BSc Materials Science and Engineering

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Biomaterials & Biological Interactions

Course unit fact file
Unit code MATS23801
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 5
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Materials
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit introduces the basic principles of cell biology to explain how cells interact with different materials based on their physicochemical properties. The understanding of the ways biological tissues interact with materials will be advanced by examining the concepts of immunological response, haemocompatibility, toxicology and ultimately biocompatibility.  The unit investigates how we can study cell behaviour with the ultimate goal the engineering of biomaterials that will control and instruct cell responses. 



The unit aims to: 

  • Develop the theoretical and practical principles required to understand biomaterials in the body. 
  • Understand how we can engineer materials to control cell responses. 
  • Develop an understanding of biocompatibility.


Learning outcomes

A greater depth of the learning outcomes will be covered in the following sections:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Intellectual skills
  • Practical skills
  • Transferable skills and personal qualities

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, group tutorials (problem sessions), lab classes, recommended textbooks, web resources, past exam papers, electronic supporting information (Blackboard), peer-assisted study sessions (PASS).


Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate an understanding of the key components of cells and tissues that are of relevance to biomaterials. 
Demonstrate knowledge of the basic patho-physiological responses of the body relevant to biomaterials such as immune responses, inflammation, and toxicity. 
Demonstrate an understanding of how the patho-physiological responses of the body are triggered by implanted materials. 
Demonstrate knowledge of the range of factors that influence cell responses for a material. 
Demonstrate an understanding of how materials physical properties (strength, stiffness etc) alter the cell response. 
Demonstrate an understanding of how to manipulate these properties to control cell responses. 
Demonstrate an understanding of the main types of tissue interactions with biomaterials, on a local and systemic level.
Understand the concept of biocompatibility. 
Demonstrate a basic knowledge of some key applications of biomaterials.

Intellectual skills

Show knowledge of the various processes of the body that are involved in biocompatibility. 
Demonstrate an understanding of the effect of changing the chemical and physical properties of materials on cell behaviour.


Practical skills

•    Develop awareness of practical aspects associated with experimental design.
•    Perform cell-material interaction studies. 
•    Record and analyse data from cell culture experiments.
•    Analyse data from cell culture experiments.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Work effectively in a group to solve problems. 
Compose simple technical reports on laboratory tests. 
Ability to analyse and discuss experimental procedures and results.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 15%
Set exercise 15%

Feedback methods

Verbal and written

Recommended reading

  • Biomaterials Science, 2nd or 3rd Edition, Ratner, Elsevier Academic Press.
  • Biochemistry: Berg, Tymoczko and Stryer ‘Biochemistry’ (ISBN: 0-7176-4684-0) I will use the 5th Edition for teaching but earlier editions will be fine for you to work from too. 
  • Molecular Biology of The Cell: Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts and Walter (ISBN: 978-0-8/153-4106-2.  I will use the 5th Edition for teaching but again, earlier editions will be fine too.

There are plenty of copies in the library and you can often pick up 2nd hand copies of these textbooks from local bookshops/sales. In addition ask Olga for pdf versions of the textbooks.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Olga Tsigkou Unit coordinator

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