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Viruses cause diseases that are major threats to the health and wellbeing of humans and animals across the globe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies lower respiratory tract infections and diarrhoeal diseases, many of which are caused by virus infections such as influenza and respiratory syncytial viruses (respiratory), or rotaviruses and noroviruses (gastrointestinal), among the top ten most common causes of mortality worldwide. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is also still a major global health concern despite the availability of effective antiviral drugs. Viruses with the potential to cause significant mortality and morbidity continue to emerge including Ebolaviruses, MERS virus and Zikavirus. Furthermore, viruses are a leading cause of cancer, including papillomaviruses, Hepatitis B virus and the herpesviruses Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi-Sarcoma herpesvirus. On the plus side, research on virus-host interactions has provided, and will continue to provide, valuable insights into normal cellular physiology and the immune system. To meet the global health challenges posed by virus infections, it is vital to continually increase our understanding of how viruses infect and replicate within hosts, cause disease and evolve.

The Course

The course aims to develop an understanding of the ongoing threat to individuals and populations posed by virus infection through a comprehensive and up-to-date presentation of virology. The course covers many details of the molecular biology of different types of viruses (organisation and expression of genetic information, mechanisms of entry and exit, principles of virus structure). The consequences of virus infection are considered at the level of the individual cell (cytopathic effects, cell transformation) and in the multicellular host (immune responses, mechanisms of pathogenesis, latent and persistent infections, tumour induction). These principles are illustrated with reference to the major virus diseases of humans and animals. Epidemiological aspects of virus infection (routes of transmission, antigenic variation) and approaches to the control of virus disease (vaccination, chemotherapy, public health measures) are also covered.


This should be prepared according to the specific details given by the Faculty Board.

Examples Dissertation Titles

    • On the origin of viruses.
    • How is zika virus pathogeneis different from that of other flaviviruses?
    • Zika Fever: Congenital Viral Infection and Its Impact on Fetal and Infant Development
    • The role of microRNA in the life cycle of RNA viruses
    • What drives the emergence of viral disease
    • Virus latency and reactivation
    • Future developments in virotherapy