Link to the University of Waterloo home page Advanced Search or
The Undergraduate Calendar

Faculty of Engineering

Bachelor of Applied Science and Bachelor of Software Engineering Specific Degree Requirements

Biomedical Engineering
Printable Version Printable Version

Biomedical engineering lies at the interface of engineering and life sciences. Using engineering and design principles, a biomedical engineer works towards the advancement of biology and medicine, developing innovative technologies and solutions to health-related problems, such as new tools and models to diagnose, monitor, treat, and prevent disease.

The undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering, housed in the department of Systems Design Engineering at Waterloo, is a stand-alone Engineering program. The program provides an integrated systems approach to the study of biomedical engineering, where basic knowledge and skills such as biology, mechanics, physics, chemistry, system analysis and design are taught in the context of biomedical related applications while taking into consideration the complexity of biomedical systems. Three theme areas have been identified, which are served by both core and technical elective courses in the program.

  1. Biomedical signals
    • medical imaging
    • biosignals
    • neuroscience
    • diagnostics (pattern recognition)
  2. Biomechanics
    • biofluid mechanics
    • tissue mechanics
    • musculoskeletal biomechanics
    • sports engineering
    • rehabilitation engineering
  3. Biomedical devices
    • assistive devices
    • implants
    • prostheses and orthoses
    • biomechatronics
    • design for elderly
    • biomedical technologies
    • therapeutics

The Engineering Profession

Each province within Canada has its own Professional Engineering Association. The Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) is a national organization that has representation from all of the Provincial Professional Engineering Associations. The CEAB determines what types of courses must be contained in a university engineering program in order for the program to meet the standards of Canadian engineering. The Biomedical Engineering program is not yet accredited as this can only be done once the first students have graduated. Given Waterloo Engineering experience in CEAB accreditation and the fact that the Biomedical Engineering curriculum has been designed to satisfy the strict standards of the CEAB, it is therefore expected to be recognized as a fully qualified Engineering program when it undergoes review in 2020.

The Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Waterloo is specifically oriented towards developing graduates who can solve problems lying at the interface of technology and human biological systems. Therefore, if you are technically oriented and also have a strong parallel interest in problems related to health and human physiology, Biomedical Engineering may be the right program for you.

The Biomedical Engineering program is quite challenging as it requires students take five to six courses per term and the mandatory laboratory sessions associated with some of these courses. Thus, the average student in Biomedical Engineering is expected to work at least 50 hours per week as they gain further knowledge in life sciences, mechanics and electronics, develops competence in systems theory and design, and learn to apply these skills to solving biomedical problems.

Further information is available on the Biomedical Engineering website.

Employment Opportunities

Biomedical Engineering is a very diverse and multidisciplinary field. A graduate from the Biomedical Engineering program will have the interdisciplinary background to act as an effective collaborator between biologists, medical professionals, and engineers in different fields. From the multidisciplinary training received in our department, a graduate from this program will be able to work in research hospitals, academic centres, industry as well as government and/or regulatory agencies. To some extent, the technical elective area chosen by the student in the third and fourth year will determine more specifically what they do upon graduation. Thus, there are many employment opportunities which a Biomedical Engineer may be involved with such as:

  • biomedical data analysis
  • biomedical image analysis and pattern recognition
  • medical device product design, manufacturing, testing and management
  • simulation and modelling of diseases and biological systems
  • healthcare regulations
  • design and engineering of sports equipment and testing
  • research and development in medical devices and instrumentation

Undergraduate Curriculum in Biomedical Engineering

The Biomedical Engineering curriculum is specifically designed to provide students with a clear understanding of human physiological systems and systems analysis and theory, combined with a thorough knowledge of engineering and design principles. Life sciences and biomedical engineering design are taught right from the start of first year. The first three years of the program are intended to provide each student with a solid engineering background in areas relevant to biomedical issues.

