Study Microbiology and Immunology

What is microbiology and immunology?

Microorganisms are everywhere. In our bodies, in the air around us, even on your fingertips right now. They have an impact on every aspect of the world around us, although much of this we never see.

Microbiology is the study of these microorganisms. The field is diverse, with wide-ranging applications.

Aspects of microbiology are evident within medicine, ecology, food science, chemistry, disease management and biotechnology.

Microorganisms within our food can contribute to the food’s innate chemical makeup, affect the taste and texture, or cause undesirable symptoms when consumed.

Additionally, there are millions of microorganisms within our human bodies, most of which make an unseen contribution to our everyday function and health. This includes within our immune systems. Microbiology has a strong connection to immunology.

Focused on understanding and managing the immune systems of humans and animals, immunology is vital to both biology and medicine. It also considers the extensive interactions between microorganisms within the body to produce certain responses.

While most people have a basic understanding of the functions of their immune system, immunology involves the study of a vast array of systems and processes that protect an organism from disease. These include those that are innate to a species and those responses that some humans and animals adapt over time.

Immunology research is focused on determining the origins of certain dysfunctions, contributing to our knowledge of and response to various diseases.

A complex balance of bodily responses, dysfunction in the immune system has significant implications.

Immune system issues can impact various bodily functions. Those working in the medical field generally require a deep understanding of immunology as part of their own specialisations.

Immunology also has significant crossover with veterinary and animal science. As demonstrated by various epidemics and pandemics throughout history, the health of animals can have a substantial impact on human society. Diseases such as malaria, bird flu, Lyme disease and dengue fever all originated from parasites that made the leap to humans from animals. Additionally, understanding animal disease is important to maintaining the stability of the food industry.

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What do microbiologists and immunologists do?

Given the nature of microorganisms, most microbiologists work within laboratories, whether for research or commercial applications.

A common application of microbiology is within the field of pharmaceutical research and development. The creation of drugs requires an in-depth understanding of their molecular and chemical makeup, as well as the potential interaction of these with other microorganisms within an organism.

There is also an emerging demand for microbiologists within the field of climate science. While climate change is often discussed on a macro-scale, involving significant and widespread change, examining it from a micro-level presents significant opportunities.

Microbiologists operating within this area may research the production and use of biofuels and other more sustainable energy sources, consider effects on pathogen distribution and spread and much more.

Research is also a popular career path for immunologists. As both humans and animals can contract a variety of diseases because of a wayward immune system, there are several areas of specialisation.

Most cancers are caused by cell dysfunction, the result of which is an ability to avoid the usually effective strategies employed by the immune system. You may find yourself working within the field of cancer research, endeavouring to uncover effective treatments or cures for this most prominent of diseases.

Vaccines are developed by immunologists, or teams involving immunologists. As vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to promote a desired response and build resistance, the work of immunologists forms a substantial part of the process.

Clinical immunologists are medical professionals who focus on the management of complex immune issues. The most prominent of these include autoimmune diseases, immunodeficiencies and allergic responses.

The area of organ transplants sees the research and clinical applications of immunology combine. Advanced knowledge of immune responses is required both to research and develop transplant medication and surgical strategies. Those providing the transplants to patients also need to understand and clearly communicate the potential implications of a transplant on the immune system.

What jobs are there in microbiology and immunology?

Both microbiology and immunology are fields where researchers and specialists are in demand across several industries. The most prominent of these include medicine, medical research, agriculture, food science, environmental science, law and education.

Further postgraduate study in biomedical sciences transcends borders and language barriers, meaning you could pursue a career anywhere in the world. Work for government bodies or academic institutions, private enterprises, non-government organisations or even for yourself. The possibilities are endless.

JCU graduates are equipped with the analytical and problem-solving skills to tackle global issues. The particular focus of your degree on challenges within the Tropics provides you with a unique background and experience to pursue your ideal career.

When you study a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences at JCU, majoring in Microbiology and Immunology, you’ll be equipped to take on roles such as:

  • Biotechnology researcher
  • Microbiologist
  • Educator (further qualifications usually required)
  • Immunologist
  • Patent attorney (further qualifications required)
  • Policy advisor
  • Research technician
  • Science communicator.
Andreas Lopata, a lecturer within JCU's Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, sits in a laboratory next to a microscope.
Andreas Lopata, a lecturer within JCU's Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, stands in a laboratory holding a pipette and a scientific model.

Why study Microbiology and Immunology at JCU?

A Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, majoring in Microbiology and Immunology, at JCU will see you graduate with future-focused knowledge and skills. The structure of this degree is designed to empower student choice. Take core first-year subjects that align with learning outcomes for medical, veterinary and health science courses, providing you with multiple transfer avenues as you find your passion.

Specialising in Microbiology and Immunology at JCU will see you receive education and training that’s particularly focused on tropical infectious disease. Benefit from subjects that equip you to explore further study and career options across medicine, research and clinical science. You’ll begin your studies by developing a broad knowledge base, before refining your subject-specific knowledge to align with your ideal career.

Study on-campus at JCU Townsville and receive instruction from expert lecturers in state-of-the-art facilities, such as The Science Place and the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine. JCU’s small class sizes facilitate personalised learning opportunities and one-on-one contact with your lecturers. Develop your skills alongside a supportive cohort and an academic team dedicated to ensuring your success.

Our strong partnerships with industry leaders and real-world employers, including Townsville University Hospital, provide you with numerous opportunities for practical experience. You’ll build a network of like-minded peers and supportive mentors, preparing you to find, pursue and secure available careers when you graduate.

Discover the unique opportunities and experiences you’ll gain from a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences with JCU. Be ready today, for tomorrow.

A headshot of JCU Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences alumni Sophie McIntyre.

Sophie McIntyre


Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, majoring in Microbiology and Immunology

“I enjoyed the research experience in biomedicine so much that I pursued further immunology study through a Master of Philosophy. The abundance of practical laboratory experience was vital and the quality mentorship and guidance in the biomedical sciences degree certainly facilitated my success.”

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