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Course content

This new programme prepares students for a career in the rapidly developing field of biological physics. Navigating across the boundaries of the established disciplines of biology and physics – using tools and techniques developed for one discipline to answer questions arising in another – students will interact with experienced researchers in the laboratory from the outset.

About this degree

Students gain broad background knowledge of cell and developmental biology, as well as physical theories and experimental physics techniques applied to biological systems. You will gain theoretical and working knowledge of techniques from physics and engineering used in biological physics research, including optical microscopy, microfabrication, and data analysis. You will be further prepared for the research environment with a series of transferable skills classes and seminars.

The research project will empower students by immersing them in an active research environment. The projects are around interdisciplinary research across the faculties of Mathematics and Applied Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Engineering. 

The MSc in Biological Physics is a one year full-time programme requiring the attainment of 180 credits. The programme consists of 5 core taught modules, a choice of one core biological module, one or two optional modules and a dissertation.

Core modules

  • Biosciences Research Skills
  • Microfabrication and Microscopy for Biophysics
  • Molecular Biophysics
  • Physical Models of Life
  • The Scientific Literature

Biological module (students must select one)

  • Principles of Biology
  • Advanced Molecular Cell Biology

Optional modules

  • Advanced Topics in Statistical Mechanics
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomechanics and Biostructures
  • Introduction to Statistical Data Science
  • Programming Foundations for Medical Image Analysis
  • Statistical Models and Data Analysis

Research Project

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a report of 10,000 words. The projects will be multidisciplinary, built around the cutting-edge research across the faculties of MAPS, Life Sciences and Engineering. 


Teaching and learning

Teaching is delivered through a combination of lectures, practical classes, and tutorials by an element of problem-centred learning, innovatively linking taught material to a set of student-selected research case studies. Taught modules are assessed by problem sets and examinations; ‘hands-on’ modules (e.g. Microfabrication and Microscopy for Biophysics) and research projects are assessed by presentations, assessed reports and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Biological Physics MSc


This programme will prepare students for an increasingly interdisciplinary research environment in biological physics and quantitative biology and their applications in industrial research or academic settings.


The programme includes significant transferable skills components (e.g. scientific writing, presentations, outreach, innovation) which are highly relevant to future employability. Students gain a deep understanding of both the physics and biology underpinning phenomena observed in living systems - as well as direct knowledge of cutting-edge technologies likely to play a role in industrial development and academic research - while addressing key societal challenges (from cancer to healthy ageing).

Why study this degree at UCL?

The new Biological Physics MSc brings together expertise in biological and physical sciences at UCL. The UCL Institute for the Physics of Living Systems has been created at UCL to enhance the teaching and research opportunities in interdisciplinary physics and life sciences at UCL.

The necessity to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries is particularly true of biology where there is a growing realisation that understanding the physics underlying biological phenomena is critical to rationally develop next generation treatments for disease and solutions for food security in a globalised world.

Students are immersed in an active research environment from the outset, interacting with experienced researchers in the laboratory and familiarising themselves with state-of-the-art biological and biophysical research techniques.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Physics & Astronomy

90% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

Visit the Biological Physics (MSc) page on the University College London website for more details!





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