Study Biomedical Sciences

Biomedical Scientists are in demand, but typically an undergraduate qualification is not sufficient to gain employment to middle or senior management either in industry or within the health sector. Employers want people with advanced skills, knowledge and training to aspire to an advanced level of work. Could Biomedical Science be the career for you? If so, you should consider a postgraduate course in Biomedical Science, and there are many opportunities in Britain.

Study Biomedical Sciences

Biomedical Science involves the study of various biological and medical sciences relevant to our understanding of human health and disease. Biomedical Scientists are essential members of the modern healthcare team and in collaboration with doctors, nurses and other professions allied to medicine aid in the diagnosis of disease, evaluate the effectiveness of treatment, and research into causes and cures of diseases. Biomedical Science covers a wide range of scientific subjects, information technology and all the major disciplines of Biomedical Sciences (i.e. haematology and transfusion science, clinical medicine, medical microbiology, immunology, clinical chemistry, histology and cellular pathology). The Biomedical field is generally integrated through a study of the biology of disease, including modern concepts and applications of Biomedical Science in research, diagnosis and treatment of clinical disorders.

Choosing a postgraduate Biomedical Science course

Any student planning to take a taught postgraduate course in Biomedical Science has first to make three decisions. Why do you want the degree, to which universities should you apply, and is the degree accredited by the IBMS? An MSc in Biomedical Science provides solid training that opens many career opportunities, but if you have a particular career in mind you may wish to specialise. Different courses allow you to specialise in various disciplines, for example: Haematology, Clinical Biochemistry, Medical Microbiology and Cellular Pathology. A Masters in Biomedical Science essentially offers training in analytical skills, typically including quantitative analysis, and knowledge of theory and evidence in chosen fields. Some students will be interested in a career as an academic Biomedical Scientist, or further training through a research degree (MPhil/PhD). Most British universities will require a Masters as a condition for entry to their research degree programme. One useful source of information is the IBMS. The IBMS accredits named Masters Degrees relevant to Biomedical Science. The IBMS’s programme of accreditation plays a key role in the education of Biomedical Scientists and helps to ensure that students are suitably trained upon entering the profession.

Which university?

You’ve decided you want a Master's in Biomedical Science, but how do you choose from the many universities offering courses? In addition to any personal reasons you may have, there are three crucial factors to consider. First, how good is the Department? For graduate study it is important that the Department has a good research record. If you want to specialise in a particular branch of Biomedical Science, you want to be taught by staff at the forefront of their field. Secondly, does the university offer the specialism you want? Thirdly, is the university located somewhere you would like to live? Information on research quality is given by the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The last RAE in 2008 gave every Biological Sciences Department that was research active a rating on its research power and a grade point average on its research output. You can be confident that departments with high score will be good places to undertake postgraduate studies. Your next step is to find out if the Department offers the Master's you want. If it is just a straight Masters in Biomedical Science, then all the top Departments are pretty much equal. If you want to specialise, then look at the prospectus to see what is offered and in which areas staff are research active. Are the staff who teach Masters modules also publishing in that area of specialisation? Many Departments have research centres that provide a focus for their research specialisations, and information on these will also be on the website.

Careers and employability in the Biomedical Science field

Biomedical Science is a continually changing, dynamic profession with diverse long term career prospects. The MSc will enhances the career prospects of those aspiring to middle and senior management positions within the NHS Pathology Service, will provide preparation for the IBMS Higher Specialist exam and Advanced Practice in Biomedical Science, and will enhances further career progression as a prerequisite for eligibility for the status of Fellow of the IBMS (FIBMS) and Chartered Scientist (CSci).

Biomedical Scientists are also employed in a variety of roles including the veterinary service, the Health and Safety Executive, university and forensic laboratories, pharmaceutical and product manufacturers, Her Majesty's Forces and various government departments.

Entrance requirements

A university department will require a minimum of 2:2 honours degree, which normally has a significant content of Biological Sciences (e.g. Biomedical Science, Human Biology, Physiology, Clinical Sciences etc.); or substantial relevant working experience. Usually, the programme or individual modules may also be taken as Continuous Professional Development (CPD) modules, and will provide opportunities for advancement in many health service career structures.

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