We are writing to you in our capacity as Head of Department of Infectious Disease, Wendy, and as Programme Directors, Paras and Tom. You currently hold an offer from us to commence study on the MSc Molecular Medicine 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 Molecular Medicine programme for the Academic year ahead. It will be delivered as ‘mixed-mode’ - a combination of online and campus-based sessions with the same content, learning outcomes, and assessments. The whole year is detailed for you below. 

Institutional guarantees 

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. 

Social cohesion 

Most of our Autumn term will be delivered online. The programme will start in the first week of October 2020 and we have planned online inductions sessions in the first two weeks 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. All learning material will be accessible through our Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) and Microsoft Teams. To access the content of the programme remotely, you will be expected to have access to a computer, reliable internet connection and be able to use Microsoft Teams. As Imperial students, you will have free access to the Office365 suite of tools including Microsoft Teams. 

Throughout the year, we will continue with these opportunities to socialise and feel part of our MSc cohort. To this effect, we will organise several online group work sessions, many with programme and module leads, as well as regular social events. The two weeks in the Autumn term, when face-to-face teaching will take place, and time in teaching laboratories in January will be great opportunities to strengthen these bonds amongst you and with us.

Molecular and Cellular Systems (Module 1), and Disease Systems (Module 2): October - December 2020. 

Our first and second modules will be largely delivered online with some on-campus teaching taking place in December. The MSc team has prepared an exciting programme for you to investigate the principles of molecular, cellular, and disease systems. 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 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 live face-to-face sessions will take place in the afternoons. For on-campus teaching, which may be delivered from campus sites other than the Hammersmith Hospital campus, we have put in place procedures to ensure you and our staff will be as safe as possible at all times. On average, each week will have around 15 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 teams. However, if you are not able to attend on-campus activities in the autumn-term due to public health guidance, in the UK or in your own country, you will either have remote access to these sessions or we will deliver catch-up sessions in the Spring term.

Mini-Research Project (Module 3): December 2020 and January 2021 

Our Mini-Research Project will start with preparation time in pairs, on either the Hammersmith Hospital or St. Mary’s campus sites, in December 2020. This will be done with tutorials, pair work, and submission of various activities on which we will provide you feedback that will support your learning. The two weeks of laboratory work of Module 3 will be delivered on our Hammersmith campus in January 2021, and unless UK or your home country public health guidance precludes it, you will be expected to be in the UK in the Spring Term. Notably, our Spring Term offerings have been designed to take this eventuality into account to ensure that if you find yourself in an unavoidable situation beyond your control there will be no impediment to fulfilling the learning objectives, following the mixed-mode learning approach. Again, we have put in place procedures to ensure you and our staff will be as safe as possible at all times. This notably includes 2m physical distancing, provision of PPE and a process to ensure the use of corridors, facilities and access to the labs that follows the College regulations. Should you not be able to join us on the campus, you will be paired with a campus student to work on all aspects of the lab work, minus the actual bench work. You will be offered lab bench catch up sessions later in the Spring term, provided campus access is possible. Should campus be completely closed in January 2021, Module 3 will be delivered later in the term. Should we not be able to run the module at all, we will be able to provide remote alternatives for you to meet slightly revised module learning outcomes.

Laboratory-based Research Project (Module 4), March-September 2021 

We are currently anticipating no major changes to Module 4 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 choices of dry research projects, research systematic reviews as well as wet research projects to be conducted in teams. The latter will be an added opportunity for you to strengthen skills such as communication, organisation and negotiation. Should the campus be significantly affected by further lock down during your research project, we will work towards an extension to your programme duration with no additional tuition fees. 

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 

All but one assessment (written examination in Module 1) for the year are individual or teams in-course assessments that are submitted online. Our Virtual Learning Environment will enable remote teamwork and submission. We therefore do not anticipate any changes except for our closed book written examination which we will adapt for remote delivery.   

 

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 point 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, online! 

 

Prof Wendy Barclay, Dr Paras Anand, & Dr Tom McKinnon 

Head of Department & Programme Directors 

MSc Molecular Medicine in the Department of Infectious Disease