Reproductive Biology

Helping you develop your knowledge and skills for a scientific or clinical career.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your application

Applications for this course are still open.

The start dates of our courses have not changed as a result of COVID-19 and are scheduled to start as advertised.

We remain committed to delivering the highest quality education, so you can be assured that – whether the course starts on campus, online or through blended learning – we have the technology, the expertise and committed staff who are ready to offer you a first-class educational experience that will inspire you. You can read more about this on our website.

Find more about student applications on our COVID-19 webpage


Award titles

Postgraduate Certificate

ECTS: 30 credits
Duration: 4 months full-time
(standalone course)

Master's degree

ECTS: 90 credits
Duration: 1 year full-time
(including PG Cert)

Key information

Start date: September 2020
Campus: Hammersmith
Register your interestApply now

Overview

This course provides an opportunity for scientists and clinicians to specialise in reproductive and developmental biology. You gain detailed theoretical knowledge of reproductive and developmental biology while gaining experience of academic and transferable skills, as well as practical skills within a vibrant research environment.

The primary focus is on the basic sciences and their application to selected clinical aspects of the subject. It provides a valuable qualification and sound training for a further career in scientific research or in assisted reproduction.

Whether you are from a scientific or clinical background, you will be provided with an in-depth knowledge of molecular and cellular aspects of reproduction and development.

Study programme

The Reproductive and Developmental Biology programme is available as:

  • PG Certificate (PG Cert, 4 months)
  • a full Master's degree (MSc, 12 months)

You can apply to either level in the first instance. Read more about how this works under 'Choosing your course' in the how to apply section.

PG Certificate (PG Cert)

As a PG Certificate student, you take the core module 'Gonads to gametes'. Then you choose one additional module on either 'Eggs to embryos' or 'Bumps to babies'.

PG Certificate students do not take the 'Independent research project' module.

Master's (MSc)

The MSc provides an integrated programme of academic learning. It enables you to gain knowledge, develop transferable and scientific skills, and join a research group to conduct an in-depth six-month laboratory project.  

You will be taught a wide range of skills is included during the MSc. Some are specifically aligned for what will be needed for the project, including:

  • Critical thinking
  • Experimental design
  • Data analysis
  • Oral and poster presentation skills
  • Team working,
  • Academic overview of your findings in the context of current knowledge

Other skills could be of use in many different settings after the MSc, including:

  • Searching and evaluating published information
  • Identification of the limits of current knowledge
  • Self-directed and autonomous working to a high standard
  • Working in groups with peers to produce positive outcomes
  • Communicating your work to a variety of audiences

Graduates from this course have a variety of next-step destinations. The most popular are taking a PhD, and working in an Assisted Reproduction unit. Others have started medical school, or gone into teaching, or entered careers that require the critical and numerical skills integral to this course.

Is this programme for you?

This course is suited to those who are looking to improve your theoretical knowledge in the areas of reproductive and developmental biology, alongside gaining practical skills within a vibrant research environment.

Training in IVF technologies and techniques is not a part of this course. However, past graduates have gained places on the highly competitive Scientist Training Programme that is now required for those who wish to work as embryologists within the NHS. Others have gone on to work as technicians in IVF laboratories.

Careers

The MSc in Reproductive and Developmental Biology is intended for those with a scientific, medical or veterinary background. It is planned to help you reach the next stage of your career – be that PhD posts, entry to medical school, clinical speciality training or in assisted reproduction (IVF).

With both a full-time MSc and a PG Cert on offer, you can choose the pathway most suited to you, and use the specific scientific skills and the transferable skills we give you to take the next step.

Structure

Modules shown are for the current academic year and are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

Please note that the curriculum of this course is currently being reviewed as part of a College-wide process to introduce a standardised modular structure. As a result, the content and assessment structures of this course may change for your year of entry. We therefore recommend that you check this course page before finalising your application and after submitting it as we will aim to update this page as soon as any changes are ratified by the College.

