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Biochemical Engineering

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MSc Biochemical Engineering

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Biochemical engineers apply the principles of biology, chemistry and engineering in order to design processes that make use of living cells (or their components). They operate as the link that transforms the latest life science discoveries into modern industrial processes. Their primary role is to design, implement and oversee every step of the transfer from the lab to commercial scale production. In the next decade and beyond, the contributions of biochemical engineers to the worldwide community will have a significant impact on human health and wellbeing through the development of new medicines and cell based therapies, novel biomaterials and environmentally friendly biofuels from renewable sources as well as improved approaches to monitor and reduce environmental pollution.

A degree tailored to you

Our internationally recognised and accredited MSc programme focuses on the core biochemical engineering principles that enable the translation of advances in the life sciences into real processes or products. Students will develop advanced engineering skills (such as bioprocess design, bioreactor engineering, downstream processing), state of the art life science techniques (such as molecular biology, vaccine development, microfluidics) and essential business and regulatory knowledge (such as management, quality control, commercialisation).

Three distinct pathways are offered tailored for graduate scientists, engineers, or biochemical engineers. These are summarised in the figure below; if your undergraduate degree is in a related field which is not listed here, please check the information under the “Entry” tab or get in touch with our MSc admissions tutor.

pgt-stream-diagram

Entry

QUICK FACTS:

To apply for this MSc programme you will need:

  • A minimum second-class UK Bachelor’s degree (or international equivalent)
  • Proof of English language proficiency (e.g. IELTS > 6.5, TOEFL > 92)
  • Academic transcript provided in English and in electronic format
  • A personal statement explaining why you want to study Biochemical Engineering
  • Two references from people who are able to comment on your suitability for the programme for which you are applying
  • Application deadline for the 2017-18 intake: 28 July 2017

ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS:

Biochemical Engineering is a diverse, multidisciplinary field and this is reflected in the range of undergraduate backgrounds we accept on our MSc programme. The table below summarises the most common undergraduate qualifications our applicants have. If your undergraduate degree is in a related field which is not listed here, please get in touch with our MSc admissions tutor.

Candidates holding at least 3 years of recent industrial experience are also encouraged to apply irrespective of undergraduate degree qualifications.

Accepted Undergraduate Qualifications
Engineering Stream Science Stream Biochemical Engineering Stream
  • Applied/Molecular biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • (Bio-)chemistry
  • Life Sciences
  • Pharmacy
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Process Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Biochemical Engineering
  • Bioprocess Engineering

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

Engineering Stream: Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in one of the disciplines listed above (or in a closely related subject). A minimum second-class Bachelor’s degree from a UK university is required or the equivalent from an approved overseas institution*.

In addition, evidence of numerical ability is requested as either an A level in Mathematics (or in exceptional cases, in Physics) or some mathematics studied at university. The department provides supplemental mathematics lectures & tutorials for MSc students throughout the year adjusted to a candidate's ability.

Science/Biochemical Engineering Stream: Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in one of the disciplines listed above (or in a closely related subject). A minimum second-class Bachelor’s degree from a UK university is required or the equivalent from an approved overseas institution*.

*International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country from the International Students website.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS:

Successful applicants that are not native speakers will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of proficiency in English. The required evidence may be one of the following:

  • Completed a minimum of twelve months education in a country that UCL considers to be 'majority English speaking', no more than the summer two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment;
  • Completed a minimum of eighteen months of work experience in a country that UCL considers to be 'majority English speaking', no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment;
  • A recently obtained acceptable English language qualification or test result. The qualification or test result must have been awarded no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment.

A list of acceptable English language qualifications can be found on our English language requirements page.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard.

PERSONAL STATEMENT:

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • Why you want to study Biochemical Engineering at graduate level
  • Why you want to study Biochemical Engineering at UCL
  • What particularly attracts you to this programme
  • How your academic, professional and personal background meets the demands of a challenging programme. We are particularly interested in any individual or group research project that you have undertaken.
  • How will the MSc help you realise your future career aspirations

APPLICATION:

If you wish to apply or to find further information on the application procedure, please click the button below:

APPLY NOW

Degree Structure

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme offers three different pathways (for graduate scientists, engineers, or biochemical engineers) and consists of core taught modules and a research or design project. 

