Microbiology is the study of everything from fungi to viruses to bacterium to algae to living organisms and just about everything in between too.
A Microbiology degree encompasses a number of modules from other scientific degrees and studies. Microbiology students often cover elements of Ocean Sciences or Toxicology or even Sports Sciences in their Microbiology degree.
What is Microbiology?
Microbiology is the study of living organisms. Usually, you will be studying organisms that cannot be seen by the naked eye, and will generally mean research into areas such as bacteria, fungi, algae, archaea, protozoa and prions.
Microbiology is essential in the pharmaceutical world, it’s important in terms of global politics as well, such as making decisions over agriculture, food, water and even energy.
The study of Microbiology is also important in space travel as well. While films like The Martian may be a tad unrealistic, the premise is the same as what NASA and other space programmes are looking to do, which is to find life on other planets and Microbiology is a huge component in that.
Another area of interest is medical microbiology or applied microbiology is another hugely important aspect for students as well. Medical microbiology drifts more into areas such as stem cell research and the like, but it is a vastly important area of the subject.
Throughout the time that Microbiology has been around, cures for diseases have been found and we have been able to combat future diseases as well, such as when Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin.
Clinical microbiology has risen in popularity for university students as well, given how it can pertain to a number of areas for employers and not just in the medical sector, though that is it’s primary function. Clinical microbiology shares a lot of similarities with degrees such as Pharmacology, with many choosing to study both as part of a joint honours degree.
What can you do with a Microbiology degree?
A Microbiology degree covers so many different disciplines of Science and research, that it opens the doors for a number of different careers.
It is possible to find lots of jobs with a Microbiology degree as a Pharmacologist. Some of the best Pharmacologists of recent memory have had a degree or some kind of teaching in Microbiology and have therefore been able to advance the creation of a number of important pharmaceuticals and medicines. Since a Microbiology degree focuses on the study of microbes etc, you could be a valuable asset in the world of Pharmacology.
Though it may seem like a world apart from Microbiology, it is possible to find a career as a Nanotechnician or a Nanotechnologist. These careers focus on the research, development and production of new materials on a nano-scale. These don't just focus on the cool little cameras that James Bond uses, they also look at pharmaceuticals and chemistry on a much wider scale as well.
Another important job that Microbiology students can look into is becoming an Ecologist. An Ecologist is someone who studies human activities and their effects on species and ecosystems. Ecologists need to collect and report on the findings of biological information and how it can aid society and a degree in Microbiology would be invaluable when applying for this job and any other jobs with Microbiology degree or with a Microbiology master degree.
Another job you could look into, is the world of a Biotechnologist, which is a job that requires you to study chemical structure and genetic and physical attributes of organisms or cells and help to produce products to support these areas and will help to improve the structure of broken tissue.
How will I be assessed?
A Microbiology degree is a degree that is both practical and theory-based. You will be required to sit examinations and provide coursework and dissertations, but you will also be asked to focus on a practical element as well.
On the practical side, you will be asked to gather materials and data on specific organisms and ecosystems and present these findings either in controlled experimentations or through discussions in front of your class.
Your assessments will also lead to a dissertation on your part as well, this is pretty much the most important part of your entire time on a course and you will be asked to do a lot of research, both theoretical and practical for this part of the course.
The gathering of scientific materials and the reports on them are vital and will also help you to develop your skills further.
What A Levels do I need?
The Microbiology degree entry requirements will change depending on the university that you apply to and will also depend on the course requirements for that year (and will also change for a Masters degree in Microbiology or an online degree in Microbiology), however, you will generally need Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry, though some universities may accept Physics as well.
The general grades for science-based degrees are a lot higher than for other degrees, so don't be surprised if you are expected to grab AAA or BBA in order to get into the university of your choosing, especially if it is a university that focuses primarily on science-based degrees.
What skills will I learn?
You will learn different skills from all kinds of degrees, regardless of their content. With a Microbiology degree, you will pick up a number of skills that appear, on their surface, as being only relevant to the scientific world or to the very specific world of Microbiology, but that is not necessarily true.
Analysis is an important skill for your life and your career, but you will be able to build on these skills further with Microbiology courses. Analysis is a big part of a Microbiology degree and you will be required to analyse your findings and your work with a fine tooth comb, so you will become more skilled in this area.
Another area that should see an improvement as a direct result of a Microbiology degree is your communication skills. Communication is essential in scientific fields, because one wrong instruction can ruin months, if not years of work, so you need to be able to communicate your ideas and your findings in a calm, orderly and clear manner, so as to avoid confusion.
Time management is critical in both business and science. Both of these are because there are so many tasks that arise that are critical at that very moment and others that aren’t. In science, you're often dealing with chemicals or substances that are potentially unstable, so completing with these materials as quickly as possible is essential. If you can manage your time effectively, you can also get more done and in a quicker, more efficient way, so that too, is an important skill that will be honed further by a Microbiology degree.
One of the most famous scientists of all time is Louis Pastuer, who was a French microbiologist and, although he initially studied Philosophy at Collège Royal at Besançon, he eventually went on to grab degrees in Chemistry and even a Masters degree.
Another famous Microbiologist, is Liz Sockett, who is a Professor and Microbiologist in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham, who is a one of the world’s leading experts in a species of predatory bacteria, called Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus.