MSc Reproductive and Developmental Medicine course structure information

Reproductive and developmental medicine is a wide-ranging discipline concerned with the biological, veterinary, medical and social problems associated with fertility, pregnancy, prenatal development and parturition. Understanding the science behind these reproductive processes is key to diagnosing and developing effective fertility treatments in humans and other animals.

Our MSc course has been designed to cover a breadth of reproductive processes from the genesis of sperm and eggs through to fetal development and labour. The course is structured to provide general as well as subject-specific scientific training in these topics, and to provide clinical and social perspectives in the treatment of infertility.

The first half of the programme consists of six taught modules that run through to March.

The second half of the programme from March to September encompasses the research project module. Completion of all seven modules are core to requirements for the MSc.

Research Skills in Reproductive Medicine

(15 credits)

This unit provides general and subject-specific training in research and careers skills. The unit will be run over the first six months of the MSc programme (taught component), where initially, a range of core topics, for example understanding what is plagiarism and selection of appropriate research methods, will be introduced to support the development of effective research and communication skills. Students then have the option of selecting from a range of analytical methods (primary methods such as lab-based work or secondary methods such meta-analysis and systematic review). The unit will be assessed using three-minute thesis-style presentations and the production of a portfolio incorporating reflective practice over the module.

Fundamentals of Reproduction: Gonads to Gametes

(15 credits)

This module has been designed to provide an introduction to the course by covering fundamentals of reproductive biology. It will explain how sex determination is initially defined from the genetics of a single cell and how this evolves into two distinct individuals with phenotypes that culminate in the propagation of male and female gametes. A contextual framework of foundation principles will be enhanced by state-of-the-art scientific and special-interest research seminars, which will serve to underpin many of the clinical aspects introduced in subsequent modules of the course.

Fertilisation, Implantation and Embryology

(15 credits)

This module provides students with a comprehensive knowledge of pivotal physiological events around conception using a blend of lectures, seminars and practical sessions. It will cover a chronology of processes relevant to mammalian physiology from pre-fertilisation through to implantation and embryonic development. The mechanisms by which the maternal environment influences development and fertility will be emphasized. Knowledge of these processes will be used to inform students about the clinical implications in humans and domestic species, and also the societal impact of these technologies.

Fetal Development, Pregnancy and Parturition

(15 credits)

This module is designed to provide students with knowledge of the biochemistry, physiology and pathology of human pregnancy, fetal development, and parturition. Lectures will cover a recap of implantation, and provide details of the maternal biochemical and physiological changes associated with pregnancy, birth and the puerperium, and will give an overview of key processes during fetal development. Disorders of pregnancy, fetal development, labour and delivery will be taught, and emphasis will be placed on the commoner clinical problems and their solutions. Various clinical sequalae associated with pregnancy will be introduced and broad range of clinical and underpinning scientific scenarios will be covered.

Reproductive Medicine and Assisted Conception

(15 credits)

This module will provide a broad overview of clinical and laboratory aspects of human reproduction within the context of the clinical management of male and female infertility. In addition, the module will cover the essential aspects of assisted conception treatment. Essential skills required for appraisal and assessment of the research literature in relation to topics relevant to reproductive medicine and assisted conception will also be provided.

Law, Ethics and Policy in Reproductive Medicine

(15 credits)

This module will give an overview of basic legal and ethical principles relevant to reproductive medicine. This will consider primarily the Abortion Act (1967), the Warnock Report (1978) The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Acts of (1990) and (2008) and the EU Tissues and Cells Directive (2004). However, comparisons with other legal frameworks around the world will be made with regard to how they deal differently with aspects of IVF, donation, gamete and embryo cryopreservation, sex selection, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and surrogacy. Basic ethical principles will be examined, including the Declaration of Helsinki and the role ethics committees and research governance plays in overseeing research using human subjects and embryos.

(90 credits)

The aim of this module is to provide the opportunity to learn and apply research methods to test a specific scientific hypothesis and to develop good laboratory technique in appropriate methods and good, safe, professional laboratory behaviour. A list of projects will be made available and students will be asked to select their top choices. Having being assigned a project of their choice, the students will carry out a 25-week research project and will present a poster of their preliminary findings around the half way mark. Upon completion of the project, the student will submit a dissertation and reflections of their research for assessment, which will also form the basis for an oral examination. Students will also be expected to attend and actively contribute to unit seminars, research group and supervisor meetings to learn and experience the day-to-day role of a scientific researcher.


See full course information in our Prospectus

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 13 January 2020


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