Civil engineering

When you study civil engineering you become an architect of change, shaping the world's infrastructure, and turning visionary designs into the foundations of progress.

Civil engineering is about the design, construction, and maintenance of the built environment. It merges creativity with precision, tackling challenges from urban infrastructure to environmental sustainability.

Civil engineering graduates are able to innovate and engineer solutions that redefine skylines, enhance transportation systems, and ensure the resilience of structures against natural forces. The career possibilities range from transportation engineering and environmental consulting to geotechnical and structural design.

Civil engineers craft the landscapes of tomorrow, contributing to sustainable development and leaving a mark on the world's infrastructure. 

The impact you could make
  • Contribute to economic growth, improved transportation, and enhanced quality of life for communities.
  • Get involved in urban planning, helping to create sustainable and resilient cities.
  • Work on projects aimed at minimising the environmental impact of infrastructure development.
What you could study
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Soil mechanics
  • Digital environment building
  • Engineering geology
  • Civil and architectural engineering
  • Minerals and statics
  • Geomechanics
  • Structural mechanics

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

Chat to a current civil engineering student

Chat to a current civil engineering student using UniBuddy.

Some conversation starters for you:

  1. Ask which modules they really enjoyed.
  2. Find out how easy it was for them to make friends on their course.
  3. Do they have any tips on your personal statement?
  4. Did they do anything to prep for uni before they went?
  5. Are there books, podcasts or YouTube channels they would recommend?

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Example module
"One of my favourite modules is the Geotechnical engineering module as well as the Maths and Computing module."
Second year civil engineering student, University of Sheffield
Example project
"A project to code and animate the response of a steel railway bridge as a locomotive crosses it! A group project designing a response to a refugee camp crisis. A business and project management essay."
Second year civil engineering student, Imperial College London

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some civil engineering courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. Entry requirements vary, so always check with the provider.

Design technology
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Principles of structural engineering
  • Design and planning of transportation systems
  • Implementation of sustainable practices
  • Interpreting survey data
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Attention to detail
  • Risk management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Networking

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying civil engineering. The following information is based on a typical quantity surveyor role.

Available jobs
51,849 vacancies in the past year
4.96% growth over next eight years
Average salary
Up to £76,038

What is a…. forensic engineer?

Investigators and problem-solvers, forensic engineers analyse structural failures, accidents, and construction defects. With a background in civil engineering, they apply engineering principles to unravel the causes behind complex issues, providing their expert insights. A forensic engineer examines evidence related to structural collapses, building failures, or infrastructure accidents, using tools and technologies to reconstruct events and assess the integrity of materials and designs. 

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study civil engineering at university or as an apprenticeship.

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from civil engineering applicants.

A levels
Scottish Highers
Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma or SQCF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative

Let’s talk about engineering apprenticeships

Not sure if a traditional degree is for you? Listen to our new podcast to learn more about studying degree apprenticeships in engineering.

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:
  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.
  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around civil engineering with the following.
  1. MegaStructures

    This TV series reveals the drama, the human interest, and the breath-taking technological innovation behind the world's most impressive structures.
  2. The Engineers’ Collective podcast

    The Engineers' Collective is a podcast from the New Civil Engineer magazine for those who are curious about the future and how engineers will keep our towns and cities running.
  3. Institute for Civil Engineers website

    Keep up-to-date with the latest news on the Institute for Civil Engineers website.
74% of students
studying civil engineering would recommend the subject to others
(UCAS subject guide survey 2023)

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our advice will help you get ahead in your civil engineering journey.
Skills, experiences, and interests to mention
  • Don’t be shy about your academic achievements particularly in relevant subjects like maths, physics, and engineering.
  • Are there instances where you successfully applied problem-solving skills, whether in academic projects, extracurricular activities, or real-world situations? Civil engineering often involves solving complex challenges, so your ability to tackle problems head-on is crucial.
  • If you have any technical skills, such as knowledge with computer-aided design (CAD) software or programming languages relevant to engineering, highlight them.
  • Effective communication is important in engineering projects. Talk about experiences where you communicated complex ideas clearly, whether in group projects, presentations, or other scenarios.
  • If you’ve taken on leadership roles in school clubs, sports teams, or community organisations, mention them. Leadership skills are valuable in any project management.

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