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UCC Undergraduate courses


Course Fact File
Duration4 years
Teaching ModeFull-time
QualificationsBSc (Hons)
NFQ LevelLevel 8
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.

Course Outline

Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms including fungi, bacteria, viruses and protozoa. These microbes are crucially important in medicine, biology, agriculture, biotechnology and the environment.

Microbes are beneficial in process such as food production, promoting human health, biotechnology, agriculture and waste treatment. Conversely, some are responsible for causing disease in humans and animals or in causing food spoilage and crop loss in agriculture.

As one of the classical disciplines, microbiology combines fundamental biology with applications and thus provides excellent training and opportunities for students interested in different aspects of science.

The microbiology course at UCC is varied and broad but has a special focus on our areas of particular strength, namely, medical, food and environmental microbiology.

Many modern scientific disciplines such as genetic engineering, genomics, microbial biotechnology, immunology and molecular biology originated from classical microbiology and form an integral part of our modern microbiology degree.

The entry route to the BSc in Microbiology at UCC is through the general BSc Biological and Chemical Sciences entry. At the end of the degree, you will have a broad knowledge of microbiology, specialised knowledge of aspects that interest you, and a skill set of knowledge acquisition, practical techniques and problem solving ability that will equip you for your future career.

Refer to CK402 for more details.

Year 1
Comprises core modules in the four main branches of science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. Biology (four modules), includes Microbiology, Plant Science, Biochemistry and Zoology.

Year 2
You will start to specialise but will still be able to choose modules that leave you with three or more degree choices at the end of the year.

If you plan to pursue a biological sciences degree you can take some core modules in molecular biology and statistics and then choose additional modules according to your interests.

For BSc Microbiology, you will take a dedicated course in microbiology that provides a foundation for all aspects of the discipline, as well as modules in biochemistry. You can then choose some elective courses from Zoology, Ecology, Anatomy, Physiology and Neuroscience.

Year 3
You will commit to your degree of choice. In Microbiology you will take a dedicated course of lecture and practical modules that provide a broad training in molecular, food, environmental and medical microbiology.

Year 4
You will take some obligatory courses and can also choose elective modules from the different branches of microbiology. This enables you to tailor your final degree to your interests and ambitions. An independent, supervised research project is an important aspect of the final year (25%).

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year-to-year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

Expected lecture hours

Lectures and practicals are conducted between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You will have 288 lecture hours per year and these may include directed study/reading hours depending on the module.

Expected lab/practical hours

Your laboratory practical/tutorial hours will amount to approximately 216 per year. In Year 4, you will also complete a 10-week lab-based research project on a topic in the area of Microbiology, performed under the supervision of a member of staff. The project aims to enhance your laboratory skills and critical abilities in identifying, analysing and solving problems in scientific research and to develop your skills in communicating your results.


Written exams will take place before Christmas and in May. Not all modules will have formal examinations.  Many modules use other types of assessment. 

Modules that contain practical components also assess this aspect by reviewing laboratory reports. Some year 3 and year 4 modules include assignments, dissertations and reports as part of the assessment methodology. The final year project is assessed by a combination of laboratory performance, written report and oral presentation.

Who teaches this course

Each member of the academic staff of the microbiology department teaches in his or her areas of research specialisation as well as in general microbiology courses.

Food Microbiology:

Environmental Microbiology:

Medical Microbiology:

Molecular Microbiology:

Why Choose This Course

I was impressed with the quality of the research environment and the priority [UCC] place on being internationally competitive...

Dr Heather McLaughlin

Visiting Student (2005), PhD Microbiology (2011)

Click & Read

Key facts

  • Microbiology graduates have a choice of working in diverse industries, pursuing further training or research careers
  • 95% of UCC microbiology graduates either secure a job or commence further education shortly after graduation
  • The School of Microbiology has the highest research standing of any microbiology department in Ireland. Students are taught by academic staff who are international experts in their research field
  • A microbiology degree is a foundation for a future career in microbiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, cell biology or biotechnology.

Microbiology sits neatly on the interface between fundamental science and applied science/biotechnology, and our degree caters for students with diverse interests.

Possibly the most important aspect of the degree is its relevance – whether in industry or medicine, microbiology is centrally important to society and is rarely far from the news. This relevance in diverse spheres means our graduates have little difficulty in pursuing careers in research and industry following their degree.

Skills and Careers Information

The UCC BSc Microbiology degree provides excellent training for a career in the microbiology, biotechnology, food, environmental, medical, pharmaceutical and veterinary sectors.

Graduates have specialised skills in practical and theoretical microbiology that have direct relevance to industry, as well as additional skills in problem-solving, data-handling and presentation that can be applied in many different sectors.

About 50% of graduates go on to immediate employment, many in companies in the Cork area, but others in international locations. Other graduates choose to pursue higher degrees (MSc or PhD).


Refer to CK402.

Non-EU Applicants

Non-EU applicants are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to the Irish Leaving Certificate. In addition, where such applicants are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language.

To verify if you meet the minimum academic and language requirements visit our qualification comparison page and refer to our International Office page for more information.

Fees and Costs

  • Whether you are an EU or Non-EU student will affect the course fees applicable to you. See more information on EU Fees, Non-EU Fees, or Free Fees Status.
  • The State will pay the tuition fees for EU students who are eligible under the Free Fees Scheme. The annual student contribution and capitation fees are payable by the student.
  • See the Fee Schedule to find out the course fee.
  • Check out scholarships that may be available to you.
  • Explore our Nurturing Bright Futures free online course (Module 5) to learn about managing your money as a student and budgeting for university life.

Refer to CK402.

Lab Manuals / Lecture Hand-Outs

Costs vary from year 1 through to year 4 but on average cost about €15 per year.


Students typically spend €50 - €100 per year on books.

How To Apply

Refer to CK402.

Irish and European (EU/EFTA/UK) Applicants

Apply via the CAO. See the CAO Handbook for useful information on applying through the CAO. 

Mature Applicants 

Apply via the CAO by 1 February. To apply for a place as a mature student, you must be 23 years of age on or before 1 January of the year of entry.

QQI/FET Applicants 

Apply via the CAOSee our QQI/FET Applicants page for information on the Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) Further Education and Training (FET) application process. 

Non-EU Applicants 

If you are from outside the EU/EFTA/UK, apply online via the UCC Apply portal. See our International Office page for more information. 

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact