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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 also interact with experienced researchers in the laboratory from the outset.

Degree information

Students gain broad background knowledge of cell and developmental biology, and physical theories and experimental physics techniques applied to biological systems. They also gain theoretical and working knowledge of techniques from physics and engineering used in biological physics research, including optical microscopy, microfabrication, and data analysis.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of five core modules (75 credits), two optional modules (45 credits) and a report (60 credits).

Core modules
-Advanced Biophysical Theories
-BioMEMs and Microscopy Techniques
-Biosciences Research Skills
-Molecular Biophysics
-The Scientific Literature

Optional modules - students must select one of the following 30-credit modules:
-Advanced Cell Biology
-ABC – Analysis of Biological Complexity

And one of:
-Aspects of Bioengineering
-Image Processing
-Introduction to Physical Techniques in the Life Sciences
-Machine Vision
-Matlab Programming for Biology
-Mechanisms of Development
-Statistics for Biology

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a report of 10,000 words.

Teaching and learning
Teaching is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops and 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. BioMEMs and Microscopy Techniques) and research projects are assessed by presentations, assessed reports and the dissertation.


This programme will prepare students for an increasingly interdisciplinary work and 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. In the last two years the UCL Institute for the Physics of Living Systems has been created 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 in order 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.

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





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