Introduction

A Masters degree delivered by a dedicated and active research team of developmental and reproductive biologists and clinicians, allowing a truly research-led teaching experience for students.

This programme is studied on campus.

Infertility and other reproductive biology issues are increasing in the UK and the call for more expertise in the subject to help understand these conditions is needed.

This MSc programme aims to provide advanced knowledge in reproductive biology and developmental biology and their relevance to health professionals. Focused on humans, and using animal models as well, you will be equipped with knowledge and skills involved in embryonic and foetal development and health; prenatal diagnosis and management of pregnancy; in vitro fertilisation; use of genomic technologies to understand gene function and identify disease causing gene mutations; role of stem cells in development and potential stem cell and gene therapy strategies to tackle congenital defects.

In addition, the programme provides laboratory based research projects in developmental and/or reproductive biology. Upon completion, you will have a thorough understanding of the key concepts of reproductive and developmental biology including the latest state-of-the-art tools to study these processes. You will be equipped for professions allied to medicine as well as research careers.

Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MSc
Duration
12 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September

What You'll Study

Students will take a series of compulsory courses giving information on:

  • Principles of reproductive biology, which includes understanding fertility, infertility and treatments.
  • Applied developmental biology which includes exposure to advanced imaging methods, tools for understanding gene function, understanding birth defects and diagnosis.
  • Genetics, bioinformatics and genome-enable medicine which includes genomic editing technologies.
  • Research-led tutorials providing critical analysis of the latest research in reproductive and developmental biology.

Students will also have the option to select courses of their own to further develop/expand their interests for example statistics, drug metabolism and toxicology and issues in healthcare science.

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Basic Skills - Induction (MT5010)

This course is designed to provide or revise the basic skills you will require for your MSc. The course will revise basic laboratory skills and techniques and advance these to a level required to undertake graduate practical classes and projects by developing hands-on experience, competence and confidence in key laboratory skills.

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Bioinformatics (MB5021) - 15 Credit Points

A course containing a series of lectures describing 'latest-methods and discoveries' in areas of bioinformatics and functional genomics including transcriptomics, proteomics, and DNA sequence analysis

Contains an extended research practical; you carry out computer analysis of transcriptome datasets to understand how cells respond to starvation stress, and write up in research paper format.

Contains a series of in-depth workshops that teach the principles and practice of DNA and protein sequence analysis.

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Applied Statistics (PU5017) - 15 Credit Points

This course intends to develop the student's awareness of the fact that statistical techniques are integral to scientific research. Researchers must be able to specify a precise research question in statistical terms and then select an appropriate study design in order to carry out an effective research project. They must also be able to assess the adequacy of the research presented in scientific or medical literature. The same skills are also required for many MSc dissertation projects.

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Principles of Reproductive Biology (MB5026) - 15 Credit Points

This course will provide an interdisciplinary approach to understand normal and abnormal human reproduction, fertility and pregnancy. Assisted reproductive technologies and the surrounding ethical issues will be covered in detail. All students will have the opportunity to visit and experience the day-to-day running of the Aberdeen Fertility Centre.

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Study Skills for Life (GS50M2)

This course gives students the opportunity to develop the transferable skills required to both complete their degree programme and progress in their future career. The course provides guides and workshops on a variety of skills, including literature appraisal, academic integrity, writing, presentations, note taking and time management. It provides online resources for developing IT and numeracy skills, and acts as a resource for advertising development opportunities both within and outside the university.

The course strongly relies on self-reflection and identification of opportunities by the students to use the support sessions and online resources available. Although completion of the course itself is compulsory the majority of the course sessions offered are optional, and support is given to the students to help them identify what they most need to work on. Completion of the course is achieved through formative assignments.

This course is the first of two courses relating to cross-discipline skills development that is compulsory for all taught postgraduate students in the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition.

