Biomedical Science vs Biomedical Engineering - Which Course is Right for Me?

Andy Powell, Deputy Head of Life Sciences at BCU explains what Biomedical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering courses are, the differences between each course and which course is right for you.

What is Biomedical Sciences?

Biomedical sciences is a diverse subject area and underpins much of modern medicine - from determining the blood requirements of critically ill patients to identifying outbreaks of infectious diseases to monitoring biomarkers in cancer 

Biomedical Sciences covers a range of topics from cell biology and biochemistry through to genetics, microbiology and pharmacology. By the time students graduate with a degree in Biomedical Sciences students have a deeper knowledge of subjects such as immunology, infectious diseases and biotechnology. This ensures students have a current level of knowledge that is applicable to the workplace and desirable by employers both now and in the future.

What careers can a degree in Biomedical Sciences lead to?

Individuals with a Biomedical sciences degree have the opportunity to develop their skillset further by entering work in healthcare laboratories (either private or NHS) diagnosing diseases and evaluating the effectiveness of treatment by analysing fluids and tissue samples from patients. Alternatively, students can apply for further study through Masters or PhD studies which can lead to careers in healthcare (eg. Physician Associate, Radiographers or Medicine and Dentistry) or as researchers trying to more deeply understand contemporary issues in Biomedical Sciences.

Biomedical Science at BCU

See more information about our Biomedical Sciences course

What is Biomedical Engineering?

Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes. Biomedical Engineering aims to advance healthcare treatment through development of diagnostic, monitoring, and therapeutic interventions. Biomedical Engineers also manage and maintain medical equipment in hospitals while adhering to relevant industry standards. As a consequence the Biomedical Engineering courses are embedded in industry with assessments that give students a real-world perspective and an opportunity to develop skills that will be useful in the workplace. It’s a wide subject area that includes the development of Artificial Intelligence to enhance healthcare, the development of microscopic technology and development of bionics and prosthetics. Biomedical Engineering covers everything from nanomedicine to macro medicine. 

What careers can a degree in Biomedical Engineering lead to?

As a biomedical engineer, you'll apply engineering principles and materials technology to healthcare equipment. You could be employed by health services, medical equipment manufacturers or research departments and institutes to research, design and develop medical products, such as joint replacements or robotic surgical instruments, design or modify equipment for clients with special needs in a rehabilitation setting or manage the use of clinical equipment in hospitals and the community.  Job titles vary depending on the exact nature of the work; individuals employed in this sector could be known as biomedical engineers, clinical engineers, or medical engineers. 

Which course is right for me?

These specialities have a great deal in common as they both contribute to positive health outcomes for the wider population. During the recent COVID pandemic, it has been apparent how important biomedical research and analysis is for identification, testing and developing pharmacological mitigations for the virus and mutations. Similarly, with biomedical engineering, the technologies, instruments and devices developed are key to the rapid detection and diagnosis of infection. Both specialities are instrumental in creating solutions that will improve the quality and longevity of life.

If you are interested in developing the next generation of healthcare provisions, then either course will enable you to do this, the course you choose will depend on your interests. Biomedical Sciences focuses more on the biological changes that underpin diseases, whereas Biomedical Engineering uses the underpinning biological knowledge combined with engineering principles to develop solutions to clinical problems. If you prefer mainly focussing on bioscience, then Biomedical Sciences is for you; if you like to apply mathematical principles to biological problems, then Biomedical Engineering is for you.

Deputy Head of Life Sciences

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