You currently hold an offer from us to commence study on the MSc Human Molecular Genetics (HMG) 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 will expect you to be in London from the start of the autumn term and for the whole of the 2021-22 academic year in order that you can attend on-campus activities. We plan to deliver your programme through a combination of on-campus and online teaching activities (blended), with a strong emphasis on prioritising your time on our campuses. 

For this MSc it is essential for students to attend campus during the year in order to be able to achieve the intended programme learning outcomes. If exceptional circumstances arise that preclude a student from attending the course on campus, it is recommended the student defer to the following year. The programme year is outlined for you below. 

Social cohesion 

As we discussed with you in our recent Zoom meeting, our Autumn term will be delivered through a combination of face to face and online teaching and learning. This will require you to have access to a computer and a reliable internet connection for most days of the term. The programme will start in the first week of October 2021 (4 October) and we have planned induction sessions during the first two weeks for you to meet us, your fellow students on the programme, and your tutors (in person meetings and online). 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 materials will be accessible through our Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard) and Microsoft Teams. As Imperial students, you will have free access to these as well as induction sessions. 

Throughout the year, we will continue with these opportunities to socialise and feel part of this year’s MSc cohort. To this effect, we will organise several group work sessions (in person and/or online), some with our group tutorsWhere possible, at least twice per week we have planned for you to meet face to face with your class and teaching staff, so we can ensure continuity in the programme and explain the course work priorities from week to week. The three weeks in the teaching laboratories will also provide another great opportunity to strengthen bonds between classmates and with teaching staff.  

Molecular Genetics (Module 1) 

Our first module will be taught mostly online during Term 1The MSc team has prepared an exciting programme for you to study the principles of molecular geneticsFor example, this year a number of the teaching sessions will be delivered as “flipped classrooms” - each lecturer will provide a brief recorded lecture on the topic, key recommended reading and some questions for you to consider and answer during your reading (individual and group study), followed by a live teaching session with the lecturer. We are timetabling activities during the week to help you organise your work effectively, with face-to-face sessions taking place on a regular basis.  On average, each week will have around 20 hours of timetabled learning activities which you will complement with individual study. Importantly, this approach will provide you with opportunities to develop your molecular genetics knowledge and skills, individually and in study groups 

Genetics of Rare and Common Disease (Module 2) 

We will begin the principles of genetics applied to rare and common disease in Term 1 and continue with the genetics of cancer, the genetics of diabetes and epigenetics in Term 2. This module will include flipped classrooms, a journal club discussion with your study group and tutor and a formative essay to be handed in at the end of Term 1.  

Analytical Methods in Human Genetics (Module 3) 

Module 3 is a large module as we assume no preliminary student expertise. The module consists of three related subjects or sub-modules: 1) Introduction to Statistical Thinking and Data Analysis, 2) Bioinformatics and 3) GenomicsAs such, Module 3 will run throughout Term 1 with a day a week of teaching session in the morning and a Workshop in the afternoon to consolidate concepts that have been introduced the previous week. Exercises will be set each week in order for students to be able to assimilate new concepts at their own pace. The Genomics sub-module will include genomic study design and the analytical methods of linkage and association. The module will include the preparation and defence of a robust genomic study design in the form of a scientific poster presentation that will draw upon number of aspects of the MSc programme. 

Genomics in the Laboratory (Module 4) 

Practicals One (1 week, Basic) and Two (2 weeks, Advanced) will be held this year in our teaching laboratories at Hammersmith Campus. In each practical the student will perform a series of experiments that will be followed by computer Workshops to analyse the data obtained in the laboratory and to consolidate concepts that have been introduced. Exercises will also be provided in order for the students to be able to assimilate new concepts at their own pace (e.g. DNA sequence analysis, restriction digestion mapping). The module will ensure students understand how to operate safely in a laboratory setting, set up and perform molecular genetics experiments, interpret results, present molecular techniques to the class, trouble shoot and maintain a comprehensive and clear laboratory book that will allow independent investigators to replicate your methods and results. These skills are essential for all laboratory work. The main aim of this taught module is to familiarise students with how to work in a laboratory in a safe, scientific and efficient manner in preparation for the 6-months research project. 

HMG Research Project (Module 5), March-September 

We are currently anticipating no major changes to Module 5 (HMG Research Project) which will be provided by experienced supervisors and their research groups on campus and elsewhere between March and September 2022. Should physical access to laboratories be limited, we will provide a choice of additional state-of-the-art genomics and bioinformatics dry lab research projects and research systematic reviews. 

Assessments 

Assessments this year will be largely the same as in previous years. Anticipated changes will include that written exams may be delivered as online essay assessments (Modules 1 and 2and Data Interpretation exams (Modules 3 and 4) could also be adapted to be held onlineFormative essays set as course work during Modules 1 and 2 will provide you with detailed feedback and prepare you for these summative exam essays. All remaining assessments will be held as usual as part of coursework assessment. Should the Spring term be delivered remotely, we will also adapt the Poster presentation examination for remote delivery.  

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 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 at https://www.imperial.ac.uk/about/covid-19/students/. 

Location 

In-person activities will still be delivered at the Hammersmith campus  

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. 

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 any point that might still lack clarity. 

Thank you for choosing Imperial as the institution to undertake your postgraduate studies. We look forward to meeting and welcoming you in October! 

 

With all good wishes, 

Prof Mark Thursz & Dr Toby Andrew 

Head of Department & Programme Organiser 

MSc HMG in the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction