We are writing to you in our capacity as Head of Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Mark Thursz, Programme Director, Guy Rutter, and Programme Coordinators, Alejandra Tomas and Aida Martinez-Sanchez. You currently hold an offer from us to commence study on the MSc Applied Genomics in October 2020 and we are looking forward to welcoming you to the Department at the start of the new academic year.  

We are contacting you with the final plans for our MSc Applied Genomics programme for the next academic year, as detailed below. As previously outlined, we will be delivering multi-mode teaching in the Autumn term. This means that you will have the option of an on-campus experience as well as remote teaching. If you are unable to attend campus in person or choose to study fully remotely during this term, all on campus teaching will also be delivered online and, when possible, will be synchronous (at the same time) with the on-campus attending students, so that you have the opportunity to work with your classmates. Alternative sessions/dates will be provided for those activities that cannot be delivered remotely later on in the academic year (see below for details, especially on Module 4).  

We have carefully planned our Autumn term teaching to ensure the approved module and programme learning outcomes can be met. Additionally, we have revised the order in which our Modules will be delivered to enable multi-mode teaching, as outlined below. A big proportion of our Autumn term will be delivered online. This will require you to have access to a computer and a reliable internet signal for most days of the term. All learning material will be accessible through our Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard Learn) and Microsoft Teams. Digital literacy skills will be required for online study, however we do not expect for these skills to be more complex than in previous years, for example by using Blackboard Learn. If you require further guidance such as using Microsoft Teams for class discussion, we will direct you to the relevant College supported resources and will also run a test call in week one to identify any issues. Further College learning resources are available, and details will be provided in the Adapt to Postgrad course (see below). As Imperial students, you will have free access to these platforms as well as induction sessions. 

Unless UK or your home country Public Health guidance precludes it, you will be expected to be in the UK in the Spring Term. Nevertheless, as outlined below, our Term 2 offerings have been designed to take this into account and if you cannot attend campus in person due to the above, there will be no impediment to fulfilling the learning objectives by remote learning. 

Almost all the sessions taught on campus will be delivered at the Hammersmith Campus. We advise you should try to find accommodation within walking/cycling distance, to avoid public transport wherever possible.  

 

Institutional guarantees 

We are delighted to be able to offer this multi-mode delivery. However, please note that all on campus provision will be subject to the requirements of the current Public Health advice from the UK Government, College guidelines on social distancing and any additional health and safety measures. The College will deliver your programme to ensure the approved learning outcomes are met and will take steps to make alternative arrangements in any extreme circumstances where this is not possible. The College is also developing community building activities to support the student experience. College-wide induction and enrolment activities will operate in a remote format at the start of the academic year, and you will therefore not be required to visit the campus in-person to begin your studies. 

 

Induction Week and Social Cohesion 

The programme will start on the 5 October 2020 and we have planned on campus and online induction sessions during this week for you to meet us, your fellow students on the programme, and your tutors. These induction sessions will also be an opportunity for you to familiarise yourselves with the online platforms and tools we will be using in the year, and for all of us to set expectations around the programme and online/on campus learning and teaching. We will also include an online career development session and you will have access to two new short courses developed by students and staff from our Faculty aimed to help you transition into Master’s study in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London (Adapt to Postgrad course, available from 31 August 2020) and to support you to decide on, and plan for whatever you want your professional future to be (Attributes and Aspirations course, available from 30 September 2020).  

Throughout the year, we will continue to offer you opportunities to socialise and feel part of our MSc cohort. To this effect, we will organise several online group work sessions, some with your group tutors, as well as regular social events. The two weeks in the teaching laboratories on campus (see below) will be a great opportunity to strengthen these bonds amongst you and with us.  

Please also be assured that, in addition to our programme-specific plans, the College is also developing community building activities to support the multi-mode experience for our students. 

 

Core and Professional Skills (Module 4), October 2020 

Besides the non-assessed career development sessions taking place in week 1, the core of Module 4 consists of a Mini-Research Project that will start with preparation in student pairs, online. This will be done with asynchronous and synchronous tutorials, pair work, and submission of various activities on which we will provide you with feedback that will support your learning. The two weeks of laboratory work of Module 4 will be delivered at our Hammersmith campus on the 12th-23rd of October. For this, we have secured space and put in place procedures to ensure you and our staff will be as safe as possible at all times. This notably includes 2 metre physical distancing, provision of PPE and a process to ensure a safe use of corridors, facilities and access to the labs that follows the College regulations. Time to work in your project report and relevant assessments has been allocated on the week of the 26th-30th October. All assessments will take place remotely. Should you not be able to join us on campus during the two weeks of laboratory work, you will be paired with an on-campus student to work on all aspects of the research work minus the actual bench work. You will then be offered an on campus lab bench catch-up session in the Spring term (22nd-26th February 2021), providing campus access is possible for those dates. Should campus be completely closed in the Autumn term, Module 4 will be delivered in the Spring term. If we are not able to run the module at all due to closures in both the Autumn and Spring terms, we will provide you with remote alternatives to meet slightly revised module learning outcomes.  

