The MSc in Reproductive Medicine: Science and Ethics is for students who wish to gain an advanced education and practical training within the context of a medical issue that affects one in six couples wishing to start a family.
This programme provides you with a deep and broad overview of the modern practice of reproductive medicine. With interactive laboratory based sessions you gain the practical, academic and research skills that are used in academia and the clinic and learn how these can be applied to the development of new therapies. This programme will be of interest to prospective researchers, clinical embryologists, clinical scientists or individuals simply interested in reproductive medicine.
The MSc is taught by world-leading academics at the University of Kent and leading industry practitioners from the London Bridge Fertility Centre.
About the School of Biosciences
The School of Biosciences is among the best-funded schools of its kind in the UK, with current support from the BBSRC, NERC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, EU, and industry. It has 36 academic staff, 56 research staff (facility managers, research fellows, postdoctoral researchers and technicians), approximately 100 postgraduate students and 20 key support staff. The school's vibrant atmosphere has expanded to become a flourishing environment to study for postgraduate degrees in a notably friendly and supportive teaching and research environment.
Research in the School of Biosciences revolves around understanding systems and processes in the living cell. It has a strong molecular focus with leading-edge activities that are synergistic with one another and complementary to the teaching provision. Our expertise in disciplines such as biochemistry, microbiology and biomedical science allows us to exploit technology and develop groundbreaking ideas in the fields of genetics, molecular biology, protein science and biophysics. Fields of enquiry encompass a range of molecular processes from cell division, transcription and translation through to molecular motors, molecular diagnostics and the production of biotherapeutics and bioenergy.
In addition to research degrees, our key research strengths underpin a range of unique and career-focused taught Master’s programmes that address key issues and challenges within the biosciences and pharmaceutical industries and prepare graduates for future employment.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Biosciences was ranked 7th for research intensity and in the top 20 in the UK for research output.
An impressive 93% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality, with 88% of this judged world-leading or internationally excellent. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development research of international excellence.
The MSc in Reproductive Medicine involves studying for 125 credits of taught modules, as indicated below. The taught component takes place during the autumn and spring terms, while a 60-credit research project take place over the summer months.
In addition to traditional scientific laboratory reports, experience is gained in a range of scientific writing styles relevant to future employment, such as literature reviews, patent applications, regulatory documents, and patient information suitable for a non-scientific readership.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
BI830 - Science at Work (30 credits)
Science has a profound influence on professional practice in the private and public sector. This module considers the ways in which different professions interact with science and scientists, and how this influences the work they do. Their interaction with the public will also be discussed. A series of speakers with diverse professional backgrounds (education, industry, government, policy making, the law, the media) will describe their work, the role of science in the profession, and the way in which science influences their actions and interactions with the public and other professions. This will relate to scientific content in a range of scientific contents, including cancer, reproductive medicine, biotechnology and healthcare. This will be illustrated by case studies presenting challenges and dilemmas concerning the communication of science in the context of different professions and their target audiences.
Themes and Topics
The nature of public understanding and public engagement
The current science communication landscape: existing schemes, government priorities, charitable organisations
Review of recent surveys on public attitudes to science, scientists attitudes to communication, and related studies in the public domain
Analysis of published science communication activities targeting different audiences
Analysis of evaluation strategies from surveys of the published literature
Case studies of science communication from practitioners in different professions: TV, science writing, media relations, politics, lobbying
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
BI836 - Practical and Applied Research Skills for Advanced Biologists (30 credits)
The module aims to develop understanding and practical skills in molecular biology, based around practical lab work, interactive seminars, practical sessions and group work. The module will involve practical sessions covering key practical and transferable skills in molecular biology and biotechnology. These will be accompanied by interactive workshops and classes that review the theory of these techniques, and will use case studies to illustrate their impact and importance in both academic and industrial settings. Students will learn skills in experimental design using appropriate case studies that will embed them within the relevant research literature. They will also gain experience of analysis and statistical interpretation of complex experimental data.
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
BI841 - The Science of Reproductive Medicine (30 credits)
The practice of reproductive medicine is underpinned by a scientific basis stretching back hundreds of years. New discoveries are being put into medical practice on a regular basis and reproductive medicine research is well known for its translational element. This module will explore the fundamentals of reproductive medicine, Obstetrics, Gynaecology, Urology, Andrology, Managing abnormal pregnancies and pre-term birth, Infectious diseases affecting reproduction, Sex determination, reproductive endocrinology, cancer and fertility, causes of infertility and Genetics. This module will be science-based, informed and led by the scientific and medical literature and modern discoveries. Specifically:
What is reproductive medicine? (Darren Griffin)
Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Urology (Laurence Shaw)
The science of Andrology (Sheryl Homa)
Managing abnormal pregnancy and premature birth (Vimal Vasu)
Infectious disease and reproductive medicine (Gary Robinson)
Sex determination (Peter Goodfellow)
Endocrinology and Reproduction (Michael Sumners)
Cancer and Reproduction (Bill Gullick/ Dan Lloyd)
The causes of infertility (Darren Griffin)
Infertility and Genetics (Darren Griffin)
Genetics and Pregnancy (Darren Griffin)
Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).
BI842 - The IVF World (15 credits)
Around 1-2% of all babies in the UK are born by IVF, with varying figures in many other countries. Internationally, reproductive medicine generally, and IVF in particular, is an area in which the UK is world-leading. This module will explore the many aspects of practical IVF (including ICSI, and PGD) and the factors that affect it. A feature of the module will be the presentation of similar issues from different perspectives e.g. that of the clinician, the counsellor and the laboratory manager.
A career as a scientist in reproductive medicine (e.g. clinical embryologist) is a popular path. Although the proposed module does not aim to address the specific goal of training prospective clinical embryologists in how to perform their operational tasks (such training is provided in-house in a highly regulated clinical environment and leads to a vocational qualification), this module will give students a realistic expectation of the likelihood of them excelling in, and enjoying this popular career path. This module will thus explore the basics of lab technique and good practice, pipette making, egg collection and in-vitro maturation, sperm assessment, insemination, ICSI, embryo grading, assisted hatching, spreading and preimplantation diagnosis. For obvious reasons embryos from non-human model species (e.g. mouse, bovine, pig) will be used. Specifically:
Referral categories for IVF (Laurence Shaw)
The IVF laboratory (Alan Thornhill)
IVF and ICSI (Alan Thornhill)
Preimplantation Diagnosis and Screening
Careers in reproductive medicine (Darren Griffin, Alan Thornhill)
Practical course (Darren Griffin, Alan Thornhill)
Credits: 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits).
BI845 - MSc Project (60 credits)
Students will undertake an independent research project that will be designed by the student, in consultation with an academic supervisor, to address specific research questions. Students will be trained in key techniques relating to the project, and will work independently under the supervisor's guidance to design and execute experiments that will address the questions formulated earlier. The students will spend approximately 14 weeks in the laboratory and with then write up their findings in the style of a scientific report for publication in a high impact factor scientific journal. They will present a poster and an oral presentation in research symposia arranged by the School.
Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).
LW867 - Reproduction and the Beginnings of Life (20 credits)
This module aims to explore legal and ethical issues in medicine relating to human reproduction and the beginning of life.
the moral status of the embryo/foetus
the regulation of pregnancy, including liability for antenatal harm
human fertilization and embryology, including embryo research, cloning, human admixed embryos (animal/human 'hybrids'), artificial gametes etc
the 'designer baby' debates and selecting the characteristics of future children via pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (including sex selection, selecting for/against disability, saviour siblings).
Credits: 20 credits (10 ECTS credits).
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is by coursework and dissertation/project.
This programme aims to:
- provide you with an academic framework to underpin a career in any area of reproductive medicine
- enable you to understand the social and professional processes by which reproductive medicine operates at a scientific, medical, social, ethical and legal level
- give you an understanding of the process of academic investigation in a range of academic disciplines relevant to reproductive medicine
- provide a stimulating, research-active environment for teaching and learning in which you are supported and motivated to achieve your academic and personal potential
- facilitate a valuable learning experience through a variety of teaching and assessment methods that will promote the assimilation, comprehension, analysis application, synthesis and evaluation of the knowledge base
- give you the experience of undertaking an independent research project or dissertation
- prepare you for further training and employment both in science and non-science based careers by developing transferable and cognitive skills
- develop the qualities needed for employment in situations requiring the exercise of professionalism, independent thought, personal responsibility and decision-making in complex and unpredictable circumstances.
- provide access to as wide a range of students as practicable.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- the scientific basis of reproductive medicine including aspects of developmental biology, infection, genetics, physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology
- the medical basis of reproductive medicine including the clinical decision making process that affects patients
- the workings of clinics and scientific laboratories that routinely practice reproductive medicine
- the social, ethical and legal mechanisms that have influenced (and continue to influence) the acquisition of scientific knowledge in the field of reproductive medicine
- the ethical context of the practice of reproductive medicine and scholarly debates surrounding it
- mechanisms by which different professions in reproductive medicine deal with complex scientific information and disseminate this information to their patients and/or audiences
- the social, political and economic impact of reproductive medicine
- the processes though which research leads to knowledge and ultimately clinical practice.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- the ability to investigate and collate information from the medical, scientific and social science literature, then analyse and synthesise it to address particular issues pertaining to reproductive medicine
- the ability to understand the range and scope of teaching and assessment methods and study skills relevant to the various academic disciplines that encompass reproductive medicine
- the ability to differentiate between points of view that lead to different lines of investigation and contribute to reproductive medicine
- the ability to present reasoned medical, scientific, legal and ethical arguments based on reflection, study and critical judgement.