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Optional Courses

Drug Metabolism & Toxicology (MT5003) - 15 Credit Points

This course provides advanced level learning in drug metabolism, discovery and development. It includes the importance of drug transporters in the drug discovery process, regulatory issues and molecular toxicology and pharmacology at an advanced level. Mechanisms of drug-induced and oxidative stress and immunopharmacology are described. External experts are invited to provide their unique expertise on a range of topics which can include toxicopathology, immunotoxicology, risk assessment and an industrial perspective on the drug discovery process.

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Molecular Genetics (MB5025) - 15 Credit Points

Series of lectures covering fundamental topics such as RNA (coding, non-coding transcription), DNA –protein interactions (e.g. chromatin, transcription factors), 3D structure of chromosomes and regulation of gene activity) as well as on genome structure/genetic mapping and advanced analytical methods such as CRISPR and genome editing technology. Lectures are complemented by tutorials and workshops covering related topics.

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Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Research Tutorials (MB5518) - 15 Credit Points

A course that leads you through research-level study of your subject through study of a range of areas of the science literature

An introduction to the subject of your summer research project through the writing of an extended essay on the subject of your forthcoming research project.

The course provides an opportunity to study advanced science concepts led by an experienced member of academic staff.

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Basic Research Methods (MT5515) - 15 Credit Points

This course reviews a range of essential methodologies that are currently used in medical research from molecular technologies to human studies. Experts in the various techniques will describe the fundamentals of the methodology and show how they can be applied.

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Applied Developmental Biology (MB5524) - 15 Credit Points

This course will provide a thorough understanding of the mechanisms regulating embryonic and fetal development. Factors influencing normal and abnormal development, including, genes and the environment, will be discussed. The impact of developmental biology upon reproductive and regenerative medicine, including stem cells, cloning, gene editing and genetic manipulation technologies, as well as the ethical considerations, will be evaluated.

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Beyond Your Degree (GS55M2)

This course gives students the opportunity to develop the skills needed to progress in their degree programme and beyond into their chosen career. It focuses on the job application process, the support available from the university both during and after their degree, and the skills that apply to undertaking projects. Sessions include an introduction to the careers service, CV, cover letter and interview skills, workplace professionalism and managing projects. Online resources are provided to support transferable skill development.

The course strongly relies on self-assessment and identification of opportunities by the students to use the support sessions and online resources available. Although completion of the course is compulsory, most of the course sessions offered are optional, and completion of the course is achieved through formative assignments.

This course is the second of two courses relating to generic skills that are compulsory for all taught postgraduate students in the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Genome - Enabled Medicine (MB5517) - 15 Credit Points

A course describing the wide range of ways in which genome sequencing has transformed our understanding of medicine and human disease

A course placing a high value on its teaching and learning; all lecture material supported by workshops – your chance to team-work, ask questions and enjoy the science.

Contains a material detailing a range of examples of genome science and its applications in medicine, ranging from the human genome (genome-wide association studies) to microbial (pathogen genome sequencing).

A course that makes wide use of the literature, allowing you to read about and understand the latest methods in genome science

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Human Genetics (MB5523) - 15 Credit Points

Human genetics has undergone a revolution over the last decade, driven by technological innovations that have given us an unprecedented insight into the genetic diversity of our species. This course will explore how this information is used to determine the role of genetic variation in human health and disease.

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Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Masters Research Project (MB5902) - 60 Credit Points

The topic of the project will be subject and supervisor dependant.

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Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

The teaching on this programme is lecture based with self-directed learning, practical classes and tutorials to support the lecture material.

The MSc makes the most of hands-on learning to enable repeated exposure to evidence-based practice using real life examples. Some of the teaching methods employed in the programme include:

  • Inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary learning
  • Exposure to leading academic and industry experts
  • Research-led teaching taught by key opinion leaders
  • Insight into real-life situations and examples

On-going support is provided by the University’s dedicated, interdisciplinary team of experienced researchers, who will be tutoring you. Peer support will develop throughout the course(s) as engagement with students from other countries and disciplines is actively encouraged.

