Masters Level Accreditation Framework Courses
Launched in 2014, this scheme aims “to ensure that graduates of accredited programmes are equipped with the knowledge and skills for the medical physics or biomedical engineering workplace, be that in industry, healthcare or academic environments”. Courses currently accredited under the this framework can be found here.
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Medical physicists and biomedical engineers are employed in hospitals, in industry, in universities and, to a lesser extent, in government departments. The IPEM Masters Level Accreditation Framework (MLAF) was launched in April 2014 after extensive development and consultation. It provides a recognised standard or ‘kite mark’ of suitability and quality for university M-level programmes in fields of physics or engineering allied to medicine or biology. The framework aims to ensure that graduates of accredited programmes are equipped with the knowledge and skills from their studies to seek employment across this diverse range of workplace environments.
The framework does not demand a prescriptive syllabus; instead it uses a learning outcome-derived approach to assess compliance to the accreditation standard. This enables greater flexibility in the way a Higher Education Institute (HEI) can deliver its teaching and allows the HEI to individualise its postgraduate programme at one component of the framework to suit local strengths and student demand. Indeed, a range of programme titles are acceptable for this framework, including those more specialist than the traditional ‘MSc Medical Physics’ or ‘MSc Biomedical Engineering’.
There are two streams for accreditation of a programme: a Physics stream and an Engineering stream, each with appropriate learning outcomes. The Framework Handbook (PDF) outlines the educational and operational aspects of the framework for both streams in detail.
Briefly, HEIs deliver their accredited Masters programme in modules according to their own syllabus and delivery preferences, but must ensure that all the framework learning outcomes, listed in the handbook, are met across their programme. Framework learning outcomes are packaged, for presentation, within boxed ‘subject areas’ across four ‘components’ of the framework, shown in the structure diagram below. These learning outcomes ultimately link to QAA and UK-SPEC national frameworks and enable the graduate, with suitable workplace experience, to seek appropriate chartered status after supplementing the Masters study with further science or engineering employment.
There is no need for an HEI to mimic the ‘subject area’ structure of the framework in their arrangement of modules within a programme. HEIs must, however, show how the learning outcomes in its modules successfully map to those of this framework. The ‘subject area’ configuration of the framework diagram is designed to help in this process. This mapping, together with an overall assessment of educational quality conducted by a visit of assessors to the HEI, forms the basis of the accreditation assessment.
The framework learning outcomes are produced within four ‘components’. As shown in the figure, these components include a ‘research project’, to support the completion of a supervised piece of investigative research work, and a ‘specialist module’ component, in which HEIs are given flexibility in their choice of module topic and content. The ‘compulsory’ component, on the other hand, contains learning outcomes which IPEM considers essential if a programme is to produce a competent physicist or engineer ready for employment in fields allied to medicine or biology. The shading in the figure differentiates topics where there is divergence in the physics and engineering streams.
The ‘entry’ component is more complex and is designed to enable access for students from a range of educational backgrounds, beyond purely a physics or engineering degree. Individual students would be exempt from certain ‘entry component’ subject areas if they can show educational attainment in that area. However, they must still complete other ‘entry’ component subjects. As an example, a physics graduate would be exempt from the “Core physics” component subject area but would need to complete the entry subjects of “Information Literacy”, “Health and Safety” and “Life Sciences” unless holding additional educational or workplace attainment in those fields. More information on the entry component is found in the MLAF handbook.
There is a fee for an HEI to apply for IPEM accreditation of its Masters degrees, and a site visit by assessors will be required. More details are in the MLAF Handbook - see above link. The assessors are appointed, and the process overseen, by the IPEM Masters Accreditation Panel.
Application form for HEIs to complete (Word version)
Written guidance for applications for HEIs (PDF version)
Further information on the accreditation framework can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously Accredited MSc Courses
Details can be found here.
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