- the ability to understand the needs for different modes of communication to different audiences including patients, clinicians, academics and the public
- the ability to engage in effective and intelligent discussion with people of varied training and perspectives
- an intellectual capacity and skill set that spans the disciplines of medicine, science and social sciences.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the critical faculties involved in searching and reviewing the scientific literature
- an awareness of the various techniques and processes used in the production of scientific knowledge
- basic practical competence in skills relevant to an IVF laboratory
- an ability to source and deconstruct legal arguments
- to find information on science communication from a wide range of information sources (eg journals, books, electronic databases) and maintain an effective information retrieval strategy
- an understanding and application of scholarly methods and concepts used in the critical study of science, technology and medicine
- an understanding of the role of the clinician in reproductive medicine and factors affecting the decision-making processes that lead to patient management.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- the ability to reflect on, and manage your own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your own performance and personal skills
- independence of mind and initiative
- self-discipline and self-motivation
- the ability to work in a team and have respect for others’ reasoned views
- communication: the ability to organise information clearly, create and respond to textual and visual sources (eg images, graphs, tables), present information orally, adapt your style for different audiences
- numeracy: the ability to read graphs and tables, integrate numerical and non-numerical information, understand the limits and potentialities of medical, scientific, legal and ethical disciplines
- information technology: the ability to evaluate critically and communicate effectively in a number of the following formats: written documents, email, databases, spreadsheets, PowerPoint, web sites, social networking media.
The MSc in Reproductive Medicine: Science and Ethics provides advanced research skills training within the context of diseases that affect significant proportions of the UK and global populations. With the UK being a world leader in infectious diseases research and pharmaceutical development, and Kent having a strong research focus in this area, there are significant opportunities for career progression for graduates of this programme in academia (PhD) and industry.
There are also opportunities for careers outside the laboratory in advocacy, media, public health and education.
The School is well equipped, with excellent general research laboratories, together with a range of specialised research resources including facilities for growing micro-organisms of all kinds, extensive laboratories for animal cell culture and monoclonal antibody production and an imaging suite providing high-resolution laser confocal and electron microscopy. Additionally, the macromolecular analysis facility provides resources for protein and mass spectrometry, CD and fluorescence spectroscopy, surface plasmon resonance, and HPLC and FPLC systems for all aspects of biochemical and microbiological research. Notably, the School has a new state-of-the-art Bruker Avance III four-channel 600 MHz NMR spectrometer equipped with a QCI cryoprobe. Our NMR spectrometer was upgraded to this status via an equipment research award from the Wellcome Trust.
All research students are supervised closely and are regularly monitored online using the University progression and monitoring system. All postgraduate students have access to electronic and other resources providing information regarding technical issues relevant to their degrees, as well as subject-specific and transferable skills training. All research students are allocated a Postgraduate Supervisory Team, consisting of one or more day-to-day supervisors, and one or more members not involved in day-to-day supervision whose task it is to serve as independent monitors of progress.
Students on taught programmes are assigned a personal academic tutor to provide additional support in their postgraduate study. Throughout the course, you are fully embedded in the research culture of the School by attending research seminars and careers guidance sessions, and also participating in our vibrant outreach programme within the local community. In addition to taught modules, an in-depth research project takes place during the summer under the guidance of members of academic staff. These projects benefit from our outstanding research environment and first-class facilities.
An active school
Every week, Biosciences runs school seminars where external guest speakers or staff, talk about recent research. In addition, the department runs FIREBio (Forum for Innovation, Research and Enterprise in Biosciences), which is a weekly informal meeting for staff, postdocs and postgraduates involving short presentations and discussions. Postgraduates can use the opportunity to present unpublished research findings and discuss them in a supportive environment.
Staff in the School of Biosciences not only collaborate extensively with other universities in the UK (Cambridge, Cardiff, King’s College London, University College London, Newcastle, Oxford, Sussex, York, Manchester, Durham and Sheffield), but also have a wide-ranging network across the world with institutes including: the Boston Biomedical Research Institute; University of Hanover; Monash University Melbourne; Harvard; University of California, Davis; Université Claude Bernard – Lyon 1; Goethe-Universität Frankfurt; University of Queensland, Australia; University of Utah; Texas A&M University; and Braunschweig University of Technology. We also collaborate with organisations such as the Marie Curie Research Institute, Cancer Research UK, National Institute for Medical Research, MRC London, GlaxoSmithKline and the European Union Framework 5 CYTONET.
