Imperial College London

School of Medicine and AstraZeneca expand undergraduate placement partnership


AstraZeneca’s Director of Global Graduate, PhD and Placement Programmes, R&D, Michael Tonge, and the current BMB student scholarship recipient, Varinder Kaur

AstraZeneca's Michael Tonge, and current BMB AstraZeneca scholarship recipient, Varinder Kaur

The School of Medicine and AstraZeneca recently renewed their collaboration, providing key industry experience for BSc Medical Biosciences students.

AstraZeneca has been a leading partner in the industry placement programme that the BMB course offers, providing opportunities to students since its launch five years ago.

AstraZeneca also support a Master's scholarship for BMB students, allowing them to continue their postgraduate training in Imperial's Faculty of Medicine.

AstraZeneca’s Director of Global Graduate, PhD and Placement Programmes, R&D, Michael Tonge, said, “We have hosted some fantastic, talented students over this time as well as supporting alumni from the programme with the provision of a scholarship award. This partnership has been a pleasure to be involved with, demonstrating collaboration between industry and academia to deliver opportunities to support the next generation of scientists.

“We are delighted to continue our commitment to this programme with a further five-year agreement, where we hope to support a broader range of placements as well as continuing with the scholarship awards for successful students.”

Experience insight

Current Year 3 student, Tianxu Hou, said, “During my time with AstraZeneca's IVEB (In Vivo Expressed Biologics) team, I came to appreciate the saying that 'science is art.'

"This experience showed me that, like artists, scientists craft and experiment with precision, creativity, and an unwavering dedication to producing something extraordinary.”

BMB Year 3 student, Tianxu Hou, with the IVEB team at AstraZeneca
BMB Year 3 student, Tianxu Hou, with the IVEB team at AstraZeneca
Photo: Tianxu Hou

Students in the third year of the BMB programme can undertake projects as part of their core programme, with options offered by almost 60 providers in this academic year.

Projects can be based in an external work placement or a laboratory, and span 14 or 20 weeks, respectively. Typically, projects can be on-site or hybrid.

Projects provide an opportunity for the student to become embedded fully in a team, undertaking responsibilities and workload as a full-time employee would.

Companies looking to work with a BMB student make project submissions to the programme's academic team in advance of the students' selection period.

In addition, students have the option to choose a literature-based project within the Faculty of Medicine, also of 14 weeks, to study in-depth a topic of their own interest with a theoretical and biomedical focus.

Innovative learning and teaching

The interdisciplinary BMB programme takes an innovative approach to teaching, with a flipped-classroom structure that sees students begin their learning before a session, then coming together in groups to discuss and solidify their knowledge and understanding of the science underpinning human health.

Students also take part in Lab Pods throughout Year 1 and Year 2 of the programme, where they work together in small teams to replicate running a real-life lab and gain hands-on experience of the responsibilities and cooperation required to complete experiments successfully.

Future focus

Professor Vania Braga, Head of BMB Year 3, said, “We are pleased and proud to continue and expand our relationship with AstraZeneca. Our collaboration has provided immense value, with integrated and continuous feedback to improve the student learning experience.

"The projects offered by AstraZeneca are very popular with our students, who see the fantastic benefits gained from undertaking industry placements like these.

“These key experiences can heavily influence a student’s career by providing a supportive environment to improve their technical expertise and professionalism skills for the workplace. We are delighted that AstraZeneca shares our vision for the BMB programme, and we look forward to seeing the amazing things our students go on to do."

If you know an employer who might be interested in becoming an industry placement partner ask them to contact and


Dorrit Pollard-Davey

Dorrit Pollard-Davey
Faculty of Medicine Centre

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