Pandemic Sciences MSc

  • Programme duration: Full-time: 12 months  
  • Programme start: September 2023
  • Entry requirements: Normally, at least a 2.1 Honours degree in a Biological Sciences subject or equivalent.
A health professional wears a surgical face mask

Module details

The programme consists of the following two new modules, plus the modules listed below.

Understanding Models & Data (LIFE762)
Global Outbreak Surveillance & Control (LIFE758)

Compulsory modules

Introduction to Research (LIFE702)
LevelM
Credit level30
SemesterWhole Session
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

To prepare students for their MSc research project module, this module will give students the opportunity to gain the knowledge and the skills specific to their project area.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Demonstrate a systematic knowledge and critical understanding of the essential concepts in their chosen field of study;

(LO2) Demonstrate competency in a range of skills necessary to work in a research laboratory and to complete a successful research project;

(LO3) Develop and present a plan for a research project in the form of a grant proposal.

(LO4) Critically review scientific literature

(S1) Technical writing

(S2) Independence

(S3) Time management

(S4) Reflective learning

MSc Research Project (LIFE703)
LevelM
Credit level60
SemesterSummer (June-September)
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

To give students the opportunity to work in a guided but independent fashion on an area of research related to their programme of study, making use of the knowledge and skills acquired elsewhere in the programme.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Plan a piece of original scientific research;

(LO2) Design and perform a coherent set of investigations to test a hypothesis;

(LO3) Present work in the form of an oral presentation to a scientific audience and at an oral examination;

(LO4) Write final report in the form of a manuscript that would be suitable for submission as a scientific publication.

(S1) Research management: developing a research strategy, project planning and delivery, risk management, formulating questions, selecting literature, using primary / secondary / diverse sources, collecting and using data, applying research methods, applying ethics.

(S2) Self-management: readiness to accept responsibility (that is, leadership), flexibility, resilience, self-starting, initiative, integrity, willingness to take risks, appropriate assertiveness, time management, readiness to improve own performance based on feedback / reflective learning;

(S3) Team (group) working: respecting others, co-operating, negotiating / persuading, awareness of interdependence with others.

Advanced Statistics for Biological Research (LIFE707)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting50:50
Aims

To enable students to analyse biological data by:

Choice of appropriate statistical approaches to test hypotheses;

Critical understanding of the use of a range of advanced statistical tests for appropriate analysis and  model fitting of a range of biological datasets;

Using the software package, R;

Synthesizing information, summarising statistical findings, and using hypothesis testing to critically review evidence from experimental data to support conclusions.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Illustrate and explain the methods of hypothesis testing

(LO2) Critically evaluate experimental design(s) used in data collection and then apply the appropriate statistical test(s).

(LO3) Design data collection methods appropriate to rigorous data analysis

(LO4) Synthesise information from data analysis, test statistical hypotheses and critically review evidence to support conclusions.

(S1) Problem solving skills

(S2) Numeracy

(S3) IT skills

(S4) Communication skills

(S5) Organisational skills

(S6) Lifelong learning skills

Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Vaccines (LIFE732)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

To develop core skills in critically evaluating design and implementation of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines using written reports generated from appraising student-led discussion workshops and verbal communication, which are transferable and key for employability.

To enhance critical evaluation of the considerations for product development through advanced scholarship of issues, including: industrial partnering, regulatory affairs, testing, governmental support and societal influences

To enable appraisal of established techniques of research and enquiry to determine host contribution and response to interventions for the development of both diagnostic and control strategies

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) To critically evaluate the strategies needed to design and develop novel drugs and vaccines for infectious disease

(LO2) Demonstrate critical awareness of successes and current problems from infectious diseases, the genesis and implementation of diagnostics and strategies for limiting infection

(LO3) Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the various agencies that input into local, national and global development of disease interventions

(S1) Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, and communicate their conclusions clearly to audiences

(S2) Develop transferable skills; exercising initiative; independent-learning ability; digital fluency

Emerging Infections and Pandemics (LIFE751)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

To develop core skills in critically evaluating issues associated with emerging infectious disease and pandemics using written reports generated from appraising student-led discussion workshops and verbal communication, which are transferable and key for employability.

