responds to foreign and sometimes to self-antigens
  • Understand how disordered immunity, inflammation and regulatory mechanisms can contribute to human disease
  • Understand the immune challenges of transplantation and the relevance and importance of clinical organ transplants
  • Understand the principles of therapeutic immune modulation through vaccination and immunomodulation

Further Information and Application Guidance

With the exception of BSc Management and BSc Biomedical Engineering, all of Imperial College's intercalated BSc courses run from September until May. The courses comprise a 12 week teaching block where the students gain specialism-specific knowledge and skills, alongside their research training of core research knowledge and skills. All students also perform a 12 week research project within their specialism.

More information about applying for/undertaking an intercalated BSc course at Imperial College London and also the structure of our courses can be found in the downloadable Imperial College Intercalated BSc Guide - 2020-21 Entry (PDF).

If you have any queries about the application process, please email the Faculty Education Office (BSc Team) at