it's just so pretty when the cultures grow | 1582 ways to fail MSc Infection Biology

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it's just so pretty when the cultures grow.
1582 ways to fail MSc Infection Biology.


about fifteen eighty-two.


Hi, my name is Chris (aka 1582) and I have a sick obsession with germs. Please help me.

I am a postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow studying MSc Infection Biology and I am starting this GYG blog in order to record the experience of tackling a 12-month postgraduate taught degree.

I recently graduated from the University of the West of Scotland with a first-class honours degree in Biomedical Science. During my undergraduate studies I spent one year in industry working in a molecular biology laboratory. My Honours year project was titled Assessment of Anti-Acanthamoeba Compounds in Commercial Contact Lens Solutions.

Outside of the sciences, I am passionate about alternative fashion, body modification, Christianity, fiction writing, foreign cuisine, LGBT+ media and rights, live music, travel, and video games. Here on TSR I am a Volunteer Team member for various Life and Style section boards (Advice on Everyday Issues, Relationships, Health, Faith and Spirituality, Food and Drink, Travel) as well as Gaming in Entertainment (#EntertainmentExists). I also have a Bachelor of Arts in Filmmaking and Screenwriting and I am currently in the process of shopping around the first novel in my LGBT+ fantasy series, The Ansilian War.


what is msc infection biology?


MSc Infection Biology is a 12-month postgraduate taught programme that looks at the molecular mechanisms by which microorganisms infect their hosts and how the host immune system reacts to these pathogens. This course has three core modules and three optional modules in addition to a bioscience research project component taken over the summer. The three optional modules allow for specialism in bacteriology, parasitology, or virology.

During my year in industry I worked with viruses meanwhile my undergraduate research project was focused on a parasitic infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis, caused by several species in the Acanthamoeba genus. Both viruses and parasites interest me and I am not sure which I wish to pursue right now. The course specifications detail that lecture staff will guide you through how to pick your specialism and options, so I have not given the optional modules more than a cursory glance so far.

Core Modules:
Host-Pathogen Interactions and Immune Responses to Infection (Semester 1) (40 credits)
Research Skills for Immunology and Infection Biology (Semester 1) (20 credits)
Designing a Research Project: Biomedical Research Methodology (Semester 2) (20 credits)
MSc Bioscience Research Project (Infection Biology) (Summer) (60 credits)

Optional Modules:
Not yet selected.


what this blog is for.


My purpose for starting this blog is to help me to stay on top of my studies this year. I let things slip in the final year of my undergraduate studies due to illness and bereavement and as a result had to defer one of my modules and sit it over the summer. While that thankfully was not reflected in my degree classification I do not want to be in the constant state of stress that I was this past year. In addition to blogging about my studies I will also give little general updates in order to give the full picture of what life is like as a 29-year-old postgraduate student. If you are curious about what it is like to do a Masters degree in a life science, or you're just feeling nosey, feel free to follow along! Comments very much welcome.
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Education History


2017-2021 :: BSc (Hons) (Sandwich) in Biomedical Science (First Class) - University of the West of Scotland
2016-2017 :: HNC Applied Science - New College Lanarkshire
2014-2016 :: BA Filmmaking and Screenwriting - University of the West of Scotland
2012-2014 :: HND Media and Communication - West College Scotland
2010-2012 :: Highers Programme - Langside College
2006-2009 :: Standard Grades and Highers - Hermitage Academy



MSc Infection Biology: 2021-22 Modules



Host-Pathogen Interactions and Immune Responses to Infection (Semester 1) (40 credits)
50% essay. (3000-4000 words)
37.5% exam – 2hr with three essay-style questions.
12.5% exam – 1hr with a paper-analysis style question.

Research Skills for Immunology and Infection Biology (Semester 1) (20 credits)
20% practical skills assessment.
30% written report. (~750 words)
50% oral presentation

Designing a Research Project: Biomedical Research Methodology (Semester 2) (20 credits)
100% written report. (2000-3000 words)

MSc Bioscience Research Project (Infection Biology) (Summer) (60 credits)
35% supervisor’s report.
50% student’s written report. (3000-5000 words)
15% oral presentation.
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#1 :: Friday, September 10th 2021 :: Enrolment


This morning I was watching Bridget Jone's Babyperfectly standard 9am viewing—when the email came through from UofG with information on how to log into my student account and a list of umpteen things I need to do ahead of induction next week. I proceeded to spend a surprisingly substantial amount of time filling in forms, attempting to snap a not too awful mug shot for my student ID card, and completing enrolment for the compulsory courses and research project. What is missing from the list below is 40 credits worth of optional modules in semester 2, but we're not to enrol for these until after Options Day which will take place sometime in November.

