Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


Frequently Asked Questions: Biomedical Engineering

On this page we've gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about our BEng and MEng undergraduate degrees in Biomedical Engineering.

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    Degree content and information:

    What is biomedical engineering?

    Like all of engineering, biomedical engineers draw on physics and mathematics to solve technical problems and to design and develop new products. The main difference is that biomedical engineers specialise in solving challenges related to healthcare and well-being. That means also drawing on knowledge of things like anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, and working closely with other medical professionals.

    What is the staff-student ratio?

    Although we are a large Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering department, by design we only have a relatively small number of undergraduate students. We currently have around 50 academic and teaching staff, 80 postdoctoral staff, 140 PhD students, 30 masters students, and 150 undergraduate students. This means the staff / student ratio is high. Our staff are also highly research active, so students will learn about the latest innovations from leading experts in their field.

    Do you offer a year abroad?

    Yes, we currently offer a year abroad in the third year of the four-year MEng degree. You can find more information on the UCL study abroad pages as well as a list of possible institutions to attend for the year abroad. You do not need to choose the study-abroad option in advance, and will have plenty of opportunity to explore this further after starting at UCL.

    Do you offer a year in industry?

    Students may choose to spend one year in industry either between their second and third year, or between their third and fourth year, thus adding one year to the overall length of their degree. However, a year in industry does not form part of the standard BEng/MEng (Biomedical) degree programmes. This means, while support and advice is offered, for any students wishing to take a year in industry, the onus is on them to find an appropriate placement and gain the necessary approvals.

    Should I choose the BEng or MEng (Biomedical) degree?

    The degree system in the UK is similar but not exactly the same as in other countries. In the UK system, the 4-year MEng is the most advanced type of undergraduate degree, starting with the equivalent of a 3-year BEng followed by an integrated 4th year which involves studying advanced courses at a Masters level.

    In the UCL Biomedical Engineering programme, the two degrees are largely the same for the first three years of study so they start off at the same level of difficulty, and you have the opportunity to change between them. The MEng provides the opportunity to study additional specialised modules and to take an additional group project.

    Both degrees have the same entry requirements, and admissions quotas are set in aggregate across both BEng/MEng. This means you will have the same likelihood of being accepted regardless of which degree you apply for. If you are unsure, we recommend selecting the MEng option.

    Are the BEng/MEng (Biomedical) degrees accredited?

    Our BEng and MEng degree programmes are accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). To meet the academic requirements for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status requires either a 2.2 (upper 2nd class, >50% average) or better honours MEng degree, or alternatively our accredited BEng degree followed by an accredited stand-alone Masters (MSc, MRes or MPhil) at UCL or elsewhere. The MEng course has the advantage of satisfying all of the educational requirements for achieving chartered status without the need to apply for a separate degree.

    What modules can I take?

    The course content covers an exciting range of topics covering biomechanics, clinical engineering, medical instrumentation, medical imaging, and much more. A full list of the modules for both the BEng and MEng degrees is available on our department website.

    Is the course structure of the first year common for every UCL Engineering department?

    Across UCL’s Integrated Engineering Programme, you major in your chosen field of engineering from the outset, unlike at some universities where you can only study general engineering for the first few years. Across the first two years, there are a small number of modules taken with other engineering departments (including Engineering Challenges, Design and Professional Skills, and Mathematical Modelling and Analysis). These modules are designed to introduce you to the broad interdisciplinary nature of engineering. The remaining modules are specific to Biomedical Engineering.

    Does the course contain any programming?

    Programming, in varying amounts, is bedded in several of the modules. We introduce you to several different languages, both 'high level' and 'low level', including MATLAB, Arduino coding, and coding smartphone apps. If you are interested in programming, there are also optional modules in C and Python, and you can choose a programming-based IEP Minor.

    How does this course differ from the UCL Medical Sciences and Engineering BSc?

    The Medical Sciences and Engineering BSc programme is led by the Faculty of Medical Sciences, and teaching is split between that Faculty and the Faculty of Engineering Sciences. Comparatively, the BSc programme has a much greater focus on medical sciences (e.g., human biology and pathology, cardiovascular and respiratory system, gut and liver, nervous system, etc). The MEng/BEng (Biomedical) programme is taught by the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering and focuses more on fundamental problem-solving and engineering skills applied to medical devices, biomechanics, medical imaging and clinical engineering.

