BlogUniversityWhat It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD

What It’s Like Studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD

Biomedical Engineering USYD - Fact Sheet

Are you considering studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD? 

Well look no further! In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the degree from career paths to core units to student culture!

Let’s get into it!

What is a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD?
Core Units and Majors
How to Get into a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD?

A Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD is a degree focused on combining the knowledge of biological and life sciences with the technicality of engineering. Taking on this degree can give you a glimpse into the mechanics of medical technology, and you’ll have the chance to gain industry experience as you work towards your qualification. 

Biomedical Engineering is very structured with core units in Chemistry, Biology and Engineering which guide your development throughout your study. It’s great for students who want to work at the cusp of medical science and engineering!

The Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering degree is also an Honours degree! This means that all students in their final year will undertake a research thesis which involves designing and demonstrating an innovative concept within Biomedical Engineering.

Thinking of attending USYD? Before you go any further, our BEST advice for you is to attend multiple University Open Days! Don’t limit yourself, explore our Master List of University Open Days to give yourself as many options as you can!

Career Paths

A Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD covers a good number of fields and specialities. There are many different roles or types of organisations in which graduates may end up:

    • Biomedical engineer within hospitals or government bodies
    • Biomedical device designer
    • Forensic engineer
    • Health technology organisations
    • Patent examiner and field service engineer
    • Medical device assessor
    • Clinical support specialist

Core Units and Majors

What are the Core Units?

The Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering degree requires the completion of biomedical stream core units. Some of the compulsory units you could find yourself diving into are:

    • Biomaterials
    • Engineering Mechanics
    • Regulatory Affairs in the Medical Industry
    • Biomedical Design and Technology
    • Computational Analysis for Biomedical Designs

What Majors are available?

If you’re planning to study this degree as a single honours degree, there are a multitude of specialisations or majors you can choose from:

Do you enjoy working with software and computers? Then this major might be for you! The Biocomputation specialisation will develop your skills for working in biotechnology, research and healthcare settings.
Biomedical Modelling and DesignYou might be wondering why engineers need to be so familiar with software like SolidWorks or AutoCAD. This is where design and modelling really comes into its own! The Biomedical Modelling and Design specialisation gives you the technical proficiency needed to innovate, design and manufacture biomedical implants and devices. 
Bionics and BioelectronicsAre you interested in learning about the technology used in modern hearing aids and implants? The Bionics and Bioelectronics specialisation will immerse you in the skills required to produce and invent bionics like cochlear implants or pacemakers.
Humanitarian EngineeringThe Humanitarian Engineering major leans more towards streams like civil engineering where you’ll develop knowledge and skills surrounding the planning, implementation and maintenance of infrastructure in rural Australia and developing countries.
Nanoscale BiotechnologyThis specialisation in Biomedical engineering equips you with the technical skills Biomedical engineers use in developing biomedical devices and therapeutic materials. Though specific, the skills from this major can be applied to pharmaceutical, orthopaedic and healthcare industries.
ThermofluidsInterested in thermodynamics? How about fluid mechanics? This specialisation deals with the fundamentals of heat transfer and fluid mechanics, allowing you to apply these skills in many, complex socio-environmental problems like flash-flooding or bushfire prevention.

Work Experience

The Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD has an integrated Professional Engagement Program, otherwise known as PEP. In the second part of this program, you will dedicate a portion of your third year study to industry placements! 

This means internships and work experience at various biomedical companies such as Cochlear and Resmed


How to Get into a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD

The guaranteed ATAR for admission into a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USYD is an ATAR of 92

However, if you are unable to attain this result, there’s no need to worry! There are also alternate pathways of entry into this degree.

The Academic Excellence Scheme allows for an adjustment of up to 5 points added to your ATAR for achieving band 5 or 6 in high level English or Mathematics.

For general alternative pathways, such as disrupted schooling, elite athletes, academic and school leadership and more, check out this link here!

Prerequisites and Assumed Knowledge

This degree also has a mathematics course prerequisite. You must either have achieved a Band 4 or higher in Mathematics Advanced or a Band E3 or higher in Mathematics Extension 1.

It’s also a good idea to have at least some experience in the Assumed Knowledge subjects. 

These are: HSC Mathematics Extension 1, Physics and/or Chemistry and/or Biology. If you haven’t taken these subjects in your senior years, bridging courses are available to get you up to speed.

What scholarships are available?

The School of Biomedical Engineering at USYD does not have any degree specific scholarships, but you can check out a list of general ones for the Faculty of Engineering here!

What’s the Teaching Format?

A Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at Sydney Uni has one of the most diverse teaching environments at the university. The teaching period is split into two semesters and encompasses lectures, tutorials, seminars, laboratory work and industrial workshops. 

How long do classes take?

The length of each of these classes depends on the number of credit points (CP) that unit is worth.

For example, a unit worth 6 CP will demand a greater number of face-to-face contact hours compared to a 2 CP unit. 

Usually your 6 CP units will have 2 to 3 hours of lectures, 1 to 2 hours of tutorials or seminars and depending on the unit, you may have labs or workshops. Typically, the number of hours dedicated to lectures and tutorials will differ over different faculties. 

Laboratory and workshops also have varying lengths depending on the unit! They may be weekly or bi-weekly and generally can run from anywhere between 2 to 4 hours.

Class Structure

Biomedical Engineering USYD - Class Structure


Almost all your units will have some form of lecture-style content delivery. Most lectures have anywhere between 100 to 500 students, but as you move into more specialised or elective subjects, you could be in a cohort of only a dozen students!