The School currently receives funding from: BBSRC; Biochemical Society; British Heart Foundation; E B Charitable Hutchinson Trust; the EC; EPSRC; Kent Cancer Trust;The Leverhulme Trust; National Institutes of Health (USA); Nuffield Foundation; Royal Society; Wellcome Trust. It also receives funding on specific projects from a number of industrial organisations and collaborators.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Nature Chemical Biology; Journal of Biological Chemistry; Cell; Molecular Cell; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA; PLOS One; and Journal of Cell Science.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
A First class or 2:1 degree in a subject related to biosciences, or a medical degree.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
Please see our entry requirements by country.
English language entry requirements
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Research in the School of Biosciences is focused primarily on essential biological processes at the molecular and cellular level, encompassing the disciplines of biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology and biomedical research.
The School’s research has three main themes:
- Protein Science – encompasses researchers involved in industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology, and protein form and function
- Molecular Microbiology – encompasses researchers interested in yeast molecular biology (incorporating the Kent Fungal Group) and microbial pathogenesis
- Biomolecular Medicine – encompasses researchers involved in cell biology, cancer targets and therapies and cytogenomics and bioinformatics.
Each area is led by a senior professor and underpinned by excellent research facilities. The School-led development of the Industrial Biotechnology Centre (IBC), with staff from the other four other schools in the Faculty of Sciences, facilitates and encourages interdisciplinary projects. The School has a strong commitment to translational research, impact and industrial application with a substantial portfolio of enterprise activity and expertise.
Kent Fungal Group
The Kent Fungal Group (KFG) brings together a number of research groups in the School of Biosciences that primarily use yeasts or other fungi as ‘model systems’ for their research. One strength of the KFG is the range of model fungi being exploited for both fundamental and medical/translational research. These include Bakers’ yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and Fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) and yeasts associated with human disease, specifically Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans.
In addition to studying key cellular processes in the fungal cell such as protein synthesis, amyloids and cell division, members of the KFG are also using yeast to explore the molecular basis of human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as ageing. The KFG not only provides support for both fundamental and medical/translational fungal research, but also provides an excellent training environment for young fungal researchers.
Industrial Biotechnology Centre
The School houses one of the University’s flagship research centres – the Industrial Biotechnology Centre (IBC). Here, staff from Biosciences, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Computing and Engineering combine their expertise into a pioneering interdisciplinary biosciences programme at Kent, in order to unlock the secrets of some of the essential life processes. These approaches are leading to a more integrated understanding of biology in health and disease. In the Centre, ideas and technology embodied in different disciplines are being employed in some of the remaining challenges in bioscience. With such an approach, new discoveries and creative ideas are generated through the formation of new collaborative teams. In this environment, the Centre is broadening and enriching the training of students and staff in science and technology.
The Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Reproduction (CISoR)
The centre comprises several like-minded academics dedicated to the study of reproduction in all its forms. Drawing on a range of academic disciplines, CISoR's core philosophy is that the study of this fascinating field will advance further through a multidisciplinary approach. Impactful, excellent research forms the basis of CISoR’s activities including scientific advance, new products and processes, contribution to public policy, and public engagement.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Anthony Baines: Reader in Molecular Cell Biology
The proteins of the membrane-associated cytoskeleton, in particular the protein spectrin; the role of spectrin and protein 4.1 in acute heart failure.Profile
Dr Ian Blomfield: Senior Lecturer in Molecular Microbiology
Professor David Brown: Professor of Structural Biology
Dr Alessia Buscaino: Lecturer in Fungal Epigenetics
Genetics and epigenetics of repetitive DNA domains.Profile
Professor Michael Geeves: Professor of Physical Biochemistry
How the mechanochemistry of the myosin motor domain is tuned to produce widely differing activities and how the motor activity is regulated.Profile
Dr Campbell Gourlay: Senior Lecturer in Cell Biology
Investigating the role that the actin cytoskeleton and its regulation plays in cell homeostasis and mitochondrial function, with emphasis on the mechanisms of ageing and apoptosis.Profile
Professor Darren Griffin: Professor of Genetics
