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MRes Reproduction and Pregnancy / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Our MRes Reproduction and Pregnancy course is designed to train those who wish to pursue a research career in reproductive medicine or pregnancy, or to work in associated areas in health or science.

You will undertake two interrelated research projects on a specific topic in reproduction and pregnancy, alongside taught units providing up-to-date knowledge of reproduction and pregnancy and training in research skills. You do not need any prior research experience before starting the course.

Our course will give you hands-on experience of cutting-edge technologies applicable to reproduction and pregnancy, and transferable to other areas of medical research.

You will also gain training and experience in scientific writing and developing a research proposal and receive a grounding in a wide range of reproductive medicine and pregnancy-related issues by attending seminars in the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre.

We also give you the opportunity to contribute to public domain research output. Most of our students do so either during or after the course, with output including conference presentations (national and international conferences), published abstracts, published papers (first or co-authored papers), and awards such as RCOG oral presentation and essay prizes and travel grants.

You will graduate with an in-depth knowledge of clinically relevant reproduction and pregnancy research from bench to bedside, as well as advanced research skills and experience of running your own research project.

You will also have a strong understanding of the ethical issues and social implications of research in reproduction and pregnancy and a strong CV for your future research or medical career.

Special features

Manchester Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre

You will be based in the Manchester Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, the largest pregnancy research group in Europe, and Tommy's Stillbirth Research Centre, working alongside internationally renowned researchers in IVF/early pregnancy, placental biology, pregnancy complications including stillbirth.

You will be an active part of the research centre, together with researchers (with basic science and clinical backgrounds) undertaking research as part of their degrees or training (from undergraduate to PhD and postdoctoral research).

Through the MRes and by attending the MFHRC seminar series, you will learn about our interdisciplinary translational research - 'from bench to bedside' -  from embryo implantation to pregnancy pathologies and developmental programming in the offspring.

You will able be exposed to our pioneering research antenatal clinics for high risk pregnancies. Integration of the research clinics and the research laboratories provides rich opportunities for translation from clinic to laboratory and application of research findings to the clinic.

Additional course information

Our MRes in Reproduction and Pregnancy addresses the causes, diagnosis and treatments of fertility and pregnancy disorders.

Fertility and pregnancy problems are very common. In the UK:

  • infertility affects one in seven couples;
  • miscarriage affects 15% to 20% of recognised pregnancies;
  • fetal growth restriction (FGR) affects 5% to 8% of pregnancies;
  • pre-eclampsia affects 3% to 5% of pregnancies;
  • stillbirth affects one in 250 pregnancies, or around 4,000 per year;
  • pre-term labour affects 8% of pregnancies.

There is also growing recognition that the health of the fetus dictates adult health. Research into solving pregnancy problems therefore has the potential to reduce the lifelong disease burden.

Diseases of pregnancy are major causes of mortality and morbidity in mothers and infants. Knowledge of causative mechanisms is poor, while treatments are conspicuously lacking.

The Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre aims to find solutions to problems like these through a holistic approach to understanding, managing and treating diseases affecting mothers and babies, and through training the next generation of researchers in an interdisciplinary research environment.

Teaching and learning

You will benefit from individual and small group supervision by experienced academic staff with scientific and clinical backgrounds. Our staff include internationally renowned experts in reproduction and pregnancy.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment is conducted through coursework, including a dissertation and final thesis, marked by the supervisors and an independent MHFRC staff member under the scrutiny of an expert external examiner.

Course unit details

This is a Master of Research (MRes) and has a strong research component. You will undertake four interrelated research projects, supported by taught units providing detailed knowledge of reproduction and pregnancy and training in research skills.

Research Units:

Research Project 1

You will select your research project and supervisory team in the first three weeks of the course. Between October and January, you'll complete an in-depth literature review on your research topic, followed by a research proposal based on a six-month project.

Research Project 2

From February to August, you will undertake a six-month research project focused on a specific aspect of reproduction or pregnancy. All projects are co-supervised, often by a clinical and non-clinical supervisor. Thorough training and supervision is given for all laboratory and clinical methodologies.

Projects are all based on translational medicine research, with a goal of solving clinical problems in reproduction and pregnancy. They range from understanding the basic science of fertility and pregnancy problems, through to the clinical research projects involving patient interaction and sample analysis.

You will write a dissertation at the end of the research project and give a poster presentation based on your findings.

Taught Units

Research Methods Unit

A series of lectures and training workshops that provide an introduction to research and transferable skills such as experimental design and statistical assessment, IT skills, critical analysis of research papers, health and safety, scientific writing and communication and career development.

Laboratory Skills Unit

Training in a range of basic laboratory techniques applicable to medical research. Workshops include cell culture, histology, immunohistochemistry and molecular biology. Training in recording laboratory methods and analysis of results is provided.

Masterclass in Reproduction and Pregnancy

A series of three masterclasses that provide understanding of translational reproductive and obstetrics research and insight into bench to bedside research processes. These include lectures and discussion groups on: (1) Assisted reproductive technologies, (2) Development of new drugs for pregnancy complications (from bench to bedside), (3) Our pioneering research antenatal clinics for high risk pregnancies.

Tutorial Course Unit

You will have an opportunity to learn about and discuss research in reproduction and pregnancy and the clinical problems and basic science areas that are central to the discipline. Tutorials use a range of teaching styles, including taught seminars, debates and critiques of research papers. Assessment will be group oral presentations, leaflets, quizzes or written reports.

Clinical Masterclass Unit (you will take this as a formative unit)

This unit provides training in clinical research, including clinical research design, advanced GCP, research governance and the regulatory framework for research, practical clinical ethics, and patient and public engagement and involvement in research. There is also a training session on the academic career development and pathways for intercalating medical students and qualified clinicians.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Masterclass in Reproduction & Pregnancy MEDN65522 15 Mandatory
Tutorial Unit MEDN66100 15 Mandatory
Laboratory Skills Unit MEDN66111 15 Mandatory
Research Project 1 MEDN66121 30 Mandatory
Research Project 2 MEDN66132 90 Mandatory

Course collaborators

Programme committee:

  • Dr Mark Dilworth (Programme Co-Director)
  • Professor John Aplin (Programme Co-Director)
  • Dr Ian Crocker
  • Dr Michelle Desforges
  • Dr Elizabeth Cottrell
  • Dr Alexander Heazell

Course advisors:

  • Dr Susan Greenwood
  • Dr Lynda Harris
  • Dr Elizabeth Cottrell
  • Dr Michelle Desforges

Facilities

The course is delivered from a world class integrated laboratory and clinical research and teaching facility in the women's hospital on campus. 

You will also have access to a dedicated study area equipped with Wi-Fi and adjacent staff tea room, where lively informal interaction occurs with academic and research staff.

The University of Manchester offers extensive library and online services to help you get the most out of your studies.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service .

CPD opportunities

This course can be taken by qualified and experienced professionals to update your knowledge of current developments in reproduction and pregnancy, and acquire research skills.

We are developing more CPD opportunities for NHS staff, ranging from one-hour lectures to PGCert and PGDip-level courses. Please contact us for more information.