Intercalated B.Sc. in Medical Physics & Bioengineering - F37M (1 year)

Intercalated BSc in Medical Physics & Bioengineering

This is a 1 year full-time course for medical students who have completed (or are about to complete) Part I (pre-clinical part) of the MBBS degree. It consists of six half-unit lecture courses plus a one unit Medical Physics project.

This Intercalated degree is designed to introduce medical students to the basic physical principles and techniques involved in the technology employed in health care. An understanding of Medical Physics and Bioengineering is valuable to doctors in both understanding the benefits and limitations of equipment encountered daily in hospitals, and in medical research where improvements in patient care often go hand in hand with the development of new equipment or computer software. Elsewhere in Europe, where Medicine courses are longer, Medical Physics is considered to be an essential part of the curriculum. For example in Italy, 100 hours of Medical Physics is taught during their 6 year course. This intercalated degree is an opportunity to study a very relevant subject that is not currently part of the Medicine curriculum in this country. Because medical imaging forms a large part of the syllabus, our degree is of particular relevance to medical students who are considering an eventual specialisation in radiology.

The course is entirely taught in this department. Students take six half-unit lecture modules, of which three are compulsory, plus a one unit project with a research group in the Medical Physics Department at UCL or at UCL Hospitals. Students select the three remaining lecture courses from the list given below. Weekly tutorials are also provided to supplement the student's background knowledge of physics and mathematics. Most course unit options offered are the same as those offered to Medical Physics MSci/BSc and Medical Electronics MEng students. It is strongly recommended, but not required, that students have already studied physics and mathematics up to A-level (or equivalent) standard.

Compulsory Courses

MPHY3890: Medical Imaging with Ionising Radiation [Second term]
Module Organiser: Dr 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 course 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.

MPHY3893: Mathematical Methods in Medical Physics [First term]
Module Organiser: Prof. Jem Hebden
This introductory module is designed specifically for intercalated students in order that they gain a basic familiarity with various mathematical techniques and notation which form part of their other lecture modules. The lectures emphasise the need for an intuitive understanding of specific methods and their application rather than a rigorous training in mathematics.

MPHY3900: Ultrasound in Medicine [Second Term]

Module Organiser: Dr. Ben Cox

The purpose of this course is to provide a complete introduction to the physics and clinical application of biomedical ultrasound. Clinically, ultrasound is already the most widely used imaging modality, and its application to therapy has grown rapidly over the last decade. Students who take this course will have a solid grounding in ultrasound to take into research or clinical work.

MPHY3910: MRI and Biomedical Optics [First Term]

Module Organiser: Dr. Ben Cox

This module is an introduction to both magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Biomedical Optics as used in clinical applications, with an emphasis on the underlying physical principles. It will provide a solid foundation for students who wish to: a) understand the physical principles of MRI and Biomedical Optics, b) understand how medical physics can be used to improve clinical practice, c) pursue research, or develop clinical or industrial applications, in MRI or Biomedical Optics.

*Although MPHY3900 (Ultrasound in Medicine) and MPHY3910 (MRI and Biomedical Optics) are optional, students must select at least one of these modules. Both modules can be selected if desired.

Optional modules

You will choose three additional modules from our range of other third year modules, and the year 2 module (MPHY2002 "Introduction to Biophysics").


Application forms are obtained from (and must be returned to) the UCL Faculty of Life Sciences, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT. Phone: (44-20) 7679-5467. 

Recommended texts

  • T. S. Curry, J. E. Dowdey, and R. C. Murry, Christensen's Physics of Diagnostic Radiology, Lea & Febiger: Philadelphia, 4th Edition, 1990. ISBN 0-8121-1310-1. This excellent book is written especially for, and by, diagnostic radiologists. It describes the methods which form the basis of the two compulsory courses on medical imaging (MPHY3890 and MPHY3900), but in an intuitive and non-mathematical manner. The friendly and often humourous style of the book makes it a pleasure to read. Intercalated students will find that the non-technical descriptions of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT), for example, are of tremendous value. [Waterstones: £53 for hardback edition
  • J. Pope, Medical Physics: Imaging, Heinemann: Oxford, 1999. ISBN 0-435-57094-3. This inexpensive book was written in order to assist A'level students with their study of the Medical Physics option. It describes the basic principles of all the major medical imaging techniques. [Waterstones: £12.99 for paperback edition].
  • S. Webb (Editor), The Physics of Medical Imaging, Adam Hilger, 1988. ISBN 0-85274-349-1. This book covers all the major areas of medical imaging in some detail, and is a recommended text for some courses. [Waterstones: £35 for paperback edition].
  • Alan Jeffrey, Essentials of Engineering Mathematics, Chapman & Hall: London, 1992. ISBN 0-412-39680-7. This is a useful resource for students needing to find out more about new mathematical concepts introduced during the year, or remind themselves of material they may already have encountered at A'level.

Further information

Students interested in applying to the Medical Physics Intercalated BSc course are encouraged to email Prof Clare Elwell.