    Do you offer summer internships?

    Summer internships are often available within the different research groups in the Department on an adhoc basis. Positions are usually advertised internally, although interested students are also encouraged to contact the research groups directly.

    Can I arrange a visit to the department?

    Due to the large number of admissions enquiries we receive, we do not have the resources to offer appointments outside of our Open Days.

    The UCL Open Days normally take place in June and September, when the Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering Department is open to visitors and staff are available to discuss the degree programmes. The offer-holder Open Days are usually held from November to March for UK-based applicants. Offer-holders are normally invited via email and attendance is optional.

    A self-guided tour of the UCL campus can be undertaken by following the self-guided tour map. Alternatively, UCL runs campus tours on selected afternoons where prospective students can look around UCL with the guide of a current student. More details can be found at the UCL Campus Tours page.

    How many contact hours are there each week, and how long will I spend studying?

    A typical week would include 12-16 hours of lectures a week, 6 hours of laboratory time and problem based learning classes, and 1 hour of personal / academic tutor time. A good rule of thumb is to spend the same number of hours revising and studying as the number of hours attending lectures.

    How is the course assessed?

    Each module is assessed individually usually by a combination of course work and exams (the balance varies slightly for each module). The course work can be in a wide range of formats (e.g., lab report, question sheet, essay, programming assignment, literature review, presentation, etc) and is submitted and marked while you’re taking the module. Exams are held in Term 3 in the same academic year as you take the module (usually around April to June).

    Are there any textbooks you recommend for background reading?

    There is no single textbook that covers the course content. Now you are approaching university, you may want to try a different approach to learning. What about cultivating your interest in biomedical engineering? There are a few good websites that we can recommend:

    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/medphys/research (of course, our own!)

    What careers support is available?

    UCL Engineering has a dedicated Engineering Careers Team who run many events and offer one-to-one coaching to help with everything from discussing career options to reviewing CVs and cover letters, and preparing for interviews.

    What sort of jobs do your graduates get?

    There is a strong demand for UCL graduates in biomedical engineering from employers working across a huge range of healthcare technologies. Previous graduates have gone on to work for major med-tech companies, biomed start-ups, within hospital medical physics departments, and to pursue PhDs in related areas.

    Some graduates also go on to work in other fields, leveraging the transferable problem solving and critical thinking skills they develop on the programme. You can read more about some of our recent graduates on our Alumni page.


    Can I transfer between the BEng and MEng (Biomedical) degrees at UCL?

    Yes, you can transfer between the two degree programmes by contacting the programme tutor. The two degrees are largely the same for the first three years.

    Can I transfer from the UCL Medical Physics programme to Biomedical Engineering?

    We do not permit students to transfer directly into the second or third year of the BEng/MEng (Biomedical) degree programmes, and credits from other universities are not accepted. For students at UCL, transfer into the first year of the degree programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis provided that the original entry requirements are met, and the student is in good academic standing.

    Can I transfer to the BEng/MEng (Biomedical) degrees from other courses, or from other universities?

    We do not permit students to transfer directly into the second or third year of the BEng/MEng (Biomedical) degree programmes, and credits from other universities are not accepted. For students within UCL, transfer into the first year of the degree programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis provided that the original entry requirements are met, and the student is in good academic standing. For students from other universities, applications for first year entry can be made through UCAS.

    Applications and Admissions:

    Will I be offered an interview?

    No, we do not interview applicants for the UCL engineering degree programmes.

    What is taken into consideration during the selection process?

    The admission team considers all the information contained in the UCAS application form, including the personal statement, referee’s report, academic record and predicted examination results.

    Do I have to attend your offer-holder Open Day?

    No, attendance is optional and won’t affect admissions decisions in any way.

    Do I have to take A-level Mathematics and Physics?

    Yes, these are compulsory pre-requisite courses, and are essential to prepare you for the course content.

    What do you recommend for the third course?

    We recommend you study something that you are interested in and passionate about! If you’re stuck, some relevant courses might be biology and chemistry. However, other choices are equally valid, and this choice won’t affect admissions decisions in any way.

    Can I apply for both the BEng and MEng (Biomedical) degrees?

    No. If you apply for both the BEng and MEng programmes, after an initial assessment for eligibility, you will be emailed to establish your preferred programme, and the non-preferred choice will be rejected.

