Life Sciences

Roles within Life Sciences include

  • Biomedical Scientist
  • Clinical Scientist
  • Healthcare Science Support Worker

Biomedical scientists help doctors and other healthcare professionals to diagnose, monitor and manage disease through the analysis of tissue samples body fluids. They investigate a range of medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, meningitis, hepatitis and AIDS.

In NHSScotland, biomedical scientists normally work in laboratories, using computers and hi-tech automated lab equipment to test and analyse biological samples, including blood and urine. They work as part of a team, including other healthcare science staff, doctors and nurses. 

Clinical scientists use their knowledge of science to help prevent, diagnose and treat illness. They research and develop the techniques and equipment used by medical staff.

As a clinical scientist, you would

  • research, develop and test new methods of diagnosis and treatment
  • give doctors advice on medical equipment
  • interpret test results and suggest methods of treatment 

You could choose to focus on a job in life sciences, physiological sciences or medical physics.

 As a clinical support worker in healthcare science, you’ll have a range of duties including

  • assisting in analysing tissue and fluid samples
  • mixing chemical solutions
  • using computers to input and analyse data
  • sterilising equipment
  • maintaining stock levels
  • labelling, sorting and storing specimens

You would work closely with scientists and others in the healthcare science team. 




Skills, Interests and Abilities

To work in life sciences, useful skills are

  • technical and practical skills
  • a high level of accuracy and excellent attention to detail
  • strong communication skills
  • teamworking skills
  • committed to the wellbeing of patients
  • professional with an excellent work ethic
  • good problem solving skills 

Useful abilities include

  • the ability to work on your own initiative and take responsibility for making decisions
  • empathy and understanding when working directly with patients
  • the ability to concentrate for long periods

Entry Requirements

To become a biomedical scientist in the UK, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). To register, you successfully complete an Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredited degree.

In Scotland, the following universities offer 4 year full time undergraduate programmes in biomedical science:

The minimum academic entry requirements for these degree courses vary, but most universities in Scotland require SQA Higher AABB grades, including Biology and Chemistry. A pass in National 5 grade A – C in English and Maths is also required. Some universities may also accept an SQA HNC Applied Sciences (SCQF Level 7) for entry in to year 1.

Students with SQA HND Biomedical Science (SCQF Level 8) or HND Applied Biological Science (SCQF Level 8) may allow advanced entry to year 2.

Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) – Access to Health & Life Sciences (SCQF Level 6) or Access to Medical Studies (SCQF Level 6) 

These programmes are for adults returning to education, perhaps changing career or seeking to gain the equivalent university entry qualifications needed for a biomedical science undergraduate programme. There are no formal entry qualifications, but applicants should have a good standard of general education and have been away from formal education for a minimum of 2 – 3 years.

Successful completion of the course could lead to: 

  • A degree in biomedical science by applying to universities that participate in the SWAP partnership programme
  • HNC Applied Sciences

Please visit the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) website for more information.

Entry requirements for biomedical science undergraduate programmes vary depending on the university, college or provider. You are advised to contact each individual provider to find out its specific entry requirements.

Specific entry requirements, including other accepted qualifications, are provided on each university website. To apply for a biomedical science programme you must use the UCAS application process.

You can visit the HCPC website for a full list of approved educational institutions and biomedical science programmes across the UK.

Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

The Modern Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support (clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is a framework for people interested in working in a clinical healthcare setting. For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at


Learning and Development

Once qualified and registered with Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), you also join the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS).

Continuing professional development (CPD)

As a qualified biomedical scientist, you would be expected to undertake CPD activities in order to:

  • keep your knowledge and skills up to date
  • maintain your registration with the HCPC

The HCPC provides courses, conferences and seminars where you can exchange ideas and update skills.

In NHSScotland, biomedical scientists start on band 5 of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. With experience, there are opportunities to progress to band 9 depending on the role and level of responsibility.

During your career as a biomedical scientist, you can undertake advanced IBMS accredited courses and qualifications, such as:

  • Specialist, Higher Specialist, and Advanced Specialist Diplomas
  • MSc degree courses
  • professional doctorates

These qualifications will help your career prospects, leading to more senior roles or providing the opportunity to specialise in areas of biomedicine, such as blood sciences, cellular sciences, infection sciences and microbiology.

Professional Bodies

Find out more information from these professional and regulatory bodies: 

Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC is an independent, UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards for health, psychological, and in England; social work professionals. It maintains a public register of qualified professionals and works to improve industry standards and education. Visit the HCPC website to find out more.

Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)

The IBMS is the professional body for biomedical scientists in the UK. It sets standards of practice to protect patients, funds research and promotes public awareness of biomedical science. Find out more on the IBMS website