Tutorials in Biomedical Engineering or Engineering in general are led by 1-2 tutors, where the beginning of the lesson revolves around recapping lecture content from the prior week. Most of the tutorial time is spent working on problems and asking questions and will typically only have 25 students in the class. 

Seminars are great environments for group work as they generally have a larger class size than tutorials. You’ll probably encounter seminars in one or two of your units as they’re not too common in Biomedical Engineering, but when you are in one, you’ll most likely be met with some sort of presentation or engage in group work.


The University of Sydney has some state of the art laboratories which are generally classified into ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ labs.

A wet lab is a lab where drugs, chemicals and biological or chemical matter can be analysed involving liquids. Most web labs have large numbers of students anywhere from 40 to 80 students.

A dry lab focuses on computational mathematics, engineering computing and circuitry.  Dry labs are typically a little smaller with only 30 to 50 students.

It’s important to note that labs (especially wet labs) are relatively high risk environments and personal protective equipment (PPE) (lab coats, goggles, gloves, enclosed shoes) needs to be worn!

Industrial Workshops

Industrial workshop units are mostly undertaken in first year to establish the fundamentals of using engineering equipment. These tend to decrease in later years with wet and dry lab components becoming more prominent for the Biomedical stream.

Workshops are generally quite small with 8 to 10 students, led by a tutor. Again, it’s important to note that workshops are relatively high risk environments and personal protective equipment (PPE) (lab coats, goggles, gloves, enclosed shoes) needs to be worn.

How many hours do you need to go to university?

Studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at USyd, like most other STEM degrees means you’ll probably have to spend a lot of time on campus.

If you attend all your lectures, tutorials and lab classes, a 6 CP unit might demand approximately 6 to 7 hours of face-to-face classes. A full academic load consists of 24 CP so this will equate to approximately 24 to 28 hours of face-to-face contact at University

This means that most engineering students spend the majority of their week on campus and may either have one or no days off in the working week. 

What are assessments like?

Assessments will differ depending on the unit you take and will generally span over a variety of theoretical and practical assessments. 

For STEM degrees, it is not uncommon to have up to or even greater than 5 assessments per subject. 

Types of Assessments

In general, you will probably come across quizzes (weekly or every few weeks), essays, presentations, mid-semester exams, laboratory note write-ups, laboratory skills tests, design projects, lab work and a final exam.

Essays, research papers or research journals are generally assigned in earlier years and can span from 1000 to 2000 word papers. 

Good scientific practice is a concept emphasised in all units with practical components and generally skills such as pipetting, running a PCR machine or using aseptic technique contributes about 10% to your final mark.

Some units have mid-semester exams and others don’t. Mid-semester exams are usually allocated a weighting of 30% and the final exam is usually allocated between 40-50%. 

Note: Some STEM units require double passes or have hurdle tasks. A double pass may mean you need to pass both the final exam and other components (> 50%). A hurdle task means that you must surpass a certain mark to pass the entire unit. 

What are the skills you develop?

Biomedical Engineering USYD - Skills

You’ll undertake units which will help you develop your maths and computing skills, allowing you to work with quintessential engineering software like Matlab and Solidworks

Your Biomedical Engineering degree will also take you through fundamental units like Mechanics, Circuitry and Biomedical Design. This is where Biomedical Engineering diverts from your conventional engineering pathways like Mechatronics and Civil Engineering. 

You’ll develop skills not only in working with structures and mechanical engineering but you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about biological sciences and scientific laboratory techniques – analysing genetic sequences using qPCR and practical investigations of human anatomy and physiology.

Fun Fact!

qPCR stands for quantitative polymerase chain reaction. It’s a commonly used laboratory technique for amplifying small amounts of DNA and quantifying it. 

A Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering degree not only lets you develop the technical skills of becoming a Biomedical Engineer but also the soft skills.

The Professional Engagement Program (PEP) and integrated engineering units allow you to build up your leadership, planning, teamwork and communication skills. At the end of your degree, you will graduate with over 600 hours of experience in professional engagement!

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

The School of Biomedical Engineering and the Faculty of Engineering at USYD in general have a reputation for being draconian in dealing with students. Though this might be true in matters of Academic Dishonesty, the majority of the School of Biomedical Engineering staff are genuine and caring academics who are passionate in what they teach and how they teach it.


Everybody thinks that Engo students are not exactly the most socially-oriented or outgoing people and while this may be true for some, the majority buck the trend!

The very essence of engineering is based on teamwork and cooperation and you’ll find that many of your colleagues strive to ensure that all the voices of your cohort can be heard. 

Generally engineering students do not involve themselves too much around campus or university politics. You’ll usually find them huddling together in groups on the engineering side of campus discussing group projects, sharing some friendly banter or pulling all-nighters in the study hub. 

Accessibility Programs

The University of Sydney has one of the largest Women in Engineering programs, supporting future female leaders in STEM fields. 

With multiple scholarships, high school programs and female engineering societies, the proportion of female undergraduates studying engineering is double the national average.

Have a look at this link here to find out more about Women in Engineering at USyd!

Interested in the pros and cons of Biomedical Engineering at USYD? Check out our article here!

Alex Gao is an Art of Smart mentor and blogger who is passionate about teaching students the skills and know-how of high school. Alex has a great interest in the field of Biology, avidly blogging about the topic whilst also aspiring to become a Biomedical Engineer. Alex graduated in 2018 and was listed on the Distinguished Achievers list for Advanced English, Extension 1 English and Biology.


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