Planning for Biosafety Environments: Controlling Infectious Disease in Projects

  • 40 hours (10 hours per module)
  • 16 days (4 days per module)


This online short course is aimed at anyone involved in planning, delivering or running environments and places where infection control and containment is vital, e.g. laboratories, surgical theatres and hospital wards.

Planning a refit, update or new build of such an environment is complicated. A project could involve clinical and medical staff, architects, construction companies, equipment manufacturers, scientists and project managers.

For such projects to be successful, it's vital that everyone involved understands each others' roles and finds a common language in which to communicate.

This course - part of UCL's Biosafety Design Initiative (BSDI) - is delivered by an inter-professional team of experts in microbiology, medicine, design, engineering and project requirements.

It will help you to:

  • exploit the latest research and knowledge in diagnostic, treatment and investigative environments where infectious diseases need to be contained and controlled
  • understand the different stakeholders involved and how you can all to work together to ensure a project runs smoothly and effectively

Who this course is for

This course as aimed at a broad range of specialists involved in the delivery, design, construction and management of acute infection-control environments, including:

  • in clinical and medical settings: microbiologists, bio-security and infectious disease and control managers, diagnostic and pathology teams, clinical and medical staff, technology and equipment commissioners
  • in management: planners and project managers, healthcare and laboratory managers, international development and funder teams, construction design managers, facilities and operational managers
  • in design, construction and manufacturing: architects, construction planning, mechanical, environmental and electrical engineers and designers, infectious diseases transmission and simulation modellers, custodial care designers and managers, ultraclean environments and equipment designers

Course content

The course consists of four online modules, each delivered over four days and including live interaction with experts and peers:

  • Module 1 - Principles of biosafety design 
  • Module 2 - Measurement of infectious diseases 
  • Module 3 - Project evaluation for clean and controlled environments 
  • Module 4 - Designing diagnostic processes and space 

You'll learn about the following:

  • Biosafety design for the isolation and treatment of patients, the protection of staff while treating patients and investigating infections, and the prevention of cross-infection in a healthcare facility
  • How layout, equipment and technology influence working practices, and how working practices influence layout and equipment
  • Project requirements essential for biosafety design for infection prevention and control 
  • Biological context with design requirements for healthcare environments
  • Fundamental principles of biosafety design covering the spectrum, from level 1 clinics and wards to level 4 containment labs and high security isolation units
  • Planning biosafety environments for patient-facing spaces including working areas, sample handling, diagnostic equipment and infrastructure

You’ll also learn about the following areas through various case studies:

  • Biotechnical and pharmaceutical laboratories
  • Haematology and aseptic units
  • Ultra-clean theatres, inpatient wards and high security treatment units
  • Diagnostic testing and screening across health systems from emergency departments to mobile clinics

Read more about what you'll study in each module on the BSDI website.

Optional face-to-face workshop

You can also attend an optional two-day face-to-face workshop in London where you can develop your own project with support from UCL experts and your peers.

This optional module (Module 5) will allow you to gain extra support for a specific work-based project.

Teaching and structure

The four online modules will each be delivered over four consecutive days, Monday to Thursday.

Each day will involve:

  • accessing learning materials and doing pre-course reading
  • watching pre-recorded lectures
  • taking part in live discussion sessions (2pm to 3.30pm each day)

On the Friday you can book an individual tutorial with the experts.

The optional module 5 will involve a two-day face-to-face workshop in London.

Cohort-based learning means you’ll be able to build relationships with your peers and develop a support network to help you when applying the learning into your work environment. 


On completion of the four core modules you’ll receive a UCL Certificate of Participation.

Entry requirements 

You must have some prior experience or knowledge of biosafety environments or projects.

Before joining the course, you'll be asked to complete a short online questionnaire to assess your knowledge of biosafety.

Costs and concessions

The standard fee for taking the first four modules is £2,540.

A reduced price (£600) for the first four modules is available for:

  • government agencies
  • National Health Service (NHS)
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • academics
  • self-employed
  • design/engineering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Discounts are also available for group bookings. Email Nathan Buckley ( for more information.

