Physics and Engineering in Medicine by distance learning MSc

Distance learning programme

This programme pathway is identical to the campus-delivered radiation physics stream but is designed for students unable to travel to London because of their work duties or international location. Teaching is delivered via video lectures, top-up online tutorials and additional e-learning resources, with coursework and supervised examinations arranged across the world by the British Council.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 28 Jun 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper-second class UK Bachelor’s degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in physics, engineering, computer science, mathematics, or other closely related discipline. Workplace knowledge and expertise are also considered. Applicants with a lower than upper-second class degree may be invited for a short online interview with programme tutors as part of their application process.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2
Overall score of 7.0 and a minimum of 6.5 in each component.

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

If you are intending to apply for a time-limited visa to complete your UCL studies (e.g., Student visa, Skilled worker visa, PBS dependant visa etc.) you may be required to obtain ATAS clearance. This will be confirmed to you if you obtain an offer of a place.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

Students study in detail the physics theory and practice that underpins modern medicine, and learn to apply their knowledge to established and emerging technologies in medical science. The programme covers the applications of both ionising and non-ionising radiation to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease and disorder, and includes a research project and the development of computational skills needed to apply this theory into practice.

Who this course is for

The programme is particularly suitable for students with a first degree in physics - although an engineering degree is also acceptable - who wish to develop an interdisciplinary approach to applying their skills in health care, and in particular for those seeking employment as medical physicists in hospital, industry or university environments.

What this course will give you

The spectrum of medical physics activities undertaken in UCL Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering is probably the broadest of any in the United Kingdom. The department is an internationally leading centre of excellence and students receive comprehensive training in the latest methodologies and technologies from leading experts in the field.

The department operates alongside the NHS department which provides the medical physics and clinical engineering services for the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as undertaking industrial contract research and technology transfer. The department is also a collaborator in the nearby London Proton Therapy Centre at UCLH.

Students have access to an exceptionally wide range of expertise, laboratory, teaching and clinical facilities in the department and associated hospitals. A large range of scientific equipment is available for research involving nuclear magnetic resonance, optics, acoustics, X-rays physics, radiation dosimetry, and implant and interventional device development.

The foundation of your career

Postgraduate study within the department offers the chance to develop important skills and acquire new knowledge through involvement with a team of world-leading scientists and engineers. As well as developing key science and engineering knowledge, graduates learn project management, communication and teamwork skills which they are then able to apply to solving problems at the forefront of human endeavour. The department has a recognised track record for producing excellent graduates who go on to hold leading roles in universities, companies and hospitals around the world.


A large percentage of graduates from the online Master's programme commence or continue training or employment within the healthcare sector, mostly in UK and overseas hospitals. Online learning offers the ability to upskill or reskill in physics disciplines applied to medicine while also training or practising in the field.  


As a global leader in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering research, our academics are at the forefront of healthcare innovations, with national and international collaborations across clinical, industrial and academic sectors. This provides natural opportunities to network with a variety of external partners and showcase output at international conferences, private industry events and clinical centres to audiences of potential employers. Moreover, the department holds close working relationships with a number of charities, research councils and international organisations, for example, in new projects involving radiotherapy and infant optical brain imaging in Africa.


MSc Physics and Engineering in Medicine by Distance Learning is accredited by the UK Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM). This pathway is particularly suitable for students who wish to become a professional medical physicist or clinical scientist/engineer. Being a medical physicist or clinical engineer in a hospital requires extensive training and vocational experience.

In the UK, medical physicists and clinical engineers must be state-registered. This generally involves completing an MSc degree that is accredited by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM), and undergoing further vocational training working under supervision in a hospital medical physics department (or equivalent) to achieve chartered scientist or chartered engineer status (indicated by the designations C.Sci or C.Eng).

Teaching and learning

The Physics and Engineering in Medicine (PEM) by Distance Learning MSc programme is accredited by the UK Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM), and therefore meets the minimum educational requirements for UK medical physicist/clinical engineer training programmes. This status provides graduates from the programme with the option to undergo further training to fulfil the requirements to become a state-registered medical physicist or clinical engineer.

The programme supports the study of modules over a schedule that suits your individual circumstances and commitments.

