Medical Physics

The American Association of Physics in Medicine defines medical physics by describing what medical physicists do: “Medical physicists are concerned with three areas of activity: clinical service and consultation, research and development, and teaching. On the average their time is distributed equally among these three areas”.


This definition captures very well the various sub-areas within the broad category of medical physics. Elaborating the potential implicit in this area, The University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, says that “Medical Physics is concerned with the application of the concepts and methods of physics to the diagnosis and therapy of human disease. Modern medicine relies heavily on physical tools, techniques and principles developed in the physical sciences. The complexity and precision required in the operation of the related diagnostic and therapeutic equipment as well as the quest to improve these tools has led to the subspecialty of Medical Physics. A medical physicist applies scientific knowledge and technological skills to help prevent, diagnose and treat many kinds of diseases and health conditions. They are most often clinical scientists who play a pivotal role in planning and implementing patient treatment programmes. A medical physicist is typically a member of a multi-disciplinary team and may be involved in several activities relating to diagnosis and/or treatment in Radiology, Nuclear Medicine or Radiation Therapy”.

The University of Chicago emphasizes a few other aspects observing that “Medical physics applies the principles of the physical sciences to biomedical problems. The activities of medical physicists cover a broad spectrum that ranges from the study of basic biomedical processes to the diagnosis and treatment of disease, and thus, the training of a medical physicist must be broad. To participate fruitfully in this interdisciplinary profession, a medical physicist must be thoroughly competent in the physical and mathematical sciences related to imaging physics and radiation physics, must understand biological principles, and must be able to communicate with physicians”.

Some universities offer the programme with some specific focus such as radiology or biomedical aspects. Some offer related programmes under clinical sciences.

There are many universities that offers Masters and PhD programmes in medical physics. The Penn LPS, College of Liberal & Professional Studies, The University of Sydney, School of Physics and the University of Surrey offer a Master of Medical Physics



The University of Chicago, Department of Radiology and Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology offers a programme focused on a PhD in medical Physics (

The NUI Galway OE Gailimh and the University of Glasgow offer an MSc in Medical Physics (,

The University of Heidelberg offers a programme in Medical Physics with Distinction in Radiotherapy and Biomedical Optics


Swansea University calls it an MSc in Clinical Science (Medical Physics)


The UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Sciences offers an MSc in Physics and Engineering in Medicine. In its own language the programme “is delivered as three MSc degree streams – Radiation Physics (RP), Biomedical Engineering & Medical Imaging (BEMI), and Medical Image Computing (MIC) – within a single new administrative structure”.


King’s College, London offers an MSc in Medical Engineering & Physics and in Clinical Sciences. (