Biomedical Materials Science BMedSc

 

Hip replacements, dental implants, contact lenses, pacemakers, replacement blood vessels and heart valves. These are just a few of the examples of biomaterials that are used to replace damaged or diseased tissues, and are becoming more relevant to an increasingly ageing population.

This distinctive BMedSc Biomedical Materials Science programme offers you the opportunity to gain a comprehensive background in the medical science and engineering of the biomaterials used to repair or replace damaged, diseased or missing tissues in the human body. The Biomedical Materials Science course at Birmingham is one of few courses in the UK to focus equally on the biological and material sciences, with a major focus on tissue engineering, orthopaedic and dental biomaterials. This prepares you for a variety of career opportunities in a wide range of areas related to medical and dental sciences once you graduate.

This is the only course of its kind to be based and taught in a hospital, at Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry, meaning that there is direct input by clinicians into the course content.

This multidisciplinary programme is taught across several departments, including Dentistry, Medicine, and Metallurgy and Materials, and is centered around the Biomaterials Unit one of the principal research units within Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry. Thus linking clinical work with both clinical and scientific research. You will have the opportunity to undertake a comprehensive final year research project of your choice that will involve you in cutting-edge biomaterials research.

First year

The first year provides an introduction to the science of the basic systems of the body, the biochemical make-up of cells, the organisation of cells and their function, genetics and the physiology of different systems, which is taught through cell biology, physiology and Biochemistry. You will then be introduced to the functional aspects of the human body and the types of forces to which human tissues are exposed.

Other areas of study cover the design for structural applications of materials and provide the basis of the materials science knowledge that will underpin your educational development in subsequent years.

The areas of study in year one are linked together by relating what you have learned to the overall subject that you are studying, and give you an overview of the history and development of biomaterials. You will also gain knowledge of how IT and statistics is used for report writing and the presentation and storage of research data.

Wherever possible, lecture material is reinforced with practical classes and at the end of the year you will visit local hospitals where you will observe, for example, a hip or knee replacement operation being performed.

In the first two years the course will cover four areas, delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials, case studies and practical work:

  • Material Science
  • Biological Sciences
  • Clinical Background
  • Biomaterials

Second year

The second year focuses on the reactions of the body to biomaterials, how these materials are designed and how they are made into components to be used in medical application. You will continue to build an understanding of more advanced aspects in each of the subject areas, such as orthopaedic biomaterials and dental biomaterials.

Practical sessions will give you further experience of handling and testing dental biomaterials through using ‘phantom heads’ to familiarise yourself with the techniques and procedures involved in restoring damaged teeth.

You will develop an understanding of the physiological processes in the body and the ways in which the immune system can be compromised in a variety of clinical situations through studying bacteriology and infection, wound healing and the immune response.

Materials design and professional skills will introduce you to the concept of materials selection and the way it relates to the design and manufacturing processes. You will also discover the factors that affect the performance of biomaterials, the properties of natural bone and teeth and the various forms of microscopy used for investigating cells, tissues and biomaterials.

Third year

Your final year offers you the opportunity to be involved in a cutting-edge, state of the art two-semester research project of your choice. This will take place in our active research laboratories, working alongside postgraduate PhD students and staff. Your research project will be carried out in partnership with supervisors and will be presented as a short dissertation and a poster, both of which draw on your scientific writing and presentation skills acquired in the first and second year. Your work may ultimately be published in a scientific journal.

You will further your studies in core subject areas such as design for manufacture, emerging technologies, interactions of biomaterials with the body, biomaterials applications and laboratory assessment of biomaterials.

Why study this course

Hospital location: You will be based in the Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry, the only course of its kind to be based in a Hospital. This means there will be the direct input by clinicians into the course content therefore ensuring the clinical relevance of our teaching.

Equal emphasis on material and biological sciences: Taught across several departments including Dentistry, Medicine and Metallurgy and Materials, this truly multidisciplinary course is one of the few courses in the UK that covers both materials and biological science equally, meaning you will develop a broad knowledge base in both areas. This will allow you to choose from a wider variety of career options in the field of biomaterials once you graduate.

Orthopaedic Biomaterials focus: As an area of medicine relevant to an increasingly aging population, orthopaedic biomaterials is an important focus of your study at Birmingham. From hip replacements to tissue engineering, you will learn about how artificial materials are enabling to replace diseased joints and bones through a growing number of biomaterial applications.

Small year groups: You will enjoy the close-knit community atmosphere created by our small year group and therefore quickly settle into University life, easily make friends with your course mates and build strong working relationships with teaching and support staff.

Final year research project opportunities: In the third year of the course you will undertake a research project of your choice. This will take place in our state of the art research laboratories working alongside postgraduate PhD students and staff.

Guaranteed interviews for Dentistry: For the top students in their year who want to pursue a career in Dentistry after graduation we guarantee interview places for studying Dentistry at the University of Birmingham.

Modules

Modules in the first year

You will study the structure and properties of materials – including polymers, ceramics and metals – anatomy, physiology, introduction to cell and molecular biology and bacteriology, alongside biomechanics and a general introduction to the development and clinical use of biomaterials

  • 20 credits - Introduction to Biomaterials 
  • 20 credits - Introduction to Biochemistry and Cell Biology (Cells and Materials)
  • 20 credits - Anatomy for Biomaterials
  • 10 credits - Cardiorespiratory Physiology: Linking Cells to the Environment
  • 10 credits - Principles of Biomechanics
  • 20 credits - Introduction to Tissue Engineering
  • 20 credits - Design for Structural Applications

Modules in the second year

In this year you focus on the reactions of the body to biomaterials, how these materials are designed and made into components to be used in medical application.