Science Stream

(Designed for students with a degree in another Engineering discipline)

CORE MODULES
 
BENGG004 Advanced Bioreactor Engineering
(15 credits)
BENGG0005 Integrated Downstream Processing
(15 credits)
BENGG022 Sustainable Industrial Bioprocesses and Biorefineries
(15 credits)
BENGG029 Fundamental Biosciences
(15 credits)
BENGGR98 Dissertation on Bioprocess Research
(90 credits)
 
OPTION A (Choose one)
 
BENGG006 Commercialisation and Bioprocess Research
(15 credits)
BENGG007 Bioprocess Management – Discovery to Manufacture
(15 credits)
BENGG023 Bioprocess Systems Engineering
(15 credits)
BENGG026 Bioprocess Validation and Quality Control
(15 credits)
BENGG027 Bioprocess Microfluidics
(15 credits)
BENGG028 Vaccine Bioprocess Development
(15 credits)
OPTION B (Choose one)
 
BENGGB03 Applied Cell and Molecular Biology
(15 credits)
BENGG024 Cell Therapy Biology, Bioprocessing and Clinical Translation
(15 credits)

Engineering Stream

(Designed for students with a related Science or Life-Sciences degree)

CORE MODULES
 
BENGG001 Bioprocess Synthesis and Process Mapping
(15 credits)
BENGG004 Advanced Bioreactor Engineering
(15 credits)
BENGG005 Integrated Downstream Processing
(15 credits)
BENGG006 Commercialisation and Bioprocess Research
(15 credits)
BENGG016 Fluid Flow and Mixing in Bioprocesses
(15 credits)
BENGG017 Heat and Mass Transfer in Bioprocesses
(15 credits)
BENGG024 Cell Therapy Biology, Bioprocessing and Clinical Translation
(15 credits)
BENGG026 Bioprocess Validation and Quality Control
(15 credits)
BENGGD99 Dissertation on Bioprocess Design
(60 credits)
 

Biochemical Engineering Stream

(Designed for students with a degree in Biochemical Engineering)

CORE MODULES
 
BENGG022 Sustainable Industrial Bioprocesses and Biorefineries
(15 credits)
BENGG023 Bioprocess Systems Engineering
(15 credits)
BENGG024 Cell Therapy Biology, Bioprocessing and Clinical Translation
(15 credits)
BENGG025 Industrial Synthetic Biology
(15 credits)
BENGG026 Bioprocess Validation and Quality Control
(15 credits)
BENGG098 Bioprocess Research Project
(60 credits)
OPTIONS (Choose three)
 
BENGG007 Bioprocess Management – Discovery to Manufacture
(15 credits)
BENGG027 Bioprocess Microfluidics
(15 credits)
BENGG028 Vaccine Bioprocess Development
(15 credits)
CENGG019 Advanced Safety and Loss Prevention
(15 credits)
CENGG020 Energy Systems and Sustainability
(15 credits)
MSING001 Project Management
(15 credits)

Teaching & Learning

UCL was a founding laboratory of the discipline of Biochemical Engineering, established the first UK Department dedicated to Biochemical Engineering and is the largest international centre for bioprocess teaching and research. The Department has been providing the process industries with first-class graduates ever since it started teaching the subject in 1956. Our internationally recognised MSc programme maintains close links with the research activities of the Advanced Centre for Biochemical Engineering which ensure that lecture and case study examples are built around the latest biological discoveries and bioprocessing technologies.

Innovative teaching

Embarking on postgraduate study is an intense and challenging commitment. We actively encourage diversity and inclusivity in our recruitment, learning, and assessment, providing a distinctive and empowering education for all. You will be part of a community seeking to push the boundaries of our knowledge by applying theoretical rigour and fundamental principles to challenge ideas. We engage all our students in creating an environment that will enable them to flourish and realise their potential.

Our innovative teaching focuses on problem-based learning, an approach pioneered at UCL. Taught by world experts at the cutting-edge of the discipline, you will have regular opportunities to put theory into practice, preparing you for the real world. You will learn in a variety of ways. Some learning will be lecture-based, while some will provide you with the materials and support to self-study through video and written material, problem sheets, exercise classes and tutorials. We have invested heavily in making learning material available online, including a comprehensive system to record lectures so you can study at your own pace. You will also spend time in experimental labs or computer labs learning key technical skills.

UCL has the highest staff:student ratio in the UK, meaning plenty of people available to answer your questions. As an MSc student, you will be allocated a personal tutor in addition to your stream tutor, who you’ll meet regularly during teaching periods at UCL for help with academic and personal matters.

Real engineering experience

UCL Biochemical Engineering coordinates bioprocess research and training collaborations with more than a dozen UCL departments, a similar number of national and international university partners and over 40 international companies. MSc and PhD/EngD students directly benefit from our close ties with industry through their participation in the Department’s MBI® Training Programme.