The cytogenetic basis of male infertility, in particular the role of genetic recombination and changes in genome organisation; chromosomes in early human development and the application for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; comparative genomics and genome evolution in avian species.Profile
Dr Emma Hargreaves: Leverhulme Research Fellow
Using a cross-disciplinary approach to unravel the biology underpinning the functional (dys)regulation of translation initiation factor levels in malignant transformation; the development of systems biology models of translation initiation that have the potential to inform cell line engineering/screening strategies to enhance recombinant protein yields in the biotherapeutic industry.Profile
Dr Dan Lloyd: Reader in Pharmacology
Cellular responses to DNA damage, with particular emphasis on the repair of DNA damage in human cells induced by environmental and clinical agents; novel radiopharmaceuticals used in the imaging treatment of cancer.Profile
Professor Martin Michaelis: Professor of Cell Biology
The investigation of anti-cancer drugs in chemoresistant cancer cells; the influence of chemoresistance development on cancer cell biology.Profile
Dr Dan Mulvihill: Reader in Cell and Molecular Biology
The characterisation of myosins from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which have been implicated in diverse roles in its life cycle; characterising enzymatic properties of these myosins and correlating these with established in vivo assays.Profile
Dr Pauline Phelan: Senior Lecturer in Cell Biology
Gap junctions in nervous and immune systems; assembly, regulation and functions of innexin-based junctions.Profile
Professor Colin Robinson: Professor in Biotechnology
Mechanisms of protein transport across biological membranes; the twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system in bacteria and chloroplasts; protein sorting in cyanobacteria.Profile
Dr Gary Robinson: Senior Lecturer in Microbial Technology
The use of micro-organisms for biotransformations and bioremediation; microbial communication in host-pathogen interactions.Profile
Dr Jeremy Rossman: Lecturer in Virology
The role of morphology on the influenza virus lifecycle and pathogenesis.Profile
Dr Mark Shepherd: Lecturer in Microbial Biochemistry
Biosynthesis of haem; the structure/function of bacterial globin proteins; resistance mechanisms of bacterial pathogens to nitric oxide; disulphide folding; the use of haem precursors and derivatives as novel antimicrobials.Profile
Professor Mark Smales: Professor of Mammalian Cell Biotechnology
Protein and cell biotechnology; animal cell engineering; proteomics and protein bioprocessing.Profile
Dr A. Tsaousis: Lecturer in Molecular and Evolutionary Parasitology
Understanding the role and evolution of mitochondria in eukaryotic parasites.Profile
Professor Mick Tuite: Professor of Molecular Biology
The mechanism and control of translation in yeast; yeast prion proteins; molecular chaperones.Profile
Dr Tobias von der Haar: Senior Lecturer in Systems Biology
How the protein synthesis apparatus is regulated in cells and how it can achieve synthesis of exactly the right proteome for the right occasion.Profile
Professor Martin Warren: Professor of Biochemistry
Metabolic and genetic engineering; protein structure and function; biosynthesis of natural products including vitamins, cofactors and prosthetic groups.Profile
Dr Mark Wass: Lecturer in Computational Biology
The use of structural bioinformatics tools to analyse genetic variation and the functional effects that they may have in disease.Profile
Dr Richard Williamson: Senior Lecturer in Protein Biochemistry
The structure and function of proteins that play key biological roles within the body or that are known to be important in human disease; protein folding.Profile
Dr Wei-Feng Xue: Senior Lecturer in Chemical Biology
Investigation of the structure, the assembly mechanism, the biological and disease-associated properties, and the physiochemical properties of forms of protein known as amyloid.Profile
Dr Peter Ellis: Lecturer in Molecular Biology and Reproduction
Reproductive functions in models of infertility, genes on the mouse Y chromosome and their roles in spermatogenesis and in genome evolution.Profile
Dr Ben Goult: Lecturer in Biochemistry
- Cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion complexes, FERM domains
- Structural Biology: NMR Spectroscopy, X-Ray Crystallography and Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS)
Professor M.D. Garrett: Professor of Cancer Therapeutics
Research is focussed on cell signalling and cell division, and how these cellular processes can be targeted for the treatment of cancer.Profile
Dr N.M. Kad: Lecturer in Molecular Biophysics
Key research areas are:
- DNA repair
- Single Molecule Biophysics
- Muscle Contractility
- Amyloid disease and inhibition
- Molecular Motors
Dr J.M.A. Tullet: Lecturer
Current, key research topics include;
- Understanding the roles of transcription factors in the regulation of ageing.
- Deciphering the relationship between diet and lifespan.
- Examining the role of energy balance in regulating lifespan.
Enquire or order a prospectus
MSc Reproductive Medicine:Science and Ethics
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The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Reproductive Medicine:Science and Ethics - MSc at Canterbury:|
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact email@example.com