Biomedical science is taught in about 90 UK universities. It focuses on giving students experience in a lab whilst still providing background knowledge of the biology behind the inner workings of the human body.
This includes learning in detail about the cause of human disease, how underlying mechanisms of disease produce symptoms, and overall how the disease affects normal functioning of cells and tissue.
A typical biomedical science student can expect to spend 3 years at university, gaining detailed knowledge of medical topics even beyond what is required of a junior doctor.
This makes biomedical science a tough course for even the best biology students and future medical school hopefuls.
Biomedical science is a unique course that has its own set of benefits which may or may not be useful to you.
What to expect in a biomedical science degree?
In the first year of a biomedical sciences degree, most students will find the content relatively familiar and reminiscent of A level biology and chemistry.
This year is intended to put all the students on the same level as there are always students and adult learners who have gained access to Uni via alternative courses rather than the usual sixth form A-levels route.
The first year will be broken into 2 semesters. In each semester, you will study 3 modules and write exams in January (for semester 1) and may (for semester 2).
This is usually the examination model that most biomedical science universities take.
Common first year modules include cell and tissue biology which is the study of cells under a microscope to examine organelles and other structures that allow them to carry out their specific function.
Human physiology and genetics are also usually studied in the first year to give students a better understanding of the human body.
In the first year some newer topics are introduced to students; These include biochemistry and microbiology.
Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes within living thing organisms, and microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms and how they may cause disease or be of use to us.
These topics are often only introductory but give students a good base understanding to build upon.
So far first year probably sounds great, and to top it all off, most if not all of the exams are straight forward multiple-choice questions. So, what is so wrong about studying biomedical sciences?
Misconceptions about studying biomedical science
There are numerous misconceptions that lead students to study biomedical sciences for the wrong reason. They will all be debunked once and for all in this article.
1.You are Guaranteed a job once you finish
A biomedical science degree by no means guarantees you a job when you finish. It’s just the first step to getting one.
It seems many students enroll on the course purely because they are hoping to bank a job as a biomedical scientist right away.
Students often pursue it as their way of still contributing to the healthcare profession without having to undertake the many years in medical school.
This is not a very feasible plan as most UK universities offer a biomedical directed course but only a handful are accredited by the Institute of Biomedical science (IBMS).
Not to mention, the supply of biomedical scientist by far exceeds the demand, making it a hard industry to even find job openings.
This is not to say you cannot gain employment after studying biomedical science.
To give yourself the best chance you will need to attend an IBMS accredited university and go down the route of full IBMS certification.
This will often involve completing a portfolio beside your studies and undertaking a placement in your third year alongside your studies.
2. It is easier to get into medicine this way
many students use biomedical science as a route into medicine if for example they fell short of the entry requirements at an earlier stage.
This is a feasible plan as many universities reserve places for graduate on their course to study alongside undergraduates, and universities such as Warwick offer a graduate only degree.
The misconception comes when students believe it is easier to gain access into medical school because of their knowledge of medicine. This is however not the case.
On medical courses universities prioritize A level students and only leave a small amount of spaces for graduates.
Last year for example, from a total cohort of 701, Leicester university admitted only 148 graduates onto their undergraduate course.
If your plan was to apply to the graduates alternative for medicine, your job is 10 times harder. The average ratio of total applicant to successful applicants is about 10:1 for undergraduate medicine.
It is 100:1 for graduate entry.
This means out of 100 people that apply, only 1 will be successful. Graduate Entry is especially competitive because of the limited places available and because of the higher level of competition.
Graduates are often competing against people with direct experience in healthcare, possibly as a nurse, or health care assistant.
This makes them of more value to the university than people who only hold degrees as they already have experience in a healthcare environment
It is therefore much easier to gain access to medical school when medicine is your first degree as opposed to your second.
3. It’s like doing medicine, only easier
Even I was under the impression that biomedical science would be an easy degree.
I was seriously mistaken about the level of difficulty, and after talking with friends who studied medicine, found they were 2 completely different studying experience.
Biomedical science students study the usual modules in medical school such as hematology, human physiology, pathology and microbiology, however topics such as biochemistry are studied in far more depth than a medic would have to know.
The extra knowledge that a biomedical science course demands often makes it difficult to endure.
Not to mention, most biomedical science lecturers are researchers who possibly have research projects that they run alongside lecturing. This makes them good researchers but doesn’t necessarily mean they are good lecturers.
Lectures delivered by researchers as opposed to professors always seem to be given in a rush with little attention payed to organizing the lecture slides coherently
Over the course of the degree, you will be asked to do presentation and write scientific papers on cutting edge topics that often require you to read and understand 100s of research papers.
This is very time-consuming work and requires plenty of interest and dedication for the topic.
This is why studying something because you think it will be easy is a sure-fire way of failing.
4. It leaves the door open to many routes
If you play your cards right you can certainly use biomedical science as stepping stone into many things but on its own, the degree has poor job prospects.
You can potentially become a biomedical scientist, but the supply is much higher than the demand and you need to complete an IBMS certification portfolio to be even qualified enough for hire.
You can study medicine, but the competition is higher and is roughly 10x harder to gain admittance as a graduate.
Conventional routes for jobs are often hyper-competitive which leaves you with the prospect of changing fields and hoping your skills were transferable enough for an unrelated graduate job.
Therefore, people advice you to study something you are interested in; it’s to avoid the prospect of being stuck with a degree you weren’t 100% keen on, just so you can end up doing a graduate job with no relevancy to your degree.
5. I genuinely like studying about the human body but don’t have good enough grades for medicine
If you were considering medicine, you will most likely have knowledge in biology and chemistry. Have you ever considered studying biochemistry?