Much of the teaching on this course is participatory and you are expected to consolidate all taught content by completing related tasks and activities and engaging in independent study in your own time.

Learning Methods

  • Clinical Learning
  • E-learning
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Peer Learning
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

Assessment Methods

Taught courses are assessed by a combination of written assignments and reports, oral presentations, and by examination. All students undertake a research project, which is submitted for assessment in the form of a short research thesis. Students also present an oral presentation on their project.

Why Study Reproductive and Developmental Biology?

  • The combination of expertise of our research active staff and clinicians, together with the facilities available at the adjacent Aberdeen Fertility Centre (part of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary) make Aberdeen a centre of excellence in reproductive and developmental biology.
  • Teaching staff includes clinical staff with nationally recognised expertise in reproductive biology and fertility issues.
  • You will have the opportunity to undertake a comprehensive research project supervised by an established developmental and/or reproductive biology researcher. 
  • This Masters programme uniquely integrates elements of reproductive and developmental biology in the context of reproductive health issues and therapies.
  • You will benefit from being on a campus with the Aberdeen Fertility Centre and have the opportunity of gaining direct experience of fertility therapies, including IVF, within the Unit. 
  • You will be equipped for career destinations in Reproductive and Developmental Biology in industry and academia.
  • The programme is run from our Foresterhill Health Campus which includes a large teaching hospital, Institute of Medical Sciences and the Medical School.
  • You will benefit from skills training to help with scientific writing, analytical skills, CV writing, interview skills and reading scientific literature.
  • Our small class sizes give you the opportunity to participate in class discussions and to have good access to the teaching staff.
  • The University of Aberdeen is a World Top 160 University (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019)
  • The University of Aberdeen is a Top 30 UK University, Complete University Guide 2020
  • 85% of all research submissions were rated as "outstanding" or "very considerable" for impact

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Upper Second Class Honours degree (2.1 or above) (or equivalent) in a Biological or Molecular sciences discipline. Other degree classes (2:2 is a minimum) and subjects may be considered as long as the applicant demonstrates experience in biological subjects. Please check the In My Country pages to find out if your degree is equivalent.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

CV
an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £6,700
Tuition Fees for 2019/20 Academic Year
International Students £20,000
Tuition Fees for 2019/20 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities

The SFC Postgraduate tuition fee scholarship may be available for those classified as Home/EU fee status students for this programme. Visit the scholarship page for more information.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Careers

The MSc Reproductive and Developmental Biology Programme will provide you with the academic, analytical and practical skills to assist you into many careers.

Many of our graduates choose to continue in research careers and begin PhDs or become research scientists (research assistants or technicians). Our scientists have obtained posts in Universities, industry (including research and development), biotechnology and professions allied to medicine including hospital diagnostic (including IVF) and pathology laboratories.

More generally, reproductive and developmental biologists can use their training in education, working in schools, colleges of further education and in Universities. Further opportunities are available to apply reproductive and developmental biology training in scientific publishing, in patent offices working on biological patents, in science outreach and contributing to the public understanding of reproductive and developmental biology issues, including ethical issues like cloning and genomic editing.

The Aberdeen Fertility Centre

Students will have the opportunity to spend time in the Centre, which has been at the forefront of fertility treatment for more than 20 years.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Professor Stefan Hoppler
Professor Martin Collinson
Dr Jonathan Pettitt
Dr Alasdair MacKenzie
Professor Paul Fowler
David Welsh
Programme Coordinators
Professor Neil Vargesson
Professor Lynda Erskine

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Facilities

Image for The Institute of Medical Sciences
The Institute of Medical Sciences

The Institute of Medical Sciences

Focused on developing future effective therapies, the Institute of Medical Sciences houses nearly 400 researchers and support staff working on cutting-edge biomedical subjects aimed at understanding the human body's response to infection and disease.

Image for Large teaching hospital
Large teaching hospital

Large teaching hospital

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary is the largest hospital in Grampian and is based on the Foresterhill Health Campus.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX