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Microbiology teaches us about life forms that are too small to see with the naked eye. They are vital for life on Earth but can also cause huge problems as infectious disease agents, plant pathogens, contaminants of food and water and biofoulers.

A major in Microbiology introduces you to this tremendous diversity of function and form in the microbial world. You explore the impact of microbes on other life forms, look at their role in health and disease at the level of individuals, populations and ecosystems, and in particular their place in the nexus of human, animal and environmental inter-relationships.

You will investigate ways in which microbes are used to manufacture products and remediate polluted environments and explore microbial genetics and microbial life at the molecular level, with a particular emphasis on current research in Microbiology in our 3000-level units.

By progressing through the major students will learn advanced concepts and methods including molecular microbiology, systems biology, genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics, advanced microscopy techniques, genetic manipulation, microbial evolution, and the use of antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance.


About this major

Please note that discipline units in Microbiology begin at intermediate level (ie. second year).

You will start preparing for your intermediate and senior units in microbiology by including biology, mathematics, chemistry and molecular biology and genetics among your first year junior units. It is a good idea to plan ahead and have an idea of which senior units you need to complete, so that you can plan your junior and intermediate prerequisite units accordingly.

You will take intermediate units of study from the microbiology subject area, which are prerequisites for your senior units of study. Your studies will cover food microbiology, the microbiology of health and disease, industrial microbiology and biotechnology.

In order to successfully complete a microbiology major, you must complete at least 24 credit points of senior units of study from the microbiology subject area. You will be covering microbes in infection, virology, pathogens, and microbial biotechnology.

Further study for major

Many microbiology graduates choose to continue their studies and undertake honours and postgraduate work towards a higher degree.

If you are eligible, a research honours year is the perfect way to find out whether you have the aptitude or ability for research in a specialised area of microbiology and allows you to focus on the intellectual and practical challenges of a research project by conducting original research under the supervision of a member of our academic staff, culminating in the presentation of a thesis. The School of Molecular Bioscience offers microbiology honours projects in a wide range of research areas including molecular microbiology, microbial genetics, applied and environmental microbiology, biotechnology, and virology.

If you do well enough in your honours year, you might be eligible to apply for a higher research program like a PhD, and take your studies of microbiology even further. We cultivates a research-based culture and offers the following microbiology related areas of research: development of microbial biocatalysts; genetics of the bacterial cell envelope; evolutionary origins of variation in bacterial species; fungal proteomics, and much more.


Graduate opportunities

Employment opportunities for microbiology graduates are diverse. You can find work in teaching and research organisations, such as schools, universities, CSIRO, departments of agriculture and biotechnology companies and you can participate in major programs of applied or basic research.

Explore our microbiology research.

You might start your career in the fields of medical and public health microbiology in hospitals, private pathology laboratories, and government health services.

Alternatively, you might find employment as a technical representative for laboratory supply houses, in the pharmaceutical industry, in sterility testing and quality control, and in the wine, brewing and dairy industries. In recent years employment opportunities in environmental microbiology have also been increasing.

Some recent microbiology graduates have been employed by organisations such as the London School of Tropical Medicine, CSIRO, the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories, Sydney Water, Mauri Foods Research and Procter and Gamble.

Courses that offer this major

To commence study in the year

The course information on this website applies only to future students. Current students should refer to faculty handbooks for current or past course information.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.