Throughout these three years the student's ability to grasp real engineering problems is enhanced by courses in systems design methodology followed by a series of challenging problem-solving experiences in the Biomedical Design Workshops. A focus is then given to the whole curriculum and the student learns to apply the lecture material, to develop skills in solving biomedical problems while developing design and project management abilities.

The final year of the program is comprised mostly of elective courses, allowing the student to focus on one or more areas of study. This provides the required background for a future year of advanced study to the Master's degree (MASc), or for a rewarding career in industry or government with a Bachelor's degree (BASc).

Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Core and Suggested Elective Curriculum (listed by terms)

The Biomedical Engineering undergraduate program consists of two course groupings:

  1. Compulsory core courses within the program that prepare the student for practice in engineering and comprise 70% to 80% of the course load.
  2. Elective courses that comprise 20% to 30% of the course load.

A minimum of three complementary studies elective courses (CSEs) must be completed, in addition to the two complementary studies courses in the core program (BME 364 and BME 381), in subjects that complement the engineering curriculum (see the Complementary Studies Electives section below). A minimum of six technical elective courses must be completed in a particular technical discipline or disciplines appropriate to a student's interests (see the Technical Elective Packages section below). Your course selections must meet CEAB requirements, including a minimum number of instruction hours in the various CEAB categories.

The current core course curriculum for Biomedical Engineering students is described below per term. Average hours per week are indicated in the columns Class for Lecture or Seminar (LEC or SEM), Tut for Tutorial (TUT), and Lab for Laboratory or Project (LAB or PRJ).


Course and Title Weight  Class Tut Lab

1A Fall

BME 101 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering 0.25 3 0 0
BME 101L Computer-Aided Design 0.25 1 0 3
BME 121 Digital Computation 0.50 3 1 3
BME 161 Introduction to Biomedical Design 0.50 3 1 0
BME 181 Physics I - Statics 0.50 3 1 0
SYDE 111 Fundamental Engineering Math 1 0.50 3 2 0
SYDE 113 Matrices and Linear Systems  0.25 2 2 0

1B Winter

BME 102 Seminar 0.00 1 0 0
BME 122 Data Structures and Algorithms 0.50 3 1 0
BME 162 Human Factors in the Design of Biomedical and Health Systems  0.50 3 1 0
BME 182 Physics II - Dynamics 0.50 3 1 0
BME 186 Chemistry Principles 0.50 3 1 0
SYDE 112 Fundamental Engineering Math 2 0.50 3 2 0
SYDE 114 Numerical and Applied Calculus 0.25 2 2 0

2A Fall

BME 201 Seminar 0.00 1 0 0
BME 213 Statistics and Experimental Design   0.50 3 1 0
BME 261 Prototyping, Simulation and Design 0.50 3 1 0
BME 281 Mechanics of Deformable Solids 0.50 3 2 0
BME 281L Mechanics of Deformable Solids Laboratory 0.25 0 0 3
BME 285 Engineering Biology 0.50 3 0
BME 285L Engineering Biology Laboratory 0.25    0  3
One Complementary Studies Elective

2B Spring

BME 202 Seminar 0.00 1 0 0
BME 252 Linear Signals and Systems 0.50
BME 282 Materials Science for Biomedical Engineers  0.50 3 1 0
BME 284 Physiological and Biological Systems 0.50 3 1 0
BME 284L Physiology and Anatomy Laboratory 0.25 0 0 3
BME 294 Circuits, Instrumentation, and Measurements 0.50
BME 294L Circuits, Instrumentation, and Measurements Laboratory 0.25
SYDE 211 Advanced Engineering Math 1 0.50 3 1 0
WKRPT 200 Work-term Report 0.13 0

3A Winter

BME 301 Seminar 0.00 1 0 0
BME 355 Anatomical Systems Modelling 0.50
BME 361 Biomedical Engineering Design 0.50 3 1 3
BME 381 Biomedical Engineering Ethics 0.50 3 1 0
BME 393 Digital Systems
0.50 3
BME 393L Digital Systems Laboratory 0.25 0
One Technical Elective or One Complementary Studies Elective

