Medical Physics & Biomedical
Technology plays an increasingly dominant role in medicine, and doctors are finding that an
ability to understand and utilise new instrumentation and techniques encountered in
hospitals is becoming essential. The integrated B.Sc. in Medical Physics and Biomedical
Engineering provides a comprehensive overview of the technology involved in modern
healthcare, and introduces medical students to the fundamental physical principles on which
it is based. The course will be particularly valuable to medical students considering careers
in Diagnostic Radiology, and also in Surgery. The degree programme is based at the
Department of Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering, located in the Malet Place
Engineering Building
The aim of the integrated degree offered by the Department of Medical Physics &
Bioengineering is to fill a void in the majority of MBBS degrees which typically contain little or
no medical physics material. The course is suitable for students at any stage of the MBBS
programme. Although most courses are the same as those offered to Physics B.Sc.
students, no significant background knowledge beyond A-Level Physics and Mathematics
(or equivalent standard) is essential. Students without A-Level Mathematics (or equivalent)
are still permitted to take the course, although some additional background reading will be
required. Our integrated students are also provided with informal tutorials every week which
enable them to discuss matters arising from the course material, and to supplement their
background knowledge of physics and mathematics. Having completed integrated degrees,
several of our past students have elected to pursue PhD degrees within our department
before returning to medical school.
Students are not overburdened with lectures (an average of 9 hours per week), giving
adequate time to understand the technical issues and fundamental principles through
background reading, problem sheets, and a research project. The IBSc students share most
of their courses with a small number of Physics and Electronic Engineering students, which
provides a stimulating environment with a mix of relevant backgrounds akin to that
encountered in hospital care and medical research. The total number of students in each
class is generally quite small (typically less than 30), which provides an informal, friendly
atmosphere, with more opportunities for personal contact with teaching staff than many
medical students have previously experienced. Students will be required to take six lecture
courses, plus a project selected from those offered each year by the many research groups
working in the Medical Physics & Bioengineering Department and UCL Hospitals. The
courses will be chosen from the list given below, including the two medical imaging courses
and an introductory mathematics course which are compulsory. There are no pre-requisites
for individual courses.
There are no pre-requisites for any of the individual courses. The exact choice of optional
courses may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Students take six of the lecture courses from the list given below, including the three courses
which are compulsory:
MPHY3000: PHYSICS PROJECT – BSc (1 unit)
Terms 1 & 2 (Compulsory course) Project Co-ordinator: Professor Jem Hebden
Assessment: Final report (85%) + oral presentation (15%)
This represents an opportunity to work within one of the department’s research groups on a
self-contained project related to their on-going research activities. The project often involves
working closely with a small team of full-time researchers, and is usually a major highlight of
the student’s intercalated year. A project is selected by the student at the start of the
academic year from a list placed on a website during the summer. Assessment is based on
an extensive final report and a short (15 minute) oral presentation at the end of the second
Term 1 (Compulsory course) Course Co-ordinator: Professor Jem Hebden
Assessment: Exam (80%) + coursework (20%)
This introductory course is designed specifically for intercalated students in order that they
gain a basic familiarity with various mathematical techniques and notation which form part of
their other lecture courses. The lectures emphasise the need for an intuitive understanding
of specific methods and their application rather than a rigorous training in mathematics.
Term 2 (Compulsory course) Course Co-ordinator: Professor Robert Speller
Assessment: Exam (80%) + coursework (20%)
The most frequently undertaken clinical investigation apart from the analysis of a blood
sample is the use of ionising radiation to image or investigate the function of an organ. This
course covers the theoretical background to the formation and analysis of such images and
uses clinical examples to illustrate the application of the imaging systems. It covers both
planar and cross sectional imaging using x-ray and gamma ray sources.
Term 1 (Optional course) Course Co-ordinator: Dr. Adam Gibson
Assessment: Exam (80%) + coursework (20%)
The aim of this course is to present the basic physics involved in radiotherapy. This includes
a knowledge of how quantities of radiation and radiation doses are measured, including the
theory of radiation detectors and dosimeters; a knowledge of how cells are affected by
exposure to ionising radiation and the mechanisms involved; knowledge of how the
treatment plan for a patient is developed and carried out; and a knowledge of the risks
involved and the concepts of radiation protection.
Term 2 (Optional Course)* Course Co-ordinator: Dr. Ben Cox
Assessment: Exam (80%) + coursework (20%)
The purpose of this course is to provide a complete introduction to the physics and clinical
application of biomedical ultrasound. Clinically, ultrasound is already the most widely used
imaging modality, and its application to therapy has grown rapidly over the last decade.
Students who take this course will have a solid grounding in ultrasound to take into research or
clinical work.
Term 1 (Optional course)* Course Co-ordinator: Dr. Ben Cox
Assessment: Exam (80%) + coursework (20%)
This module is an introduction to both magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Biomedical
Optics as used in clinical applications, with an emphasis on the underlying physical principles.
It will provide a solid foundation for students who wish to: a) understand the physical principles
of MRI and Biomedical Optics, b) understand how medical physics can be used to improve
clinical practice, c) pursue research, or develop clinical or industrial applications, in MRI or
Biomedical Optics.
*Although MPHY3900 (Ultrasound in Medicine) and MPHY3910 (MRI and Biomedical Optics)
are optional, students must select at least one of these modules. Both modules can be
selected if desired.
Term 1 (Optional course) Course Co-ordinator: Dr. Martin Fry
Assessment: Exam (85%) + coursework (15%)
The course provides an in-depth understanding of the theory and practice of transducers
and monitoring techniques in physiology and medicine, and covers most of the commonly
used methods in medical practice with the exception of those derived from imaging and
radionuclide methods. Topics include blood pressure sensing, gait analysis, temperature
measurement, respiratory monitoring, optical sensing methods in oximetry and blood flow,
and blood analysis.
Term 1 (Optional course) Course Co-ordinator: Dr. Terence Leung
Assessment: Exam (100%)
This module illustrates how the foundation knowledge of bioengineering is used in the
provision of clinical services. Topics include EEG/ECG/EMG, respiratory measurements,
rehabilitation engineering and aspects relating to medical devices.
Term 1 (Optional course) Course Co-ordinator: Dr. Adam Gibson
Assessment: Exam (67%) + coursework (33%)
This course will equip you with the necessary skills to critically evaluate a computer’s major
hardware and software components; describe the use of computers in hospitals; understand
the principles of computer-assisted diagnosis; understand the basics of computer
programming; write computer programs in Matlab and understand the basics of image
Term 2 (Optional course) Course Co-ordinator: Professor Nick Donaldson
Assessment: Exam (80%) + coursework (15%) + lab report (5%)
For students interested in the fundamental processes involved in the development of new
medical instruments, this course provides a valuable introduction to electronics applied to
medicine. Topics include: the origin and measurement of electrophysiological signals;
electrodes; muscle stimulation; and electric shock hazards and safety devices. Material
taught in the classroom will be supplemented with laboratory practicals and visits to local
Term 2 (Optional course) Course Co-ordinator: Dr. Adrien Desjardins
Assessment: Exam (80%) + coursework (20%)
The course will provide an introductory overview of the biophysics pertinent to the human
body. Topics covered will include: foundational physics; biological polymers; biological
energy; transport processes; membranes; nerve signals; and imaging/analytical techniques.
Students will learn about these topics as they relate to the practice of Medical Physics.
Project information and examples of previous projects can be found at:
Numerous projects have led to publications in peer reviewed journals including:
R. J. Cooper, D. Bhatt, N. L. Everdell, and J. C. Hebden, A tissue-like optically turbid and
electrically conducting phantom for simultaneous EEG and near-infrared imaging, Physics in
Medicine and Biology 54, N403-N408, 2009.
T. Correia, A. Banga, N. L. Everdell, A. P. Gibson, and J. C. Hebden, A quantitative
assessment of the depth sensitivity of an optical imaging systems using a solid dynamic
tissue-equivalent phantom, Physics in Medicine and Biology 54, 6277-6286, 2009.
R. J. Cooper, R. Eames, J. Brunker, L. C. Enfield, A. P. Gibson, and J. C. Hebden, A tissue
equivalent phantom for simultaneous near-infrared optical tomography and EEG, Biomedical
Optics Express 1, 425-430, 2010.
I. Tachtsidis, Gao L., T. Leung, M. Kohl-Bareis, C. Cooper, C. E. Elwell A hybrid multidistance phase and broadband spatially resolved spectrometer and algorithm for resolving
absolute concentrations of chromophores in the near-infrared light spectrum. Advances in
Experimental Medicine and Biology 662: 169-75 (2011)
Prospective students requiring more information are invited to contact the Admissions Tutor,
and/or visit the department’s extensive website at the following address:
Department home webpage: IBSc degree webpage:
The Admissions Tutor will also be happy to arrange for an informal visit to discuss the
course, and for prospective students to talk to IBSc students currently studying on this
Contact: Professor Clare Elwell, Email: [email protected], Phone: 020 7679-0270 or

Medical Physics & Biomedical Engineering