Compulsory Courses

Host-Pathogen Interactions and Immune Responses to Infection (Semester 1) (40 credits)
Research Skills for Immunology and Infection Biology (Semester 1) (20 credits)
Designing a Research Project: Biomedical Research Methodology (Semester 2) (20 credits)
Project

MSc Bioscience Research Project (Infection Biology) (Summer) (60 credits)

Enrolment was... a struggle, to say the least. At UWS signing up for your modules is a 30-second process. It probably took me thirty minutes just to register for four modules above. But the hard part is over now! Right? Not quite.

Seeing the modules laid out in my timetable was intimidating. UWS spoiled me with a consistent three-day-week schedule. This programme's timetable changes by the week and there are classes most days. UofG is employing a blended learning schedule for the first semester, so there will be a mix of both online and in-person classes. I thought this would be a great thing until I saw the schedule. On September 20th, the first day of teaching, I have on an online lecture immediately followed by an in-person lecture and then two more online lectures after that! First things first, to even pull off this year I am going to need to get my laptop repaired. I've been using the same laptop for four years now and while it still runs like a dream the battery stopped holding a charge sometime in 2020. I've made a reservation at the Genius Bar to get it seen to on Tuesday, then made plans to meet my girlfriend after.

In other news, I have some work to complete today on my novel and then I need to clean over the weekend. If I'm going to be studying from home I need to gut my room and make it into a more productive workspace. Then on Monday morning it is induction! :woo:

Chris' Diary & To-Do List

- complete revisions of The Ansilian War (Bk 1) sample and synopsis (10/9)
- clean room (11-12/9)
- church (12/9)
- induction: 10am-12pm (13/9)
- genius bar appt: 12:40pm + lunch date (14/9)
- double date w/friends (17/9)
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will be following
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#2 :: Thursday, September 16th 2021 :: Induction


On Monday morning we had a general MVLS (College of Medical, Veterinary, and Life Sciences) induction. Nothing of note to report on that beyond learning about something called the MVLS Grad Skills Award - which I intend to sign-up to complete! I'll talk about that more at a later date. I also signed up to several societies (LGBT+ and Christian Union) that I hope I'm going to find the time and enthusiasm to keep up with. We were also told we would have a subject specific induction this week, however an email went out this morning stating that this is on September 20th instead.

Classes don't start until the 20th, however I already have my first assignment! All postgraduate taught (PGT) students at UofG are required to complete a compulsory writing course called the Academic Writing Skills Programme (AWSP). We are required to complete a 500-1,000 word essay on one of the given questions by 3pm on October 5th, 2021. This will be recorded on our academic transcript as a 'pass' rather than with a %/letter grade, and we will receive feedback, which I'm quite relieved about because it's a good way to find out the standard of work expected and where I currently stand. There are a number of questions to choose from and I think I'm going to tackle one that concerns the declining effectivity of antibiotics.

In non-academic news, I went for a pub meal and drinks with my partner on Tuesday, which was followed-up by ordering a Domino's at midnight and alternating turns playing Kingdom Hearts 2 for far too many consecutive hours. :lol: We've a double date with my best friend and her partner tomorrow night, which I'm excited for! However, today I'm not feeling great so the plan is to binge-watch the latest episodes of The Circle USA on Netflix. Then at the weekend there is talk of a Zoom call with some of my course mates so hopefully that goes ahead and I'll be able to put some faces to names! :woo:

Chris' Diary & To-Do List

- double date w/friends (17/9)
- MSc Infection Biology induction (20/9)
- 500-1,000 word essay for AWSP for 3pm (05/10)
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Watching this thread!

Good luck with the assignment.
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Looking forward to following this, Chris. It's my area
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(Original post by 5hyl33n)
Watching this thread!

Good luck with the assignment.
1582 thats alot ways to fail lol
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(Original post by 5hyl33n)
Watching this thread!

Good luck with the assignment.
Thank you!


(Original post by Reality Check)
Looking forward to following this, Chris. It's my area
Oh, wow! I was not aware of that! :eek:


(Original post by Wise Goldie)
1582 thats alot ways to fail lol
I am just that talented.
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#3 :: Wednesday, September 22nd 2021 :: Week 1, Pt. 1.

The course kicked off on Monday with a 4hr day: overall course induction and inductions to two of the modules: Research Skills for Immunology and Infection Biology and Host-Pathogen Interactions and Immune Responses to Infection. On Tuesday we dove straight into my least favourite topic, statistics, which will be followed up with maths on Friday. Joy of joys. My dislike of numbers aside, I am impressed with the plan for the course content and look forward to getting glued into it!

