Undergraduate Admissions FAQs

What’s the difference between Medical Physics and Bioengineering?

There’s a lot of overlap but the key point as far as university degree programmes are concerned is the foundational subject. Our Medical Physics degrees are built on a foundation of physics and they are accredited by the Institute of Physics. If, however, you read Bioengineering at university the programme will be built on an engineering foundation (often Mechanical Engineering).

What career paths will be open to me if I have a Medical Physics degree from UCL?

The first thing to note is that studying Medical Physics at university doesn’t commit you to a career in Medical Physics. Our degrees are accredited by the Institute of Physics and give you access to the same wide diversity of careers as any other UCL physics degree. Physicists tend to be numerate, logical, problem solvers and there is a demand for people who have developed such skills in a wide range of careers. If, however, you want a career in Medical Physics, there are three main paths. First, you can train as a Medical Physicist in the Health Service. Second, you can follow a career in industry: MRI scanners, radiotherapy equipment, and physiological monitoring equipment, for example, all need researching, developing, manufacturing, supplying and maintaining - jobs for Medical Physicists. Third, you may pursue a career in research, probably first off by taking a higher degree – an MSc or a PhD. More information about careers in medical physics is available by clicking here.

Should I apply for the BSc in Physics with Medical Physics or the MSci in Medical Physics?

The first two years of the two degree programmes are identical (See here and here)  and so it is generally straightforward to switch from one to the other – in either direction – up to the end of your second year (subject to visa permission for non-EU students). By then you should be clear which is your preference. It doesn’t make any difference to us, but we usually advise students who are unsure to apply for the MSci: nobody will complain if you subsequently change to the BSc, meaning that you need support for a year less than planned.

What are the class sizes for Medical Physics students?

In your first two years, you will take most of your courses with students following other UCL physics degree programmes and class sizes will be around 100. By contrast, Medical Physics classes are smaller – usually 15-30, as are classes for specialist optional physics courses in year three (and year four for the MSci). In addition, in your first two years you will be assigned to an academic tutor along with four or five of your fellow Medical Physics students. Academic tutorials – run every one-to-two weeks – are to help you assimilate the material presented in lectures.

How can I find out about the syllabuses for the various lecture modules I will take?

The lecture modules that you take as part of our degree programmes are listed here and here and syllabuses for the Medical Physics modules are given here (click on the course of interest for details) while those for physics modules are here.

How are Medical Physics modules examined?

Lecture modules are typically examined 80% on written exam at the end of the academic year and 20% on coursework. Practicals and project work are assessed just on coursework (laboratory and project reports, presentations etc).

What opportunities will I have for doing a research project?

In your final year you get to join one of our research groups for your research project. Staff put up suggestions for projects they are prepared to supervise and you choose which you would like to do in consultation with them. Information on current / recent projects can be found here.

What opportunities will there be for experiencing Medical Physics in a clinical environment?

Medical Physics practice in the clinical environment is not built into our degree programmes. However, several Medical Physicists who work in clinical practice contribute lectures to our modules and some modules include clinical site visits. Also, some of our clinically-based colleagues who work in the Health Service side of the department sometimes offer research projects for final year students.

Why are there so few Medical Physics courses in the first two years of your degree programmes?

Our Medical Physics degree programmes are taught jointly by staff in the Department Medical Physics and Bioengineering (MPB) and our colleagues in the Department Physics and Astronomy (P&A). In your first two years you spend most of your time in P&A building a strong physics foundation, along with all the other UCL physics students who have elected to specialise in a topic other than Medical Physics. However, you also follow some introductory modules in Medical Physics; one in your first year and two in your second. Once you have a strong physics foundation in place, we can teach you the specialist Medical Physics topics and they take up most of your time in year three (and year four for the MSci). You can tell which department delivers which course by the prefix of the course code: MPHY for Medical Physics and PHAS for Physics and Astronomy.

What opportunities are there for internships during vacations?

We have no formal internship programme but our students sometimes approach staff members seeking opportunities to gain research experience during vacations. Students in long vacations between year two and three, or year three and four can apply to organisations such as the Wellcome Trust and the Nuffield Foundation for funding for summer internships.