3B Fall

BME 302 Seminar 0.00 1 0 0
BME 356 Control Systems
BME 356L Control Systems Laboratory 0.25 0
BME 362 Biomedical Engineering Design Workshop 1 0.50 2 0 3
BME 364 Engineering Biomedical Economics 0.50 3 1 0
BME 384 Biomedical Transport: Biofluids and Mass Transfer 0.50 3 1 0
BME 386 Physics of Medical Imaging 0.50  1 0
WKRPT 300 Work-term Report 0.13 

4A Fall

BME 401 Seminar 0.00 1 0 0
BME 411 Optimization and Numerical Methods  0.50 3 1 0
BME 461 Biomedical Engineering Design Workshop 2 0.50 2 0 3
WKRPT 400 Work-term Report  0.13  0
One Complementary Studies Elective
Three Technical Electives

4B Winter

BME 402 Seminar 0.00 1 0 0
BME 462 Biomedical Engineering Design Workshop 3  0.50 1 0 3
One Complementary Studies Elective
Three Technical Electives

CEAB Requirements

To determine the suitability of elective courses, students should complete the CEAB Planner found on the Systems Design Engineering Undergraduate website. In addition to meeting CEAB requirements, the student's course selections (as reported in their Planner) should be logical and defensible. Two planners must be completed and submitted to the Director of Biomedical Engineering, one planner for approval purposes in the student's 3A term, and one planner for graduation purposes at the end of the student's 4A term.

Students that have combinations of electives that result in a program that does not meet CEAB criteria will not be permitted to graduate.

Complementary Studies Electives (CSEs)

The Complementary Studies requirement gives students some breadth of studies related to their role as educated professionals in society. In addition to the two courses in the core program, at least three elective courses must be chosen to satisfy the Complementary Studies requirements. Only courses noted in Lists A, B, C, and D are Faculty-approved complementary studies elective courses to suit their program (and any course prerequisites).

Technical Studies Electives (TEs)

Each undergraduate student in Biomedical Engineering must complete at least six approved technical electives to meet graduation requirements. Students may arrange the sequencing of the technical elective courses to suit their program (and any course prerequisites).

The Department of Systems Design Engineering offers a wide variety of technical elective courses in the third and fourth year. In the Biomedical Engineering program, students are encouraged to design their own elective program to develop expertise in their particular interest area. Approved technical elective courses are available from Systems Design Engineering, from other Engineering departments, and from a wide list of technical courses in the faculties of Science and Mathematics. Only courses from Engineering and Computer Science will contribute towards CEAB hours in the categories of "Engineering Science" and "Engineering Design."

Technical Elective Packages

The Biomedical Engineering program committee has identified two technical elective areas within its current offerings. Additional information regarding elective packages may be obtained from the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies. Students may choose a technical elective package from the areas identified below to help them in their selection of technical electives. Choosing a specific elective package is not mandatory. Students do not receive any official notification on their transcript for completing an elective package. However, students may find it possible to arrange their electives in such a way as to complete the requirements for one or more Faculty of Engineering Approved Options. To do this, students with sufficiently high grades are encouraged, subject to approval from the program director, to supplement their program with extra courses, online courses or courses taken at another university.

Sports Engineering

Sports Engineering has grown from a hobby of Isaac Newton and Lord Rayleigh to a multi-billion dollar industry, and today's athlete is highly dependent on the design and performance of their equipment and training systems. The modern sports engineer must be familiar with a wide range of topics ranging from sport biomechanics and light-weight materials to mechatronic system dynamics and control.

The sports engineering package requires a two-term capstone project on the design of a new sports equipment or training device, plus two required courses in biomechanics and sports engineering. A complementary set of three more technical electives will give the sports engineering student the broad range of skills required for this emerging discipline.

Required courses in Biomedical Engineering:

  • BME 461 and BME 462, the capstone design project. Students in Sports Engineering will focus their project on the design of a new sporting equipment or training device. The project must be pre-approved by the co-ordinator for Sports Engineering.
  • BME XXX, Sports Engineering technical elective, which provides the necessary background on sports equipment design, training devices, and their interaction with the athlete.
  • BME XXY, Biomechanics of Human Movement technical elective, which provides the necessary background on the musculoskeletal dynamics and optimal performance of athletes.

