This is a one year (academic) full time course which, upon completion of a course of study, leads to an M.Med.Sci Degree in Assisted Reproduction Technology.
This course provides an avenue for both scientists and clinicians to enter the field of reproductive biology; and for those already familiar with this area, an opportunity to gain greater appreciation of the biological processes of mammalian reproduction that are relevant to the manipulation of fertility and the treatment of reproductive disease.
The course was established in 1993, making it the longest running taught masters in the UK providing full-time training in human ART, and aims to furnish graduates with the formal theoretical and practical training necessary within this highly specialised discipline. Designed to broaden knowledge of the underlying scientific principles and to enhance appreciation of the clinical management of infertility, it aims to encourage independent thought and a research orientated approach to the practice of assisted conception.
A major feature and strength of the course is that the primary components, in terms of reproductive physiology, research methods, clinical embryology and clinical medicine are all provided by experts who are highly active within their own areas of expertise, giving the information provided to the students an immediacy and relevance that it would be impossible to achieve using a more static and established teaching base.
The course consists of three basic components:
- Theoretical and Practical Training modules (95 Credits)
- Development of Research and Presentation skills and Observation (25 Credits)
- Research project & dissertation (60 Credits)
The taught component of the course is delivered in the Autumn and Spring semesters through a combination of lectures, practicals, seminars, tutorials and other associated activities, such as journal club and seminars.
Approximately one third of the total course duration is dedicated to the construction, preparation and investigation of a laboratory-based research project of up to 15,000 words. This is written up in thesis presentation form.
ALL applicants, especially those from a predominantly clinical background, please note:
- This is a laboratory-based, science degree course and not a clinically based infertility treatment course.
- There is no direct contact with patients or tuition in gynaecological/surgical procedures.
- That although training is given in all laboratory aspects of assisted conception (including semen evaluation, IVF, IVM, ICSI and cryopreservation) in the time available, this training can only represent an introduction to these techniques and those graduates wishing to become clinical embryologists will need further training to become competent in those highly specialised techniques.
Aims and objectives
- To encourage independent thought and a research oriented approach to the practice of assisted conception;
- To provide theoretical and practical training in Assisted Reproduction Technology;
- To provide an opportunity to research into some aspect of the practice of Assisted Reproduction Technology.
To provide successful candidates with a career path within one of the many disciplines that encompass modern assisted reproduction technology and to this end, students are taught by and given the opportunity to interact with, both full time reproductive biologists and the consultants, clinical embryologists, andrologists and counsellors that work in assisted conception.
Candidates must normally be graduates of an approved university, or other institution of higher education in medicine, nursing or the biological sciences. Normally the minimum requirement for entry is a 2(ii) degree or equivalent (as appropriate), although candidates with a third class degree may be considered at the Course Directors discretion in special circumstances. If you are not sure if you qualify, please do not hesitate to contact the Course Administrator
Candidates will be required to follow a prescribed course of study for one academic year (two 15-week semesters and summer period)
All candidates will be required to undertake a theoretical and practical training programme. Candidates will also be required to submit a dissertation of not more than 15,000 words on a topic relating to an aspect of Assisted Reproduction agreed by the Director of the Course.
English language requirements
International students whose first language is not English must achieve an appropriate level in an approved test in English before they can register.
The requirements for this course are above the University minimum standards and are as follows:
- IELTS minimum score of 6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in any element)
- University accepted equivalent qualification
Examinations should be taken within two years of registering to study at Nottingham. Completion of a previous degree studied in the English language does not exempt applicants from requiring one of the above English qualifications, unless the degree was taken in a country where the first language is English.
- An opportunity to obtain training in and perform all laboratory aspects of assisted conception (including semen evaluation, IVF, IVM, ICSI and cryopreservation) utilising human (sperm) or mammalian (mice, sheep, cattle) gametes and embryos.
- A laboratory-based, science degree course rather than a clinically-based infertility treatment course.
- No direct contact with patients or tuition in gynaecological/ surgical procedures.
- Input from other units within the Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences and Biosciences.
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, as a general rule around two thirds of the student intake are science graduates with the other thirdbeing 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, 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
- Ms Fiona Wilson, Course Administrator
- Mrs Anne Skinner, Senior Medical Technician
- Miss Nicky Farrar, 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 15,000 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 (around 30%), research project (around 30%), and examinations (40%).
There are three examinations (one True/False answer paper, one short answer paper and one long essay paper) at the end of each semester, covering material taught in that semester.
Includes experience in writing grant applications and applications to an Ethics Committee, 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.
The MMedSci (ART) offers a strictly limited number of partial scholarships amounting to £3,000 for home/EU students each year. These scholarships are awarded strictly on the basis of academic potential and financial need to students who have been made an unconditional offer. Contact the Course Administrator for further information on the application process.
The Graduate School at The University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.
International and EU students
The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.
Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2016 entry scholarships will open in late 2015. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.
The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.
Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.
The highly specialised and applied nature of this degree makes it a unique qualification for those wishing to pursue a career in the field of Assisted Reproduction.
The course is designed to equip graduates with the theoretical knowledge and practical training necessary for three main career paths:
A career in clinical embryology is perceived as a rewarding career choice both at a personal and a financial level, and thus demand is strong amongst new science graduates for trainee positions.
Various paths exist to start a career in clinical embryology which could depend on the local or national requirements in the country where the candidate is aiming to work. The normal progression is from trainee, to clinical, to senior clinical and then to a manager or consultant level in clinical embryology.
Although a Masters degree is not a requirement to start this career path, it is an enormous advantage and a number of employers prefer that you do hold one. Graduates from our M.Med.Sci. (ART) course have been exceptionally successful in going on to this career path although applicants should be aware that from 2013-2014 changes to training programmes for Clinical Embryology mean that students need to gain access to the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) for Healthcare Scientists
For the clinician, the M.Med.Sci (ART) provides the theoretical and technical basis to pursue a career in this speciality.
The primary advantage of the course for the clinician is that it provides a total view of the process of assisted conception. This is particularly important in terms of the laboratory procedures and quality assurance required to run an assisted conception unit as it clear that this aspect of ART is the primary determinant of achieving high success rates in assisted conception.
Thus the ART course is particularly useful for clinical graduates who wish to return to their country of origin and work in or establish an assisted conception unit and this career path is taken by the majority of our clinically qualified ART graduates.
Alternatively, a small but signficant number of our graduates wish to remain and practice in the UK and after obtaining the necessary qualifications to do so, the normal career path is to obtain a position in an IVF unit in which direct contact with patients and tuition in gynaecological/surgical procedures can be obtained.
A primary aim of the course is to provide graduates with the necessary skills to go on to undertake a higher research degree (PhD, MD).
Therefore a large amount of time is devoted to the development of professional, practical and transferable skills in terms of the ability to collect, analyse and present data in a scientific format. This is achieved through journal clubs, specific tutorials, essays and the third semester research project which has to be presented in written, poster and oral forms.
The development of effective communication skills is therefore a primary learning outcome and each year the module convenors and external examiners are gratified by the high standard achieved by the M.Med.Sci (ART) students when these skills are assessed at these presentations.
A small but significant number of graduates from the M.Med.Sci. (ART) course go on to do higher research degrees each year and there are often opportunities within the academic unit of Child Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology or elsewhere within the University of Nottingham to undertake these degrees.
Although the MMedSci (ART) is aimed at preparing individuals for the aforementioned career opportunities, a number of individuals have decided to use the course as a platform for alternative career paths where the theoretical and practical knowledge in ART have been a major advantage. This includes careers in industry and manufacturing, law and politics, medical and journal writing, Animal breeding and conservation centres (including zoos), transgenic core facilities, and genetic screening and diagnosis services.
See what our students say
Average starting salary and career progression
In 2014, 98% of postgraduates in the School of Medicine who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £31,261 with the highest being £75,000.*
*Known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2013/14.
Career prospects and employability
The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.
Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.