By Dr Sue Jones, Executive Head of Education, IBMS and Dr Jim Taylor, Associate Head of School: Biosciences, York St John University
Posted Wed 2 November 2022 - 14:35

If your students enjoy studying human biology, a biomedical science degree is a great choice for them. They will build their scientific knowledge and learn how to investigate, diagnose, monitor and treat different human diseases, alongside developing practical laboratory skills.  

What do biomedical scientists do? 

Biomedical scientists conduct over 1 billion diagnostic laboratory tests in the UK each year – over 70% of diagnoses in the NHS are based on results provided by pathology services.  

Where can students study a biomedical science degree? 

In the UK, there are approximately 56 universities that currently have BSc Biomedical Science programmes accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)

The IBMS is the leading professional body for scientists, supporting staff and students in the field of biomedical science and representing over 20,000 biomedical scientists in 74 countries.  

Studying an IBMS accredited BSc Biomedical Science degree programme with a clinical placement offers the quickest route to register and work as a biomedical scientist.

What are the pathways to study a biomedical science degree? 

For most IBMS accredited biomedical science programmes in the UK, applicants will need grade 4 or above in GCSE English, maths, and double award science. Most IBMS accredited biomedical science degree courses do not ask for triple award GCSE science.

For A levels, the minimum requirements are likely to be grade B in biology and at least C in chemistry plus another subject. It is important that applicants check the admissions criteria for their chosen IBMS accredited biomedical science course, as some require A level chemistry and some do not and the UCAS points required may differ.  

For Scottish Highers the standard entry requirement is BBBB in two science subjects (such as biology/human biology, chemistry, health and food technology, physics, maths, psychology) and one essay-based subject such as English, history or modern studies plus National 5 biology or human biology, maths, English and chemistry at B.

Some IBMS accredited biomedical science courses also accept BTEC qualifications for admission. The level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science is the only programme which really encompasses the required depth and breadth in the relevant subject areas within one award title. In addition to the mandatory units, we suggest that any three units from option block A are appropriate, especially unit: 20 – biomedical science. From option block B, units 14 (applications of organic chemistry) and 19 (practical chemical analysis); finally unit 13 (applications of inorganic chemistry) from option block C. 

BTEC health and social care qualifications focus more on community social care, and do not contain sufficient theoretical biology and/or chemistry to provide sufficient underpinning knowledge for biomedical science degree study. 

Students offering a mixture of A levels and BTEC qualifications often fail to meet the breadth of biology and chemistry required to ensure full engagement with subjects included in a biomedical science programme. 

What subjects will the degree programme contain? 

Biomedical science degree programmes have curricula that are set by the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement

An IBMS accredited biomedical Science degree will include all the key clinical laboratory specialities, including medical microbiology (plus virology), clinical biochemistry, haematology and transfusion science, clinical immunology, cellular pathology/histopathology and clinical genetics. Therefore, sufficient underpinning scientific knowledge and understanding from Level 3 qualifications are vital to allow students to succeed academically. 

Check out the UCAS subject guides for more information on additional pathways for your students. 


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