MSc in Physics and Engineering in Medicine



The MSc in Physics & Engineering in Medicine (PEM) at UCL was established in 2010 and brings together the existing MSc degrees - Radiation Physics (RP), Biomedical Engineering & Medical Imaging (BEMI), and Medical Image Computing (MIC) - into a new administrative structure.

Within the new programme, the two well-established streams (RP and BEMI) still exist, but a further degree of choice has been added allowing the candidate to choose other options if they so wish. In addition, students may now also study medical image computing by choosing the MIC stream within the PEM MSc programme.

The aim of our MSc programme is to provide a theoretical and practical knowledge base for those with an interest in developing an inter-disciplinary approach to problem solving in health care, and in particular those seeking employment as medical physicists or as biomedical engineers in hospital, industry or university environments.

A graduate from the programme will have a detailed understanding of:

  • foundation knowledge of engineering, physics, and computing applied to medicine and medical science;
  • the physics, technology and clinical relevance of all currently used medical imaging techniques;
  • safety issues;
  • practical applications of biomedical engineering and computational methods in clinical and research environments;

and dependent upon the stream chosen:

  • research in a particular field of medical physics, medical image computing, or biomedical engineering and/or medical imaging;
  • detailed understanding of treatment using ionising radiation or the role of electronics and control in medicine;
  • detailed understanding of biomedical optics or medical devices or biomedical engineering or computing in medicine
  • detailed understanding of advanced image analysis and computational methods that are used to obtain information from medical images

The MSc degree can be taken so that it is principally in either the physics or engineering pathway.

General Structure of the Programme

The programme starts in late September and lasts for 12 or 24 months if taken as a full-time or part-time student respectively. The programme modules will be taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the first two terms: late September - December and January - April. Full-time students attend lectures on both days of the week and part-time students just the one.

The programme modules are taught at UCL and lecturers are drawn from UCL and from the hospitals of UCL, St. Bartholomew’s, Royal Free and other London teaching hospitals.

Because MIC stream courses are taught by staff from the Departments of Medical Physics, Computer Science, and the UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing, timetabling constraints mean that the lectures for this course occur on most days of the week.

Part-time students in work are typically employed in some area of clinical physics. Full-time students will devote any time not given to formal lectures either to carrying out practical work, attending work experience in clinical settings or performing research. Each full time student will also attend a series of tutorials to present results in order to develop communication skills.

Applications from students wishing to study for the Medical Image Computing track part-time will be considered, but the timetabling constraints mean that students on this track will be required to attend lectures and practical sessions on more than one day per week in order to complete the requisite modules. Therefore, part-time applicants for this track are strongly encouraged to contact the Medical Image Computing course organiser, Dr. Dean Barratt (, to discuss their situation.


All course tracks cover all forms of ionising and non-ionising radiation commonly used in medicine and its application to the areas of imaging and treatment.

The compulsory modules for all tracks are:

Module 1: Ionising Radiation Physics: Interactions and Dosimetry (MPHYGB28/MPHYGB09)

This module covers the interaction of different radiations with matter and provides the basic material about the detection and quantification of the energy deposited in materials.

Modules 2 and 3 : Medical Imaging (MPHYGB10 and MPHYGB11)

These module cover imaging using ionising and non-ionising radiation and provides the basic theory behind the imaging techniques. It also includes a breakdown of the components of each imaging system, and describes the clinical applications of each method. The associated topics of image processing and assessment are also covered since the principles involved find wide application throughout this technology.

Module 4: Clinical practice (MPHYGB17)

This module covers the information that is essential for an understanding of the clinical physics working environment. It covers basic anatomy and physiology as well as the various safety aspects of medical physics, for example, electrical, chemical and biological hazards.

The above courses are compulsory for all students.

Compulsory for the physics track:

Module 5: Treatment with ionising radiation (MPHYGB19)

This module broadly covers the application of radiation to the therapeutic treatment of patients. It ranges from the technical aspects of generating the radiation, to the biological effects of that radiation on the tissue and then considers, in detail, state-of-the-art radiotherapy techniques.

Compulsory for the engineering track:

Module 7: Medical electronics and control (MPHYGB20)

This module provides foundation knowledge from the disciplines of electronic engineering, signal processing and control theory.

Compulsory for the Medical Image Computing track:

Module A: Physics for Imaging and Therapy (MPHYGB09)

This module covers the same material as Module 1 above, but does not include an oral viva.

Module B: Programming Foundations for Medical Image Analysis (MPHYGB24)

This module covers the MATLAB and C/C++ programming languages and their application to medical image analysis, including topics such as basic language syntax, data types, data representations, pointers and references, data protection, debugging, image file formats, object-oriented programming, good program design and practice, and the practicalities of algorithm implementation.

Module C: Image Processing (COMPGV12)

This module, taught by the UCL Department of Computer Science, covers the fundamentals of digital image processing.

Module D: Information Processing in Medical Imaging (MPHYGB06)

This module is taught by members of the UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing and covers advanced topics relevant to the field of medical image computing including image registration, image segmentation, and image-based morphometry.

In addition, students on the physics and engineering tracks must select 2 of the 4 following modules:

Module 6: Bioengineering (MPHYGB21)

An overview of biomaterials, biomechanics and tissue engineering is described, with clinical examples. Both current and future applications are considered.

Module 8: Optics in medicine (MPHYM886)

All aspects of optics in medicine are covered, from light interactions with tissue, to different types of light sources, to clinical applications at both the routine and the research level, and finally safety aspects.

Module 9: Computing in medicine (MPHYGB27)

This module covers the most common clinical requirements of computing and provides both taught knowledge and practical skills. Image data handling is explained, including image file formats, data storage and archiving, and image processing. The remainder of the course teaches Matlab and introduces students to a hands-on approach to programming.

Module 10: Applications of Biomedical Engineering (MPHYGB22)

This module illustrates how the foundation knowledge of bioengineering is used in the provision of clinical services. Topics include EEG/ECG/EMG, respiratory measurement, rehabilitation engineering and aspects relating to medical devices.

Students on the Medical Image Computing track must choose one of the following optional modules:

MODULE E: Image Analysis and Image-direct Therapy (MPHYGB07)

This module covers state-of-the-art techniques in medical image analysis and image-directed therapy through a series of lectures from leading experts in the field (many of which are invited from other institutions). Fundamental concepts in image-directed therapy, including computer-aided and image-guided surgery, are also covered.

MODULE F: Computational Modelling for Biomedical Imaging (COMPGV17)

This module, taught by members of the UCL Centre for Medical Image Computing and Department of Computer Science, focuses on computational modelling techniques for learning and describing the natural world, and how such techniques can be applied to problems in biology and biomedical imaging.



The MSc course consists of 7 taught modules, six worth 15 credit units, one worth 30 credits plus a research project worth 60 credits. This forms a total of 180 credit units. The Diploma does not include the research project. The pass mark for all elements (taught modules or research project) is 50%. For any element only two attempts are allowed.

The degree can be obtained at three levels:

Pass: The overall average must be equal to or greater than 50%. Up to 30 credits of taught material can be a 'condoned pass', i.e., a mark between 40% and 50%. The research project must be passed at 50% or more.

Pass with Merit: The overall average must be equal to or greater than 60%. The research project must passed at 65% or more. No condoned passes or  second attempts are allowed.

Pass with Distinction: The overall average must be equal to or greater than 70%. The research project must be passed at 70% or more. No condoned passes or second attempts are allowed.

Resits: All resits must be taken the following year.


The programme is accredited by the Institute of Physics in Engineering and Medicine (IPEM). It is therefore suitable for students wishing to undertake a career in clinical physics.


For more information, please email us.