For Host-Pathogen Interactions, we have an essay that is worth 50% of the module grade. Everyone is going to have a different question, or at least there should be little overlap if there is any. We need to submit our preferences for essay choice questions by October 3rd 2021 and the essay itself is due January 11th 2022. I've already taken a look over the questions (there are 43 to choose from!) and have no idea what I'm going to go for yet. Thankfully it's not first come first serve.

A lot of people on the course were disappointed to find our timetable has been changed from mostly offline to near completely online. Due to doing a placement year in 2020-21, I didn't have any friends in my final year of undergrad, and I refused to let that be the case again this year! I hosted a Zoom Party for my classmates on Sunday 19th for about a dozen people, then I went along to a physical meet-up last night at Òran Mór in the West End. I got to meet five of my classmates in person so that was fantastic.

Wednesday is my day off this week, so I'd planned to work on my AWSP essay today but ended up unexpectedly crashing at my other half's last night. We slept late and then ordered a McDonalds before I got soaked making my way home. Not gonna lie it was definitely more fun than writing an essay. I should probably work on that now, but instead I'm going to throw together a curry and then get caught up on new episodes of 1000-lb Sisters and The Circle USA. My plan is now to work on the essay after class tomorrow because I've social plans all weekend.

In other non-uni related social news, I went on a double date at the weekend to a pub called Lebowskis. If you're ever in Glasgow's West End I'd recommend it! Amazing cocktails, fantastic food, and it was great to see my best friend and her partner for the first time in a long while. We ended up going back to my girlfriend's after for more drinks and somehow they talked me into a D&D night with the three of them and my gf's flatmate. I'm already brainstorming ways of getting out of it.:woo:

Chris' Diary & To-Do List
- study session (23/10)
- date night (24/10)
- movie night (25/10)
- submit essay question preferences (03/10)
- 500-1,000 word essay for AWSP for 3pm (05/10)
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#4 :: Sunday, September 26th 2021 :: Week 1, Pt. 2.

On Thursday, I met up with seven people from my course on-campus. Three of them I had previously met when we'd gone out drinking on Tuesday, and one I had spoken to via the Zoom party last Sunday. We booked a conference room and sat together for 2hrs of synchronous lectures on modes of infection for Host-Pathogen Interactions. The content was interesting and it was great to chat a bit before and after and also meet new people face-to-face. After they left at 4pm I stayed in the room another two hours to make a start on an essay regarding the antibiotic crisis for the AWSP. I intend to finish that this week.

On Friday, we had two tutorials. During the first, every single person on the call needed to turn on their video and microphone and give a short introduction. I appreciated being able to fill in those gaps with people I hadn't yet met. After, we had a calculations tutorial for Research Skills and oh dear we struggled. None of us left that session feeling confident, so after a chat with some classmates I shot the lecturer an email requesting she prepare some practice calculations for us. She has said she'll do that for us next week. Hopefully I'll be more successful with these than the ones we actually did during the synchronous session - I didn't get a single one 100% right!

I finished by 4pm on Friday, and my girlfriend's lectures finished at 5pm, so afterwards I made dinner and then got the train up to where she stays. I picked us up some drink on the way, because she wanted to stay in, then we ended up staying up late alternating turns playing Kingdom Hearts 2 and getting silly. She wasn't feeling well on the Saturday, so I ended up going to our friend's house alone for our scheduled movie night. Got drunk again (bad move) and woke-up this morning to a German Shepherd aggressively licking the shaved parts of my head. :lol: Proceeded to spend 2hrs in their bathtub and then spent the afternoon playing with dogs, picking at junk food, and binge-watching The Act. Not productive but oh well I had fun!

This week is fairly quiet university-wise. I have two lectures on Thursday and a lab on Friday. I'm staying at my girlfriend's house Tuesday and Friday nights and I'm planning to drink both times, so Wednesday/Saturday are automatically out in terms of productivity. So my goal right now is to get my AWSP essay finished over Monday/Tuesday and then do some of the required reading for Host-Pathogen Interactions.

Chris' Diary & To-Do List
- night out (28/09)
- lab (01/10)
- night out (01/10)
- submit essay question preferences (03/10)
- 500-1,000 word essay for AWSP for 3pm (05/10)
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#5 :: Thursday, October 7th 2021 :: Week 2 and 3.

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately and it doesn't appear to be easing up. Quick recap of each day since my last update:

Monday, September 27th
Looked at the essay, felt stressed, closed the file.