To enhance ability to appraise the host contribution and response to interventions together with factors that can be exploited for the development of both diagnostic and control strategies

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) To critically evaluate the history of both emerging animal and human diseases with major societal impact and interrogate the inter-species associations of infectious diseases

(LO2) Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the origins and causalities of emerging pandemics with the underlying biology

(LO3) To recognise and discuss the direct health consequences and societal impacts of a pandemic as well as the indirect effectors compromising the livestock and the foodchain as a whole.

(LO4) Demonstrate a systematic understanding of individual pathogens causing emerging pandemics with their specific characteristics defining their gravity of the disease.

(LO5) Critically evaluate the precautionary measures needed to curtail or to minimise the damaging effects from emergence of a new pandemic.

(S1) Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, and communicate their conclusions clearly to audiences

(S2) Develop transferable skills; exercising initiative; independent-learning ability; digital fluency

Understanding Models and Data (LIFE762)
LevelM
Credit level15
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

This module will

• Introduce the skills required to understand the distinction between mathematical and statistical models, what each can provide, and when it is appropriate to use them
• Discuss the importance of context in quantitative data, and how to use exploratory statistical approaches to gain pertinent insight from epidemiological data
• Explain the assumptions, strengths, and limitations of different types of mathematical models
• Demonstrate how to understand and deal with different types of uncertainty
• Demonstrate how to read a paper and critically appraise the quantitative information it presents

Learning Outcomes

(M1) Critically appraise, evaluate and interpret knowledge of a wide range of topics in mathematical and statistical modelling, and apply your understanding of mathematical and statistical models to discuss their use in the context of a pandemic or a large infectious disease outbreak.

(M2) Justify and explain the importance of context in representation of numerical or statistical data in the course of a pandemic or disease outbreak, and demonstrate clear ability to provide critical evaluation of biases and limitations to inference when proper context is not provided.

(M3) Critically appraise the presentation of statistical data and interpretation of analysis, and suggest areas for improvement with reference to specific case studies from the literature.

(M4) Evaluate and compare a range of approaches for describing uncertainty in data and models, e.g. Bayesian statistics and confidence intervals, and explain the different sources of uncertainty in mathematical and statistical modelling.

(M5) Critically appraise and explain to a non-specialist quantitative information as presented in an academic research paper, a report to government, or a media news article.

(S1) Numeracy (understanding of quantitative information); the ability to distinguish between mathematical and statistical models; understanding of basic measures of uncertainty

(S2) Critical appraisal: the ability to interrogate and criticise the research and reporting of others, and identify common errors and areas of weakness

(S3) Presentation skills and confidence in communicating statistical and numerate concepts to non-specialists.

(S4) Group working (delegate and divide tasks; communication skills; reaching consensus)

Global Outbreak Surveillance and Control (LIFE758)
LevelM
Credit level30
SemesterWhole Session
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100
Aims

The module aims to:

To develop core skills in presenting and the communication of global outbreaks using graphics, student-led discussion workshops and verbal communication, which are transferable and key for employability

To aid critical evaluation of current topics, problems, and developments in global outbreaks though advanced scholarship of issues, including intersectoral collaboration, public health policy and societal implementation

To evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of cross-disciplinary approaches used for the investigation, surveillance and control of outbreaks at global, national, and local levels

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the scale, and societal and economic impact of past and present human and animal pandemics in workshop discussions

(LO2) Critically evaluate the range of control interventions and strategies needed to prevent, mitigate, and control infections among at-risk populations

(LO3) Determine the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders that input into global, national, and local surveillance and control measures

(LO4) Discuss the importance of effectively interpreting and disseminating factual data to diverse populations, and role of the media and communication

(LO5) Critically appraise and evaluate the tools, methods used and applications of bioinformatics and biobanks in the context of pandemics

(S1) Analyse complex problems both systematically and creatively, and communicate their conclusions clearly to audiences

(S2) Develop transferable skills; exercising initiative; independent-learning ability; digital fluency