Biomedical Materials Science
There are thousands of products that use biomedical materials science in their conception and production: artificial skin, ceramic tooth fillings, contact lenses, replacement knee joints, replacement heart valves, heart-lung machines, drug delivery systems are just a few. The UK is a world leader in biomaterials: it is a fast-moving and rapidly growing subject, giving many opportunities in the healthcare industry, and in postgraduate research and development.
This branch of science cuts across the boundaries of many traditional science subjects, combining elements of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and biology with materials science and engineering subjects. Courses often lead to MEng or BEng qualifications and will give you the essential academic training for the professional qualification of chartered engineer (CEng). Courses with industrial experience give additional credit towards the CEng and most, but not all, are accredited by the Institute of Materials, Mining and Minerals. Alternatively, or you could choose a course that leads to a BSc, which focuses more on materials science and less on engineering.
Example areas of study
The topics listed are below will give you an idea of the core modules that you may be able to study. It is important to check these details with the institutions that you wish to apply to before you submit your application.
- Mathematics and computing
- Materials engineering
- Polymer science
- Tissue engineering and artificial organs
- Biological structures
- Medical physiology
- Financial management
- Manufacturing processes
- Medical engineering
- Advanced ceramics
- Forensic chemistry
- Advanced chemistry
- Human biology
- cell and molecular biology
- Dental materials
- Biosensors and devices
- Functional biomechanics
- Biological structures
Some career possibilities
There is an increasing demand for engineers with biomedical training and for biomaterials graduates with materials design and biomedical knowledge to develop all types of biomedical materials. Many graduates work in industry, for example in research and development, production or marketing, while others stay on at university for postgraduate research and study for higher degrees. Some graduates go on to second degrees in medicine or dentistry.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for courses in this area tend be fairly similar so the list below will give you a good idea of the grades and qualifications that you will be expected to have. However, it is important to check with the institutions that you wish to apply to that your predicted grades are those that are required before you submit your application.
- UCAS Tariff: 280 - 340 points including biology and chemistry. Mathematics may also be required for some courses.
- A-level: BBC - AAB usually including biology and chemistry. Mathematics may also be required for some courses.
- SQA Highers: AABB including chemistry and possible another science
- SQA Advanced Highers: BBC - AAB including mathematics and physics and / or chemistry and biology
- Irish Leaving Certificates: BBBCC - AABBB including mathematics and physics and / or chemistry or biology
- International Baccalaureate: 26 - 36 points including mathematics and physics at higher level and / or chemistry or biology
- European Baccalaureate: 75 - 80% including mathematics and physics or chemistry
- Welsh Baccalaureate: BC including biology and chemistry
- BTEC National Diploma: DMM in a relevant subject and in conjunction with other qualifications
For your application or interview, evidence of the following could be useful:
- A demonstrable interest in medicine and healthcare, for example through work shadowing (such as with orthopaedic consultants in hospitals or dentists carrying out dental implants), work experience in the biomedical industry or voluntary work with disabled people
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