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Biomedical Engineering Subject Guide

Considering biomedical engineering for your postgraduate studies? If so, you’ll find all the information you need to make an informed decision about your options in this guide. 

Biomedical engineering universities offering postgraduate degrees draw prospective students from a variety of undergraduate disciplines. Whether you’re coming from a biomedical sciences, physics, engineering or medical background, you’ll be able to develop your existing expertise and contribute to an innovative field in human health improvement. 

Choosing the right biomedical engineering course is important—in this guide, you’ll find essential information on everything you need to know about studying biomedical engineering, why you should do it, the entry requirements and where you could study. 


Why do a biomedical engineering degree? 

Biomedical engineering is an exciting, interdisciplinary field that focuses on applying engineering principles and methods to biological and medical challenges. It seeks to create new healthcare technology and treatments to drive progress in human health, from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation. 

A growing industry, students may choose to study biomedical engineering if they want to be a part of the solution to some of society’s greatest challenges—treating prevalent or chronic conditions, helping to support an increasingly ageing population, or addressing some of the biggest killers like cardiovascular disease. 

Graduates in this subject can go on to biomedical engineering jobs that will see them making medical devices such as artificial hips and pacemakers, to innovative technology-enabled treatments such as the 3D printing of artificial organs, or engineering stem cells. 

What qualifications can you get? 

There are several options open to you for postgraduate biomedical engineering courses, depending on your academic goals and the biomedical engineering jobs you’d like to move into after you finish your studies. 

A taught master’s degree, usually an MSc, is one of the most popular options for postgraduate study in this field. These courses offer a comprehensive education in the theory, practices and technologies involved in biomedical engineering, giving students the chance to focus in on certain treatment types or their application in certain areas of the body. Each master’s course features unique practical placement opportunities in local or regional clinical and research settings, so it’s worth looking into these while considering which course to take. 

The other major type of master’s is the MRes, which reduces the amount of classroom teaching in favour of a course that focuses on developing key research skills and completing a major research project. It’s a great way to prepare for an MPhil or full doctorate degree, which trains students to be professional researchers and conduct impactful work in their field independently. 

What jobs can you do with a biomedical engineering degree? 

There are various career paths open to graduates of biomedical engineering degrees. The advanced research and problem-solving skills, as well as extensive laboratory experience and technical knowledge, that biomedical engineering postgraduates develop makes them an attractive option for many employers. 

Some of the possible roles you could go on to include: 

  • Biomedical engineering consultant 
  • Biomaterials developer 
  • Biomedical researcher 
  • Biomedical scientist 
  • Biomedical engineering writer 
  • Doctor 
  • Manufacturing engineer 
  • Rehabilitation engineer 
  • University researcher 

The transferable skills that biomedical engineering students develop during their studies allow them to stand out to employers across an even broader range of industries. Roles in medicine and healthcare, business start-ups, medical tech companies and university research teams are just some of the options open to graduates in this field. 

What are the biomedical engineering degree entry requirements? 

Students applying for a biomedical engineering master’s will typically be asked for at least a 2:2 grade at undergraduate honours level, in a relevant subject such as physics, biomedical sciences or engineering. Some courses may ask for a higher minimum grade. 

For doctoral study, a minimum grade of 2:1 is required at undergraduate level, in a relevant area, in addition to evidence of the student’s ability to conduct quality research independently. 

What biomedical engineering courses are there? 

There are various options available to students considering a biomedical engineering degree at postgraduate level. Examples include: 

  • MSc Biomedical Engineering 
  • MSc Advanced Biomedical Engineering 
  • MSc Medical Engineering 
  • MSc Biotechnology and Bioengineering 
  • MPhil Biomedical Engineering 

What topics does a biomedical engineering degree cover? 

While each biomedical engineering course will have its own unique blend of compulsory and optional modules, you could expect to study topics such as: 

  • Synthetic biology 
  • Biotechnology and regenerative medicine 
  • Production innovation and new technologies 
  • Biomedical devices and implants 
  • Advanced engineering modelling and analysis 

What do you learn in a biomedical engineering degree? 

As a student of a biomedical engineering, you’ll bring together knowledge from the field of health, life sciences, physics and engineering to build a strong interdisciplinary skillset. Students of this growing field will develop an advanced understanding in areas such as medical devices, innovative human health treatments, and the creation of artificial organs. 

Students will develop industry-standard research skills, designing and delivering their own experimental or analytical research projects to generate new knowledge and insights across a chosen topic. The ability to understand technical data from multiple fields, translate it into results and communicate findings to a diverse audience are other key skills that biomedical engineering graduates will leave their course with. 

A range of soft skills such as time management, analytical thinking, problem solving, independent working is typical of graduates in this area, as well as transferable hard skills such as statistics. 

How will you be taught and assessed? 

Teaching during a biomedical engineering master’s degree will come in several forms. Most of your contact hours will be split between lectures and practical laboratory working. Labs are an essential part of biomedical engineering curricula, with many universities offering access to state-of-the-art facilities in areas like microbiology and biomechanics. 

Assessment will usually be through written exams, supervised and assessed laboratory work, and the completion of coursework—which could take the form of essays, research reports or presentations. 

Research master’s and doctorates will involve much more independent research activity and be assessed through a thesis or extended project report. 

How long is a biomedical engineering degree? 

The length of a postgraduate biomedical engineering degree will vary depending on the type of course you’ve applied for.  

A biomedical engineering master’s, such as an MSc or MRes, will typically take a year of full-time study. If you’re studying part-time, expect it to take up to two years. 

Shorter postgraduate taught courses, like a PGCert or PGDip, are also an option and faster—typically one or two semesters long when studied full-time. 

Doctoral research qualifications could last up to four years full-time, or eight years part-time. A shorter MPhil is usually half that. 

Where can you study biomedical engineering? 

Over 35 universities in the UK offer postgraduate programmes in this field, allowing you plenty of choice for your biomedical engineering degree. Using our university and course finder tools can help you find the best options for your biomedical engineering education. 

What similar subjects are there to biomedical engineering? 

You might consider a number of alternatives to biomedical engineering at postgraduate level, such as: 

  • Biomedical science 
  • Biological science 
  • Medicine 
  • Pharmacology 
  • Mechanical engineering 

Next: Search for biomedical engineering courses


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