    Can I apply for both biomedical engineering (BEng/MEng) and medical physics (BSc/MSci) programmes at UCL?

    Yes, you can apply for more than one course at the same university.

    If I retake my A-levels, will my application still be considered?

    Yes, we will consider applicants who are resitting their A-Levels and predicted to meet our entry requirements (including those who are reapplying to us). Every year we take some students who have re-sat A-Levels.

    I am a mature student, how will my application be assessed?

    Applicants are expected to demonstrate their reasons for applying to biomedical engineering, their interests in this subject, and their career aspirations. Some mature students may have already completed bachelor degrees, in which case, it is essential for you to clearly demonstrate that you have a genuine reason and motivation for studying another undergraduate course rather than a postgraduate qualification (our department also offers 1-year MSc courses that cover biomedical engineering).

    Is it possible to apply for deferred entry?

    Yes, we are happy to take applications for deferred entry when making your UCAS application.

    If I apply for deferred entry, will it affect my chances of admission?

    No, the same admission criteria are applied regardless of the option to defer.

    Can I defer for more than one year due to compulsory military service?

    We may be able to approve a 2-year deferral on a case-by-case basis. Please email the admissions tutor to discuss your individual circumstances.

    Can I apply for entry after taking a foundation course from another university?

    Unfortunately, Foundation Courses, Diplomas and Certificates from other universities are not acceptable for entry to UCL.

    I am applying for medicine, and want to put Biomedical Engineering as my fifth choice. Will my application still be considered?

    We understand that some students may also be applying to medicine, and as such, their personal statement and reference may not be tailored directly to biomedical engineering. This is taken into consideration when assessing the applications. However, all other things being equal, an application which demonstrates a strong personal statement geared specifically towards biomedical engineering will be ranked more highly than one tailored towards clinical medicine.

    The qualification I’m taking isn’t listed on the prospectus page for BEng/MEng (Biomedical). How can I find out if you’ll accept it?

    If you have questions about whether the qualification you are taking is suitable for the course, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions team before making your application.

    How many places are there on the course and how competitive is entry?

    There is strong demand for our Biomedical Engineering programmes. We receive around 500 applications for 50 places, with the majority of these being from suitably qualified applicants.

    What should I include in my personal statement?

    The UCAS website has lots of excellent information about writing personal statements.

    UCAS Results Day:

    What happens if I don’t meet the offer requirements? Do you take students with dropped grades?

    This decision is taken in August when we have all of the grades in. At this point we will know if there is any availability on the programmes to consider applicants that narrowly missed their conditional offer. However, due to our small intake number, we don’t typically accept many students via this route.

    I have extenuating circumstances that affected my performance in exams. Can you take these into account during admissions?

    UCL will only accept the results you are awarded. We strongly advise that you or your school contact your exam board(s) to make them aware of any circumstances that could have affected your exam performance. They will then be able to take this into account when awarding the final grade. If you request a remark and your grades change, please remember that we will need to have received confirmation of your new grade(s) by the end of August. We will not be able to consider remarks after this date.

    Do you take part in UCAS clearing?

    UCL does not have places available via UCAS clearing.

    Do you take part in UCAS adjustment?

    Some UCL courses have places available via UCAS adjustment for students who have met the UCL entry requirements and have exceeded the conditions of their Firm offer. Historically, the BEng/MEng (Biomedical) degree programmes have not had places available due to being heavily oversubscribed, however, this is reassessed annually. Details on the degree programmes open for adjustment can be found on the UCL Prospective Students page.

    I didn’t meet the conditions of my offer. Can I enrol in the UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate in Engineering?

    No. The UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates are for high-achieving students whose home qualifications do not allow them direct admission to UCL.

    Coming to UCL:

    I have a question about accommodation?

    Lots of details about UCL accommodation can be found on the UCL Accommodation Pages. If you have a specific question, you can email accommodation@ucl.ac.uk.

    I have a question about living in London?

    Choosing to study at UCL gives you the chance to study and live in one of the world's great capital cities. Lots of details about living in London, including living expenses and additional costs, academic and cultural resources, and transport can be found on the UCL living in London pages.

    I have a question about financial aid/bursaries/scholarships?

    You can find out what options are available to help pay for fees and living costs while you study for your undergraduate degree on the UCL bursaries and scholarships pages. The scholarships and funding pages also have information on the cost of an undergraduate degree, Government loans, and funding for disabled students.