Which degree for a career in infectious diseases?

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Avtarj
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#1
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Apologies for asking lots of similar questions but I’m trying to ensure that I get one of the biggest decisions in my life correct.

I’m in year 12 and I really enjoy learning and reading about infectious diseases like HIV. I want to get into a job where, in a lab setting, I can research cures and treatments etc. Which degree would be best for me?

Have been looking at biomedical science, biological sciences and microbiology, think I have ruled out biochemistry even though chemistry is my best subject at the moment
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ecolier
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(Original post by Avtarj)
Apologies for asking lots of similar questions but I’m trying to ensure that I get one of the biggest decisions in my life correct.

I’m in year 12 and I really enjoy learning and reading about infectious diseases like HIV. I want to get into a job where, in a lab setting, I can research cures and treatments etc. Which degree would be best for me?

Have been looking at biomedical science, biological sciences and microbiology, think I have ruled out biochemistry even though chemistry is my best subject at the moment
Virology: https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/exp...care-scientist

Infection sciences: https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/exp...ction-sciences

Microbiology: https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/exp...s/microbiology
Last edited by ecolier; 1 year ago
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yeahthatonethere
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Any of those would probably get you where you want to be, however I think that Microbiology or Biological Sciences would be more appropriate. Biological Sciences is a very broad degree so would require you to focus down on infectious diseases modules through your years but gives you the flexibility to change your mind (usually) if you want to focus on something else. Microbiology will be more specific from the get go and will give you less flexibility which is no issue if its what you want!

I'm going into my 3rd year of a microbiology degree if you have any questions about what it's like (from personal experience ofc) !
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Avtarj
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(Original post by yeahthatonethere)
Any of those would probably get you where you want to be, however I think that Microbiology or Biological Sciences would be more appropriate. Biological Sciences is a very broad degree so would require you to focus down on infectious diseases modules through your years but gives you the flexibility to change your mind (usually) if you want to focus on something else. Microbiology will be more specific from the get go and will give you less flexibility which is no issue if its what you want!

I'm going into my 3rd year of a microbiology degree if you have any questions about what it's like (from personal experience ofc) !
Thanks for your reply. Interestingly depending on which uni u look at the content can vary widely. At one uni biomed is better for infectious diseases whilst at another uni it could be microbiology or biological sciences. Hence why I’m struggling making a choice.

Did u get much infectious disease content in your course?
What do u plan to do for a career once u graduate?
Thanks
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yeahthatonethere
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(Original post by Avtarj)
Thanks for your reply. Interestingly depending on which uni u look at the content can vary widely. At one uni biomed is better for infectious diseases whilst at another uni it could be microbiology or biological sciences. Hence why I’m struggling making a choice.

Did u get much infectious disease content in your course?
What do u plan to do for a career once u graduate?
Thanks
Microbiology tend to be mainly infectious diseases at most universities though some do cover quite a bit on the food side. If you really wanna get specific you can look for Medical Microbiology courses! From my experience of looking years ago Biomed courses did cover infectious diseases but also had a lot of focus on physiology/pharmacology, something I wasn't too interested in. Biological Sciences courses are usually extremely broad and allow you to specialise in later years. But like you said it all depends on the university! Never choose a course just on its name, module content is so important, I ended up applying to a mix of Biomed and Microbiology courses.

First year was pretty broad so we covered a lot of stuff including some infectious diseases. This is very common for all uni courses because 1st year is seen as a way to get everyone on the same level and have the same base knowledge to build on in future years. From 2nd year on you usually specialise. In my second year I've done almost entirely infectious disease module. From memory it's been: Molecular Virology, Cell Biology of Disease, Medical Virology, Medical Bacteriology, Medical immunology, and some others I can't totally remember right now.

As for what I want to do? I want to go on to do a PhD and go into research! I'm on an integrated masters right now so can hopefully jump into it after my 4th year.

