Undergraduate Admissions FAQs

What’s the difference between Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering?

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. You will spend most of your first two years in the Physics Department studying basic physics with other physicists. Our Biomedical Engineering degrees are based on engineering and focus on problem-solving and the application of engineering skills and knowledge.

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

Physicists and engineers are numerate, logical, problem solvers and there is a demand for people who have developed such skills in a wide range of careers.

Studying Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering doesn’t commit you to a career in that field. Our medical physics 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. Similarly, Biomedical Engineering equips you for the broad range of careers open to engineers. Students are trained in applying a broad range of engineering skills to solve real-word, practical problems.

If you want a career in Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering, there are three main paths. First, you can train as a clinical scientist in the Health Service. Second, you can follow a career in industry: MRI scanners, radiotherapy equipment, and medical devices, for example, all need researching, developing, manufacturing, supplying and maintaining - jobs for Medical Physicists and Biomedical Engineers. Third, you may pursue a career in research, probably first off by taking a higher degree – an MSc or a PhD.

Should I apply for the BSc/BEng or the MEng/MSci?

Whether you choose Medical Physics or Biomedical Engineering the first two years within each programmes are identical and so it is generally straightforward to switch from BSc to MSci or from BEng to MEng – in either direction – up to the end of your second year (subject to visa permission for non-EU students).

The Medical Physics programme and Biomedical Engineering programmes are different, however, and we don't normally allow students to swap after the first few weeks of term.

We usually advise students who are unsure to apply for the MEng/MSci: nobody will complain if you subsequently change to the BEng/BSc, meaning that you need support for a year less than planned.

What are the class sizes?

Class sizes in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering tend to be small – usually 15-50. However, some classes are shared with other programmes in Engineering or Physics (and sometimes other programmes), so class sizes could reach 100.

In addition, in your first two years you will be assigned to an tutor and have tutorials in smaller groups (typically about 10 students in a group).

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 on their webpages. Departmental modules are listed on this website; modules from other departments can be found on the webiste for that department.

How are Medical Physics modules examined?

Lecture modules are typically examined on written exam at the end of the academic year and 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.

Will I be taught in a clinical environment?

We do not generally build clinical experience into our degree programmes. However, several Medical Physicists and Biomedical Engineers 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.

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.