Medical Physics Stream for Natural Science Students


UCL offers a Natural Sciences degree programme in which you can select two "streams" from different departments to study. We offer a medical physics stream which can be combined with Brain, Behaviour and Cognition (details below). You are also welcome to choose our modules as options if you choose other streams.

You can choose to study for a three-year BSc in Natural Sciences or a four-year MSci. The differences are explained on the Natural Sciences website.

Below, we list our modules, their organisers, the year(s) in which Natural Sciences students can take them, and any requirements and recommendations for taking them. To find out more about any module click on the corresponding module name. Note that module information on our other web pages which specifies the year(s) in which Medical Physics students can take the modules does not necessarily apply to Natural Sciences students.

Some of the third and fourth year options require some knowledge of mathematics. If you do not have A level maths, please contact the module organiser prior to enrolling on the module . If you choose the medical physics stream, you are welcome to carry out your research project with us.

Stream Combinations

Medical Physics with Brain, Behaviour and Cognition

Understanding how the brain works is a major international research challenge. By combining Medical Physics with Brain, Behaviour and Cognition, you will be able to understand two contrasting sides of this  critical problem. You will learn basic physics and mathematics, while focussing on medical physics. The medical physics options will tell you how we can use physics to image and examine the body. The Brain, Behaviour and Cognition stream will support this with information about the anatomy and physiology of the brain, from the basic electrical activity through to deeper processes such as learning and decision-making. This combination would be well suited to a career in the neurosciences.

First year

PHAS1423: Modern Physics, Astronomy & Cosmology [Term 1]
This module will introduce new concepts in quantum physics that underlie much of modern physics, astronomy and cosmology, as well as related fields such as nanoscience. It will include a brief introduction to medical physics.

PHAS1246: Mathematical Methods II [Term 2]
This module aims to provide the mathematical foundations required for the rest of the course and give you practice in mathematical manipulation and problem solving.

MPHY1001: Introduction to Medical Imaging [Term 2]
Module Organiser: Prof Jem Hebden
This module forms a fundamental component of the UCL Medical Physics undergraduate degrees. It provides an introduction to all the major medical imaging techniques commonly encountered in hospital departments of radiology and nuclear medicine. The module will be a foundation for the further pursuit of knowledge of theoretical and practical aspects of medical imaging which are dealt with in greater detail in the following years of the Medical Physics degree programmes.

Second year

PHAS2444: Practical Physics [Term 1]
Intended for students following the Natural Sciences degree programme, this module aims to build on and extend the skills acquired in the First Year Lab module.

MPHY2001: Physics of the Human Body [Term 2]
Module Organiser: Prof Alan Cottenden
This module describes some of the the physics and engineering principles needed to understand how the body works. It will include lectures on biofluid mechanics, the physics of the senses and homeostasis.

MPHY2002: Introduction to Biophysics [Term 2]
Module Organiser: Dr Adrien Desjardins
Biophysics is the physics of the molecules and cells which make up the body. The module will include the physics of energy transfer processes at the microscopic level and a description of cell membranes and electrophysiology.

Third year

MPHY3890: Medical Imaging with Ionising Radiation [Term 2]
Module OrganiserDr Sandro Olivo
The most frequently undertaken clinical investigation apart from the analysis of a blood sample is the use of ionising radiation to image or investigate the functioning of an organ. This module covers the theoretical background to the formation and analysis of such images and uses clinical examples to illustrate the application of the imaging systems. It covers both planar and cross sectional imaging using x-ray and gamma ray sources. The aim of the course is to provide an appropriate theoretical framework for understanding the formation and assessment of images using ionising radiation.

MPHY3892: Treatment using Ionising Radiation [Term 1]
Module Organiser: Dr Adam Gibson
Uses and application of treatment using ionising radiation including radiation dosimetry; radiobiological basis of treatment; dose distribution and radiotherapy treatment; radiation protection.

MPHY3900: Ultrasound in Medicine [Term 2]
Module OrganiserDr Karin Shmueli

Fourth Year

MPHYM000: Physics Project

MPHYM910: Magnetic Resonance Imaging & Biomedical Optics [Term 1]
Module OrganiserProf Clare Elwell
Interaction of infrared, visible and ultraviolet radiation with biological material; spectroscopy and other optical techniques as physiological sensors; endoscopy; laser systems for diagnosis, therapy and surgery; visual optics and optometry.

MPHYM012: Physiological Monitoring [Term 2]
Module OrganiserDr Martin Fry
The module provides an in depth understanding of the theory and practice of transducers and monitoring techniques in physiology and medicine and covers most of the commonly used methods in medical practice with the exception of those derived from imaging and radionuclide methods. Topics include: blood pressure sensing, gait analysis, temperature measurement, respiratory monitoring, optical sensing methods in oximetry and blood flow, blood analysis.

Free option

Further information

For more information about the Natural Sciences degree programme, please see the Natural Sciences website

If you have questions about particular medical physics modules, please contact the corresponding module organiser. For general queries regarding the medical physics stream, please email the Natural Sciences Tutor Dr Adam Gibson.