Short courses


Making Babies in the 21st Century

  • 2 hours per week (12 hours total)
  • 6 weeks


This free online six-week course will help you understand the choices that surround assisted reproduction and explore the challenges posed by reproductive technology.

It takes as its starting point a person or couple who want to make a baby but can't, due to their infertility, advanced age, sexuality or lack of partner.

It will look at human reproduction in an age where reproductive technology is becoming the norm and will explore the social, ethical and legal challenges that currently confront us.

It's delivered as a FutureLearn MOOC (massive open online course), in partnership with UCL.

Course content

Anyone deciding to use reproductive technology to help them in their quest to have biological offspring is confronted with a vast array of choices and dilemmas.

This course will consider a number of these, including:

  •     the choice to have a sperm or egg donor
  •     using a known or an anonymous donor
  •     using a surrogate (and, if so, doing so in an ethical way)
  •     testing the fetus for genetic abnormalities
  •     choosing a gender or a genetic profile
  •     deciding what kind of family the baby will eventually call their own

All of these issues pose urgent ethical challenges. But who decides what's right or wrong? Who is potentially harmed? And how is this changing our society?

Who this course is for

The course is for anyone with an interest in reproductive technology, including:

  • medical and healthcare students
  • clinicians and nurses working in women's health
  • scientists and biotechnologists involved in reproductive medicine

No prior knowledge is necessary.

Learning outcomes

The course will enable you to:

  • explore how technology is changing the way babies are made and how family life is constructed
  • appreciate the key ethical dilemmas that these new technologies bring
  • gain awareness of the social aspects of the relevant ethical challenges

How you'll learn

The course is entirely online. It's estimated that you'll need to study for 2 hours each week, over 6 weeks, to complete it.

Certificate of participation

You can buy a personalised, digital or printed FutureLearn certificate of participation on completing the course.

What makes this course special

This is a free online course, accessible to anyone with access to the internet anywhere in the world.

It's the first course of its kind and will look at emerging technologies and their implications for the future.

It will use discussion topics to engage participants, and leading experts in the field will be moderating and contributing to the discussion.

Course team

Dan Reisel, UCL Institute of Women's Health

Dan Reisel, UCL Institute of Women's Health

The course has grown out of the MSc in Women’s Health developed by the Institute for Women’s Health at UCL. The Institute brings together the expertise of clinicians and researchers from a diverse range of disciplines to make a real and sustainable difference to women’s and babies’ health locally, nationally and worldwide.

Course information last modified: 30 Nov 2022, 15:59