Hope that's helped any!
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Avtarj
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(Original post by yeahthatonethere)
Microbiology tend to be mainly infectious diseases at most universities though some do cover quite a bit on the food side. If you really wanna get specific you can look for Medical Microbiology courses! From my experience of looking years ago Biomed courses did cover infectious diseases but also had a lot of focus on physiology/pharmacology, something I wasn't too interested in. Biological Sciences courses are usually extremely broad and allow you to specialise in later years. But like you said it all depends on the university! Never choose a course just on its name, module content is so important, I ended up applying to a mix of Biomed and Microbiology courses.

First year was pretty broad so we covered a lot of stuff including some infectious diseases. This is very common for all uni courses because 1st year is seen as a way to get everyone on the same level and have the same base knowledge to build on in future years. From 2nd year on you usually specialise. In my second year I've done almost entirely infectious disease module. From memory it's been: Molecular Virology, Cell Biology of Disease, Medical Virology, Medical Bacteriology, Medical immunology, and some others I can't totally remember right now.

As for what I want to do? I want to go on to do a PhD and go into research! I'm on an integrated masters right now so can hopefully jump into it after my 4th year.

Hope that's helped any!
That’s really useful thanks. Do u mind if I ask what uni u r at so I can check the course?

When u say research after your phd do u mean in a lab? I know I’m interested in infectious diseases but not sure what job role would be relevant to that interest
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yeahthatonethere
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(Original post by Avtarj)
That’s really useful thanks. Do u mind if I ask what uni u r at so I can check the course?

When u say research after your phd do u mean in a lab? I know I’m interested in infectious diseases but not sure what job role would be relevant to that interest
That's fine! I got to the University of Leeds. Yeah I want to do laboratory based research afterwards! Just kind of going with the flow right now haha.

There's plenty of roles you can do in that area, there's obviously research in the lab, there's epidemiology (looking more at causes, demographics, outbreaks and such), or you can get non-lab based roles in companies and such that still work in the area such as organising clinical trials, and plenty of others. Prospects UK is a good website to look at for this kind of thing!
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Avtarj
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(Original post by yeahthatonethere)
That's fine! I got to the University of Leeds. Yeah I want to do laboratory based research afterwards! Just kind of going with the flow right now haha.

There's plenty of roles you can do in that area, there's obviously research in the lab, there's epidemiology (looking more at causes, demographics, outbreaks and such), or you can get non-lab based roles in companies and such that still work in the area such as organising clinical trials, and plenty of others. Prospects UK is a good website to look at for this kind of thing!
I’ll certainly check Leeds out.

I maybe overthinking the job bit. But I do want to make sure that there are plenty of well payed job opportunities related to infectious diseases after I graduate. Otherwise what was the point in getting into debt taking a course that I couldn’t even earn a better wage than simply becoming a manager at Tesco!
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yeahthatonethere
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(Original post by Avtarj)
I’ll certainly check Leeds out.

I maybe overthinking the job bit. But I do want to make sure that there are plenty of well payed job opportunities related to infectious diseases after I graduate. Otherwise what was the point in getting into debt taking a course that I couldn’t even earn a better wage than simply becoming a manager at Tesco!
Don't worry, you're not overthinking it! Looking at career prospects is a really important part of choosing a degree for most people. You can check out what each university and course says about their prospects and jobs and you can also use this website to search for courses and get information such as student satisfaction, degree accreditation, graduate destinations, average salaries, etc. - https://discoveruni.gov.uk/what-would-you-do/

Universities usually have 'Student Stories' or 'Graduate Profiles' or something along those lines which tells you were some people ended up after the degree. You can also use websites like ProspectsUK to look at a lot of info about potential jobs (average salary, hours, job responsibilities, availability, etc.) and is just generally a great website for anything degree or careers related! You can also check out actual job searching websites (Indeed and the likes) for jobs to see what might be out there - but remember this will differ a lot from week to week. Generally typing things into google like "What can I do with [blank] degree?" can also bring up good results. And don't think you have to stay in the area of your degree afterwards if you don't want to. Most degrees will let you into a lot of different jobs and sectors just because of the skills you gain doing it. For example, patent law is common, well paid destination for biology students as they prefer science students to law students often.

