Reproductive Biology

Develop your skills for a scientific or clinical career in reproductive and developmental biology.

Award titles

Master's degree

ECTS: 90 credits
Duration: 1 year full-time
(including PG Cert)

Postgraduate Certificate

ECTS: 30 credits
Duration: 4 months full-time
(standalone course)

Key information

Start dateOctober 2022
Campus: Hammersmith
Apply nowRegister your interest

Overview

The formation of sperm and egg, the union of these at fertilisation, and the development of the new organism through pregnancy are amongst the most fascinating processes in biology.

Whether you are from a scientific or clinical background, you’ll have the opportunity to explore these processes further, gaining detailed theoretical knowledge of reproductive and developmental biology while developing academic, practical and transferable skills within a vibrant research environment.

Through lectures, workshops and seminars, you’ll be provided with an in-depth knowledge of molecular and cellular aspects of reproduction and development, focusing on the basic sciences and their application to selected clinical aspects of the subject.

You’ll have the opportunity to gain the skills and training for a further career in scientific research or in assisted reproduction.

Study programme

This course is available as a:

  • Master's degree (MSc, 12 months)
  • Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert, 4 months)

You can apply to either level in the first instance. Read more about how this works under 'Choosing your course' in the how to apply section.

Master's (MSc)

You'll embark on an integrated programme of academic learning, enabling you to gain knowledge, develop transferable and scientific skills, and join a research group to conduct a research project.  

You will have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills. Some are specifically aligned for what will be needed for the project, including:

  • Critical thinking
  • Experimental design
  • Data analysis
  • Oral and poster presentation skills
  • Team working,
  • Academic overview of your findings in the context of current knowledge

Other skills could be of use in many different settings after the MSc, including:

  • Searching and evaluating published information
  • Identification of the limits of current knowledge
  • Self-directed and autonomous working to a high standard
  • Working in groups with peers to produce positive outcomes
  • Communicating your work to a variety of audiences

Graduates from this course have a variety of next-step destinations. The most popular are taking a PhD or working in an Assisted Reproduction unit. Others have started medical school, gone into teaching, or entered careers that require the critical and numerical skills integral to this course.

Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert)

You take the core module 'Gonads to gametes'. Then you choose one additional module from either 'Eggs to embryos' or 'Bumps to babies'.

PG Cert students do not take the 'Independent research project' module.

Is this programme for you?

This course is designed to improve your theoretical knowledge of reproductive and developmental biology while gaining specific scientific skills within a vibrant research environment.

Training in IVF technologies and techniques is not a part of this course. However, past graduates have gained places on the highly competitive Scientist Training Programme that is now required for those who wish to work as embryologists within the NHS. Others have gone on to work as technicians in IVF laboratories.

Careers

The MSc in Reproductive and Developmental Biology is intended for those with a scientific, medical or veterinary background. It is planned to help you reach the next stage of your career – be that PhD positions, entry to medical school, clinical speciality training or in assisted reproduction (IVF).

With both a full-time MSc and a PG Cert on offer, you can choose the pathway most suited to you, and use the specific academic and transferable skills we give you to take the next step.

Structure 

This page reflects the latest version of the curriculum for this year of entry. However, this information is subject to change.

Find out more about the limited circumstances in which we may need to make changes to or in relation to our courses, the type of changes we may make and how we will tell you about changes we have made.

Page last reviewed on 17 November 2021.

Structure

Master's degree

You take all three core modules. Then, you will also undertake an independent research project.

Gonads to Gametes

This module explores the origins, development and function of the germ cells (eggs and sperm) and the gonads (ovary and testis), with a particular focus on how local (paracrine) and systemic (endocrine) signalling pathways regulate these important developmental processes from fetal life through to adulthood.  How disruption of these pathways can contribute to impairment of gametogenesis and gonadal function is also explored. This module also introduces students to a range of transferable skills important for careers within and beyond science, including literature searching, data collation and analysis, and dissemination of information through report writing, poster and oral scientific presentations.

Eggs to Embryos

This module starts with fertilisation, focusing on the translation of knowledge acquired from studies of mouse pre-implantation development embyros and the development of IVF and complex diagnostic and therapeutic assisted reproductive technologies. In addition, you'll explore the impact of the in vivo and in vitro environment of maturing gametes and preimplantation embryos on the health of the child and adults and the use of stem cells as in vitro models of peri- and post-implantation development and the differentiation of cell lineages is studied.

This module extends the development of transferable skills with training on summarizing, and critical analysis of, scientific literature, debating contentious topics and designing experiments.

Bumps to Babies

Explore the main events of human pregnancy, from the perspectives of the developing embryo and fetus, the placenta and the mother.  The extent of our knowledge of these topics in human pregnancy will be considered, and the limits of our knowledge will be identified.  We will also discuss the main complications of human pregnancy and development, showing how an understanding of these problems can enhance our overall knowledge of human reproduction and development.