Tuesday, September 28th
Looked at the essay, felt stressed, closed the file. Went out with three of my classmates in the evening, got drunk, and two of them ended up walking me back to my girlfriend's house because I was a bit unsteady on my feet. Oops. Upside everyone thinks I'm a funny drunk and no one was upset with me. Felt closer with these people as a result.

Wednesday, September 29th
Spent the day lying in my girlfriend's bed feeling awful and watching The Simpsons. Headed home about 8pm and watched The Circle season 3 finale on the train home.

Thursday, September 30th
Went into the university for a study session with four of my classmates. We had two back-to-back lectures for Host-Pathogen Interactions this day.

Friday, October 1st
First official on-campus session! We had a lab this day where we were carrying out an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and 20% of our Research Skills overall module grade is based on our practical technique (so far this has not been graded). Unfortunately, I felt awful this day. So awful one of my classmates offered to buy Imodium and bring it to where I was having a a terrible time in a train station bathroom. Someone else kindly gave me instructions to the nearest Boots and I caught up with them in time for the lab. This is where honesty is a good thing: it was embarrassing to message the group chat to say I wasn't feeling well but it got results. :lol:
It was my first time in a lab since March 2020. It was strange, but I was confident in my abilities. Unfortunately the lab seemed a bit disorganised and there was an issue with some samples (not our fault) so that did get me down a little. But, oh well, that happens sometimes! We now have to write a lab report based on carrying out the ELISA. It's worth 30% of the grade for this module.
I was invited out for coffee with some classmates after this, but based on how awful I'd felt that morning I went home. The social plans for this evening were also cancelled due to my friend's flatmate getting a Track and Trace alert (she's fine). But we're going to reschedule for another time!

Saturday, October 2nd
Downtime. Watched most of the first season of Sex Education, then got drunk with my Dad that evening getting caught up on RuPaul's Drag Race.

Sunday, October 3rd
Downtime. Played The Sims 4 most of the day!

Monday, October 4th
We had a lecture 1-2pm for Research Skills on scientific writing and oral presentations, then an optional lecture 2-3pm going further into how to write a lab report. There were some major technical issues that the lecturer couldn't fix, so I found a solution and with some help from someone on the opposite course we managed to get almost all 55+ students into the correct call. The lecturer was grateful!

Tuesday, October 5th
No lectures this day! I finished off the essay for the AWSP course and drafted a statement for class representative after a number of people suggested I run. Then I went on to binge-watch all of Squid Game in a night because one of my classmate's told me to watch it and it ended up being extremely good!

Wednesday, October 6th
I submitted my statement this morning. We had a lecture on Animal Models in afternoon, that I didn't particularly enjoy, then there was an Infection and Immunology society meet in the evening. I confided in a friend that I was feeling a bit nervous and it was making me nauseated, so she kindly met me at the subway station so we could walk together. Once we actually got there it was fine though! About 12 people from our class showed up, and some people from the opposite course, so we had a few drinks and I made an effort to wander around and properly speak to people I hadn't met before. They ended up convincing me to stay out later than planned, and two people even offered to let me crash at their place. I opted to leave and get the second last train home instead, but I appreciated the offers.
On a side note, I don't think I've ever felt more welcome in a class before - and the ironic thing is this is the only time I've ever been completely out of the closet and presenting as my genuine self. If you've been reading this blog and aren't already aware, I'm non-binary/transmasculine (he/they) and gay. My classmates have been so welcoming and accepting of this. I answered some questions on this last night when the group got a little smaller.

Thursday, October 7th
Today! I got home at 12:30am and my alarm went off at 6:30am. The first thing I heard was heavy rain beating off my window. I picked up my phone, told the group chat I was knackered and not coming to today's 10am-4pm study meet, then attempted to fall back to sleep. That didn't work. So far we've had two immunology lectures for Host-Pathogen Interactions and a tutorial for Research Skills. There will be another Host-Pathogen Interactions lecture shortly after I finish this post. Usually I sit at my desk for synchronous lectures, but I've been in bed since about 11:30am because I suddenly felt ill. I think it's a combination of the exhaustion and anaemia, because I didn't drink much last night. Also nerves to some extent because the class rep ballot went up around 11:15am - I'm up against three other people! After the next lecture ends I'm taking a nap.

It's been a busy couple of weeks but I am enjoying myself on the course so far. I definitely need to get my head down and do more work, but it's been fantastic enjoying having a social life again after a year and a half of being stuck at home. I've social plans tomorrow night, will be staying at my partner's after, then should probably make a start on the lab report on Sunday (won't happen).

