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Studium Biologie Master Studies

MSc Coordinator of the Master in Virology

MSc Coordinator of the Virology Master: Prof. Urs Greber

Study Coordinator of the MSc in Biology: Dr. Karin Isler


Viruses are nano-carriers of nucleic acids, proteins and variably, lipids and sugars. They infect many if not all cells, albeit by different mechanisms and outcomes. Virologists study the nature of viruses, and unravel the mechanisms by which viruses infect cells and cause disease. They employ methods from molecular and cell biology, immunology, biochemistry, structural biology, systems biology and mathematical modelling. Virology is also closely associated with clinical and medical sciences, such as epidemiology. The program involves leading experts in virology, infectious disease, molecular cell biology and computational modelling.



The student is interested in understanding viral life cycles, host and viral factors that enhance or suppress infections, pathogenicity of viruses and immune defence against viral infections and viral evasion strategies. He/she learns how to grow viruses, carry out controlled infections of cells or animals, and analyse and interpret the data in light of virological, cell biological, immunological and medical relevance. The student uses chemical and genetic perturbations of viruses or target cells, and employs a broad range of molecular tools to analyse phenotypic and genotypic features of virus strains, infected cells or tissues. The student develops a solid foundation for a mechanistic understanding of viral disease in cells, animals or humans at the molecular, systems or population levels, and this may also epidemiological and modelling aspects.

Students completing the Master in Virology should be able to:

  • Describe and explain complex viral infection and disease mechanisms in their own field of studies and beyond.
  • Define the key concepts and methods used in their field of study.
  • Critically analyse data from the literature, in the light of the state-of the-art in their field.
  • Identify unsolved problems and key questions within a particular area of virology.
  • Formulate a scientific hypothesis and design and conduct experiments for testing it.
  • Design experimental strategies with appropriate positive and negative controls, and interpret the data.
  • Communicate results effectively in both written and oral forms to a scientific audience in the format of reports, oral presentations or posters.


Note for foreign students:
Students with a Bachelor's degree in Biology, Biochemistry or a related subject from a University other than the University of Zurich must apply online for admission.
See specific information



A total of at least 16 ETCS credit points (ECTS) are to be chosen in agreement with the thesis supervisor and the master coordinator.


BIO 615 Virology: Principles of Molecular Biology, Pathogenesis, and Control of Human Viruses (2 ECTS).
BIO 338 Introduction to Scientific Writing (0 ECTS, one day in September or February). The module should be taken before writing the Master’s Thesis.

Courses amounting to a total of 12 credit points are to be taken from the following lists A+B (at least one course from Block A).


Block A

BIO 321

Microscopy in Cell and Developmental Biology (6 ECTS)

BIO 322 Cell Biology of Viral Infections (6 ECTS)
BIO 372 Virology: Methods in Molecular Biology, Pathogenesis, and Control of Human Viruses (6 ECTS)
BIO 374 Virology: Biology of Virus Infection and Evolution (6 ECTS)
BIO 445

Quantitative Life Sciences: from Infectious Diseases to Ecosystems (6 ECTS)

Block B

BIO 260 Molecular Biology Course for Biology and Medicine (6 ECTS)
BIO 430 Immunology (6 ECTS)
BIO 431 Cell Death, Inflammation and Immunity (6 ECTS)
BIO 439 Current Topics in Immunology (6 ECTS)
BIO 708 Viral and non-viral vectors for human gene-therapy - from pathogens to safe medical applications (2 ECTS)
BCH 308 Experimental Biochemistry (6 ECTS)
BIO 254 Functional Genomics (3 ECTS)
BIO 284 Systemic Microbiology (6 ECTS)
BIO 332 Cell cycle and cell proliferation (2 ECTS)
BIO 347 Concepts in Developmental Biology: from Cells to Animals (3 ECTS)
BIO 392 Bioinformatics of Molecular Sequence Variations (6 ECTS)
BIO 407 Practical Microscopy (6 ECTS)
BIO 557 Scientific Writing and Experimental Design for Life Sciences (2 ECTS)
BIO 617 Principles of biosafety in medical and biological research (1 ECTS)
BCH 252 RNA and Proteins: Post-Transcr. Regulation of Gene Expression (3 ECTS)
STA 120 Einführung in die Statistik (5 ECTS)
ETHZ_551-1100-00 Infectious Agents: From Molecular Biology to Disease (4 ECTS)

RESEARCH GROUPS (list in alphabetical order)

Weiterführende Informationen

Recommendation for interested BSc students:

Recommended core elective modules during your Bachelor's degree program if you plan to take the Master's degree course in "Virology":

BCH 202, BCH 205, BIO 390, PHY 118, PHY 128, MAT 141, STA 120, BME 235, BME 236, BME 245