Three of the following courses must also be taken:

CIVE 422 Finite Element Analysis or ME 559 Finite Element Methods
KIN 340 Musculoskeletal Injuries in Work and Sport
KIN 341 Selected Topics in Sport and Work Injuries
MSCI 423 Managing New Product and Process Innovation
ME 524 or SYDE 553 Advanced Dynamics
ME 533 Non-metallic and Composite Materials
ME 555 Computer-Aided Design
ME 564 Aerodynamics
ME 566 Computational Fluid Dynamics for Engineering Design
SYDE 544 Biomedical Measurement and Signal Processing
SYDE 575 Image Processing


Neuroscience is a rapidly developing field with high relevance to medicine. Four of the ten highest-impact diseases in terms of years lost to disability are brain-related (World Health Organization, 2004, The Global Burden of Disease). Brain-inspired artificial systems are also emerging. Several Fortune-500 companies are pursuing computational brain modelling for the purpose of developing new brain-like technology.

Students focusing on neuroscience will draw from the core engineering and introductory biology courses, giving students a technical introduction to brain physiology, simulation, and analysis methods, and brain-computer interfaces.

The neuroscience course package consists of six specific required courses plus one additional course drawn from a list. The required courses include a two-term capstone project (BME 461 and BME 462), and two biology courses (BIOL 376 and BIOL 377) that cover a wide range of neuroscience topics, from molecular to large-system levels. There are also two engineering courses (SYDE 556 and 5XX) that cover modelling and analysis of neural systems, and brain-computer interfaces.

All of the following courses are required:

  • BME 461 and BME 462, the capstone design project. Students in Neuroscience will focus their project on the design of a brain-like technology or a new device or model involving brain physiology or brain-computer interfaces. The project must be pre-approved by the co-ordinator for Neuroscience.
  • BME 5XX Computational Neuroscience
  • BIOL 376 Cellular Neurophysiology
  • BIOL 377 Systems Neuroscience: From Neurons to Behaviour
  • SYDE 556 Simulating Neurobiological Systems

One of the following courses must also be taken:
(Note: Biomedical Engineering students may lack prerequisites for many of these courses, and will have to obtain permission of the instructor. However, there are several Systems Design engineering (SYDE) courses in the list and other courses, where students will have the appropriate prerequisites, as shown with an asterisk beside it).

AMATH 382 or BIOL 382* Computational Modelling of Cellular Systems
AMATH 451* Introduction to Dynamical Systems
KIN 155* Introduction to Neuroscience for Kinesiology
KIN 301* Human Anatomy of the Central Nervous System
KIN 416 Neuromuscular Integration
KIN 456 Cognitive Dysfunction and Motor Skill
OPTOM 243 Neurophysiology of Vision
PHIL 256 or PSYCH 256* Introduction to Cognitive Science
PHIL 446 or PSYCH 446 Cognitive Modelling
PSYCH 207* Cognitive Processes
PSYCH 261 Physiological Psychology
PSYCH 307 Human Neuropsychology
PSYCH 396 Research in Behavioural Neuroscience
SYDE 372* Introduction to Pattern Recognition
SYDE 522* Machine Intelligence
SYDE 558* Fuzzy Logic and Neural Networks

Faculty of Engineering Approved Options

The following is a list of Faculty approved options:

Computer Engineering
Environmental Engineering
International Studies in Engineering
Management Sciences
Water Resources

Students who complete the requirements for these designated options will receive a final academic transcript from the University of Waterloo with a statement that the option has been successfully completed. Students should refer to the option section of this Calendar for further information or contact the option co-ordinator.


Office of the Registrar
University of Waterloo
2nd Floor, Needles Hall
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
519 888 4567

contact us | UWaterloo home | privacy | powered by InterGlobal Solutions