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Welcome

We're pleased you're interested in studying Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at UCL and we hope you'll join us. Here, we'll tell you about the department and what it's like to study here, both with us and more widely at UCL.

Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering

Medical physicists and biomedical engineers use physics and engineering to solve medical problems. Modern medicine relies on medically qualified doctors from a range of specialities as well as support from specialists in other professions such as medical physicists and biomedical engineers.

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A large part of medical physics concerns the use of radiation to examine and treat the body, including X-ray imaging, computed tomography (CT), and radiotherapy. Other areas include medical ultrasound for diagnosis and therapy, endoscopy and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans. Biomedical engineering includes designing medical devices such as pacemakers and prosthetics. In our department, biomedical engineers develop products which help to minimise the impact of incontinence and use implanted devices to restore function to paralysed muscle. We often find, however, that in practise there is little difference between medical physicists and biomedical engineers and their training and expertise overlap.

In hospitals, medical physicists and biomedical engineers ensure that high-tech equipment is working effectively so patients can be diagnosed and treated safely and quickly. This requires flexibility, the willingness to take responsibility, the ability to work in multidisciplinary teams and excellent physics skills, both as an experimentalist and a theoretician.

Many medical physicists and biomedical engineers also work in research, improving existing techniques and developing completely new ones. People such as Sir Godfrey Hounsfield and Sir Peter Mansfield have won Nobel prizes for their work in CT and MRI, respectively.

Roughly equal numbers of men and women work as medical physicists or biomedical engineers. If you’re considering a career in medicine, physics or engineering, then medical physics and bioengineering may appeal to you.

Our undergraduate degrees

We are a large medical physics and biomedical engineering department, but small in comparison to other teaching departments. Your lecturers will be active in research and have active collaborations with major teaching hospitals.

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We offer both a three-year BSc programme and a more in-depth four-year MSci option. Your first two years of study will be taught mostly in the Department of Physics and Astronomy along with other physics students, although you will study introductory medical physics, human physiology and radiation physics. These two years are identical for both programmes and transfer between the two is possible at the end of the second year. We advise applying for the MSci initially which makes it easier to defer your decision.

During years three and four, you will be based in the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering. You will choose three medical physics courses each year and, in your final year, will work on a major project with one of the department’s research groups.

For more information, see the undergraduate pages, our student handbook, or contact us. See also how to apply. Both of our degrees are accredited by the Institute of Physics providing the first step to chartered physicist status.

Many of our graduates enter careers as medical physicists or medical electronics engineers in the NHS, industry or universities. After completing your research project, you may decide to continue your studies to obtain an MSc or PhD. However, the strong physics core and multidisciplinary nature of our degree programmes also provide a firm foundation for pursuing a wide range of other career options.

Masters-level degrees

We offer three MSc courses. The MSc in Radiation Physics gives a thorough understanding of the whole of medical physics and is intended for students with a first degree in physics or a related subject. Our MSc in Biomedical Engineering and Medical Imaging is designed primarily for students with an engineering degree (though a physics degree is also acceptable). Finally, our newest MSc is in Medical Image Computing and is largely intended for students with an degree in computer science. All these requirements, however, are flexible.

All three MScs are one-year full-time courses, but can be taken as two-year part-time course. This is particularly popular for students registered on the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine's Grade A Training Scheme. All three MScs include practical laboratory-based sessions and a significant research project based in one of our research groups or a hospital.

Please contact msc-enquiries@medphys.ucl.ac.uk for further information.

PhD study

The department is very research active with a large proportion of the research being carried out by PhD students. Each of the 8 research groups regularly admits PhD students on 3 or 4 year programmes from a wide variety of backgrounds. For further information please contact phd-enquiries@medphys.ucl.ac.uk

Studying at UCL

London is an exciting, vibrant city with lots to offer, both in terms of living here, and for studying here. UCL provides lots of information, some of it particularly important for international students.

Further links

General

Undergraduate degrees

MSc degrees