Chris' Diary & To-Do List
- book B12 injection (ASAP)
- night out (08/10)
- lab report (18/10)
- presentation (25/10)
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#6 :: Friday, October 15th 2021 :: Week 4.

I'll be sticking with the day-by-day format for this post. I found it useful to re-read the last one and reflect on how I was spending my time.

Friday, October 8th
We had the Friday off so I decided to just take things easy this day. In the evening there was a get together at one of my friend's flats in student halls. There were four of us from the course then a mix of people I hadn't met previously - plus I also took this opportunity to introduce my partner to the group. It was great being able to get to know people in a more intimate setting and felt like a real bonding experience.
Also, enjoy this wonderfully dumb drunken photograph that I have only the vaguest memories of being taken. This is my girlfriend and I. We don't usually think to take selfies together so I love it despite how terrible we look.

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(Yes, she has consented to this photograph being posted here.)

Saturday, October 9th
I spent the entire time lying in gf's bed hungover. We watched many movies, ate pizza, and played Kingdom Hearts 2. I felt that awful I didn't even go home this day as planned. :lol:

Sunday, October 10th
Crawled home about 3pm. I felt too tired to do much so just spent the time lazing about.

Monday, October 11th
I spent from 11:30am-3:30pm in the library. It was here I learned that the UofG library has a postgraduate annex on the fifth floor! I spent some of that time working independently on the lab report due Oct 18, focusing particularly on the results section. I was able to put together the required graph and table needed and explain these. After, three classmates and I moved into one of the group study rooms to listen to Research Skills lectures. We had an optional lecture this day on the oral presentation (takes place Oct 25th) that was definitely helpful to hear. After the third lecture, we decided to head to a beer garden. My girlfriend wasn't having a good day so we extended an invite to her as well. We decided to stay out after our friends left to go home and I ended up unexpectedly crashing at hers.

Tuesday, October 12th
Another day lost to being hungover and other ailments, oops. We spent the day in bed watching The Simpsons and playing Kingdom Hearts 2, except for an hour tutorial she had in the afternoon, before I got the train home. Sometime during this day I received an email informing me that I was elected as one of the MSc Infection Biology class representatives - I was anxious about this and was so relieved when the email came through! Got home 10pm and crashed into bed.

Wednesday, October 13th
Downtime. Got caught up on basic household chores, emailed lecture staff and classmates about various things, and listened to 1.5hr of asynchronous lectures. After that I spent the afternoon playing The Sims 4. In the evening an email went out with allocations for the Host-Pathogen Interactions essay (50% of the module grade). I was assigned my first choice working on a project concerning COVID-19. I may talk more about this later.

Thursday, October 14th
This was not my day. The ticket machine had broken, someone had been sick several times in the tunnel and platform at my local train station (my biggest phobia is vomit and exposure triggers panic attacks), and the second the doors closed it was announced that the train was being terminated a few stops away. Oh, and the weather was stormy! Got to uni and there were people in the room we had booked for our Host-Pathogen Interactions lectures/study session. I emailed the lecturer to say half a dozen of us would be ~5 mins late (he said he'd wait, bless him!), then once we got into the room my laptop wouldn't connect to Eduroam. One of my friend's told the lecturer my laptop was being moody and someone else moved to sit next to me so I could see their screen while I fixed my laptop. Then there were lots of technical issues on Zoom after that. It was just a series of problem after problem. :lol: I was invited out for coffee and lunch after that, but I decided to just head home. I'd been texting my mum throughout the morning to complain and she later treated me to a Krispy Kreme donut, a bottle of wine, and a takeaway curry. That and a few hours of The Sims 4 was my evening. :heart:

Friday, October 15th
I woke-up a bit earlier today because another student had requested a Zoom call with me. She called at 10am and we spent about a half hour going through an assignment she was struggling with step-by-step. I tried my best to explain it and helped her to correct the mistakes in her data. I'm not sure how helpful I actually was, but she said it really helped so I guess that was a success! We then had a lecture 11am-12pm for Host-Pathogen Interactions on Helminths immunomodulation. This was really interesting and I regret not applying for a Helminth project for my essay! After this I opted to play The Sims 4 over getting any work done. The plan for the rest of Friday is a quiet evening in with some more gaming and the other half bottle of wine from last night.

This weekend my focus will be to finish the lab report, then after that I'll move onto prepping for the oral presentation. I've no intentions of going into Glasgow for the next week (either for uni or socialising) to ensure I actually get some proper work done!


Chris' Diary & To-Do List
- book B12 injection (ASAP)
- lab report (18/10)
- presentation (25/10)
- class rep training (27/10)
- email Host-Pathogen Interactions essay supervisor
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