Why study MSc Biomaterials?

AnalysingThis course will introduce you to the field of biomaterials and in particular to the factors that are important in the selection, design, and development of biomaterials for clinical applications.

You will learn about a broad range of materials before specialising in those used in hard and soft medical applications (including restorative and regenerative medicine, drug delivery and others).

Course breakdown

  • Duration: 1 year full time
  • Fees: It's important to find out how much the fees are for your course and get advice on funding your studies. We recommend using the University's fee lookup tool
  • Entry requirements: a good honours degree in materials, a physical science (biology or chemistry) or a related engineering subject. A good honours degree in dentistry or medicine is also acceptable. Some background in chemistry and biology is desired. For equivalent qualifications in your country, click here.
  • English language requirements: overall IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent
  • Study locations: Sheffield campus.
  • Our campus and how we use it: We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.

Once you've made your decision and are ready to apply, follow our step by step guide. Apply now

Course structure

From the start of the course, students will begin to develop an advanced level of understanding and appreciation of the principles and applications of biomaterials.

You will develop knowledge of general materials science, including structural and functional properties, processing and characterisation of materials, as well as learning useful transferable skills.

You will gain an understanding of biomaterials - their functions and applications, medical devices and the characteristics of biomaterials, tissues and their repair, the concept of scaffolds, implant devices, and the contribution of materials science to their optimisation.

Core Modules

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. Lectures will be supplemented with laboratory exercises based on; construction of a binary phase diagram; crystallography; health and safety regulations in the work place.

This unit aims to give students:

  • Knowledge and understanding of bonding, structure, defects, phase transformations and applications of metals, polymers and inorganic solids;
  • Significant insight into the mechanical properties and strength of materials;
  • A sound grounding in the construction and application of equilibrium phase diagrams to materials science;
  • Knowledge and understanding regarding health and safety regulations in the work place.

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.
  • Analysis of materials using a range of techniques, e.g. diffraction, spectroscopy, and thermal analysis

This unit aims to give students:

  • Knowledge and comprehension of the material fabrication technologies
  • Knowledge and comprehension of an extended range of analytical techniques and how they can used in the development of new materials

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.

This unit aims to prepare students to undertake practical and modelling based research in Materials Science and Engineering. To achieve this overall aim students will undertake:

  • a set of guided practical experiments exposing them to a) necessary health and safety protocols and b) a range of materials characterisation techniques
  • computer based data handling and modelling
  • literature based research and review
  • presentations

Course Objectives

By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to:

  • Complete essential health and safety forms (COSHH, RACIE)
  • Safely undertake practical work in materials science and engineering
  • Analyse data obtained from practical and modelling experiments
  • Confidently use selected scientific computational software
  • Search and critically analyse scientific literature
  • Coherently present the results of their work verbally and written form

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, metal coatings, ceramics processing/analysis, bioactive glasses and bioprinting. For all these, examples of recent literature will be used. 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.

In addition, surface and interfacial properties of biomaterials, importance of molecular structure, and interfacial interactions with the surrounding environment will be covered. The role of surface properties, whether, polymers, ceramics, metals and composites will be discussed in detail.

This unit aims to:

Enable students to understand how different materials used in biomedical applications are processed and how the both material's properties and the intended application affect the choice of material and processing technique. This module will be focused on contemporary processing techniques for biomaterials manufacture and will provide an overview of the state-of-the-art. Students will acquire skills in selecting biomaterials and processing by examining contemporary examples of functional and failed biomaterials.

In addition, students will gain an understanding of surface and interfacial properties of biomaterials, importance of molecular structure, and interfacial interactions with the surrounding environment. The role of surface properties, whether, polymers, ceramics, metals and composites will be discussed. Application of biomaterials such as biosensors and tissue engineering scaffolds will be highlighted and methods of testing the safety and efficacy of biomaterials.

Tissue Engineering Approaches to Failure in Living Systems

This lecture course continues the systems based introduction to human physiology and anatomy which were introduced in level 2 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. Thus the first four weeks focus on generic issues relevant to tissue engineering of any tissues and then for the remainder of the course exemplar tissues are selected to illustrate current tissue engineering approaches and identify the challenges that remain ahead.

