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Studium Biologie Masterstudium


  • © Natasa Milosevic 2002

MSc Coordinator of the Master in Virology

Prof. Dr. Urs Greber (urs.greber *

Study Coordinator

Dr. Karin Isler (studienkoordination *



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, 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.


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 03 ECTS Virology: Principles of Molecular Biology, Pathogenesis, and Control of Human Viruses
BIO 338 00 ECTS

Introduction to Scientific Writing (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 06 ECTS Modern Microscopy in Life Science Research
BIO 322 06 ECTS Cell Biology of Viral Infections
BIO 372 06 ECTS Virology: Pathogenesis and Control of Human Viruses
BIO 374 06 ECTS Virology: Biology of Virus Infection and Evolution
BIO 445 06 ECTS Quantitative Life Sciences: from Infectious Diseases to Ecosystems
BME 363 06 ECTS Gene Therapy from Bench to Bedside

Block B

BCH 308 06 ECTS Experimental Biochemistry
BIO 253 06 ECTS Research Cycle in Genomics
BIO 260 06 ECTS Molecular Biology Course for Biology and Medicine
BIO 330 06 ECTS Modelling in Biology
BIO 430 06 ECTS Immunology
BIO 431 06 ECTS Cell Death, Inflammation and Immunity
BIO 439 06 ECTS Current Topics in Immunology
BIO 708 02 ECTS Gene Therapy from Bench to Bedside - Theory
BME 307 06 ECTS Microbiomes in Health and Disease
BME 321 01 ECTS Design of Experiments (only until FS24)
BME 330 06 ECTS Quantitative Biomedicine
BME 331 06 ECTS Tissue Imaging

Additional recommended courses

BCH 252 03 ECTS RNA and Proteins: Post-Transcr. Regulation of Gene Expression
BIO 254 03 ECTS Functional Genomics
BIO 284 06 ECTS Systemic Microbiology
BIO 347 03 ECTS Concepts in Developmental Biology: from Cells to Animals
BIO 392 06 ECTS Bioinformatics of Molecular Sequence Variations
BIO 407 06 ECTS Practical Microscopy
BIO 557 02 ECTS Scientific Writing and Experimental Design for Life Sciences
BIO 617 01 ECTS Principles of biosafety in medical and biological research
ETHZ 04 ECTS Infectious Agents: From Molecular Biology to Disease  ETHZ_551-1100-00
STA 120 05 ECTS Einführung in die Statistik

Recommended elective modules in the basic studies:
BCH 202, BCH 215, BIO 390, PHY 127, MAT 141, STA 120, BME 235, BME 236, BME 245, BME 248



Prof. Dr. Fraefel Cornel
Prof. Dr. Greber Urs
Prof. Dr. Günthard Huldrych
Prof. Dr. Hale Ben
Prof. Dr. Hennet Thierry
Prof. Dr. Hottiger Michael
Prof. Dr. Kouyos Roger
Prof. Dr. LeibundGut-Landmann Salomé
Prof. Dr. Metzner Karin
Prof. Dr. Müller Nicolas
Prof. Dr. Münz Christian
Prof. Dr. Reichenbach Janine
Prof. Dr. Speck Roberto
Prof. Dr. Stertz Silke
Prof. Dr. Trkola Alexandra
Prof. Dr. Von Mering Christian
Prof. Dr. Wong Lynn


Weiterführende Informationen

UZH Course Catalogue


Open master positions can be found here (update October 2023):


The module BIO338 Introduction to Scientific Writing (0 ECTS, one day in September or February) is mandatory for all Biology Master’s students. The module should be taken before writing the Master’s Thesis.


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, BCH 215, BIO 390, PHY 118, PHY 127, MAT 141, STA 120, BME 235, BME 236, BME 245