Biomedical Sciences: From Laboratory Bench to Hospital Bedside

Based in the University's Institute of Clinical Sciences, the Biomedical Sciences: From Laboratory Bench to Hospital Bedside programme  offers a unique opportunity to international students to spend the summer learning and exploring in the lecture theatres, classrooms and laboratories of the University of Birmingham’s College of Medical and Dental Sciences. There are two options available: ‘Laboratory Bench’ enables students to conduct their own research in the labs, introducing the process of experimental design and supervising students throughout. This option echoes the experience of our own undergraduate students on the full time undergraduate Biomedical Science programme. ‘Hospital Bedside’ brings together learning from a range of healthcare programmes but is predominantly aimed at Clinical Medicine students. Through a combination of lectures, small group teaching and independent group research we hope to inspire students to further their knowledge and understanding of clinical practice in the UK and beyond.

Option 1: Biomedical Science ‘Laboratory Bench’

This three week Biomedical Science programme enables students to undertake scientific research that is currently being investigated by leading researchers within the college of Medical and Dental Sciences. This ‘real-life’ scientific research will provide an insightful and enthusing experience in the laboratory and will enable students to generate results that are novel and will contribute to the advancement of the relevant field. The experience will also include taught components which will underpin the practical elements.  The programme is ultimately aimed at preparing students for conducting their own independent translational-research. 

The Biomedical Science programme will be delivered via a variety of teaching methods, including self-directed learning, small group teaching and problem-based learning. The introductory week will guide students through a handful of techniques and experiments at hand to answer some fundamental research questions before embarking on their own research projects in the subsequent two weeks. All projects are entirely supervised and detailed in full. 

The necessary background on the research question will be explained.  There will be the opportunity to conduct literature surveys on the student’s project and students will be given details on the experiments to test the hypothesis. In the final week, students will compile the results, and present the evidence in the form of a flash-presentation, detailing the original findings and conclusions. The programme will give students a real insight into a typical life of a scientific researcher undertaking lab-based research.

Option 2: Clinical Medicine ‘Hospital Bedside’

At the start of the programme, students will be put into learning groups in which they will stay for the remainder of the programme. There will be a mix of teaching methods including lectures, small group teaching and self-directed learning.

We offer a variety of lectures on diverse subjects which may inspire students to further research for their final assessments. Lecture topics include Public Health, Stem Cell Biology and Clinical Trials.

Small group teaching will include Clinical Communication with our highly trained team of Simulated Patients (SPs) who work alongside tutors to facilitate the students’ learning in the skills of professional encounters with patients, relatives, advocates and colleagues. Additionally, a highly skilled team of Associate Clinical Educators (ACEs) will help students learn practically about anatomical systems and associated symptoms through the use of role play and physical examinations.

Other small group work will include an introduction to the primary care system we have in the UK, taught by a local and currently practicing General Practitioner (GP). The GP will take students through the challenges and joys of practicing medicine with British patients and their families.

Students will have an opportunity to visit the Queen Elizabeth Hospital or University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), which is next door to the University of Birmingham’s Medical School. It is one of the highest performing NHS organisations in Europe with an international reputation for its quality of care, information technology, clinical education and training and research. UHB is a regional centre for cancer, has the second largest renal dialysis programme in the UK and has the largest solid organ transplantation programme in Europe. It also provides a series of highly specialist cardiac and liver services and is a major specialist centre for burns and plastic surgery. The Trust is a regional Neuroscience and Major Trauma Centre and is world-renowned for its trauma care.

The self-directed learning groups will meet regularly to discuss their research and to design posters for final presentations. Posters will be professionally produced for students to present for assessment in the final week. Marks will be made up of this group poster assessment plus an individual presentation on a topic of the student’s choice connected to their experience with us in Birmingham. To enable preparation for the assessments, students will have teaching in the following subjects:

  • Library and research skills (students will have access to our UoB libraries)
  • Spoken English in a medical context
  • Poster design and presentation skills

(Please note that the programme plan is subject to confirmation for BISS 2019 and option choices will be subject to availability)


Entry requirements

To be accepted onto the Biomedical Sciences programme you must:

  • Have relevant subject background: academic backgrounds in Biosciences, Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health will be considered. Students must be able to demonstrate relevant subject background with a translated transcript.
  • Be aged 18 years or over at the start date of the BISS programme.
  • Be studying an undergraduate programme at a University outside the UK or be registered as an International student at a UK university.
  • Be of good academic standing (based on a translated transcript, verified by your University).

English Language Requirements

  • Have achieved English Language proficiency of IELTS 6.0 overall with no lower than 5.5 in any band.
  • Have achieved English Language proficiency of TOEFL IBT 80 overall with no less than 19 in listening, 19 in reading, 21 in speaking and 19 in writing.
  • Have achieved English Language proficiency of PEARSON with a minimum of 53 in listening, reading, writing and speaking.

The following equivalent English Language qualifications will also be accepted:

  • Have achieved English Language proficiency of 530 at level 4 or 500 at level 6 in Chinese College English Test (CET).
  • Have achieved English Language proficiency of 60 at TEM level 4.
  • Have achieved English Language Proficiency at HKDSE Level 3.

This is a three week programme and is equivalent to an accredited undergraduate course (20 UK credits) and is delivered by University faculty who are experts in their field.The Programme is formally assessed. Please check with your home institution regarding the transfer of credits. All students attending our courses will receive a certificate of attendance from the University of Birmingham on successful completion of their course.

On completion of the Programme in addition to obtaining 20 credits you will have been given a unique opportunity to:

1. Demonstrate an ability to understand and use scientific and medical terminology in English appropriate to the topics being studied

2. Analyse clinical or scientific problems in an integrated way to identify features worthy of evidence-based enquiry

3. Formulate simple relevant research questions to allow the appropriate investigation of the problems raised in research and/or practice

4. Identify appropriate sources of information and demonstrate the ability to search effectively for relevant items of interest

5. Apply findings from the literature to answer questions raised by specific clinical/scientific problems

6. Demonstrate an understanding of communication theory and skills and their fundamental importance to clinical practice (Hospital Bedside option only)

7. Demonstrate an ability to use and apply basic science principles to investigate your own research questions (Laboratory Bench option only)

8. Demonstrate an ability to interpret clinical / biomedical data to aid in the diagnosis and management of patients described in specially constructed clinical scenarios (Hospital Bedside option)


The programme is equivalent to an accredited undergraduate course (20 UK credits) which comprises 44 contact hours. In addition to staff led activities, students will be required to undertake independent individual and group study, working towards their assessment. The programme is formally assessed at the end of the three weeks.

Students must  check with their home institution regarding transfer of credits.

Students are expected to attend for a minimum of 90% of timetabled activity. All students achieving this level of attendance will receive a certificate of attendance from the University of Birmingham on successful completion of their course.