‘Intensive MSc’ is an accurate description - Afroze's year studying MSc Medical Microbiology

Afroze from the United Kingdom reflects on her year studying MSc Medical Microbiology at LSHTM and those opportunities await in the School.
The MSc Medical Microbiology class of 2022/23

As we approach the final stretch of the intensive one-year MSc Medical Microbiology, it’s hard to believe how quickly time has flown by. The year has been a rollercoaster, with some great challenges and even more memorable moments. In all honesty, if I had the chance, I would do it all again! 

Coming from an NHS laboratory background, I already knew that my passions lie in the study of disease-causing microorganisms and the opportunity to study at a world-class institution is something I am immensely grateful for. My time at LSHTM has introduced me to all aspects of the microbiological world – in the form of lectures by experts in their fields, interactive laboratory sessions and the numerous seminars, conferences and talks hosted at the school that I have been able to attend. LSHTM has also introduced me to a wonderful cohort of like-minded students from all walks of life, making this year even more enjoyable. 

Over the course of the year, I was able to study a variety of modules including: 

  • Core Bacteriology and Virology
  • Analysis and Design of Research Studies
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Virology 
  • Molecular Virology
  • Basic Parasitology
  • Molecular and Cell Biology of Infectious Diseases
  • Mycology

The range of topics allowed me to gain a better understanding of a lot of aspects of Microbiology and introduced me to areas I had never had the opportunity to study before! I was particularly excited about studying Basic Parasitology and Mycology as they were areas I hadn’t previously looked into, and they quickly became two of my favourite modules throughout the year. The Parasitology laboratory sessions were particularly interesting – allowing me to massively improve my microscopy skills while learning to identify many organisms! Studying Mycology was also a massive highlight for me, particularly as the world is turning its attention to tackling fungal pathogens on a global scale with the release of the first WHO Fungal Priority Pathogen List, (and following the release of a certain HBO show!) Being able to learn from experts in the field of mycology was truly an invaluable experience, and learning how to identify them from their colourful colonies in the lab was also a plus!

Students in the lab, photo by Afroze Suleman
Students in the lab

Outside of classes, LSHTM offers numerous opportunities for staff and students to hear from researchers presenting their work in the form of seminars and conferences. Recently, the school hosted the 5th Annual UK Cellular Microbiology Meeting – which I was lucky enough to be able to attend! It was an incredible experience hearing from leading experts in the field of Cellular Microbiology and allowed me to learn more about host-pathogen interactions as well as past and current studies in the field. The conference could not have come at a better time as it took place near the start of my summer project, giving me extra motivation and excitement about my lab project!

This year has also challenged me in new ways and tested my organisational and time management skills. The title of ‘Intensive MSc’ is definitely accurate and at times it felt like a delicate balancing act trying to juggle study commitments with maintaining a social life. I was incredibly lucky to have a supportive cohort of students who quickly bonded during the first weeks of term, and they became a safe space in which to stress, vent and celebrate our achievements. The sense of community in the school is one of my favourite things about LSHTM and made my time here more comfortable! 

Another highlight of my time at LSHTM has been getting involved with the school through my role as a Student Liaison Officer for the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Centre and as a Student Ambassador! Both roles have allowed me to interact with current, past and prospective staff and students while also allowing me to get involved in events such as Open Days and helping to organise a retreat and a student showcase. These opportunities were a wonderful addition to the year and really made me feel like part of the LSHTM community! 

Some of the AMR centre SLOs, photo by Afroze Suleman
Afroze (right) with some other AMR centre SLOs

As I enter the final months of my summer project and reflect on the time I have spent at LSHTM, I am incredibly grateful to have been able to study here. It has been an inspiring year and has very much made me realise that I am in the right field! I am now looking forward to completing my summer research project and I can’t wait to see where the future will take me!