You'll develop a critical literature review on a scientific topic, in addition to creating summaries of complicated material, targeted for a lay audience.

Independent Research Project

You'll join an active research team to conduct an independent research project in an area of your interest.

Projects usually cover a variety of topics across the breadth of reproductive and developmental biology, including gonadal development and function, stem cell biology, embryonic and placental development, and reproductive medicine.

Working full-time on the project, you will be supervised and supported by members of the group and encouraged to join in all the activities of the research group, including lab meetings and seminars.

Examples of previous research project titles are:

  • Interaction of insulin and gonadotropin signalling pathways in human granulosa cells
  • Programming gonadotrophin hormone receptor signalling within the endocytic network; mechanisms and therapeutic applications
  • Investigating the regulation of granulosa cell-specific gene expression
  • Role of TRF2 in stress response of human neural progenitor cells
  • Investigation of microbiota-associated metabolites on inflammatory pathways activation in the lower reproductive tract
  • Investigating the dynamic and spatial regulation of membrane phosphorylated phosphoinositol (PIP) lipids during peri-implantation embryo development

Postgraduate Certificate

You take the following core module:

Gonads to Gametes

This module explores the origins, development and function of the germ cells (eggs and sperm) and the gonads (ovary and testis), with a particular focus on how local (paracrine) and systemic (endocrine) signalling pathways regulate these important developmental processes from fetal life through to adulthood.  How disruption of these pathways can contribute to impairment of gametogenesis and gonadal function is also explored. This module also introduces students to a range of transferable skills important for careers within and beyond science, including literature searching, data collation and analysis, and dissemination of information through report writing, poster and oral scientific presentations.

Then, you choose one module from below.

Eggs to Embryos

This module starts with fertilisation, focusing on the following areas:

  • The translation of knowledge acquired from mouse-based studies of preimplantation development
  • The development of IVF and complex diagnostic and therapeutic assisted reproductive technologies
  • The impact of the in vivo and in vitro environment of maturing gametes and preimplantation embryos on the health of the child and adult
  • The use of stem cells as in vitro models of peri- and postimplantation development and the differentiation of cell lineages is studied

This module extends the development of transferable skills with training on summarizing, and critical analysis of, scientific literature, debating contentious topics and designing experiments.

Bumps to Babies

Explore the main events of human pregnancy, from the perspectives of the developing embryo and fetus, the placenta and the mother.  The extent of our knowledge of these topics in human pregnancy will be considered, and the limits of our knowledge will be identified.  We will also discuss the main complications of human pregnancy and development, showing how an understanding of these problems can enhance our overall knowledge of human reproduction and development.

You'll develop a critical literature review on a scientific topic, in addition to creating summaries of complicated material, targeted for a lay audience.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching

The course uses a student-led, self-directed learning approach that is designed to help you develop the skills to become an independent researcher and to manage, organise and direct your own learning.  This is achieved through a variety of teaching and learning styles, including:

  • Group discussions
  • Lectures
  • Practical workshops
  • Seminars

During your project, you will learn from the regular interactions with the other members of your group, your day-to-day supervisor and the group leader and receive feedback on your work progress.

Assessment

You'll be asssessed through a combination of formative (practice) and summative (being given a mark) assessments to help you develop the skills needed to succeed in the taught and research project components of the programme. 

The assessments are designed to be authentic, challenging your skills with scenarios and activities that you are likely to encounter in a research career.  Examples of the types of assessment used include:

  • Critical appraisals of scientific literature
  • Writing for a lay audience
  • Scientific report writing
  • Oral and poster presentations
  • Data handling and analysis
  • Experimental design and project planning.

The research project will be assessed by the production of a poster (intermediate stage), a dissertation, and a viva.

 

 

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world and consider all applicants on an individual basis.

Admissions

Minimum academic requirement

Our minimum requirement is a 2.1 degree in a biological sciences, biomedical sciences, medical or veterinary degree (MBBS medical degree or DVS veterinary degree).

International qualifications

We also accept a wide variety of international qualifications.

The academic requirement above is for applicants who hold or who are working towards a UK qualification.

For guidance see our Country Index though please note that the standards listed are the minimum for entry to the College, and not specifically this Department.

If you have any questions about admissions and the standard required for the qualification you hold or are currently studying then please contact the relevant admissions team.

English language requirement (all applicants)

All candidates must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency for admission to the College.

For admission to this course, you must achieve the standard College requirement in the appropriate English language qualification. For details of the minimum grades required to achieve this requirement, please see the English language requirements for postgraduate applicants.

How to apply

How to apply

Choosing your course

This course is divided into two progressional levels of study:

  • PG Certificate (PG Cert)
  • MSc

Each level of study has its own separate entry point; you can apply to either level in the first instance.

Read more about Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma and MSc degrees

Making an application

Apply online

All applicants must apply online.

Visit our Admissions website for details on the application process.