The lectures are supported by linked tutorials which focus on (a) assessing the students’ understanding of their current knowledge so that they achieve immediate and informal feedback and (b) giving the students the experience of working in small groups to apply what they have learnt in the preceding lectures to current problems. Thus a key feature of this module is to stimulating the students in critical thinking, essentially by giving them a toolkit to equip them to look critically at any tissue engineering challenge and come up with pertinent questions and experimental approaches.

Structural and Physical Properties of Dental and Bio-materials

The bulk and surface properties of materials used for regenerative medicine and dental applications directly influence and control the dynamic interactions at the interfacial level. Therefore, it is not only important to understand Structural and Physical Properties of Materials but also view it as a process between the implanted materials and the host environment.

It is important to understand these specific properties of materials prior to any medical or dental applications. This module will provide students with knowledge of Structural and Physical Properties relationship 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.

The unit aims to provide a wide and in-depth knowledge of Structural and Physical Properties relationship with Materials. Furthermore, students will learn about the bulk and surface properties of materials, mechanical properties of materials, finite element analysis, degradation of materials, and characterisation of materials. The module will allow students to relate properties of materials to clinical and dental applications.

Tissue Structure and Function

This course 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 that make up the tissue. 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 - 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, how tissue damage causes loss of function will be considered. This course should enable students to understand enough about human tissues so that they can relate it to how engineering techniques are used to support, monitor and repair damaged human tissues.

This unit aims to provide a basic understanding of the anatomy of the human body and the structure of the organs and tissues within the body, including knowledge of which cells create each tissue and the proteins, sugars and lipids that the cells synthesise to make a functional tissue. The students should complete the course with enough basic knowledge of tissues that they can understand where biomaterials and tissue engineering strategies are required to support, monitor and repair damaged tissues.

Optional Modules

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

In this module students will develop individual research project proposals and then work as a team to develop a select number of these as grant applications suitable for research councils or as industrial proposals suitable for seed funding or venture capital. 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.

This unit aims to give the students experience in developing ideas for research and taking them through to a fully planned project proposal stage, both individually and later as part of a project team. A significant amount of course will provide an insight into research planning and development, knowledge-based systems, measurements and evaluation systems. The nature of the course is highly interdisciplinary and involves a good blend of theory and applications. Students will gain insight into the critical factors involved in developing timelines for research and factors that can effect the funding of proposals both in industry and academia.

Research Project

Research project

Students will be expected to select and complete a research project, based on the research interests of academic staff working in the field of biomaterials and tissue engineering.

How you'll learn

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 discussion
  • 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.

Click here for additional information.

Meet our students

A medical student studying engineering

Due to the competitive nature of the medical profession, many students pursue additional study to enhance their personal development. Our MSc in Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine provides you with the opportunity to broaden your understanding of medical science through a multi-disciplinary approach.

Medical student Byron Haywood-Alexander studying MSc Biomaterials

I specifically chose this course due to my interest in the materials aspect of medical engineering; something that would hugely supplement a surgical career (an interest of mine). Likewise, the study of human biology as a material engineer has provided further development of my clinical biology in addition to understanding the methods involved in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of pathology.

Having no arranged access to personal research projects during the medical school syllabus, the final project included in this MSc has provided insight, experience and further awareness of the academic world of research.

I would recommend the study of biomaterials and regenerative medicine to all medical students looking at intercalating or postgraduate study, and especially to those who enjoyed physics, or are looking into a future career in surgery, acute and critical care and diagnostic medicine.


Academic support

zeng.jpgXiangbing Zeng: Course Director and Reader in Polymers and Liquid Crystals

If you have any questions about the course, please contact Postgraduate Taught Courses Team.


The skills you will gain will be of use for a range of employers in the healthcare sector, universities and research institutes. In addition, the skill sets will equip you for PhD research.

Our graduates work across the globe in a variety of roles including:

  • Researcher, academics, and scientists in industry.

Employers include CAMBioceramics, Smith and Nephew, Universities across the Globe, Medical and Dental Schools, and Research Institutes.

Nathan KuckoTake a look at where some of our alumni are now working.

Meet our alumni

*The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers.In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.