Biomedical sciences

Biomedical scientists endeavour to understand the inner workings of the human body so they can provide the right care for patients, and tackle some of the most serious diseases threatening mankind.

Ever wondered who the scientists were behind the statistical data that informed governments’ decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic? As a biomedical scientist, you’ll research and understand how the human body works, both in health and disease. You’ll learn about genetics, genomics, pathology, cellular biology, and immunity, among other things.

It could lead to a career as a biomedical scientist, medical laboratory assistant, research technician, or marketing assistant. You could progress to teaching, postgraduate study, or even into medicine or dentistry. It’s a relatively stable industry, with 3.31% job growth predicted over the next eight years. 

The impact you could make
  • Be the team that tests and analyses samples from the next global pandemic and reduces its impact worldwide.
  • Explore further into the causes, prevention, and treatment of diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
  • Work on clinical trials and help bring the next life-changing drug to market.
What you could study
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular biology
  • Laboratory science
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Cells of the nervous system
  • Pharmacology

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

Chat to a current biomedical sciences student

Chat to a current biomedical sciences student using UniBuddy.

Some conversation starters for you:

  1. Ask which modules they really enjoyed.
  2. Find out how easy it was for them to make friends on their course.
  3. Do they have any tips on your personal statement?
  4. Did they do anything to prep for uni before they went?
  5. Are there books, podcasts or YouTube channels they would recommend?

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Biomedical science or biomedical sciences?

Biomedical science: This degree is specifically geared towards becoming a biomedical scientist, working in hospital and private clinical labs to help doctors diagnose and treat diseases. To work as a biomedical scientist in the UK, you'll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). An Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredited degree is crucial for this.

Biomedical sciences: This broader degree covers various aspects of human biology. It's great if you want to explore different specialties but will not include all the subjects needed to become a biomedical scientist.

Why IBMS accreditation matters

An IBMS accredited biomedical science degree is the key to becoming a registered biomedical scientist in the UK. Here's why:

  • Statutory registration: To practise as a biomedical scientist in the UK, you must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). An IBMS accredited degree is a crucial step in meeting their strict requirements.
  • Essential training: Getting your HCPC registration also involves hands-on training in an IBMS-approved training laboratory. An accredited degree often streamlines this process, sometimes even incorporating a clinical placement to complete the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio into the program itself.
  • Clear career path: These specialised degrees are designed to meet the requirements for a biomedical scientist role but also provide you with excellent transferable, technical, and practical skills that a variety of employers demand.

If you're serious about becoming a biomedical scientist, an IBMS accredited degree is your launchpad to a rewarding career in healthcare.

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Example module
"Learning about DNA, its importance and the role it plays. Specifically, DNA is amazing: there is endless knowledge about it, from what mutations there are to what each human genetic codings are. It's the most fascinating module."
Second year biomedical science student, Manchester Metropolitan University
Example assignment
"I have really enjoyed the lab work we have done. I find being in the lab using the microscopes and equipment really fun and interesting."
Second year biomedical science student, Edinburgh Napier University

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some biomedical sciences courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. Entry requirements vary, so always check with the provider.
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Project management
  • Data analysis
  • Microbiology
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Research
  • Communications
  • Management
  • Planning
  • Innovation

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying biomedical sciences. The following information is based on a typical biological scientist role.
Available jobs
44,821 vacancies in the past year
6.72% growth over next eight years
Average salary
Up to £55,954

What is a… toxicologist?

You may have never heard of a toxicologist, but the work they do can impact human and animal safety. Toxicologists carry out lab tests and field studies to investigate and understand the potential risks or side effects of new medicines, chemicals, situations, and substances on humans and the environment. They’ll then help create regulations to manage the use of these substances and protect public health. Their work can go as wide as advising on treatment for drug overdose patients, to the wider implications of gene-editing technologies. 

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study biomedical sciences at university or as an apprenticeship.

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from biomedical sciences applicants.

A levels
Scottish Highers
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma (first teaching Sept 2016) – DDD
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications may be accepted as an alternative

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.

Let's talk about... science apprenticeships (Sponsored by Manchester Metropolitan University)

Katie discusses social life, work-life balance, and what day-to-day life is like as a science apprentice with representatives from GSK, Unilever, and Manchester Metropolitan University.

A day in the life of a Biology Apprentice

Watch our day in the life of a biology apprentice video.

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around biomedical sciences with the following:
  1. IBMS podcast

    Podcast hosted by the Institute of Biomedical Science, which interviews award-winning scientists about their careers, and discusses things like testing strategies for future pandemics, and how digital pathology is changing the way scientists share specimens. 
  2. Health & Care Professions Council

    Show you understand how biomedical scientists are regulated by reading the Health & Care Professions Council’s web page about the requirements for this career.
  3. Biomeducated on YouTube

    Run by a PhD student with five years’ biotech experience, this channel has guides on what you might cover when studying biomedical sciences. A bitesize, accessible way to discover more about this subject. 

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your biomedical sciences journey.
Skills, experiences, and interests to mention
  • Show you know what you’re applying for by mentioning what you’ve been reading or listening to that tells you more about this subject or career. Think critically about what you’ve learned and which areas intrigue you.
  • Demonstrate your practical skills and your enthusiasm for this subject. Have you got experience in lab work and experiments, perhaps at your school or college in science lessons? Maybe you’ve been doing some sort of science experiments at home?
  • Biomedical scientists will need to use their initiative, conduct their own experiments and solve problems independently. Try to give examples of when you’ve carried out your own work – at school, during work experience or as part of your part-time job – and explain what you learned from those experiences.
  • Don’t be afraid of talking about your hobbies or extracurricular activities too. Often there are attributes you’ll have picked up from these interests that will be relevant to studying this subject, as well as getting as much as possible out of university life too.

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