Study Diagnostic Radiography, why & how to study
Diagnostic radiographers use state of the art technology to diagnose patients and guide their recovery. See what it’s like to study the area, and if this career is for you.
Diagnostic Radiography, also known as medical imaging, is the use of radiation to produce images to help diagnose and treat disease and injury.
Radiographers use some of the most advanced technologies to look inside a patient’s body. They uncover the root causes of an illness and then consult with other experts in a varied team on the best course of treatment.
In the past radiographers mainly used X-rays, but there are now many techniques such as:
- Computed tomography (CT scanning)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Nuclear medicine
Undergraduate degrees in Diagnostic Radiography include:
- Diagnostic Radiography BSc
- Diagnostic Radiography and Imaging BSc
- Medical Imaging (Diagnostic Radiography) BSc
Course content is usually informed by the latest research and best practice in the field.
Degree apprenticeships in Diagnostic Radiography are sometimes available. These give you the option to gain a degree while working and earning. You are required to apply through an employer, and you won’t be eligible for student loans or grants.
Typically, entry to an undergraduate Diagnostic Radiography degree requires 112–128 UCAS points. Some courses may have lower or higher requirements, and not all unis base their offer on UCAS points. Qualifications may include:
- A Levels: ABB–BBC
- BTECs: DDD–DMM
- Scottish Highers: ABBBB–BBBBB (Advanced Highers: BBB–BBC)
- International Baccalaureate: 32–28
- Universities will usually ask that you have studied: at least one A Level (or equivalent) in science, such as biology, chemistry or physics
Other good subjects to have studied include:
- Other science subjects such as maths, further maths and statistics, or computing, electronics, human biology, PE or psychology
- General subjects at A Level may not be acceptable
- You’ll also need five GCSEs with grades C/4 and above, including English, maths and a science
Experience that would look good on your application:
- Work experience or shadowing in a radiography department, or talking to a radiographer about their role
- Watching radiology webinars or virtual work experience videos online
- Volunteering or work in a care home, day care centre, St John Ambulance or St Andrew’s First Aid
- Independent reading about the work, technology, and issues such as patient safety – you could start with the website of the College of Radiographers
- Read up on the NHS core values, such as compassion, respect and dignity
Other requirements for this subject include:
- Pass in the practical element of science taken at A Level
- Because you may be working with vulnerable people or children, you’ll need to complete Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks (PVG scheme in Scotland)
Typical modules for courses in this subject include:
- Introduction to the role of the healthcare professional
- Imaging physics and technology
- Diagnostic pathways and associated imaging techniques
- Assessing and addressing complexity
- Anatomy and physiology for radiographers
- Pathology and image interpretation
- Digital image processing for radiographers
Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module:
- Case studies
- Clinical skills tests
- Group work
- Placement assessments
As a Diagnostic Radiography student, you'll get to experience all the different techniques used in diagnostic imaging. You’ll develop the right skills for making the right decisions for patients and their recovery plans. When graduating, you’ll likely have a good idea of an area to specialise in – plus a broad range of skills.
- Technical expertise in using machinery to diagnose illness, injury, or screen for abnormalities
- Professional competence, knowledge of ethical and legal boundaries and maintaining safe practice
- Attention to detail
- Communication and active listening skills
- Decision making
- Problem solving
- IT literacy
- Organisation and logistics
- Team working
- Time management
- Programmes must be approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
- Degrees may also be approved by the College of Radiographers (CoR), and may offer student membership of the Society of Radiographers (SoR)
Diagnostic Radiography graduates in the NHS start with a salary of around £25,500 (NHS Band 5). At this level, you’re likely to work in a range of settings where you can gain experience and insights into future specialisms.
Advanced practitioners, or senior radiographers with managerial responsibilities, may earn £46,000 or more with experience (NHS Band 7 or Band 8a).
After graduating, you can begin practising as a diagnostic radiographer. During your career you’ll be able to advance into clinical or management roles, or you could move into research, teaching or the development of new medical imaging products.
Areas you could specialise in include:
- Accident and emergency
- CT scanning or sonography
- Mammography (breast scanning)
- Medical ultrasound
- Terminal illness
- READ MORE
- How to become a diagnostic radiographer
If you already have a first degree, you can take a graduate-entry pre-registration course to qualify as a diagnostic radiographer. Postgraduate qualifications also offer Diagnostic Radiography graduates the chance to specialise. Examples of postgraduate degrees include:
- Diagnostic Imaging MSc
- Enhanced Diagnostic Imaging Practice MSc
- Diagnostic Imaging Reporting PGCert
Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:
- Medical Technology & Bioengineering
- Prosthetics & Orthotics
- Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics
- Therapeutic Radiography
If you have questions about studying Diagnostic Radiography, you can email our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to hear from you!
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