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Course description

In this multi-disciplinary course, you will be introduced to the field of biomaterials, and important factors in the selection, design, and development of biomaterials for clinical applications. You’ll develop an understanding of biomaterials science, engineering, regenerative medicine and associated specialisms.

From the start of the course, you will begin to develop an advanced level of understanding and appreciation of the principles and applications of biomaterials (their functions and applications), medical devices and the characteristics of biomaterials, in addition to their surface, physical and mechanical properties. You will also study materials and medicine based modules, as well as those written specifically for the degree programme in biomaterials.

This course will be of particular interest to students interested in facilitating their development into the medical field aiming to contribute to the health care sector.

Teaching

Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities for sample preparation, synthesis of bioactive composites, biomaterial characterisation and testing, and will be taught through:

  • Lectures
  • Practical sessions in our state-of-the-art tissue engineering laboratories
  • Course work assignments and presentations
  • Group discussions
  • Departmental seminars
  • Independent study

Our labs house a range of equipment including:

  • Microwave reactor for synthesis of bioactive composites for bone replacement
  • Laser cutter to create polymeric scaffold for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine
  • Fume cupboards with controlled flow for preparation of hydroxyapatite polymer composite
  • Spectroscopic techniques, FTIR and Raman spectroscopy
  • Electron confocal and optical microscopies

You’ll be assessed by formal examinations, coursework assignments and a dissertation.

Modules Studied

  • Tissue Structure and Function - This module introduces students to the tissues of the human body. The principal tissues that make up the body will be described including the cells, proteins and other extracellular components. The structure of the tissue will be discussed in detail, in particular how it relates to its specific function in a healthy human body. Basic anatomy and how tissues combine to create organs and where each organ can be found in the human body will be studied. Practical classes on human anatomy and histology will be used to demonstrate tissue structure. Finally, the effect of tissue damage on function will be considered.
  • Science of Materials - This module introduces key concepts involved in materials science to cover general aspects and applications of metallic, polymeric and inorganic materials. Topics covered include; chemical bonding; basic crystallography of crystalline materials; crystal defects; mechanical properties and strength of materials; phase diagrams and transformations; overviews of metals and alloys; polymers and inorganic solids.
  • Materials Processing and Characterisation - This module introduces the processes and technologies involved in the production of metals, polymers, ceramics and composites and the experimental methods used to characterise these materials. Topics covered are broken into two areas: Fabrication and processing of materials, e.g. powder, thermomechanical and polymer/composites; and Analysis of materials using a range of techniques, e.g. diffraction, spectroscopy, and thermal analysis.
  • Practical, Modelling and Digital Skills - This module develops students’ skills in 3 linked areas: materials characterisation laboratory skills including safe methods of working, completion of COSHH and risk assessments, and measurements using a range of practical techniques; the use of computers for data handling and analysis together with an introduction to modelling; the skills needed to search for scientific literature as well as technical skills for presenting data, including how to avoid plagiarism, referencing, formatting documents, drawing high quality graphs, critically reviewing literature and giving presentations.
  • Tissue Engineering Approaches to Failure in Living Systems - This module is concerned with the systems based approach to human physiology and anatomy and explores through lectures the tissue engineering approaches that are being developed to cope with disease, failure and old age in body systems. The emphasis is placed primarily on generic technologies of relevance to tissue engineering recognising that this is an enormous and growing field.
  • Structural and Physical Properties of Dental and Bio-materials - This module will provide students with knowledge of structural and physical properties' relationships with Materials enabling them to understand links between materials, engineering, dentistry and regenerative medicine. In addition, it will help them in understanding the hard and soft materials, physical properties, including surface modification and their characterisation, and mechanical properties explaining how these elements play a vital role in the success of clinical dentistry and regenerative medicine.
  • Materials for Biological Applications - This module will explore contemporary biomaterials science and will focus on state of the art production methods for biomaterials manufacture. We will look at: rapid prototyping techniques for biomaterials manufacture, e.g. stereolithography; plasma coating techniques; electrospinning and fibres; foams for scaffolds; metal foams and coatings; ceramics processing/analysis; bioactive glasses and bioprinting. The module will examine how the properties of the materials determine it's function and which processing techniques are optimum for specific applications, with a focus on implant materials and tissue engineering scaffolds.
  • Research Project - A significant part of the course, the project will provide the opportunity to join a materials-related research group of your choice.

Plus one of the following:

  • Dental Materials Science - This module introduces candidates to a number of key themes and subjects at the heart of dental materials. The module illustrates the relationship between the science of dental materials, their properties, and the relationship between these and clinical performance. The latter includes consideration of the wider subjects of biomechanics and other host factors. Specific subjects covered therefore include the history of dental materials and their physical, chemical, optical and mechanical properties. The full range of materials used in dentistry will be considered, including direct restorative materials, and materials for removable and fixed prosthodontics.
  • Group Projects and Developing Research - The emphasis of this module will be on students developing skills in project planning, group communication and management, enterprise, research development and transfer of research into the industrial environment. The module will cover research methodologies, philosophy and principles, ethics, experiment design, managing research progress, literature searches and information retrieval, data analysis and presentation, technical and scientific writing, patent law, IPR, innovation, entrepreneurship and exploitation of research and components covering advanced knowledge and advanced skills.

Visit the MSc Biomaterials page on the University of Sheffield website for more details!

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