MSc in Clinical Embryology | University of Oxford
Egg vitrification
Egg vitrification in the laboratory
(Image Credit: Zachary Domach / Graduate Photography Competition)

MSc in Clinical Embryology

About the course

This one year, residential, taught MSc provides graduate students, scientists and clinicians with highly advanced theoretical and practical understanding of human reproductive biology, embryology, infertility and assisted reproductive technology (ART) along with intensive ‘hands-on’ practical training in essential laboratory skills and the sophisticated gamete micromanipulation techniques associated with ART. 

The MSc course is based in purpose-built premises at Winchester House, Oxford Science Park, with dedicated state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities. The department’s intention is to inspire, motivate and train a network of future leaders in clinical embryology throughout the world.

The course runs over a period of one year, from October to September, incorporating the three University of Oxford terms: Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. Fundamental reproductive science and laboratory methods/practical skills are taught in the first term (Michaelmas) over five discrete modules. Applied and clinical aspects are delivered in the second term (Hilary) over a further set of five modules. Each module is delivered over a period of one to three weeks and together, the ten modules comprise the ‘core content’ of the course. The third term (Trinity) is extended to allow sufficient time for a high quality laboratory research project.

The department places significant emphasis on the acquisition of practical laboratory skills. A particular strength of the course is that you will be trained individually on micromanipulation and laser biopsy equipment using training beads, mouse oocytes, human sperm and surplus human oocytes when available. You will spend significant amounts of time following senior clinicians in the clinic, and embryologists in an IVF laboratory. You will also spend time with junior/trainee embryologists to discuss career options, writing CVs and preparing for interviews and you will meet visiting clinicians and embryologists from leading UK IVF clinics. The department’s staff will also provide significant insight into the legal issues surrounding ART, along with quality management, ethics and ISO-accreditation. You will attend professional development seminars covering a wide range of topics including medical ethics, business and management skills, communication and presentation skills, intellectual property and experimental design.

The course is taught primarily by senior members of staff from the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health. A variety of teaching methods are used to enhance and optimise student learning: class lectures, group tutorials, laboratory practical classes, self-directed learning, problem based learning and in-house demonstrations by visiting companies. You will also attend lectures given by visiting scientists who are world experts in their field. You will be assessed by a multiple choice examination (Michaelmas term), extended essay (Hilary term), written examination, dissertation and viva voce (Trinity term).

Graduate destinations

Graduates go on to pursue careers in clinical embryology, and further research activities in reproductive, biological and biomedical science, assisted reproduction, clinical academic work and industry.

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2019-20

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a subject related to biology, biomedical science or a medical degree.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree, a GPA of 3.7 or the equivalent.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Applicants are shortlisted on their academic ability. All shortlisted applicants are interviewed, usually within three to four weeks of the application deadline.

Interviews are carried out online using Skype video software. If you are unable to use Skype, for example if internet connectivity is poor, then the interview would ordinarily be held by telephone conferencing.

Interviews normally last around 30 minutes and are carried out by the departmental selection committee, currently comprising the MSc course director, a senior clinician, a postdoctoral teaching fellow and the course administrator. There will be a minimum of two academics on the interview panel. At the end of the interview, you will be offered the chance to ask questions about the course or studying in Oxford.


Publications are not expected, but would be an advantage to the application. 

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

Research or working experience in the area of assisted reproductive technology may be an advantage.

Evidence of the relevance of the course to future career development plans may be an advantage.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.


You will be provided with a quiet write-up area equipped with networked desktop computers and laser printing/photocopying facilities. IT support is predominantly provided by the Medical Sciences Division IT Unit, based at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Further support is provided by Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS), who also provide an extensive range of short IT training courses. The University of Oxford has an incredibly diverse library service provided by over 100 libraries, including the Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Science Library. MSc students predominantly utilise the Health Care Libraries, particularly the Cairns Library situated on the John Radcliffe Hospital site.

Experimental sessions are held in a dedicated modern laboratory equipped with a range of top quality equipment, including state-of-the-art gamete manipulation/injection systems. Sufficient experimental apparatus is provided to allow each student significant ‘hands-on’ training.


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

Full funding opportunities are available for all applicants to this course, whatever your nationality. The Medical Sciences Graduate School website provides further details, as well as information about external funding opportunities.


Annual fees for entry in 2019-20

Fee status

Annual Course fees

Home/EU (including Islands)£39,025

The fees shown above are the annual course fees for this course, for entry in the stated academic year.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.

Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

You will have the option to attend national or international conferences in the field, such as meetings organised by the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, the British Andrology Society and the European Society for Human Reproduction & Embryology. If you choose to attend such meetings, you will have to cover all expenses related to your attendance, eg travel and accommodation costs, registration fee, etc. Costs for attending such meetings will depend entirely upon the precise location of the meeting. As a rough guide, attendance of the basic ESHRE meeting is likely to cost in the region of £600 to £900, while attendance at national meetings are more likely to cost £200 to £300.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.

How to apply

You are encouraged to direct any initial enquiries to the Course Administrator, though it is not a prerequisite to contact course staff before you apply.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose/personal statement:
500 words

Your statement should describe why you wish to pursue the MSc in Clinical Embryology and how the course might influence your future career prospects. It should be written in English.

It will be assessed for:

  • career orientated approach
  • coherence of the statement
  • motivation for working in this area
  • evidence of basic understanding of assisted reproduction
  • the ability to write succinctly in English within the confines of a strict word count.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least two must be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

One professional reference is acceptable, provided it is accompanied by two academic references.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, and ability to work in a group.

Start or continue an application

Step 1: Carefully read the entry requirements on this course page to make sure you meet all the criteria.

Step 2: Check above what documents are required and prepare to apply by reading our Application Guide.

Step 3: Apply as soon as possible. Consult the Application Guide for more information about deadlines.

Application GuideApply

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