The incidence of diseases associated with the immune system, such as allergies and autoimmune diseases is increasing and treatment and prevention of many infectious diseases is difficult due to the absence of effective vaccines. Immunology is a rapidly evolving science and new knowledge can be applied to the development and clinical use of new immune-based therapies for cancer and infectious diseases, prevention of transplantation responses as well as allergies and autoimmune diseases.

This major in Immunology describes how Immunology is studied and applied to a range of areas in the biomedical sciences. Additionally, in this major you will develop the ability to acquire, analyse and apply information from multiple sources, both within and beyond the laboratory.

The Immunology major is available through the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Biomedicine.



This major will open up career opportunities in areas including:

  • Biosafety and regulation
  • Biotechnology
  • Diagnostics
  • Molecular biology
  • Vaccine development.

You may also choose to undertake research in related areas such as:

  • Biochemical and cellular aspects of immune recognition
  • Genetics and pathogenesis of diseases of the immune system
  • Immunodeficiencies
  • Infectious diseases
  • The various outcomes of the immune system in a setting of infection, autoimmunity, cancer, transplantation and allergies.

Immunology is also an ideal undergraduate area of study for students wanting to enter graduate schools in medicine and allied health.

Subjects you could take in this major

  • The subject develops a student’s knowledge of cell and developmental biology, introduced in second year subjects. The subject is arranged for students to gain an understanding of the approaches used to study cell biology and developmental biology and an appreciation of the major concepts involved in the development of a range of organisms – including microbes, invertebrates, vertebrates and plants. A particular focus is the range of approaches (genetic, cellular, anatomical and physiological) that are used to investigate biological systems and address current biological and biomedical problems, including human development, health and disease. This multi-disciplinary subject is co-taught by staff in the departments of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Botany, Genetics, and Zoology. A feature of this course is the application of this knowledge in pure and applied research and thus will provide a platform for students in many Life Science majors, including Biotechnology and Cell & Developmental Biology majors.

  • Knowledge of genome structures from various organisms and the rapid development of technologies that exploit such information are having a big impact in biology, medicine and biotechnology. This subject describes the structure and expression of genomes in higher organisms and provides an understanding of the technologies used to analyse and manipulate genes. Students will learn how the modification of genes in cells and whole organisms can be used to discover gene function or to modify phenotype. The structure of eukaryotic chromosomes is presented to demonstrate how genetic material is replicated and how transcription of RNA is controlled. We illustrate how pathways that regulate RNA and protein are integrated to control cell metabolism and cell fate. The content will cover the bioinformatic techniques used to interpret and extend genomic information. The approaches of functional genomics will be discussed in relation to cancer to illustrate the application of molecular biology to the study of human biology and health.

  • This subject focuses on gene structure, function and regulation, which form the molecular basis of many important biological phenomena such as short-term organismal and cellular responses to rapid changes in environmental conditions and long-term controls of development. The molecular mechanisms underlying these phenomena are frequently exploited in biotechnology, medical and agricultural applications. The modern molecular techniques used to study these processes will be presented. The topics to be covered in this subject include prokaryotic and eukaryotic gene structure; action and regulation; genomic and recombinant DNA methodology; molecular genetic manipulation of a wide variety of organisms to generate defined changes in the genome; the cell cycle and developmental genetics.

  • This subject extends the concepts and examination of disease commenced in second year Pathology (PATH20001, BIOM20001) with a focus on the following areas: cellular and molecular aspects underlying fundamental pathogenic mechanisms in organ specific pathologies.

    This subject is available to both B.Science and B.Biomedicine students.

    Science and Biomedicine students intending to take a major in Pathology are required to enroll in PATH30001 (this subject), PATH30002 and PATH30003.

    Biomedicine students intending to take the Defence & Disease major MUST consult the Major Information Booklet.

  • This subject describes how bacteria have evolved specialized structures and proteins that allow them to adapt and survive in a range of environments. In particular this subject will examine the contribution of processes such as protein secretion and gene regulation to bacterial survival during infection of humans (pathogenesis). From an understanding of the molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions, students will be able to understand the diverse mechanisms bacteria use to cause disease, and how infectious diseases are spread. A range of medically important bacteria will be discussed, with an emphasis on their ecology, pathogenesis and the pathobiology of the disease. The subject will also describe techniques and strategies such as mutant construction and molecular cloning that are used to dissect microbial function, and cover applied aspects of medical microbiology, such as the diagnosis of infections and the mechanisms of the antibacterial action of and resistance to antimicrobial agents. Students should be able to apply this knowledge to the determination of strategies for prevention, control and recognition of disease, including the design of vaccines and other therapeutics.