  • 20 credits - Dental Biomaterials 
  • 20 credits - Orthopaedic Biomaterials 
  • 20 credits - Microscopy and Analysis
  • 10 credits - Introduction to Bacteriology and Infections Associated with Biomaterials
  • 20 credits - Non-Crystalline Materials
  • 10 credits - Physiology in Health and Disease
  • 20 credits - Wound Healing and the Immune Response

Modules in the third year

Your final year gives you the opportunity to get involved in state of the art ongoing research within your extensive two semester final year research project.

  • 10 credits - Design for Manufacturefor Biomaterials
  • 10 credits - Advanced Materials
  • 10 credits - Laboratory Assessment of Biomaterials
  • 10 credits - Biomaterial Applications
  • 10 credits - Interactions of Biomaterials with the Body
  • 10 credits - Emerging Technologies
  • 60 credits - Research Project

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • Home/EU: £9,250
  • International: £21,180

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Funding

Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University or other sources.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAB or ABB + A in the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Our Unconditional Offer Scheme is available to outstanding applicants.
Required subjects and grades:
Two sciences required at A-level, one of which has to be Biology or Chemistry.
General Studies:
Not accepted, but a good performance may be taken into account if you fail to meet the conditions of the offer

Unconditional Offer Scheme

Our Unconditional Offer Scheme is available to outstanding applicants. This scheme allows us to target the very brightest students in certain subject areas, who demonstrate exceptional academic performance in their schooling to date, taking into consideration the views of their current institution and teachers. Find out more about our unconditional offer scheme.

The unconditional offer will be unconditional regarding academic requirements. Students are also required to meet non-academic requirements, such as you will be required to complete a successful Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before admission to the programme as you will have privileged access to a Dental Hospital. 

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma grade DDD in a Science related subject. Applicants must also have an additional AS Level grade C in Science.

BTEC Diploma in a Science related subject accepted alongside 1 A level

BTEC Subsidiary Diploma accepted alongside 2 Science A levels

Other qualifications like a Foundation Year, an Access to Science course, or a combination of qualifications are considered. Please contact the Admissions Tutor or Admissions for further information.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS): Students will be required to complete a successful Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before admission to the programme as we are based in a Hospital.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 at Higher Level (to include Chemistry or Biology) with a minimum of 32 points overall.

Standard English language requirements apply. Learn more about international entry requirements.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com  
Learn more about applying

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Student support

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we’ll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues. If there are particular areas where you need support you will be able to address this with your tutors.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre’s aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

This programme enjoys access to excellent facilities, including a dedicated computer cluster within the Biomaterials Unit and a range of state-of-the-art research equipment and instrumentation. Teaching strategies include a combination of lectures, small group teaching and laboratory sessions. Throughout your programme you will gain considerable experience in oral presentation but emphasis is also placed on acquiring skills in scientific writing. Study support material is available online.

Teaching staff for this course

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and postgraduates, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

For more information about staff in the school, their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest, visit the School of Dentistry staff profile page

Contact hours

Throughout the first year of your Biomedical Materials Science degree you can expect approximately 8 hours of scheduled teaching and 26 hours of independent study on average per week

Throughout the second year of your Biomedical Materials Science degree you can expect approximately 8 hours of scheduled teaching and 30 hours of independent study on average per week

Throughout the third year of your Biomedical Materials Science degree you can expect approximately 8 hours of scheduled teaching and 29 hours of independent study on average per week

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

Throughout the programme there will be opportunities to meet with your personal tutor to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. The personal tutor who is based in your school or department can help with any academic issues you encounter. 

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations, laboratory-based work (depending on your chosen degree) and formal exams.

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You’ll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our Biomedical Materials Science graduates have little problem in securing employment or further training. Many go on to do medical and biological research, while others have followed a variety of career options in health care and related areas, such as blood perfusion, optometry, audiology and work in medical device regulatory authorities. Some graduates continue their studies in pursuit of degrees in Medicine or Dentistry. A significant proportion have also entered traditional graduate career areas such as finance, publishing, accounting and IT.

"I have really enjoyed every aspect of this multidisciplinary course. It has set me up for the wide career opportunities available for BMedSc graduates." Uresha Patel, Biomedical Materials Science, 2012

Have a look at our alumni profile page to see what some of our students have gone on to do after completing their programme.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Find out more about Careers Network.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Birmingham University Dental Student Society (BUDSS) is a student-led society for students studying Dentistry, Dental Hygiene and Therapy and Biomedical Materials Science. BUDSS offers a wide range of activities to get involved in from sports, amateur dramatics and music to charities, volunteering and academic support.

The City of Birmingham

You will be based on a leafy campus in the suburbs of a vibrant, modern city. With over a million residents, Birmingham is home to the UK's largest financial and creative centres outside London and it has a thriving business community. After London, Birmingham is the highest ranking city for quality of life in the UK (Mercer's Quality of Living Survey 2012). There is something for everyone in Birmingham and you are sure to receive a warm welcome in one of the most culturally diverse cities in Britain.

Accommodation

Whether you are looking for university accommodation or a rented property in the private sector, our accommodation services team, 'Living', can help you find the right place.

University accommodation for undergraduates is located across the University's three student villages, all of which are within walking distance of the main campus. We have a range of accommodation types, including flats with study bedrooms, sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities; flats with ensuite study bedrooms; and studio apartments where you have exclusive use of both kitchen and bathroom facilities.