You will study medical imaging (using ionising and non-ionising radiation), essential physics of ionising radiation used in imaging and treatment, radiotherapy, computing (including computer programming), and basic anatomy and physiology. You will also be exposed to elements of medical device design and entrepreneurship through a group project. This will also provide you with an opportunity to interact with other Masters students studying on the same programme.

Early on in your final year of study, you will choose a research project. Research projects are available covering a wide range of areas, but typically involve developing and implementing a method to solve part of a healthcare problem (e.g. software to analyse a medical image or a device to measure a physiological signal), and perform experiments to test and validate the method.

Both group and individual projects will provide you with an opportunity to apply knowledge and skills developed elsewhere in the course. They will also enable you to develop your written and oral communication skills through reports and presentations. You will be able to demonstrate your general knowledge and understanding gained throughout the course in an oral examination.

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, demonstrations, tutorials, assignments and a research project. Lecturers are drawn from UCL and from London teaching hospitals including UCLH, St. Bartholomew's, and the Royal Free Hospital. Assessment is through supervised examination, coursework and assignments, a research dissertation and an oral examination.

A Postgraduate Diploma, eight core modules (120 credits), is offered.

The Distance Learning route of the MSc is based around the same lectures and seminars, recorded as videos, as the “On-Campus” route. This comes with regular tutorials, meetings and support from a specialist Distance Learning personal tutor. All materials are available to study asynchronously, although some students may take up the opportunity to attend some live lectures or labs, either in person or online. The number of hours depends strongly on whether you study, Full-Time (1 year MSc), Part-Time (2 year MSc), or Flexible-Study (up to a maximum of 5 years).

Each module typically consists of around 30-40 lectures over a ten-week term (excluding reading week). During each week, including problem classes, you should therefore expect about 20 hours of lectures or problem classes. You will need to spend your own time in addition to the timetabled hours reviewing the material and completing coursework. You should expect to be spending at least 40 hours per week on your studies as a Full-Time student.

Many of our part-time/flexible-study distance learning students work in full-time employment while studying. To support this and give best flexibility during your studies all modules are spread out over two terms rather than one. You study at half the pace per module (~2 hours of lectures per module per week) over twice the time, i.e. from October to March. This just ensures that if your work life get particularly busy one week, you'll be able to catch up more easily. The expected study time for a 15 credit, Masters-level module is 150 hours. This includes the time for lectures, private reading, tutorials, independent tasks, student led E-learning and revision. Divide 150 hours by the (roughly) 30 weeks of the academic year before exams to get the expected study time per module of 5 hours per week. This will be made up of both self directed study and tutor meetings.

Finally, the students are expected to allocate a significant amount of that time to their research project (an average of up to 8 hours per week for the MSc Full -Time students). The time allocation to the research project will need to be adjusted between Terms 1 and 2, and the summer term

A Postgraduate Diploma, eight core modules (120 credits), is offered.


Full-time study means you study all modules in one year; 7 taught modules, with the group project module and your individual research project. There is no requirement for you to attend live lectures, all materials are recorded for your use whenever you like.

There is some flexibility, but we recommend you study by the following timetable:

  • Term 1: Four taught modules
  • Term 2: Three taught modules
  • Term 1, 2 & 3: Individual research project and group project module

Note that all modules are compulsory on this programme to achieve the MSc.

Part-time study means you study all modules across two years:

  • Year 1: Four taught modules
  • Year 2: Three taught modules, Individual research project and group project module

Note that all modules are compulsory on this programme to achieve the MSc.

The flexible route is designed to suit each student's needs or available study time. You would expect to complete your studies in 2-4 years, with a 5th year as a contingency (you must complete your studies within 5 years). The number of modules studied each year varies depending on student preference and the teaching team will be able to advise you on a suitable study plan. 

Note that all modules are compulsory on this programme to achieve the MSc.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Physics and Engineering in Medicine by distance learning. Upon successful completion of 120 credits, you will be awarded a PG Dip in Physics and Engineering in Medicine by distance learning.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £17,300 £8,650
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100 £15,550

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

There are no additional costs associated with this programme.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Physics and Engineering in Medicine at graduate level
  • why you want to study this UCL programme by distance learning
  • whether you have relevant industrial, clinical or workplace experience
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally after your degree

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.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.