 

Introduction to Multi-Omics Research (Module 1), 2 November - 11 December 2020 

Our first theoretical module will be delivered fully online, starting in November. The MSc team has prepared an exciting programme for you to apply different ‘omics’ approaches, with a particular focus on medical genomics. There will be guided activities that each of you will need to do outside of the virtual classroom, individually or in groups, (asynchronous) to prepare for the live face-to-face (synchronous) interactive sessions with our academics. We have timetabled these activities along the week to help you organise your work effectively, with most face-to-face sessions taking place in the mornings. On average, each week will have around 20 hours of timetabled asynchronous and synchronous activities which you will have to complement with additional individual work/study. This approach will provide you with opportunities to develop your human disease multi-omics knowledge and skills, individually and in teams.  

Importantly, assessments will remain unchanged but will take place online via MS Teams platform. A formative, remote team-based learning assessment will take place at the beginning of the module to allow you to familiarize yourself with this type of assessment.  

Systematic Review (Module 5), 14 – 18 December 2020, 1 - 12 March 2021 

We are currently anticipating no major changes to Module 5 besides the Autumn preparatory sessions taking place remotely. You will attend 3 online introductory sessions in November (concomitantly with Module 1) and 2 further sessions during 14th-18th December, as well as a final one on 1st March in order to get feedback on the progression of the written project report and mock poster presentations. Poster presentation assessments will take place online via Teams platform on the 5th of March and your literature review report should be submitted via our Virtual Learning Environment, Blackboard, by the 12th March.  

Non-coding RNAs, Gene Editing and In vitro Modelling (Module 2), 11 - 31 January 2021 

We are currently planning for this module to be delivered on campus, starting in January 2021. Should access to campus be limited in the Spring term, the module will be delivered in a blended way, combining online and limited face-to-face sessions or, if absolutely necessary, fully remotely, similarly to Module 1.  

Importantly, assessments will remain unchanged but will take place online via MS Teams platform.  

In vivo Modelling and Use of Human Material and Data (Module 3), 1 - 19 February 2021 

We are currently planning for this module to be delivered on campus, starting in February 2021. Should access to campus be limited in the Spring term, the module will be delivered in a blended way, combining online and limited face-to-face sessions or if absolutely necessary, fully remotely, similarly to Module 1. As for the other modules, assessments will remain unchanged but take place online via MS Teams. 

Please note that it may be necessary to amend the dates and delivery mode of Modules 2, 3 and 5 (late Dec 2020 - Feb 2021) if further COVID-related restrictions are applied; all could be delivered remotely if necessary. 

Experimental/Computational Disease Modelling Research Project (Module 6), March - September 2021 

We are currently anticipating no major changes to Module 6 (Disease Modelling Research Project). As usual, we plan to provide you with a list of available wet lab and computational research projects which will be delivered in our research laboratories on campus between March and September 2021. Should physical access to laboratories be limited, we will provide wet research projects to be conducted in teams, additional choices of computational/dry research projects and alternative projects consisting on extensive research literature reviews, analysis of already available data and/or PhD proposals. The two latter options (computational and alternative projects) will also be offered in the case that access to research laboratories is impossible due to a lockdown. These projects will be an added opportunity for you to strengthen skills such as communication, organisation and negotiation. Besides the above, should the campus be significantly affected by further lock down during your research project, we will work towards offering a short (2-3 month) extension to your programme duration in order to complete your project and offer a PG Diploma or a PG Certificate as an exit award if you are otherwise successful but unable to complete Module 6. 

Please note: If you are an international student and require a Tier 4 / Student visa in order to study in the UK, you will be responsible for any visa application fees which may be incurred should your programme length be extended. Full support and guidance on visa and immigration issues is provided by our International Student Support Team (www.imperial.ac.uk/study/visas).  

Assessments of module 6 will remain unchanged and take place remotely via MS Teams (Oral presentation and VIVA) and submission via our Virtual Learning Environment, Blackboard (Project Report). 

Student Experience 

Your experience at Imperial goes beyond just your academic studies. With the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), Imperial has been working with your Union to ensure that we are able to provide, enhance and facilitate all areas of your student experience under all eventualities.  We identified  key pillars of the wider student experience:   academic experience; research culture and environment; amenities and accommodation; student community; wellbeing support; co-curricular activities and extra-curricular activities.   Information on how we will deliver these, along with information on our Library Services, considering current social distancing restrictions, as well as a full lockdown, are set out on our website

How we can answer your questions 

As always, should you have any questions, please contact us and we will be delighted to talk to you and clarify to all any points that might still lack clarity. 

Thank you for choosing Imperial as the institution to undertake your postgraduate studies. We are enthusiastic about you joining our outstanding student body and look forward to welcoming you in the Autumn. 

Prof Mark Thursz, Prof Guy Rutter, Dr Alejandra Tomas & Dr Aida Martinez-Sanchez 

Head of Department, Programme Director & Programme Coordinators 

MSc Applied Genomics in the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction