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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MEDM3221 Reproductive Medical Science

20 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr John Huntriss

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is mutually exclusive with

MEDM3221Reproductive Medical Science

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Reproductive Medical Science (RMS) provides a broad overview of the history, present context and future prospects for research-led intervention in human reproduction. It will include basic reproductive biology (gamete biology, fertilisation, embryology, implantation, placentation and gestation) and more advanced aspects of molecular and cellular developmental biology with consideration of the associated molecular genetics and epigenetics including preimplantation screening and diagnosis and corrective gene therapy. The module will look at the causes of infertility then cover key aspects of Assisted Reproduction Technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) that are used to treat it alongside the scientific, technical and ethical foundations on which ART depends. The module will also cover key aspects of stem cell biology, cloning and related reproductive technologies. Lastly, some of the ethical challenges that arise by virtue of the use of ART and reproductive technologies will be discussed.


• To discuss developmental aspects of reproductive biology and the stages of development and cell types that are relevant in reproductive science (gametes, embryos, stem cells) in particular looking at cellular, molecular, genetic and epigenetic aspects.
• To understand the methods, application and importance of ARTs in the management and treatment of human infertility.
• To appreciate the rapid and expanding development of Assisted Reproduction Technologies for the treatment of infertility
• To obtain a detailed understanding of how basic research and development in human reproductive function translates into new treatment modalities.
• To consider the potential offered by ART for bypassing or ameliorating life-threatening conditions (e.g by preimplantation genetic testing).
• To demonstrate the utility of stem cell and cloning technologies and their relevance to the study of human reproduction and early development.
• To discuss ethical challenges posed by ART and reproductive technologies.

Learning outcomes
At the end of this module, students should:
1 Be cognisant of the key fundamentals of early mammalian development and embryology including some more common (human) developmental disorders.
2 Demonstrate solid understanding of gametogenesis (male and female) and the gene imprinting cycle (alongside general epigenetics).
3 Be cognisant of early human development from zygote formation to birth via placentation and gestation.
4 Critically assess the latest advances in molecular reproduction and genetics.
5 Appraise the various aspects of ART and how they are employed to overcome infertility.
6 Critically evaluate the differences between pre-implantation and prenatal screening and diagnosis and be able to discuss their role and relevance in modern ART practice.
7 Analyse the legal limitations and restrictions in the use of ART in the UK (HFEA regulatory approvals etc). What about other countries?
8 Reflect upon and evaluate the ethical controversies arising from ART and the continuing debate on their resolution (saviour siblings, stem cell research, gene therapy etc).

Skills outcomes
Fundamental theoretical knowledge providing foundation for career paths or further study in Assisted Reproduction Technologies.


• Part 1 (lectures 1-6 and tutorial 1). Reproductive biology: Reproductive Anatomy, Reproductive Physiology. Gametogenesis. Fertilisation Essential aspects of early embryonic development. Cellular, molecular, genetic and epigenetic aspects are a focus here. Genes that are important in these processes.

• Part 2 (lectures 7-8 and tutorial 2). Implantation, gestation and placentation and in humans and other mammals.

• Part 3 (lectures 9-12 and tutorial 3). Infertility and its causes. Andrology. History, evolution and use of assisted reproduction technologies (ART) in the management of infertility (IVF, ICSI). Preimplantation Genetic Testing

• Part 4 (lectures 13-14 and tutorial* 4). Stem Cells, Regenerative and Reproductive cloning and associated methods and their applications.

• Part 5 (lectures 15-16 and tutorial* 4). Legal and ethical implications of ART and related reproductive technologies.*Tutorial 4 will cover Part 4 and Part 5.

• Demonstration: In addition, there will be a two hour demonstration session on the observation, morphology and quality assessment of mammalian embryos and sperm. These are methods that are routinely used in ART clinics. This will be delivered on screen and/or computer. The sessions will be interactive.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours40.00
Private study hours138.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

In addition to the lectures and tutorials, students will be expected to use online resources (based on Minerva) to augment and enrich their learning experience and will work under their own direction in this regard. These will include lecture capture, and relevant online learning resources. Further private study will be expected using recommended texts, reviews papers and other resources and for revision purposes.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be monitored through participation in interactive tutorials and group learning sessions that include discussion of key papers in reproductive science.

As coursework is set by and involves detailed interaction with faculty members, student progress will be fully and dynamically monitored. Discussion groups on the VLE will provide evidence of student activity.

Coursework will require in dividual students being assigned to a tutor, who will provide independent written formative feedback on draft assignments.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Literature Review2500-3000 words20.00
Oral Presentationoral presentation on literature review10.00
Practical Report2 practical write ups0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

Practical writes up are a pass or fail exercise.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 30 mins70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Compensation applies i.e. students need 40% overall for a pass grade with no requirement to achieve a pass grade for component parts.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:23:42


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