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.

Structure

Postgraduate Certificate

You take the following core module:

Gonads to Gametes

This module explores the origins, development and function of the germ cells (eggs and sperm) and the gonads (ovary and testis), with a particular focus on how local (paracrine) and systemic (endocrine) signalling pathways regulate these important developmental processes from fetal life through to adulthood.  How disruption of these pathways can contribute to impairment of gametogenesis and gonadal function is also explored. This module also introduces students to a range of transferable skills important for careers within and beyond science, including literature searching, data collation and analysis, and dissemination of information through report writing, poster and oral scientific presentations.

Then, you choose one module from below:

Eggs to Embryos

This module starts with fertilisation. The translation of knowledge acquired from mouse-based studies of preimplantation development, to the development of IVF and complex diagnostic and therapeutic assisted reproductive technologies is investigated. The impact of the in vivo and in vitro environment of maturing gametes and preimplantation embryos on the health of the child and adult is explored. Finally, the use of stem cells as in vitro models of peri- and postimplantation development and the differentiation of cell lineages is studied This module extends the development of transferable skills with training on summarizing, and critical analysis of, scientific literature, debating contentious topics and designing experiments

Bumps to Babies

This final module identifies the main events of human pregnancy, from the perspectives of the developing embryo and fetus, the placenta and the mother.  The extent of our knowledge of these topics in human pregnancy will be considered, and the limits of our knowledge will be identified.  We will also discuss the main complications of human pregnancy and development, showing how an understanding of these problems can enhance our overall knowledge of human reproduction and development.

Skills during this final module include those needed to create an essay on a scientific topic, searching the literature and developing a logical and coherent structure, showing depth and breadth of knowledge and analysis of the published material. 

Students also create summaries of complicated material, targeted for a lay audience, thus developing their skills on what should be included in such a summary. 

Master's degree

You take all three core modules:

  • Gonads to Gametes
  • Eggs to Embryos
  • Bumps to Babies

Then, you will also undertake an independent research project:

Independent Research Project

During this final module, which constitutes half of the MSc programme, you will join an active research team to conduct an experimental project of approximately six months. Projects usually cover a variety of topics across the breadth of reproductive and developmental biology. These include gonadal development and function, stem cell biology, embryonic and placental development, and reproductive medicine.

Working full-time on the project, you will be supervised and supported by members of the group, and encouraged to join in all the activities of the research group, including lab meetings and seminars.

Projects require laboratory research skills and many of the skills covered during the taught modules. For example, critical thinking, experimental design, data analysis oral and poster presentation skills, and team working.

The project is assessed by your production of a poster about your findings, writing a final dissertation, and an oral discussion with academic assessors.  

Examples of previous research project titles are:

  • Interaction of insulin and gonadotropin signalling pathways in human granulosa cells
  • Programming gonadotrophin hormone receptor signalling within the endocytic network; mechanisms and therapeutic applications
  • Investigating the regulation of granulosa cell-specific gene expression by FOXL2 and SMAD2/3
  • Role of TRF2 in stress response of human neural progenitor cells
  • Investigation of microbiota-associated metabolites on inflammatory pathways activation in the lower reproductive tract
  • Investigating the dynamic and spatial regulation of membrane phosphorylated phosphoinositol (PIP) lipids during peri-implantation embryo development

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

  • Group discussions
  • Lectures
  • Practical workshops
  • Seminars
  • Site visits

During your project, you will learn from the regular interactions with the other members of your group, your day to day supervisor and the group leader. Attending group meetings integrates you into the group and gives you feedback on your work.

Assessment

Summative coursework may include:

  • Critical appraisal
  • Writing up laboratory work
  • Oral presentation
  • Data handling
  • Essay
  • Poster presentation
  • Planning research

The research project will be assessed by the production of a poster (intermediate stage), a dissertation, and a viva.

 

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis.

