Dr Peter Marsters, School of Medicine
The MMedSci in Assisted Reproduction Technology is taught on a full-time basis over one academic year (October to September).
The course content deliberately integrates – through lectures and practical sessions – the theoretical basis of mammalian reproductive physiology with its foundations in the field of human assisted conception research. Much of the emphasis of the practical work concentrates on the manipulation of mammalian gametes and embryos.
The M.Med.Sci in ART is the longest running taught Masters in the UK providing full-time training in ART and since it began in 1993, the course has produced hundreds of graduates who have gone on to establish successful careers in this discipline.
Why was the course created?
There are, worldwide, a large number of clinics, centres and practitioners offering Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) to infertile couples.
As the discipline has developed the need for treatment of certain causes of infertility has required practitioners to become specialised in many associated disciplines, such as techniques of cell culture, embryology, andrology, endocrinology, immunology, infertility, gynaecology and specialised laboratory practice.
Research and therapeutic procedures involving human subjects and human material are very much in the public eye and practitioners also require a commitment to ethical debate and familiarity with the regulatory bodies, such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) within the UK, that have been set up to oversee this discipline.
The growth of ART also means that there continues to be a growing demand for trainees and practitioners in this discipline. Clinical embryology, in particular, is perceived as both a personally and financially rewarding career choice (see Careers and testimonials), and thus demand is strong amongst new graduates for trainee positions.
The M.Med.Sci. in ART course therefore answers the real need of providing a theoretical and practical background for potential practitioners in this area with a view to improving the quality of both clinical practice and research in reproductive medicine.
The course intake is limited to 36 students per year due to the need to provide personalised tuition during practical classes.
Although the details of the course intake vary slightly from year to year, generally around two thirds of the student intake are science graduates with the other third being clinically trained. Similarly, around half the student intake are home/EU whereas the other half are international with students coming from all over the world.
Since 1993, we have had students coming from over 40 different countries.
See where our students come from
The majority of the lecture and practical courses are given by members of the School of Medicine, Division of Child Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology within the Queens Medical Centre (QMC) although there is also a substantial input from the School of Biosciences, based at the Sutton Bonington campus 12 miles to the south of the city.
Course staff and contributors
- Professor Bruce K Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Reproductive Physiology
- Dr Peter Marsters, Assistant Professor in Molecular Cell Biology
- Dr Walid Maalouf, Assistant Professor in Embryology
- Dr Ioannis Sfontouris, Assistant Professor in Clinical Embryology
- Mr Kannamannadiar Jayaprakasan, Director, Derby Fertility Centre
- Mr Nick Raine-Fenning, Clinical Associate Professor & Reader in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery
- Professor Kevin Sinclair, Professor of Developmental Biology, School of Biosciences, Faculty of Science
- Mrs Anne Skinner, Senior Medical Technician
- Mrs Nicky Baker, Technician
- Dr Mathew Tomlinson Consultant Scientist/Head of NHS Andrology laboratory, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, Queen’s Campus.
- Dr Ian Todd, Associate Professor and Reader in Cellular Immunopathology, School of Molecular Medical Sciences
- Dr Ramiro Alberio, Lecturer in Developmental Epigenetics, School of Biosciences, Faculty of Science
- Dr George Mann, Associate Professor and Reader in Reproductive Endocrinology, School of Biosciences, Faculty of Science
- Dr Lisa Szatkowski, Associate Professor in Medical Statistics
Within the QMC are a dedicated and fully equipped teaching laboratory, lecture theatre and student common room with computers, wifi, and a small kitchen/seating area. The course is located within the Division of Child Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology where there are many active research labs where students could work during the projects.
Research project and dissertation
During the summer period each student will undertake a research project which will be presented for assessment at the end of the year as a written dissertation of no more than 10,000 words
You will complete your project on an individual basis with the guidance, supervision and direction of a designated project supervisor from within the science and medical departments of the University.
A number of specific projects will be offered each year but you are encouraged to devise your own topic.
Previous projects have resulted in presentation as scientific papers.
Examples of the types of projects that have been undertaken include:
- The effect of osmotic stress on mouse embryos
- Role of three dimensional power Doppler ultrasound as a predictor of poor ovarian response in Assisted Reproduction Treatment
- The effects of Methotrexate during in vitro culture on embryo development and DNA methylation in Bovine blastocysts
- Validation of manual & automated cryopreservation procedures of human spermatozoa
- Follicular fluid compositions as an indicator of oocyte quality defined by post-fertilisation development potential
- Functional studies to help elucidate the role of substance P in the production of steroids in follicular somatic cells
- An investigation of the effects of monosaccharides on reproduction
- The impact of smoking, body mass index and alcohol consumption on IVF outcomes
The overall degree is assessed by the student's performance in coursework, research project and examinations.
There is an examination per taught module at the end of each semester, covering material taught in that semester. This will consist of 2 x 2 hour short answer/short essay papers per semester.
Includes experience in writing a series of essays, practical reports, oral presentations, journal clubs as well as the research projects.
Degree classes and diploma
The M.Med.Sci.(ART) is awarded to students who sucessfully complete the entire course and is awarded at three levels:
(i) Pass: an overall mark between 50-59%;
(ii) Merit: an overall mark between 60-69% in both the taught and research dissertation components of the course;
(iii) Distinction: an overall mark of greater than 70% in both the taught and research dissertation components of the course.
Postgraduate Masters, Diploma and Certificates will be awarded with Merit to students who achieve a final credit-weighted mark of at least 60% and with Distinction to students who achieve a final credit-weighted mark of at least 70%. The borderline threshold for Distinction will be 68%; for merit it will be 58%. Where the final credit-weighted mark falls on a borderline, the higher award classification will be awarded where the candidate has half or more of all credits in the higher classification.
A student will only receive a Masters award if they have successfully completed both the taught and dissertation/project stages of their course. A student who does not successfully complete the dissertation/project stage will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate if they have gained a pass mark of 50% or more in modules worth 120 credits (60 credits for the Postgraduate Certificate), or satisfy the requirements of Regulations 10 and 11 unless PSRB or local government regulations preclude this. For the purposes of award of the Postgraduate Diploma the dissertation mark will count.