This is a much more valuable degree as your knowledge isn’t scattered around the different topics in biology, but more focused on chemical processes and their relevance in biology.
Job prospects are much broader and there is a lower chance of being stuck with a “useless” degree.
In summary, A biomedical science degree doesn’t guarantee you free entry into a medical degree nor does it give you priority over A level students.
When picking a university degree to study, think less about job security because nowadays, if you aren’t studying medicine (which comes with its own issues too), no degree you pick guarantees you a job after graduation. Think more about what you will excel in. Anything can be monetized as long as you’re good at it.
If you are still unsure about which courses to study, consider checking out my blog post about which job biomedical science students can study!
As a student, you must endeavor to find the best option/career path!
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Is biomedical good field, and has it vacancy job for future.
Please answer me .
Depends which field you want to go into.
If you want to be a biomedical scientist, there are already enough biomedical scientists really, and plenty of them may have got the role through apprenticeships, instead of paying for a 3 year degree.
You must stand out to get a job in the biomed field which means you HAVE to follow it up with a master’s degree or a PhD to get good jobs in this field.
It’s a good field but just the undergraduate degree alone isn’t enough for a good job usually.
in my opinion as a aspiring medic, the only reason one should study biomedical science is if they want to study postgrad medicine or a physician associate course, allied healthcare course or are looking to get into research and teaching. As a biomedical science graduate, you can go onto study master’s and PhD relatively easily and there is funding available.
You get to do research, and take on some teaching duties (most likely paid position at the university) and eventually you will accrue enough experience to be hired by the university or by a research arm of the university. Things aren’t all that bad but as the admin says, biomedical science degree alone is not realistically enough to secure a decent future career.
I agree with you! I¨m currently a biomed student and I am aware that it isnt as easy to get a job however the knowlege you gain from this degree is still important and by doing a master course weather in biomed or another route youre intrested in you can still get a good job! As long as you are bothered
The Biomedical field is listed on the UK job shortage occupation list. Is tt possible to have your comment?
To my knowledge, almost every job is on that list. Geologists and architects are featured on that list but there simply aren’t jobs waiting to be filled. The same goes for biomedical sciences jobs for new graduates with 0 experience. An important thing to think about is the number of people with a degree, and the number of jobs available. If the ratio is high then its not a good thing, so you must make yourself stand out by finding internships, placements, and definately considering postgrad study.
My son will be on his first year in Biomedical Science this fall 2020, and deadsure to pursue medical school afterwards. He is very good and topnotch in Biochemistry during high school. Should he rather shift to Biochem major or just continue the Biomed program. Please advise.
Brilliant! If he is pursuing medicine and able to get on a program, it actually doesn’t matter which one he studies since they are actually quite similar in course content, just as long as he is able to ace his exams and get a solid degree.
In terms of changing his mind later down the line, maybe he isn’t so keen on med, is it better to be stuck with a biochem degree than biomed? well in the UK at least I know that the degrees are very similar however biochem is usually seen as the harder and therefore more favourable degree to hold, especially if it’s from a reputable institution. He could use it to do further postgrad study and maybe go into research, chemical industry or even use a biochem degree to train as a biomedical scientist. In any case, they will both leave his options open for medicine or any other path he wants to take. Nothing wrong with using Biomed first degree as a gateway to better things!
Please is biomedica a relevant course and did biomedical student get job easily after graduate
Depends on university attended, prior experience level, and accreditation. It’s doable to find work after graduating but its hard because you will find competition from people with same qualification and lab experience going for the same job.
i aspire to become an embryologist for which i should take bachelors in biomedicine.is it only difficult to get a job after biomedicine graduation or will it be hard to find a job after taking bachelors in biomedicine and then post graduation in embryology??
Any form of postgraduate study will enhance your ability to find work in the future. IT gives you more skills and credibility when you are competing against a colleague who only has an undergraduate degree. I’m not sure about the job prospects for embryologists without MBChB however I believe finding work will be easier after a postgraduate degree.
very interesting article however i have some disagreements. First of all, most degrees except those directly involved in the NHS have no clear cut job ready for you once you graduate. Biomedical Science is a very well respected difficult degree and has applications for a whole spectrum of careers however the university you study and the prestige it hold is ESSENTIAL!! Please don’t go to an IBMS accredited Uni if you 1) Have top grades 2) Don’t want to examine human faeces and blood and earn a mediocre salary for the rest of your working life.
Studying Biomedical science at a top university, where most are not accredited such as UCL, Oxbridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, Warwick will open so many doors for you in pharmaceuticals at the elite companies, world class research, banking, accountancy,consultancy and … The university you study at is the most important! There is a reason why the low ranked unis such as Keele, Reading, Westminster, UCLAN are all accredited; graduates from these mid/low tier institutions have a low chance of making it into the high paying competitive fields I listed above.
There are some issues with your comment. Would love to hear your background experience on the topic. Accredited degree doesn’t instantly mean bad university and mediocre Job prospect by any stretch. Most people who study Biomedical are using it at a placeholder for a course like medicine which is fine however most graduates are under the impression that only biomedical undergrad will land them a job, accredited or not, and this isn’t the case. This is the myth I need doing away with.
I am shortly releasing a new article on the routes one can take directly after studying bioscience to find work. This article may seem like a bash on the degree but hopefully you’ll see that I agree with you on the diverse nature of the course.
I would advise people to aim for the best uni they can apply to, but accreditation, IBMS or not isn’t going to make a difference in the grand scheme once you start postgraduate studies.
Thanks for the in-depth insights!