The price for the optional module 5 is to be confirmed.

Benefits of attending this course

By attending this course you’ll:

  • have access to up-to-date thinking, research and technology 
  • be more confident in planning and managing projects, or in your understanding of your clients’ needs
  • have a higher chance of project success due to an increased knowledge base, improved communication and a transformational, multidisciplinary approach to planning
  • have access to a unique and transformational approach to biosafety design in infectious disease prevention and control that encompasses microbiology, clinical, design and project management expertise. 
  • learn from world-leading experts in these fields
  • interact with a multi-disciplinary peer group that can prepare you for working on projects in your normal working environment
  • build relationships and understanding with key stakeholders, clients and suppliers involved in these kinds of projects
  • gain practical experience that you can take directly into your workplace by attending the optional part of the course
  • be able to use the experience and knowledge of experts and peers to develop your own project and improve its chances of success

Benefits for employers

Your organisation will benefit from staff attending this course through:

  • reduced risk and costs involved in carrying out such projects due to efficiencies and better planning
  • receiving the latest evidence base, legislation and guidance updates
  • increasing the likelihood of project success due to the knowledge, experience and confidence your staff gain on this course
  • access to a relevant peer and expert network for support and knowledge sharing
  • staff having a better understanding of the research and market opportunities available in the field
  • the potential of continuing UCL academic support and independent evaluation of projects
  • increased staff retention by building specialist skills in-house and avoid high costs of bringing in expert employees
  • the opportunity to network with people involved in all stages of a project: commissioning teams, designers, contractors, equipment suppliers and end-users

Further information

You can read more about the course, and the knowledge sharing initiative behind it, on the Biosafety Design Initiative website. You can also subscribe to the BSDI mailing list to receive news about the course and updates about the initiative and its research.

Sign up for short course announcements: Subscribe to the UCL Life Learning newsletter to receive news and updates on courses in your chosen area. (For updates on a specific course, contact the administrator - see 'Contact information'.)

Course team

Philip Astley, Course Director

Phil is a chartered architect and Honorary Research Fellow at The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management at UCL. He was Principal Investigator on the UK Research Council studies 'Controlling Hospital Infection: Design and Management Guidelines', 'Planning for Operationally Ready Healthcare Infrastructure', and 'Spatial Design for Emergency Departments'. He works closely with industry on project requirements and has carried out post-project evaluations at a children's surgical hospital and high level isolation unit in London. He's currently working with the UCL Centre for Clinical Microbiology on research on the design of diagnostic environments for the early detection and prevention of TB transmission in custodial space.

Professor Tim McHugh, Principal Director

Tim is Professor of Medical Microbiology and Director of the UCL Centre for Clinical Microbiology. His work focuses on respiratory disease, with particular emphasis on tuberculosis. He's involved in projects that cover the spectrum of activity from transcriptomic analysis of responses to drug treatment through to clinical and operational research in hard to reach communities. The Centre for Clinical Microbiology contributes at each end of the anti-tuberculosis drug development pipeline; from screening novel compounds for activity and exploring the mechanism of action to providing expertise and infrastructure for the delivery of TB treatment trials. A key element of this work is supporting the development of appropriate laboratory facilities for the handing of high risk pathogens.

Anne Symons, Course Lead

Anne has wide experience as a healthcare architect of major hospital projects at Scott & McIntosh and Keppie Design, and as a Senior Design Manager at Balfour Beatty Construction. After studying Architecture in Edinburgh, she obtained an MSc in Construction Management at Heriot-Watt University and a MSc in Planning Buildings for Health at London South Bank University. She's particularly interested in integrating technology and equipment into healthcare buildings and has been involved with several laboratory and pharmaceutical departments and acute hospital departments. She's also focused on achieving client expectations and how post-project evaluations can help future projects. She was part of the MARU POE study and is currently undertaking doctoral research at the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management at UCL.

Course information last modified: 29 Jan 2018, 15:38