The MBI® Training Programme is the largest leading international provider of innovative UCL-accredited short courses in bioprocessing designed primarily for industrialists. Courses are designed and delivered in collaboration with 70 industrial experts to support continued professional and technical development within the industry. Our MSc students have the unique opportunity to sit alongside industrial delegates, to gain deeper insights on the industrial application of taught material and to build a network of contacts to support their future careers.

World Class Research

Our staff engage in cutting-edge research, so you will be taught by experts about the latest advancements in the field. In the latest Research Excellence Framework assessment (REF2014), 90% of the Department’s research activity and 75% of its academic staff were rated either ‘World Leading’ or ‘Internationally Excellent’.

Over 75% of the Department’s research projects are collaborative with industry and all address strategically significant issues, frequently on a truly global scale. This close working relationship with industry provides unparalleled opportunities for research teams to tackle long term problems with leaders in the sector as highlighted by the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education awarded in 2013 for innovative research and translation into industrial practice.

The department’s research activity embraces ten major themes:

Careers

The rapid advancements in biology and the life sciences create a need for highly trained, multidisciplinary graduates possessing technical skills and fundamental understanding of both the biological and engineering aspects relevant to modern industrial bioprocesses. Consequently, UCL biochemical engineers are in high demand, due to their breadth of expertise, numerical ability and problem solving skills.

The department places great emphasis on its ability to assist its graduates in taking up exciting careers in the sector. UCL alumni, together with the department’s links with industrial groups, provide an excellent source of leads for graduates. Over 1,000 students have graduated from UCL with graduate qualifications in biochemical engineering at Master’s or doctoral levels.

We take great pride in the success of our alumni, now enjoying successful careers in over 30 countries. Many have gone on to distinguished and senior positions in the international bioindustry. Others have followed independent academic careers in universities around the world. UCL Biochemical Engineering Alumni are responsible for major scientific advances such as the design and development of processes for a first Hepatitis A vaccine and for a first medicine to counter septic shock.

Destinations

The first destinations of those who graduate from the Master's programme in Biochemical Engineering reflect the highly relevant nature of the training delivered. Approximately three-quarters of our graduates elect to either take up positions in major international employers in biotechnology, food production, pharmaceuticals and environmental/chemical industries or undertake a PhD or EngD programme while the remainder follow careers in the management, financial or engineering design sectors.

First career destinations of recent graduates (2012-2014) of this programme include:

  • Process Engineer, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Business Analyst, Deutsche Bank
  • Full-time student, PhD in Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge
  • Money Market Dealer, Shinhan Bank

*Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012-2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

UCL is committed to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers, UCL Advances and other entrepreneur societies can help you here: Careers and skills.

Professional Qualifications & Accreditation

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Our MSc programme is accredited by the Institute of Chemical Engineering (IChemE). IChemE accredited degrees and diplomas are recognised through Mutual Recognition Agreements worldwide. Accredited degrees and diplomas help provide graduates with a pathway to qualification as a Chartered Chemical Engineer (MIChemE) and registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng) with the Engineering Council and/or as a Chartered Scientist (CSci) with the Science Council. You may find a full range of benefits provided by obtaining CEng and MIChemE status by clicking the respective links.

The level of accreditation is dependent on the background of an individual student and the MSc pathway taken.

The “Science” and “Biochemical Engineering” streams of the Biochemical Engineering MSc have been accredited by the IChemE as meeting the further learning requirements, in full, for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng, MIChemE) for a period of five years, from the 2016 student cohort intake.

The “Engineering” stream of the Biochemical Engineering MSc has been accredited by the IChemE as meeting the learning requirements, in full, for registration as an Incorporated Chemical Engineer (AMIChemE) for a period of five years, from the 2016 student cohort intake.

Students' View

What do students think of UCL Biochemical Engineering?

FAQs

MSc Application Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What is the difference between Biochemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering?
  2. Can I become a chartered Chemical Engineer if I study Biochemical Engineering?
  3. What does an average week look like? How much labwork/practical work will I get to do?
  4. If I am allocated in stream X can I take modules from stream Y?
  5. How will a potential “Brexit” influence my fee status as an EU citizen?

What is the difference between Biochemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering?

In some ways the two disciplines are closely related. Both are based on core engineering concepts such as heat and mass transfer, thermodynamics, mathematics. Unique to our MSc (and to Biochemical Engineering as a discipline in fact) is the blend of Biology, Biochemistry and Engineering principles to (learn how to) design, operate and optimize bioprocesses (e.g. for the production of pharmaceuticals, biofuels, pluripotent stem cells for regenerative medicine, biopolymers or vaccines). Topics exclusive to Biochemical Engineering include Bioreactor design, downstream processing (separation and purification), bioprocess management and specialized optional modules such as Vaccine development and Microfluidics.