  • This subject describes how medically important viruses interact with their hosts to cause infection.

    The subject will cover the strategies that different groups of viruses employ to replicate in host cells, and their mechanisms for manipulating cellular biochemistry for their own ends. The different outcomes possible for both the virus and the host cell, including clearance, persistence, carcinogenesis, and immunodeficiency, will be discussed. Also covered will be how viruses may be transmitted and detected, and the pathogenic process. The host immune response to infection and the various mechanisms used by viruses to evade the host’s defences will also be explored. Chemotherapeutic and vaccine strategies to control viral infection, as wel as the exploitation of viruses as vectors for vaccine and gene therapy applications, will also be examined. These topics will be further illustrated by discussing the features of a range of medically important viruses.

  • The subject provides a detailed study of interactions involving both cellular and soluble factors that shape an immune response: natural and acquired immunity to bacteria, viruses and ­parasites; design of vaccines; immunodeficiency, including HIV/AIDS; immunopathology of infection; autoimmunity, its aetiology, pathogenesis and treatment; and current practice and future perspectives in transplantation and tumour immunology.

  • To complement the information explosion of the new genomic era, it is essential to appreciate the cellular architecture of cells and how the delivery of proteins to their correct locations in the cell is crucial for the complex intracellular signalling pathways that control cell morphology, organisation and behaviour. Topics covered include compartmentalisation in eukaryotic cells; intracellular RNA and protein traffic; the molecular structure, function and biogenesis of subcellular organelles; protein folding and maturation; vesicle-mediated transport; structure and function of the extracellular matrix and cell adhesion molecules and their role in diseased states such as malignancies; cellular stress responses and linked signal transduction events; cytoskeletal structures and the signal transduction processes regulating the assembly and disassembly of actin-cytoskeleton; molecular processes determining cell movement and shape changes; imaging of processes within live cells. Students should acquire an understanding of the relationships between molecular design, cellular organisation and biological function of normal, stressed and malignant eukaryotic cells, as well as detailed knowledge of the major experimental strategies for investigating the molecular basis of these relationships. In addition to these specific skills, students will think critically from consideration of the lecture material and research papers, expand from theoretical principles to practical explanations through observing and reporting research literature.

  • This subject will describe the development, function and regulation of cells of the immune system; immunoglobulins; cytokines; immunological mechanisms operating in immunity to infectious disease; autoimmunity; hypersensitivity; and transplantation and tumour immunology.

  • This subject will describe the wide range of structures, functions and interactions of proteins and their importance in biological processes, biomedicine and biotechnology. Emphasis will be on the three-dimensional structure of proteins and their interactions with peptides, proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and other physiologically important molecules. We will describe experimental and computational techniques and how they help in determining and predicting protein structure and function, aid the design of new proteins and are used to develop new drugs. The subject matter addresses the general properties of protein structure; the major classes and topologies of proteins; evolution of sequence, structure and function; protein synthesis, folding, misfolding, targeting and trafficking; protein engineering for biotechnology; bioinformatics analysis of protein sequence and structure; binding of small molecules to proteins and drug design; protein-protein interactions; effects of mutations on tertiary structure, protein stability and biological functions; enzyme reaction kinetics and mechanisms. This subject is required for completion of a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

  • This subject provides an overview of:

    (i) methods used to dissect and characterise the complex immune defences against microbial infections

    (ii) methods used to analyse the development and function of the immune system in health and disease

    (ii) strategies used to construct and present scientific oral and written reports.

    This subject introduces techniques used in research and diagnostic immunology laboratories. The practical exercises will illustrate the theoretical principles that govern the function of the immune system. The immunological techniques covered are used to analyse the complexities of innate and adaptive immune responses, such as preparation of cell suspensions, flow cytometry, enzyme immunoassays, molecular methods to analyse immune function, in vitro assays to analyse immune function. Non-Laboratory sessions will be used to introduce and discuss the theoretical aspects of the practical topics, analyse data, critically discuss scientific research publications, source relevant scientific literature and to discuss strategies used to construct, prepare and present oral and written scientific reports.

    Upon completion of the subject students will:

    • have experience in the preparation and quantification of cell suspensions for immune assays
    • be familiar with a range of molecular and cellular techniques used to analyse functional characteristics of immune responses
    • have experience in techniques used for the detection and analysis of cell associated molecules
    • have developed safe scientific work practices
    • have developed skills to accurately record experimental data and use this record to construct and present oral and written scientific reports.
    • have participated in group work activities, both within and outside of the Laboratory.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the

Bachelor of Biomedicine&Bachelor of Science&Bachelor of Science Extended