UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering



Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from people interested in studying a postgraduate taught degree at UCL Biochemical Engineering

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 offers only one slot for optional modules, with two possible modules available. The number of optional modules is limited for this stream 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. Bear in mind that some modules are common across all three streams so you will frequently interact with the entire MSc cohort. Moreover, the two optional modules on offer take place in different terms allowing you to better balance your workload as you see fit.

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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 2018/17 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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Are there any scholarships/funding opportunities to support my studies?

The Department of Biochemical Engineering does not run its own scholarship or funding scheme to support postgraduate studies. However, UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current UCL students with their studies. You may find more information on our "Scholarships and Funding" portal (www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships).

You can filter the available opportunities by degree type (Graduate Taught in your case), Department (Biochemical Engineering) and/or Country of Domicile (according to your citizenship).

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