An examination of current surgical technology and diagnostic tools 

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Year students in Spring term
  • Mondays 16:00-18:00
  • Planned delivery: On campus (South Kensington)
  • 1-term module worth 5 ECTS 
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore 

This module provides an overview of a range of clinical interventional technologies including robotics, image-guided intervention and diagnostic sensing. The module begins with an introduction to minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery and current surgical techniques to provide a clinical/historical perspective to the technological innovations reviewed later. In the remainder of the module, you will learn about the following core topics: (i) surgical robotics; (ii) surgical imaging; (iii) computer vision and image-guided intervention; (iv) sensing and diagnostics for surgery and intervention monitoring. 

You will learn about minimally invasive surgeries, and then expand your learning to include other clinical and surgical technologies. You will rely on research and assessment skills to deepen your understanding of surgical robotics in both group-based activities and independent projects.  


Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you will better be able to: 

  • Describe and explain robotics, imaging and sensing technologies used in clinical interventions 
  • Critically assess clinical/surgical technologies, identifying key pros and cons and areas in which further development is required/desirable 
  • Analyse exemplar clinical data and to gain an understanding of how these techniques can be applied to other fields 
  • Solve multidisciplinary tasks (focused on clinical engineering) as part of a team with different skillsets 
  • Explain key scientific/engineering concepts to audiences with varying backgrounds 

Indicative core content

This module provides an introduction to clinical engineering and surgical robotics. Initial sessions will introduce you to the module and an overview of minimally invasive surgery (often referred to as keyhole surgery). This will help you to understand the current state of the art and the areas in which technological improvements are needed (and feasible). 

You will then learn about a number of technologies for clinical interventions (both surgical and diagnostic) through a series of interactive seminars. These seminars will cover four key areas: (i) surgical robotics; (ii) surgical imaging; (iii) computer vision and image-guided intervention; (iv) sensing and diagnostics for surgery and intervention monitoring. During these interactive seminars, you will be assigned your first assessed task – a programming exercise to be undertaken in your groups. 

You will further experience clinical engineering and surgical robotics in practice through a detailed laboratory tour of the Hamlyn Centre, in which you will have the opportunity to see a series of clinical/surgical technologies in practice, ranging from prototype systems through to clinically approved, commercially available devices. 

Further seminars will be dedicated to the task of understanding and critically assessing clinical and surgical technologies. You will be provided with a suite of materials with information on a number of new but commercially available surgical/diagnostic technologies. You will discuss and explore the various technologies, participating in group activities to identify key strengths and weaknesses. Later, you will learn how to write an effective lay summary (a summary of a scientific/engineering principle suitable for non-experts), again through group-based activities. These sessions will introduce the second and third assessed tasks in which you will prepare a written summary (suitable for a non-expert audience) and a scientific presentation summarizing one of the discussed technologies.  

Finally, the last session of the module will be dedicated to project presentations. In your groups, you will present summaries of your assigned clinical/surgical technology to your peers and to the module lecturers. 

Learning and teaching approach

At the beginning of the module, you will be assigned into multidisciplinary groups, selected by the module lead to ensure a good mix of expertise and backgrounds. You will be taught through a series of interactive seminars involving lectures and group activities. Seminars will be led by the module lead and module lecturers as well as by guest lecturers where appropriate. Much of the learning will take place through group-based interdisciplinary activities, which will take part both within and outside of the scheduled sessions, providing an element of peer-learning. You will also be encouraged to read around the subjects for some of your assessments, thereby improving your understanding through self-study and group study. 

Feedback will be provided throughout the module in the course of the interactive seminars. This will be from the module lecturers, teaching assistants and peers (i.e. feedback from other group members). Formal feedback will also be provided after each assessment. 


  • Programming challenge (30%) 
  • Technology assessment I – written summary (35%) 
  • Technology assessment II – scientific presentation (35%)  

Key information

  • Requirements: It is compulsory to take an I-Explore module during your degree (you’ll take an I-Explore module in either your 2nd or 3rd year, depending on your department). You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 105 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes for example reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments, project work and preparing for other assessments 
  • I-Explore modules are worth 5 ECTS credit towards your degree; to receive these you will have to pass the module. The numerical mark that you obtain will not be included in the calculation of your final degree result, but it will appear on your transcript 
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 course 
  • This module is offered by the Department of Surgery & Cancer