Medical Physics MSc

The University of Surrey’s Medical Physics MSc programme is well-established and internationally renowned. Approximately one-third of all medical physicists in the UK are graduates of our programme, and we have trained some 1,000 medical physicists, of whom more than 500 are from overseas and the European Union - so you can look forward to high-quality teaching during your time with us at Surrey.

Why Surrey?

We have close links with specialist teaching and regional Trust hospitals, as well as research institutes. These all provide lecturers with both up-to-date experience and outstanding opportunities for project research work.

Programme overview

Medical Physics MSc includes comprehensive coverage of the predominant aspects of modern applications of physics to medicine.

Why not discover more about our programme in our video?

Scholarships for this MSc programme

Teaching Assistantships (up to £3,000pa)

Our department-led scholarships enable you to assist with the teaching of Physics undergraduate students through laboratory sessions, tutorials, problem-solving classes, computing and other teaching activities depending on suitability. Open to home or international, full-time or part-time students, the University of Surrey gives out approximately six of these awards per annum. The Teaching Assistantship award is available on all MSc Physics programmes, and if successful, you can earn up to £3,000 throughout the year. Eligible MSc applicants will be sent an application form by email in August 2016 and the application procedure includes an interview (which can be completed by telephone).

The Braithwaite Family Foundation Medical Physics MSc scholarship

This single scholarship, which is offered by the Braithwaite family, is open to home, full-time MSc Medical Physics students. If successful, full tuition fees will be paid directly to the University of Surrey on behalf of the student. To apply for this scholarship you must have received a 2.1 at undergraduate degree level. The application procedure includes an interview with your Programme Director, a representative of the Alumni Office and a member of the Braithwaite family. Eligible MSc applicants will be sent an application form, by email, in August 2016.

Module overview

The MSc Medical Physics comprises nine compulsory modules, including a summer research project.

The syllabus is designed to provide the knowledge, skills and experience required for a modern graduate medical physicist, placing more emphasis than many other courses on topics beyond ionising radiation (X-rays and radiotherapy). Examples include magnetic resonance scanning and the use of lasers in medicine. Although applications of ionising radiation seem likely to remain a major branch of medical physics, other fields are increasing in importance, and modern medical physicists are now involved in the wide range of physical problems which arise in clinical medicine.

Programme structure

Each of the nine modules is sub-divided into various sections, as shown.

Module 1: Radiation Physics (33 hours of lectures)
  • Atomic and nuclear physics
  • Radiation physics
Module 2: Introduction to Biology and Radiation Biology (33 hours of lectures, tutorials and practicals/demonstrations)
  • Overview of human biology
  • Interaction of ionising and non-ionising radiation with biological systems
  • Effects of radiation at the cellular level and damage to different organs
Module 3: Radiation Measurements (33 hours)
  • Active- and passive-device systems
  • Radiation units, radiation counting and statistics
Module 4: Experimental and professional skills for Medical Physics (66 hours of laboratories, workshops and seminars)
  • Structure and mission of the NHS, and research ethics in a clinical context
  • Intellectual property
  • Radiation experiments involving safe handling of radioactive sources and observation of radiation interactions
Module 5: Diagnostic Applications of Ionising Radiation Physics (36 hours of lectures, labs and hospital sessions)
  • X-rays production and diagnostic radiology
  • Nuclear medicine
  • MTF and ROC analysis
  • Elements of image processing and image registration
Module 6: Non-ionising Radiation Imaging (33 hours of lectures, labs and hospital sessions)
  • NMR spectroscopy, MR imaging and signal analysis
  • Ultrasonics theory, instrumentation and practice
Module 7: Therapy Physics (33 hours of lectures, labs and hospital sessions)
  • Photon and particle interactions with body tissues
  • Treatment units and accelerator systems; treatment planning
  • Light therapy
  • Ultrasound therapy
Module 8: Extended Group Project (33 hours)
  • Monte Carlo FLUKA simulations
  • Group project (literature survey or experimental)
Module 9: Research Project and Dissertation

Module descriptions

Radiation Physics

33 hours of lectures including: atomic and nuclear physics and interaction of radiation with matter, plus introductory material describing detector operation and dosimetry.

Introduction to Biology and Radiation Biology

33 hours of lectures focusing on human biology, the nature of the interaction of ionising radiation with biological systems and the effects of ingested radionuclides. Effects at the cellular level and the impact that this has on the individual are also covered.

Radiation Measurements

33 hours of lectures providing detailed understanding of the physical and chemical principles underlying the operation of a wide range of techniques for the detection or dosimetry of ionising radiation. This will enable you to make appropriate choices of instrumentation in practical situations.

