Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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12 points, SCA Band 3, 0.250 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Organisational UnitDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
OfferedClayton First semester (extended) 2013 (Day)
Clayton First semester (extended) 2013 (Off-campus)
Coordinator(s)Dr Sally Catt


This unit provides students with the skills and opportunity to design and optimise embryo culture systems to ensure the best pregnancy outcomes for couples undertaking infertility treatment. This is achieved through a detailed understanding of critical cellular processes, with an aim to maximize normal embryo growth potential while minimizing stress. Students will learn the methods needed to accurately evaluate embryo quality and develop the ability to micro-manage IVF processes. This unit also provides students with a detailed understanding of cryopreservation techniques and the ability to critically discuss and evaluate these techniques and cryo-banking systems for oocytes, sperm, ovarian and testicular tissue and embryos in human IVF programs. The physico-chemical properties of permeant and non permeant cryoprotectants will be discussed in context with the slow cooling and vitrification methods.


On completion of this unit students will:

  1. Understand and be able to explain how to control and optimise the environment of gametes/embryos in the laboratory.
  2. Understand the various quality control tests that are used routinely in an IVF laboratory, such as mouse bioassays, sperm survival tests, etc
  3. Identify and interpret scoring systems for the selection of good from bad quality embryos from the 2-cell stage through to hatching blastocysts
  4. Be able to classify maturation and fertilization status of oocytes and early stage embryos and identify cell numbers in fixed and stained embryos
  5. Be able to analyse and report data from lab books (on-campus) or clinical data (off-campus) in abstract form
  6. Be able to critically assess the techniques of gamete and embryo cryopreservation as used in clinical human in vitro fertilization programs
  7. Understand and be able to explain the physico-chemical changes in cells during cryopreservation


Written examination (2.5 hours)(40%)
Literature review for project (35%)
Critical review of Journal Article(25%)

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

20h contact per week (lectures, tutorials, forums, self-directed study)