Biomedical science is at the heart of medical breakthroughs in healthcare. This involves anything from creating artificial muscles from cells to treat diseases and illnesses, to looking at the brain to understand stress and anxiety.
Study biomedical science to develop your understanding of the human body and conduct medical research. Degrees are flexible and can lead to a wide range of career options for graduates.
What is biomedical science?
Biomedical scientists develop new treatments and therapies for human illnesses, diseases and disabilities.
Globally, more than US$240bn is spent on biomedical research and development every year (Guardian, 2018). Investment comes from private and public organisations to explore scientific solutions to health problems across the world.
Biomedical science researches medical conditions, such as:
- Heart physiology
- Emerging diseases
What do biomedical scientists do?
Biomedical scientists conduct scientific and laboratory research to support diagnosis and treatment of human disease. You will test, analyse and review fluids and body tissue to advise medical practitioners. Depending on your specialism you will need to understand areas such as anatomy, physiology, genetics, microbiology, mathematics and psychology. Biomedical scientists do not have medical training and do not have contact with patients.
- Research screening, causes and effects of diseases
- Investigate chemicals, environments and treatments
- Test biological samples
- Analyse data and statistics
- Work with high-tech laboratory equipment
- Write medical research reports
- Coordinate with hospital staff to provide data on patient samples
- Analyse current events to prioritise research
- Follow strict ethical guidelines and code of conduct
You can specialise in:
- Infection and immunity sciences
- Blood sciences
- Cellular and systems (neuroscience)
- Genetics and molecular medicine
What skills does a biomedical scientist need?
Conducting research is vital to making scientific breakthroughs and understanding human disease.
Biomedical scientists work in laboratories where work is varied and practical.
Reviewing test results requires attention to detail and the ability to analyse results, patterns and unexpected outcomes.
Using and maintaining high-tech machines, microscopes and specialist laboratory equipment requires a technical mind-set.
Research work involves analysing statistics and data, so a mathematical background is beneficial.
It is essential to ensure a methodical approach to testing and to prioritise workload based on urgency.
Biomedical science involves working with patient samples, so the ability to communicate with other professionals such as doctors and clinicians is vital.
You’ll work as part of a team on research projects. This may involve other biomedical scientists, healthcare staff and doctors.
The qualifications needed for senior roles within biomedical sciences take several years to complete.
1. Undergraduate degree
First you must complete a three-year undergraduate biomedical science degree.
Degrees include first-hand laboratory research as well as lectures and tutorials. You will explore areas of biomedical science you are most interested in before choosing a specialism in your final year.
If you need to improve your English or academic skills before your degree, you can first study the International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering
2. Laboratory experience
If you want to work as a biomedical scientist in the UK you will need at least one year of laboratory experience in a lab approved by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS). This gives you first-hand experience and will benefit your future career. You may be able to complete this as part of a summer internship while you are studying for your degree.
3. Professional registration
You will need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) if you want to work as a biomedical scientist in the UK.
Work experience and further training after your degree will support future job applications. Some companies take volunteers or you can apply for formal work experience.
You may choose to complete a postgraduate degree to deepen your knowledge in a specialist area although this is not essential for graduate positions.
If you are an international student and have completed a bachelors degree in your home country, you may choose to pursue a postgraduate degree in the UK. For a path to a masters in Biomedical Science, you can study the Pre Masters in Science and Engineering.
Career path and progression
Careers with biomedical science degree requirements are broad ranging and in high demand.
You could work in:
A graduate with a biomedical science degree from a top university, such as Sheffield, could work in research, innovation and management. If you want to work for the NHS in the UK, your degree will need to be accredited by the IBMS.
You could also choose to apply for a medicine degree and train to become a doctor.
What can I do with a biomedical science degree?
A degree in biomedical science can lead to a range of careers in the science and medical field. Biomedical science job opportunities related to r degree include:
- Biomedical scientist / Healthcare scientist – analyse fluid samples to support clinicians diagnose and treat patients
- Biotechnologist – research plants, animals and genetics
- Forensic scientist – provide scientific evidence for legal cases
- Microbiologist – study microorganisms and processes
- Medical physicist – specialise in healthcare science
- Technician – work in a lab as part of a scientific research team
- Toxicologist – evaluate impact of toxic materials on the environment
Although not directly related to your degree, you could choose a non-medical route such as food science. This uses your scientific background to test foods for safety before they are introduced to the public.
Working environment and hours
Standard working hours are 37.5 hours a week. Some roles may require shift work on evenings and weekends.
Biomedical scientists generally work in laboratories, supporting hospital departments such as operating theatres or A&E. Your work will use a range of equipment such as microscopes or high-tech machines. As labs are clean and sterile environments, you’ll be required to wear protective clothing.
The salary depends on level of experience and specialist knowledge. Biomedical scientist salaries in the NHS range from £22,000 – £41,250. Consultant biomedical scientists with many years of experience can earn more. Salaries are graded in ‘bands’ so it’s easy to understand career progression opportunities.
- Starter: £22,000 to £28,000 (Band 5)
- Experienced: £26,000 to £35,250 (Band 6, specialist)
- Highly experienced: up to £41,250 (Band 7, advanced)
(Guideline salary information from National Careers Service).
Why study Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield?
Study Biomedical Science at Sheffield for practical and theoretical training, with research-led teaching inspired by leading academics.
- A Russell Group university committed to research and outstanding teaching
- 1st for Medical Research Excellence (REF2014)
- 5th for Biological Sciences (REF2014)
- State-of-the-art facilities including the new Diamond building with the latest science and engineering equipment
- Careers Service supports students to find work placements and meet employers.
Real-life examples put you at the forefront of modern biology. Areas of study may include: Neuroscience, cell biology, modelling human disease and cancer biology. Throughout the course you will develop critical thinking, analytical skills and ethics. You will also conduct laboratory research.
Biomedical science breakthroughs at Sheffield include a discovery for treating blood cancer with affordable arthritis drug, and leading research in regenerative medicine.
Top research areas at Sheffield include:
- Cell biology and cancer
- Development and disease
- Stem cell and regenerative medicine
Pathways to biomedical science
If you are interested in studying Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield but don’t quite meet the entry requirements, you can join the International Study Centre first. We provide the following pathways to support international students to progress to a degree in Biomedical Sciences. Each pathway develops the academic and English language skills required for this degree.