Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:
- General engineering
- Civil engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Naval architecture
- Electronic and electrical
- Production and manufacturing
- Chemical, process, and energy
- Ceramics and glass
- Polymers and textiles
- Maritime technology
While the majority of degrees focus on a particular disciple, there are some general engineering courses that enable the decision about which specialism to study to be taken at a later date. The Engineering Council accredits many engineering degrees.
Subject combinations and available course options include:
- single, joint, and multiple subject combinations
- full-time, part-time, and flexible study options as well as a few courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
- qualifications ranging from BSc, BEng and MEng (Hons) degrees, through to HND, HNC, and Foundation Certificates
Most universities offer four year undergraduate or integrated masters degrees (MEng) in engineering. This allows for extended study and enables students to acquire Chartered Engineer status more quickly from one of the engineering professional bodies.
A levels – To get on to an engineering-related degree, you will usually require a minimum of two A levels, with three A levels and A/B grades required for the most popular courses. Entry requirements range from CCC to AAA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for ABB. Maths A level is normally essential, with many universities requiring or preferring a second A level in physics. As an alternative to physics other universities may accept subjects linked to science, computing, maths, or design.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from ABBB to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for AA.
Biotechnology and chemical engineering degrees typically require two science A levels, or Scottish Highers, with biology/chemistry respectively required or preferred as one of the subjects. In addition to A levels or Scottish Highers, you will also need five GCSEs or equivalent (A– C) including science, English, and maths.
Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Engineering or Construction and Built Environment, SVQ Scientific, Technical and Formulation Processing (SCQF Level 6)) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.
Some universities may require students not taking A levels maths to complete an additional aptitude test in mathematics and or mechanics.
Competition for places can be high so personal statements form an essential part of the selection process. Admissions tutors want to see you have aptitude, interest and motivation in you chosen subject. In general, this means they are looking for the following:
- an explanation of what drives your interest in your chosen field
- evidence that you have a real enthusiasm for the subject , which could be demonstrated by:
- relevant work experience/shadowing or voluntary work
- additional reading and research
- membership of related societies/clubs
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
There are approximately 120 apprenticeships in the engineering sector available in England, with more in development.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)
- Aircraft maintenance certifying engineer
- Automation and controls engineering technician
- Electrical power networks engineer
- Electrical power protection and plant commissioning engineer
- Fashion and textiles product technologist
- High speed rail & infrastructure technician
- Nuclear welding inspection technician
- Process leader
- Propulsion technician
- Rail engineering advanced technician
- Road transport engineering manager
- Technical dyer and colourist
- Vehicle damage assessor
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)
- Aerospace engineer (degree)
- Aerospace software development engineer (degree)
- Control/technical support engineer (degree)
- Electrical/electronic technical support engineer (degree)
- Electronic systems principal engineer
- Embedded electronic systems design and development engineer (degree)
- Food and drink advanced engineer (degree)
- Manufacturing engineer (degree)
- Manufacturing manager (degree)
- Marine surveyor
- Marine technical superintendent (degree)
- Materials process engineer (degree)
- Materials science technologist
- Non-destructuve testing engineer (degree)
- Nuclear scientist and nuclear engineer (degree)
- Ordnance munitions and explosives (OME) professional
- Packaging professional (degree)
- Power engineer (degree)
- Process automation engineer (degree)
- Product design and development engineer (degree)
- Project manager (degree)
- Rail and rail systems principal engineer (degree)
- Rail and rail systems senior engineer (degree)
- Risk and safety management professional (degree)
- Science industry process/Plant engineer (degree)
- Systems engineer (degree)
- Through life engineering services specialist
Aside from engineering, graduates find employment in a wide range of careers sectors. The key areas of employment include:
- agriculture, forestry and horticulture
- environment and conservation
- local and central government services
- sales and marketing
- technical media and journalism
Examples of related careers include the following job titles: