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

We are writing to you in our capacity as Head of NHLIProf Edwin Chilversand as Programme DirectorProf Michael Lovett. You currently hold an offer from us to commence study on the PG Cert, PG Dip or MSc in Genomic Medicine in October 2021 and we are looking forward to welcoming you to the Department at the start of the new academic year.   

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to ensure that your degree programme can be safely delivered, we are writing to update you on how the College is planning to support a safe return to study and on how we intend to deliver your programme in 2021-22. 

We plan to deliver your programme through a combination of on-campus and online teaching activities (multi-mode), with a strong emphasis on prioritising your time on our campuses. We are planning for some important and engaging learning opportunities to be delivered in-person and without social distancing in place. We anticipate UK government guidelines will support this decision by the time you arrive for the new academic year.  Lectures may be hosted online when this method is considered to be educationally beneficial to students, and when it is clear that online mode will reduce the risk of sustained COVID-19 transmission as our community emerges from the pandemic. We will use our experience of our past academic year when deciding how best to timetable your teaching.  

It is important to recognise that, depending on official government guidance throughout the entirety of next academic year, the balance of on-campus and online teaching may be subject to change. However, we share students’ hopes that we will be able to offer on-campus learning activities consistently throughout the coming year. 

Further details on the mix of on-campus and online activities and support available to you in your department are provided in the programme delivery section of this letter.  

Institutional guarantees 

General 

When planning our on campus teaching, our priority is for you to experience everything our campuses and London has to offer.  However, you will be expected to adhere to the safety measures in place for the College.  This may include requirements to undertake regular testing and to report the outcome of this testing to the College and strong expectations to have been vaccinated.  The completion of the required safety measures will ensure that we can keep the College community safe and satisfy the UK government and UK Public Health Authorities that we can continue with in-person on-campus activities, wherever possible. 

Details for your programme are set out in this communication.  

Delivery of Teaching and Attendance 

As you can appreciate, it is not entirely clear what circumstances we will be working with for the coming academic year.  

We are planning the delivery of your programme on the assumption of a phased return to a proportion of on-campus teaching over the 2021-22 academic year. As our programme has been delivered via ‘blended- learning’ format for a number of years, our learning outcomes lend well to this approach.  For the on-campus classes (around one-week per module) we expect students to attend the College in-person from the start of your programme, unless you can demonstrate that you have been impacted by exceptional COVID-19 related circumstances. We understand there are some reasons you may be prevented from being able to travel to London for the start of your programme.    

In these circumstances you will not be disadvantaged in your learning experience, and you will be temporarily provided with a remote alternative of any on-campus activities which you might miss.  You should contact the Programme team on genomic@imperial.ac.uk if you anticipate not being able to travel to London for the start of term and would like to discuss your options with us. 

As a community, we have learnt a lot from this past year. Our combination of cutting-edge technology and academic excellence resulted in some new and creative ways of learning and engaging with each other on campus and remotely.   Many of the changes made to the learning experience have worked well, and therefore your department may retain some of these approaches in the new academic year to enhance your overall experience in the programme, and these are specified in this communication.  

In the event of a suspension of on-campus activity due to an escalation of the pandemic, we will deliver the content online and, if necessary, reschedule activities which cannot be delivered online later in the 2021-22 academic year. Depending on the length and severity of any such scenario, if we are unable to deliver content remotely or re-schedule activities requiring in-person attendance [e.g. labs/practicals/etc] within the 2021-22 academic year to meet the learning outcomes of the programme, we may have to extend the length of your programme, with no extra fees being charged.  You will also be given the option to exit the programme and provided with a transcript of the credits achieved together with an exit award, where appropriate. 

Assessment 

Assessments that take place in the Autumn Term, or at the start of the Spring Term of the 2021/22 academic year will be delivered online via Blackboard or Turnitin submission. 

Safety 

You will be required to follow the safety requirements put in place on campus and in all College buildings (including halls) to ensure we keep the campuses and the Imperial community safe and to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, particularly in our ability to deliver your degree programme and to offer you a full student experience.  

There will be requirements and expectations placed on you and other members of the College community to follow the safety measures put in place by the UK government and national and local public health authorities. You can view our current guidance for our community on our website. This may vary once we begin the academic year, but is likely to include undertaking regular testing for COVID-19 and to report the results of this testing to the College. There is also the strong expectation that you will have been vaccinated against COVID-19  or that you will take up the opportunity once in the UK, if vaccination is not available in your home country. Failure to follow the safety measures and report them to College may result in restrictions being imposed on the delivery of your degree programme and on your access to the wider student experience.   

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 Students’ Union to ensure that we are able to provide, enhance and facilitate all areas of your student experience in 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 and College-wide induction arrangements, considering current social distancing restrictions, as well as a full lockdown, are set out on our COVID 19 pages.  

Delivery of your Programme of Study 

Departmental induction 

The NHLI induction for all Masters programmes in the institute will take place online on 7th October 2021 and further details will be provided nearer to the start of the programme  

Content and delivery of the programme 

We are planning to deliver your programme in a blended formatThis blended format of delivery consists of teaching sessions (face-to-face or made available online), live webinars, discussion fora, formative and summative assessments administered through our virtual learning environment, and a range of resources to facilitate self-study and progression. This allows for much of the programme to be studied remotely if required. As our programme has been delivered via ‘blended- learning’ format for a number of years, our learning outcomes lend well to this approach.  

We would usually expect part-time students to book study leave for the on-campus classes (around one-week per module). We would strongly recommend that part-time students plan to book study leave for Week 2 of each module to enable you to attend the synchronous classes in this week (either online or on campus). For full-time students who work on a part-time basis, we would also expect you to arrange your rota so that you are available to attend all synchronous classes in Week 2 of the module. In each of the e-learning weeks of the taught modules (Weeks 1, 3 and 4) students are expected to complete between 20-40 hours of independent and directed study per week. Please refer below to details on each module’s delivery. 

Autumn Term 2021  

  • The Pre-sessional Primer 

This is a short refresher course all students are required to take that is intended to help you “get up to speed” on genetic and genomic concepts.  It is fully online, is not for credit and the embedded tests can be taken as many times as you like.  You will be sent a link to this in September 2021.  

 

Module 

Mode of delivery 

Additional information 

Fundamentals of Human Genetics and Genomics (October 2021) 

Blended (with the option of being completed fully online if required. All on campus and virtual ‘synchronous’ activities for this module will be scheduled in Week 2 of this module (11-15 October 2021). 

  

Please note that there will also be an online NHLI induction for all new postgraduate students in Week 1 of October 2021.  

This module also includes digital literacy skills training including how to search for scientific resources and a College Library induction. An introduction to the Graduate School Professional Development courses for Masters students is also planned. 

Omics Technologies and their Application to Genomic Medicine (November 2021) 

Fully online. All virtual ‘synchronous’ activities (including workshops and journal clubs) will take place in Week 2 of this module (8-12 November 2021). 

  

Genomics of Common and Rare Inherited Diseases (December 2021) 

Fully online. All virtual ‘synchronous’ activities (including computational workshops and journal clubs) will take place in Week 2 of this module (6-10 December 2021). 

  

 

Autumn term  

October 2021  

Core module 

  • Fundamentals in Human Genetics and Genomics 

As summarised above, our first module will be delivered in a blended format combining on campus components as well as a significant proportion of online teaching delivery, consisting of both asynchronous and synchronous/live elements. The Programme team has prepared an exciting programme, which will allow you to understand and interpret variation in genome structure and sequence in the context of physiological function and disease. Moreover, you will learn to critically evaluate policy towards the aggregation of clinical and genomics data within NHS ethical and governance frameworks, and within the wider life sciences and healthcare industry sector 

There will be work that each of you will need to do outside of the classroom/virtual classroom and in your own time to prepare for the live on campus and/or online interactive sessions with our academics. The latter will include group work and student-led sessions.  

The Fundamentals in Human Genetics and Genomics module runs for four weeks, of which week 2 is offered face-to-face on campus, whilst weeks 1, 3 and 4 are offered in a virtual learning environment that may also include online format live webinars and discussion fora For the face-to-face teaching that will take place in week 2, we have secured space and put in place procedures to ensure you and our staff will be as safe as possible at all timesWe will timetable these on campus activities in October/November and will circulate the timetable in advance so you can plan your study. If you are in employment, we advise that you take leave on the planned teaching daysWe will make the asynchronous learning materials available before the synchronous sessions and we strongly encourage you to work on this beforehand.  The teaching week will include around 40 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 genetics and genomics knowledge and skills, individually and in teams. 

Spring term 

January 2022 

Elective A Optional modules. Students may choose one module from the two optional modules listed below: 

  • Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Applied Genomics or 

  • Genomics and the Patient  

February 2022   

Core module 

  • Molecular Pathology of Cancer and Application in Cancer Diagnosis, Screening and Treatment (delivered in collaboration with the Institute of Cancer Research)  

March 2022 

Elective B Optional modules. Students may choose one module from the four optional modules listed below: 

  • Pharmacogenomics and Stratified Medicine 

  • Economic Evaluation in Human Genomics (delivered in collaboration with Brunel University London).  

  • Genome-Based Therapeutics 

  • Professional and Research Skills 

The last of these is already an entirely online e-learning module and we do not anticipate any major changes to the teaching on this module.  For the other six modules listed above we are currently planning for delivery in their usual blended format (with three weeks of e-learning and one week of on campus teaching) starting in January 2022. Should access to campus be limited in the Spring term, the modules will be delivered entirely online with similar timelines to those modules planned in the Autumn term and with multiple levels of online interaction (discussions, tutorials, and assessment briefings).     

Summer Term 

April and May 2022 

Core modules 

  • Application of Genomics in Infectious Disease (April 2022) 

  • Bioinformatics, Quality Control, Analysis and Interpretation of Sequencing Data  (May 2022) 

We are currently planning for delivery of these two modules in their usual blended format (with three weeks of e-learning and one week of on campus teaching) starting in April 2022. Should access to campus be limited in the Summer term, these modules will be delivered entirely online with similar timelines to those modules planned in the Autumn term and with multiple levels of online interaction (discussions, tutorials, and assessment briefings).   

Research Project (June-September 2022) 

You will complete a 14-week full-time or one-year part-time research project as part of the MSc. We anticipate offering our usual very wide range of Genomic Medicine projects.  At present, these can be laboratory-based, clinically-based, computer-based or literature-based. Should access to campus be limited in the Summer term we expect to have a considerable number of computational and literature-based projects available for students to pursue online. 

Support for online learning 

To access the content of the programme online you will be expected to have access to a computer (comparable to the laptop we offer for loan; HP EliteBook 840 G7, i5-10310U processor, 16Gb RAM, 256Gb solid state disk, 14” HD screen, Windows 10 Pro 64, webcam; see https://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetDocument.aspx?docname=4AA7-6811ENUC),  reliable internet connection with a minimum of sustained 10 MBps down/upload speed  and be able to use Microsoft Teams. Your College IT account will provide you with free access to the Office365 suite of tools, and further information about how to use Microsoft Teams is available at https://www.imperial.ac.uk/admin-services/ict/self-service/connect-communicate/office-365/apps/microsoft-teams/ . 

Training and support for how to use other systems and software will be provided during the programme induction and through specific modules.  

Length and location of the programme 

We anticipate you will be able to complete the programme within the timescale previously advertised. We aim to deliver in-person activities at Hammersmith campus.   

Additional costs 

You will be expected to have access to a computer, webcam, microphone and to a reliable internet connection, and you will need to cover any associated costs for these. There are no other expected additional costs (beyond those previously advertised) to participate in the programme if you choose to study remotely. 

Visas and Immigration  

If you require a visa to study in the UK, it is important that you have read the guidance provided by the International Student Support Team at the College at http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/international- students/visas-and-immigration/covid-19-and-your-immigration-status/      

Imperial has a team of specialist immigration advisers who can provide specific advice on your immigration situation and on the best options for you. They can be reached by email on international@imperial.ac.uk . It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct immigration permission for your studies in the UK.  

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.  

With all good wishes, 

 

Prof Edwin R. Chilvers   

Head, NHLI  

Prof Michael Lovett 

Programme Director, PGCert/ PGDip/ MSc Genomic Medicine