Even during a degree you will often have a lot of support from your university about careers! I've had meetings with the careers department, practice CVs and interviews, chats with my tutor about my future, etc. and I took an Employability module this year which was super informative about futures. You don't have to have a career ironed out before you go university, but having an idea is always good!
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Avtarj
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(Original post by yeahthatonethere)
Don't worry, you're not overthinking it! Looking at career prospects is a really important part of choosing a degree for most people. You can check out what each university and course says about their prospects and jobs and you can also use this website to search for courses and get information such as student satisfaction, degree accreditation, graduate destinations, average salaries, etc. - https://discoveruni.gov.uk/what-would-you-do/

Universities usually have 'Student Stories' or 'Graduate Profiles' or something along those lines which tells you were some people ended up after the degree. You can also use websites like ProspectsUK to look at a lot of info about potential jobs (average salary, hours, job responsibilities, availability, etc.) and is just generally a great website for anything degree or careers related! You can also check out actual job searching websites (Indeed and the likes) for jobs to see what might be out there - but remember this will differ a lot from week to week. Generally typing things into google like "What can I do with [blank] degree?" can also bring up good results. And don't think you have to stay in the area of your degree afterwards if you don't want to. Most degrees will let you into a lot of different jobs and sectors just because of the skills you gain doing it. For example, patent law is common, well paid destination for biology students as they prefer science students to law students often.

Even during a degree you will often have a lot of support from your university about careers! I've had meetings with the careers department, practice CVs and interviews, chats with my tutor about my future, etc. and I took an Employability module this year which was super informative about futures. You don't have to have a career ironed out before you go university, but having an idea is always good!
Wow that’s really helpful!

Had a look on indeed for microbiology, infectious disease jobs and they generally seem to want several years experience. Not many if any entry level jobs.
At the moment I’m looking at infectious diseases research as what I want to do. The job role/title that goes with that I’m not sure about yet
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LuísTA
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Hi there,

I am also a lover of infectious diseases, and I just ended my bachelor in Microbiology (and I am 3 months ahead of my Master in Epidemiology). I must tell that a career in Infectious Diseases won't be easy (you will need to study). I would advise you to go to a Microbiology degree, as a good professional need to have reasonable knowledge in all subjects of their work. In the case of infectious diseases, I believe you should also know the basic of Environmental, Food and Industrial Microbiology. It is all connected. For instance, food microbes can be/become pathogenic, as well as the environmental ones.

I did my bachelor outside the UK, but feel free to ask any question. I will be glad to help .
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Avtarj
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(Original post by LuísTA)
Hi there,

I am also a lover of infectious diseases, and I just ended my bachelor in Microbiology (and I am 3 months ahead of my Master in Epidemiology). I must tell that a career in Infectious Diseases won't be easy (you will need to study). I would advise you to go to a Microbiology degree, as a good professional need to have reasonable knowledge in all subjects of their work. In the case of infectious diseases, I believe you should also know the basic of Environmental, Food and Industrial Microbiology. It is all connected. For instance, food microbes can be/become pathogenic, as well as the environmental ones.

I did my bachelor outside the UK, but feel free to ask any question. I will be glad to help .
Thanks for the reply. When you say a career in infectious diseases will not be easy how do you mean? Are you saying that it will be harder than other careers?
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LuísTA
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(Original post by Avtarj)
Thanks for the reply. When you say a career in infectious diseases will not be easy how do you mean? Are you saying that it will be harder than other careers?
With that, I do not mean that a tough path awaits you, but that you will probably need to achieve good grades and knowledge, and study for some years (a bachelor, a master and more). It also depends on the job about Infectious Diseases you wish to take. Is it one about researching in the laboratory, study and control an outbreak, make predictions (like epidemiology), etc. It really depends on your aspirations
Last edited by LuísTA; 1 year ago
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