Software engineering

Use your technical and creative skills to make everyday life easier.
As a software engineer, you’ll use your technical and creative skills to make our everyday lives easier. You could design, develop, maintain, and manage software for anything from efficient cars, mobile phones, and social media to the technology needed by the emergency services. Job opportunities for software engineering graduates are aplenty, whether you want to work for a tech or retail giant, in manufacturing, government, or the military. There were over 300,000 jobs available in programming and software development last year, and jobs are expected to grow by 2.19% in the next eight years. You could earn an average graduate salary to begin with, working your way up to £70-80,000 with a role as a senior developer, project manager, or consultant, or you could decide to set up your own business.  
the impact you could make
  • Work for businesses or government, thwarting malicious cyber attacks before they happen
  • Solve incompatible software in the government or NHS to help streamline services
  • Write the code that will power the technology that allows us to dig and explore further on Mars
What you could study
  • Virtualisation and cloud computing
  • Programming languages
  • Mathematics for computing
  • Core computing concepts
  • Software design and architecture
  • Application and web development
  • Mobile application development
  • Ethical hacking
  • Algorithms and modelling
  • Networking and operating systems
  • Systems environments

Study options

Options to study in this field include:

Chat to a current software engineering student

Chat to a current software 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
"I love the coding modules like paradigm of programming, advanced algorithms and data structures, and advanced programming."
Second year software engineering student at the University of Greenwich
Example Project
"By far my favourite assignment has been related to my module Software Hut where we develop a product for a client. It has been really challenging but really fun and interesting to do at the same time."
Second year software engineering student at the University of Sheffield

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some software engineering courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. 
Computing and IT
Design Technology
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Agile methodology
  • Programming languages
  • Data structures and algorithms
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Communication and teamwork
  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Persistence

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying software engineering. The following information is based on a typical software development professional role. 
Available jobs
403,165 vacancies in the past year
6.43% growth over next eight years
Average salary
Up to £78,593

Career options

Computer games and design

Video games developer

Mobile app developer

Computer games tester

What is a… cryptographer?

You may never have heard of a cryptographer but they’re an important part of cyber security. Cryptographers use their software engineering skills to develop algorithms and ciphers, and write the encryption code that protects sensitive data and communications for security reasons. As well as developing encryption technology, they’ll also likely test cryptology and identify weaknesses in existing systems for a range of employers like large companies, banks, and governments. 
Find your ideal career
Take our careers quiz to find your ideal job matched to your personality type.

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study software 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 chemical engineering applicants. 

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

Let's talk about... IT and digital apprenticeships

Listen to our brand new podcast all about degree apprenticeships in IT and digital Find out about funding, what day-to-day life is like, making friends, and more from our expert panel.

The expert view

Beth Clarke, award-winning Software Engineer, and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, SIGiST Committee member
“In our interconnected world, software is the driving force shaping our future. As a software engineer you will be tackling real-world challenges using creativity, problem-solving, and cutting edge technologies. Software is everywhere: it powers the apps on our smartphones, drives innovations in healthcare, and navigates rovers on Mars. The possibilities of what software can do are always growing and evolving as we research new technologies, including machine learning and quantum computing. So, if you're drawn to where technology meets tangible change, welcome to the exciting world of software engineering—it's where your code transforms possibilities into reality.”

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. 
  5. Find out more

    Read our guide to digital and IT apprenticeships. 

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around software engineering with the following.
  1. The Odin Project 

    Use The Odin Project free resources to start you on your coding and programming journey, and gain a better understanding of what the broader subject might entail.  

  2. Software Development Times 

    Focused on what it says in the title, Software Development Times follows  industry news and features. 

  3. Programming with Mosh 

    Watch Programming with Mosh. Mosh is a software engineer who’s created lots of different YouTube videos about all different aspects of programming, including things like machine learning and ChatGPT. 

  4. Pramp - interviewing skills 

    Use Pramp to practise your coding interviews and skills, both for university applications and for after your studies when you’re looking for jobs.

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your chemical engineering journey.
  • Make sure you understand the aim and some of the modules on the course you’re applying to, so that you can tailor your statement towards them. Explain succinctly why you want to study software engineering, including particular types of programming and software you like, if it’s relevant, or books and research you’ve read.
  • What qualities do you have that lend themselves well to this subject, like attention to detail, technical curiosity, and a natural talent with numbers and programmes? Can you give examples of when you’ve shown these qualities, whether during a school project, a coding competition or recognition in a particular subject area?
  • You’ll also need to show you’re hard-working, analytical, and able to solve problems on the spot. Have you had a job where you had to think on your feet, whilst remaining calm? Maybe you like puzzles or escape rooms, or you’re into climbing, juggling, or magic, all of which involve an element of problem-solving.
  • Write about how you work with others. Perhaps you've been part of a sports team, Scouts, or done the Duke of Edinburgh award. What about part-time jobs where you’ve had to work well with others? You could also mention times when you’ve led a team or organised something complex, like a sporting or charity event or competition.
  • Don’t forget to mention what you’d like to do once you graduate. Show you understand the industry and job roles available.

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