I hope that you and your loved ones remain well in these challenging times. 

We are writing to you in our capacity as Head of NHLI, Prof Edwin Chilvers, and as MSc Genes, Drugs Stem Cells Programme Director, Prof Uta Griesenbach. You currently hold an offer from us to commence study on the MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells – Novel Therapies in October 2020 and we are looking forward to welcoming you to Imperial College London at the start of the new academic year. 

We are contacting you today with the final plans for our MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells programme for the academic year ahead. 

Institutional guarantees 

All on campus provision will be subject to the requirements of the current Public Health advice from the UK Government, Imperial College London guidelines on social distancing and any additional health and safety measures. In the event that there is an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19 during your programme, then, in line with Public Health Advice from the UK Government, we may be forced to suspend on-campus activity. This may be in connection with either national or local requirements. Since we will already be delivering the taught elements of your programme remotely to some students as part of the multi-mode format, we will continue to be able to deliver these elements to all students remotely. 

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 multi-mode experience for students. 

College-wide induction and enrolment activities will operate in a remote format at the start of the academic year and there will be no requirement to visit the campus in-person to begin your studies. 

The NHLI induction for all Masters programmes in the institute will take place online on 8th October 2020 and further details will be provided nearer to the start of the programme. 

Programme Overview 

We have reviewed the programme’s learning outcomes and can confirm that no changes will be required as a consequence of moving to the multi-mode format of delivery for the year ahead. Please refer below to details on the modules’ delivery. 

  • Core Modules - 12th October -18th December 

Most 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. The programme will start in the first week of October 2020 with Imperial’s Welcome Week and our NHLI Induction. Our teaching will commence from Monday 12th October. We have carefully planned our autumn teaching to ensure the learning outcomes are met. 

Your first week (12th Oct – 16th Oct) will be delivered both on campus and online simultaneously. If you are not able to attend the campus based teaching sessions in the first week, you will receive the same quality of educational sessions remotely either the first week or sometime later in the term. The first week will give you an opportunity to meet as a cohort and to familiarise yourselves with the online platforms and tools we will be using in the year. 

There will be work that each of you will need to do outside of the virtual classroom and in your own time (Asynchronous) to prepare for the live (Synchronous) interactive sessions with our academics. We have timetabled these activities throughout the weeks to help you organise your work effectively. On average, each week will have around 20 hours of timetabled asynchronous and synchronous activities, which you will have to complement with individual work. Importantly, this approach will provide you with opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills, individually and in groups. Throughout the year, there will be many opportunities to socialise and feel part of the MSc cohort. 

We are hoping to return to campus full-time in January 2021 for the Advanced Modules and the Project phase. 

  • Advanced Modules - January – March 2021 

We are currently planning for these popular modules to be delivered on campus starting in January 2021. Should access to campus be limited in the Spring term, the modules will be delivered in a multi-mode way, combining online and face-to-face sessions, or fully online, depending on what restrictions are in place. 

  • Research Project, March – September 2021 

We are anticipating no major changes to our Research Project module, which will be delivered in our research laboratories on campus between March and September 2021. 

If you choose a laboratory-based project which requires in-person presence on campus and there is suspension of on-campus activity due to an escalation of the current outbreak or a new outbreak of COVID-19, you will be offered the following options: 

i. switch to an alternative project capable of being completed remotely. We will provide choices of dry lab research projects that do not include working on campus. 

ii. exit the programme with an alternative exit award (e.g. Postgraduate Certificate), subject to meeting the required number of credits for that award. 

iii. extend your registration and complete your project on-campus at a later date. The College will not charge any additional tuition fee in respect of completion at a later date, but you will be responsible for your own living costs. 

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). 

Computer requirements 

Digital literacy skills will be required for online study by using the following software provided by Imperial: 

  • Blackboard Learn 
  • Microsoft Office 365, including Microsoft Teams 
  • Panopto 
  • Turnitin 

To access the above, you will need a mobile or desktop device with a camera and microphone that has internet access. However, we do not foresee expectations for these skills as being more complex than normal. 

Assessment 

Assessments for modules cover a wide range of types - including abstracts, reflective pieces, written reports, oral presentations – and are all submitted or administered online; as such, there are no on-campus formal written examinations. 

Programme length and location 

Any scheduled on site teaching will be delivered at the Royal Brompton and at Hammersmith campuses. We anticipate you will be able to complete the programme within the timescale previously advertised. 

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 (noveltherapies@imperial.ac.uk) and we will be delighted to talk to you and clarify any point or address any concerns. 

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. 

Professor Edwin Chilvers , Head, NHLI 

Professor Uta Griesenbach, Programme Director, MSc Genes, Drugs and Stem Cells