Studying Biomedical Science vs Applied Biomedical Science

What is the difference between studying Biomedical Science and Applied Biomedical Science? RGU student, Aimee Work discusses her experience in choosing between the two possible degree routes within the Biomedical Science degree programme, and what factors led her to make an informed decision on the degree path most suitable to her.

First year on the Biomedical Science programmes

During first year, all biomedical science students study under the BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science degree, and so you will undergo the same academic modules throughout the year. You will cover a range of biology and chemistry related modules to provide you with a foundational knowledge and understanding of key scientific concepts, whilst gaining an understanding of biomedical disciplines and professions. Alongside this you will also develop your analytical skills and key laboratory techniques. This will help you to apply the knowledge you learn and develop your problem solving skills whilst in the lab.

As part of the Professional Practice module during first year, you will learn about the various aspects of both degree routes, as well as the standards of proficiency and codes of conduct set by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This will help you understand the possible career
paths in order to make an educated choice.

We also had presentations from various professionals in different sectors, some biomedical scientists, and some in industry, education and further education. Myself and other students found this highly beneficial gaining an insight into the journeys of previous RGU students, studying both degree routes, and how the knowledge and skills they gained benefited them on the career paths they now pursue, as well as introducing us to the various science sectors and opportunities.

These presentations enabled me to reflect which particular career path may suit me, as well learn about the specialist knowledge I may require and practical implications of my choice.

Everything you do within your first year prepares you to then make the decision as to which degree to embark on, Biomedical Science or Applied Biomedical Science.

What is Applied Biomedical Science?

This course differs from Biomedical Science in a few ways. One major aspect is that you will undergo two placements. One in second year for 6 weeks, and one whole semester in the third year. These are fantastic opportunities to apply your knowledge and to work in a hospital laboratory.

Alongside your placement, you are required to complete a portfolio of written competencies relating to the role of a Biomedical Scientist and the standards of proficiency and conduct set by the IBMS. Your portfolio then needs to be verified by the IBMS for you to be eligible to register with the HCPC, which then allows you to work as a Biomedical Scientist. Graduates, having completed a Certificate of Competence Registration Portfolio during the placements, are then ready to be employed as HCPC registered Biomedical Scientists in NHS or private hospitals.

For those who wish to have the training and qualifications to directly apply for a Biomedical Scientist role the BSc (Hons) Applied Biomedical Science would be the most apt degree choice.

What is Biomedical Science?

On the other hand BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science has no placements embedded within the degree and instead contains more theory- based modules where new subject areas are taught as well as learning more advanced concepts of diagnostic subject areas.

For example, biomedical science students will undertake modules on Pharmacology and Toxicology and Environmental Analysis, these are not covered on the Applied Biomedical Science course. Additionally the degree provides a working knowledge of other scientific disciplines and of its associated industries, making graduates suitable for careers in public health, environment, clinical and other sectors.

For those who wish to have a grounded knowledge of the biomedical sciences, with the potential to work in research and private laboratories, the education sector, production and sales, or to then pursue further academic education, such as medicine, and other postgraduate degrees, BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science may be the better option.

It is also important to note that this degree route does not limit students from
becoming a Biomedical Scientist, as BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science is accredited by the
Institute of Biomedical Science. Although you do not complete a training portfolio within this course and hence are not HCPC registered, graduates are still suitable for employment as a trainee Biomedical Scientist. So there are options available to you!

How I decided which route to undertake

There are many factors which influenced my decision in choosing the right degree route for me. It was important that whichever route I chose, I would take advantage of every opportunity presented to me to strive towards my academic and career ambitions.

A pertinent aspect of the decision for me was based upon the various career paths and
opportunities tailored to each of the degree routes. My ambition after graduating from my
undergraduate degree has always been to pursue a PhD, and so I had always been drawn
towards theory based learning throughout my time at university.

When comparing the modules covered in Biomedical Science and Applied Biomedical Science degrees, it was evident that there was more theory based content covered within the Biomedical Science degree and more opportunities to explore subject areas in more detail.

Additionally in terms of my career aspirations beyond further education, I have always aspired to go into clinical research and medical affairs, serving as a scientific peer within the medical community and being involved in the scientific research towards the prevention of disease and development of treatment. As a result, it was from these aspirations that led me to contemplate the benefits each degree would provide in allowing me to pursue my career ambitions.

When comparing the two courses and researching into the role of a biomedical scientist I realised that my desire to focus on academic research and share knowledge, better aligned me to the Biomedical Science route, and not Applied Biomedical Science.

If you are not sure which path to pursue it would be worth speaking to the teaching staff within the department and to visit RGU’s Open Days and Applicants’ Days to find out more. But remember you will be exposed to plenty of information in your first year to enable you to make a confident decision. All these opportunities will enable you to weigh up the positives and negatives of each route based upon your career aspirations, skills and qualities you pertain, as well as the knowledge and skills you wish to develop.

Hear from other students studying Biomedical Science and Applied Biomedical Science

You can also read about other student experiences from the courses on the following blogs:


Leave a Reply