Experimental and Professional Skills for Medical Physics

66 hours of laboratory sessions designed to give you an understanding of the ethical and management aspects of the medical physicist's profession, as well as practical experience in handling radioactive substances, detectors and instrumentation. You will attend workshops on the NHS, research management and ethics, and achieve a comprehensive understanding of the use of radioactive materials, radiation counting, spectroscopy equipment, dosimetry measurements and standard radiation experimental techniques.

Diagnostic Applications of Ionising Radiation Physics

33 hours of lectures, labs and hospital sessions including: X-rays and diagnostic radiology; nuclear medicine; image analysis and image processing. The module aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the various imaging systems, quality control, observer decision criteria and image processing.

Therapy Physics

33 hours of lectures, labs and hospital sessions including: X- & γ-ray, fast electron, proton, heavy-ion & neutron interactions with body tissues; treatment units and accelerator systems; treatment planning. High intensity focused ultrasound, lasers, UV and blue light therapies. The module aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the various therapy systems, and their quality control.

Non-ionising Radiation Imaging

33 hours of lectures and labs and hospital sessions including: electronics and instrumentation; NMR spectroscopy, MR imaging and signal analysis; ultrasonics theory; ultrasonics, instrumentation and practice.

Extended Group Project

Through 33 hours of laboratory-based lectures and hands-on computing laboratory sessions, you will learn the basic use and implementation of the FLUKA Monte Carlo simulation software. The module culminates in a group-based design project or library-based project.

Research Project and Dissertation

You will undertake a supervised project, either on campus or off-campus (off-campus projects are often supervised by a hospital medical physicist). The project lasts eleven weeks. You will write a dissertation at the end of the project.

Teaching and assessment

Subject knowledge and skills

The subject material is delivered through lectures, laboratories and directed reading/research. You are given guidance on how to manage your learning, and at each stage in your development you are expected to take responsibility for your own learning. Understanding is developed and consolidated through interactions in group meetings, by laboratory work and by private study. Project work, leading to the dissertation, is used to integrate material and make knowledge functional. The need for physics or engineering graduates to acquire a background knowledge of human biology is supported through dedicated anatomy and physiological function lectures.

Core academic skills

The advanced lecture modules deliver knowledge in depth and breadth, while applications at the frontiers of the subject expose you to cutting-edge modern medical physics. The programme also develops your ability to think logically and analyse problems, and to apply these skills to problem-solving in a clinical setting.

The project module develops the ability to plan and execute a substantial project, developing a careful and critical approach to experimental design and/or mathematical modelling, and the maintenance of accurate records.

Personal and key skills

Teaching and learning of a range of transferable skills (ability to exercise independent judgement, use of information technology, oral and written communication, presentation, accessing information and group work) are embedded within the programme.

Facilities, equipment and academic support

Common room

A student common room is available for the use of all Physics students.

The University Library & Learning Centre

The University Library & Learning Centre holds journals and the recommended textbooks. These may be borrowed using the University library card. This card is issued to students upon registration and contains their University Registration Number (URN).


The University has an extensive range of PC and UNIX machines, full internet access and email. The University has invested in resources to allow students to develop their IT skills. It also has an online learning environment, SurreyLearn. Computers are located in dedicated computer rooms. Access to these rooms is available 24 hours per day.


Hounsfield Prize

A prize of £200 is awarded annually for the best dissertation on the Medical Physics programme. Sir Hounsfield was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1979 for his work on Computed Tomography.

Mayneord Prize

A prize of £200 in memory of Professor Valentine Mayneord will be awarded to the student with the best overall performance on the Medical Physics course. Professor Mayneord was one of the pioneers of medical physics, who had a long association with the Department and encouraged the growth of teaching and research in the field.

Knoll Prize

A prize of £300 in memory of Professor Glenn Knoll is awarded annually to the student with outstanding  performance in Radiation Physics and Radiation Measurement on any of the department's MSc programmes. Professor Knoll was a world-leading authority in radiation detection, with a long association with the department.

Professional recognition

This MSc degree is currently in the process of being re-accredited by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM). IPEM is the UK’s professional body for the application of physics and engineering to medicine.

IPEM is dedicated to bringing together physical science, engineering and clinical professionals in academia, healthcare services and industry, to share knowledge, advance science and technology, and inform and educate the public, with the purpose of improving the understanding, detection and treatment of disease and the management of patients.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Silvia Pani

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

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Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

A 2.2 honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in the physical sciences, electronics or in a relevant engineering discipline.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £8,000 £18,000
Part-time Sep 2016 £4,000 £9,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

GREAT Surrey Scholarships India

For for all postgraduate taught courses starting in February 2017 within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, the University is offering graduates from India the opportunity to apply for one of three scholarships worth £5,000 through the GREAT Scholarships - India programme. 

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.