Admissions

Minimum academic requirement

Our minimum requirement is a 2.1 degree in biological science, biomedical science, an MBBS medical degree or DVM veterinary degree.

International qualifications

We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications.

The academic requirement above is for applicants who hold or who are working towards a UK qualification.

For guidance see our Country Index though please note that the standards listed here are the minimum for entry to the College, and not specifically this Department.

If you have any questions about admissions and the standard required for the qualification you hold or are currently studying then please contact the relevant admissions team.

English language requirement (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.

How to apply

How to apply

Choosing your course

This course is divided into two progressional levels of study:

  • PG Certificate (PG Cert)
  • MSc

Each level of study has its own separate entry point; you can apply to either level in the first instance.

Read more about Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma and MSc degrees

Making an application

All applicants to our Master's courses must apply online.

For full details on the online application process, please visit the admissions website.

ATAS certificate

An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students applying for this course.

Tuition fees and funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation.

For more information on the funding opportunities that are available, please visit our Fees and Funding website.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees (Home and EU students)

2020 entryFull feeTop-up fee*
MSc £12,000 £6,000
Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) £6,000
* If you have already completed one of the above qualifications and are moving on to the next level of study, e.g. you've already completed the PG Cert and want to study the PG Dip, you will only need to pay the top-up fee for the course you’re applying for.

All applicants must apply to the PG Cert in the first instance, and pay the relevant PG Cert full fee.

If you successfully pass the PG Cert and want to progress to the next level of study (MSc), you only need to pay the top-up fee for the MSc.

The entry tuition fees listed above will apply throughout your progression through the different levels of study, though an annual inflationary increase will also be applied each year.

The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value for April 2020 will apply to fees for the academic year 2020–2021.

If you choose to exit the course and then return at a later date to join the next level of study, you will pay the relevant top-up fee advertised in that year of entry. The entry tuition fees listed above will no longer apply.

Please note, it is not possible to apply for a Postgraduate Master's loan for this course, because the course you apply to in the first instance must be worth at least 90 ECTS credits. The PG Cert is worth fewer than 90 ECTS credits.

Tuition fees (Overseas and Islands students)

2020 entryFull feeTop-up fee*
MSc £35,600 £17,800
Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) £17,800
* If you have already completed one of the above qualifications and are moving on to the next level of study, e.g. you've already completed the PG Cert and want to study the PG Dip, you will only need to pay the top-up fee for the course you’re applying for.

All applicants must apply to the PG Cert in the first instance, and pay the relevant PG Cert full fee.

If you successfully pass the PG Cert and want to progress to the next level of study (MSc), you only need to pay the top-up fee for the MSc.

The entry tuition fees listed above will apply throughout your progression through the different levels of study, though an annual inflationary increase will also be applied each year.

The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value for April 2020 will apply to fees for the academic year 2020–2021.

If you choose to exit the course and then return at a later date to join the next level of study, you will pay the relevant top-up fee advertised in that year of entry. The entry tuition fees listed above will no longer apply.

Please note, it is not possible to apply for a Postgraduate Master's loan for this course, because the course you apply to in the first instance must be worth at least 90 ECTS credits. The PG Cert is worth fewer than 90 ECTS credits.

Postgraduate Master's loan

If you are a Home or EU student who meets certain criteria, you may be able to apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan of up to £10,280 from the UK government. The loan is not means-tested, and you can choose whether to put it towards your tuition fees or living costs.

You must apply for the MSc in this course in order to be eligible for a Postgraduate Master's Loan.

Scholarships

We offer a range of scholarships for postgraduate students to support you through your studies. Try our scholarships search tool to see what you might be eligible for.

There are a number of external organisations also offer awards for Imperial students, find out more about non-Imperial scholarships.

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.

A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.

Further information

Microbiome

Got a question?

Enquiries
E: reproductive.biologymsc@imperial.ac.uk

Read more about the department and our research in the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction.

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