You can submit one application form per year of entry. You can usually choose up to two courses.

Application fee

If you are applying for a taught Master’s course, you will need to pay an application fee before submitting your application.

The fee applies per application and not per course:

  • £80 for taught Master's applications (excluding MBAs)
  • £135 for MBA applications

There is no application fee for MRes courses, Postgraduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas or research courses, such as PhDs and EngDs.

If you are facing financial hardship and are unable to pay the application fee, we encourage you to apply for our application fee waiver. 

Find out more about the application fee and waiver

ATAS certificate

An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students applying for this course.

Further questions?

Find answers to your questions about admissions. Answers cover COVID-19, English language requirements, Visas and more.

Visit the FAQs

Tuition fees and funding

The level of tuition fees you pay is based on your fee status, which we assess based on UK government legislation.

Find out more about fees and funding opportunities.

Tuition fees

Home rate of tuition

2022 entry

MSc

Full fee - £13,000
Top-up fee* - £6,500 

Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert)

Full fee - £6,500

* If you have already completed one of the above qualifications and are moving on to the next level of study, e.g. you've already completed the PG Cert and want to study the PG Dip, you will only need to pay the top-up fee for the course you’re applying for.

All applicants must apply to the PG Cert in the first instance, and pay the relevant PG Cert full fee.

If you successfully pass the PG Cert and want to progress to the next level of study (MSc), you only need to pay the top-up fee for the MSc.

The entry tuition fees listed above will apply throughout your progression through the different levels of study, though an annual inflationary increase will also be applied each year.

The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value for April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

If you choose to exit the course and then return at a later date to join the next level of study, you will pay the relevant top-up fee advertised in that year of entry. The entry tuition fees listed above will no longer apply.

Please note, it is not possible to apply for a Postgraduate Master's loan for this course, because the course you apply to in the first instance must be worth at least 90 ECTS credits. The PG Cert is worth fewer than 90 ECTS credits.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Home fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note, we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens' Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication).

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021. 

Overseas rate of tuition

2022 entry

MSc

Full fee - £37,800
Top-up fee* - £18,900 

Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert)

Full fee - £18,900

* If you have already completed one of the above qualifications and are moving on to the next level of study, e.g. you've already completed the PG Cert and want to study the PG Dip, you will only need to pay the top-up fee for the course you’re applying for.

All applicants must apply to the PG Cert in the first instance, and pay the relevant PG Cert full fee.

If you successfully pass the PG Cert and want to progress to the next level of study (MSc), you only need to pay the top-up fee for the MSc.

The entry tuition fees listed above will apply throughout your progression through the different levels of study, though an annual inflationary increase will also be applied each year.

The measure of inflation used will be the Retail Price Index (RPI) value in the April of the calendar year in which the academic session starts e.g. the RPI value for April 2022 will apply to fees for the academic year 2022–2023.

If you choose to exit the course and then return at a later date to join the next level of study, you will pay the relevant top-up fee advertised in that year of entry. The entry tuition fees listed above will no longer apply.

Please note, it is not possible to apply for a Postgraduate Master's loan for this course, because the course you apply to in the first instance must be worth at least 90 ECTS credits. The PG Cert is worth fewer than 90 ECTS credits.

Fee status

Whether you pay the Overseas fee depends on your fee status.

Your fee status is assessed based on UK Government legislation and includes things like where you live and your nationality or residency status.

Find out more about how we assess your fee status.

EU/EEA/Swiss students

EU/EEA/Swiss students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 will no longer be eligible for the Home fee rate and so will be charged the Overseas fee. Please note, we do not expect this to apply to Irish students or students benefitting from Citizens' Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens' Rights Agreement respectively. However, we are currently awaiting the formal publication of the amended Fees and Awards regulations.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website has useful information on the conditions you currently need to meet to be entitled to pay tuition fees at the Home rate for study on a higher education course in England and reflect the regulations as they currently stand (not the amended regulations which are subject to publication).

UKCISA has also provided some information in response to Questions for students starting their course from the 1 August 2021. 

Postgraduate Master's loan

If you're a UK national, or EU national with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you may be able to apply for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan from the UK government, if you meet certain criteria.

For 2020-21 entry, the maximum amount was of £11,222. The loan is not means-tested and you can choose whether to put it towards your tuition fees or living costs.

You must apply for the MSc in this course in order to be eligible for a Postgraduate Master's Loan.

Scholarships

We offer a range of scholarships for postgraduate students to support you through your studies.

See what opportunities you may be eligible for.

Accommodation and living costs

Living costs, including accommodation, are not included in your tuition fees.

You can compare costs across our different accommodation options on our Accommodation website.

A rough guide to what you might expect to spend to live in reasonable comfort in London is available on our Fees and Funding website.

Further information

Microbiome

Got a question?

Enquiries
E: reproductive.biologymsc@imperial.ac.uk

Read more about the department and our research in the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction.

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