Consequently, the specialized knowledge that you will derive from a dedicated MSc in Biochemical Engineering can't be matched or "approximated" by traditional Chemical Engineering. In much the same way you need (Physical-)Chemistry, Thermodynamics and Engineering knowledge to design a petrochemical refinery you need Biology, Biochemistry and Engineering to design bioprocesses for the production of therapeutics for example.

Can I become a chartered Chemical Engineer if I study Biochemical Engineering?

Yes, this is one of the main benefits of our IChemE accredited programme. The level of accreditation obtained is dependent on the background of an individual student and the MSc pathway taken.

The “Science” and “Biochemical Engineering” streams of the Biochemical Engineering MSc have been accredited by the IChemE as meeting the further learning requirements, in full, for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng, MIChemE) for a period of five years, from the 2016 student cohort intake.

The “Engineering” stream of the Biochemical Engineering MSc has been accredited by the IChemE as meeting the learning requirements, in full, for registration as an Incorporated Chemical Engineer (AMIChemE) for a period of five years, from the 2016 student cohort intake.

That means, that even if your undergraduate background is from a Science/Life Science discipline, studying our MSc will put you on track to becoming a Chartered Engineer. One of the key elements you need to display in order to become a chartered Engineer is to have conducted a full process design project. Our “Engineering Stream” tailored for graduates from the Life Sciences includes such a design project as well as the necessary core engineering topics. Once you have successfully graduated from our MSc, you will then need to obtain some relevant work experience and you will become eligible to apply to become a Chartered Engineer and a full member of the IChemE.

What does an average week look like? How much labwork/practical work will I get to do?

During Term time expect to be engaged 5-days a week between 4 to 8 hours (depending on stream and term), with intermittent brakes for lunch. The coursework and lab practicals involve a good mix between individual based and group based activities & assignments as do the design and business projects. The ability to work in teams is a key requirement of a professional biochemical engineer and hence this is reflected in the MSc programme.

The amount of lab/practical work versus lectures varies slightly depending on the stream you are placed in but you can get a rough idea from the module descriptions on our website under the tab "degree structure". During Term 3, where you will be doing your research/design project you will be spending the majority of your time (9-to-5) in the lab/computer/group working areas.

If I am allocated in stream X can I take modules from stream Y?

The curriculum for each of the three streams has been designed around the needs and requirements of the students it is offered to.

The “Science” and “Biochemical Engineering” streams offer a limited selection of optional modules that you can take. Some will be exclusive to your individual stream but some will be shared across all three streams. Options have been designed to cover a wide array of topics and skill such as Bioprocess Microfluidics, Vaccine Bioprocess Development, Bioprocess Management and Synthetic Biology.

The “Engineering Stream” currently has no access to optional modules because of the need to include all the elements required for IChemE accreditation. As you can appreciate, it is no easy task to re-train students from a non-Engineering background into well rounded Engineers within a years’ time. Unfortunately, that leaves little room for optional modules. Bear in mind that some modules are common across all three streams so you will frequently interact with the entire MSc cohort.

How will a potential “Brexit” influence my fee status as an EU citizen?

UCL is a global university through our outlook, people and enduring international partnerships. Students and staff from the European Union are an intrinsic part of our community. We have a long tradition of European students and partnerships. We currently have over 4,000 non-UK EU students enrolled at UCL. In the words of Professor Michael Arthur, UCL President and Provost: "We value you enormously – your contribution to UCL life is intrinsic to what the university stands for."

Immigration Status: If you are currently enrolled at UCL, your immigration status and associated fee status, as well as your access to the student loan book, have not changed as a result of the vote. If there were to be any changes to your immigration status in the future, we would not expect these to come into place until formal agreements have been reached in relation to issues such as freedom of movement.

If you have a place to start at UCL in the academic years 2016/17 or 2017/18, at this stage there is no reason to assume any change to your immigration status.

Tuition Fees: The tuition fees payable by EU students who have accepted a place on a programme as a home/EU student prior to the date upon which the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union becomes effective will remain the same (subject to any annual increase in accordance with the applicable terms and conditions and the UCL fees schedule) for the duration of the relevant student’s enrolment on the specific programme.

Eligibility for loans from the Student Loans Company (SLC): The referendum result has not had any impact on current eligibility for tuition fee loans or maintenance loans. For more information, please refer to the statement from Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, on the SLC website. Latest developments can be found on this article from the BBC.

UCL maintains a dedicated webpage addressing issues related to the referendum and potential “Brexit”. You will find more details here (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/eu-referendum).

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