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The UK has a rich engineering heritage and is home to many world-class engineering companies such as Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems. Recent engineering achievements include: world leader in the development of Formula One racing cars, the building of the state-of-the-art Eurofighter Typhoon and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Exciting new engineering work will be undertaken for the 2012 Olympics. The range of courses in the UK is huge. There are courses in civil, mechanical, electrical, electronic, aeronautical, automotive, chemical, and marine engineering. There are also qualifications in general engineering, although many will lead you to specialise to some extent in a particular branch or area of engineering. Checklist: why study engineering in the United Kingdom?

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You can study at institutions with an international reputation for technological research.

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UK universities have a tradition of welcoming international students and you will be made to feel at home.

The opportunity to improve your fluency in English will improve your international job prospects.

A UK engineering qualification is recognised worldwide and should enable you to work virtually anywhere in the world.

Your technical knowledge will be augmented by skills that will be important to your career, such as communication, project management and teamworking.

1 What do I need to think about? There are various reasons to study engineering, and you should first be clear about your own reasons. Questions you may want to ask yourself include: •

Do you have a particular career in mind? Do you need to gain a particular qualification as preparation for a specific profession or do you want to make yourself generally more employable?

Do you want to specialise in a specific area of engineering? Is this discipline related to any other disciplines, e.g. computer science (in software engineering)?



2 What can I study? Qualification


Diploma in Engineering

The Diploma in Engineering is an innovative and ground-breaking qualification that has been designed and developed by employers. It is being introduced in schools and colleges in England, with some starting in September 2009. It will blend the best of academic and applied learning, and will be available at different levels, Find out more at

Scottish National Qualifications Group Awards in Engineering (choice of 12)

These newly developed awards are at 2 levels: the lower level is designed principally for those following the craft route, the higher level for Engineering Technicians. More information will be made available on the SQA website:

Scottish Baccalaureate in Science

The Scottish Baccalaureate in Science is a new qualification that is being introduced for the first time in August 2009. It consists of a coherent group of current Highers and Advanced Highers and candidates may choose two science courses or one science and one technology from a comprehensive list. What makes it unique is the interdisciplinary project in which they apply the subject knowledge in realistic contexts. See

Progression and Advanced Diplomas

Progression and Advanced Level Diplomas offer one or two years full time study and provide an applied and practical foundation qualification for engineering technicians. Both Diplomas earn UCAS points for entry to college or university, although extra advanced maths might be required for degree entry to some numerical engineering fields. Find out more at

SQA Higher National Certificate (choice of 9)

BTEC/Edexcel/SQA Higher National Diploma (HND) Foundation degrees (FdEng.)

One or two years full or part-time. The Higher National is designed to provide a blend of academic knowledge and practical skills for those wishing to become Engineering Technicians. See the SQA website for a full list of HNs: Usually two years full-time. The HND is a well established respected qualification in its own right and can lead to qualification as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng). With good marks you also have the option of transferring into the second year of an engineering degree course. Two years full time. Foundation degrees are one level below honours degrees. Graduates can progress straight into employment or into the final year of a degree course. For more information go to Foundation degrees are not available at Scottish universities, where HNC and HND courses (see above) tend to be the entry route to degree courses. Most colleges have articulation agreements with local universities, but it is important to check with the institutions to see which year you can enter.

Degree courses – BSc (Hons) (Bachelor of Science), BEng (Hons) (Bachelor of Engineering) or MEng (Master of Engineering)

The MEng is an integrated Master’s degree that is now offered alongside or in place of the BEng (Hons) at a number of institutions. It is growing in popularity. The MEng is a higher award than the BEng (Hons) and usually takes one year longer to complete. A BEng (Hons) usually takes between three and four years full-time; a MEng takes between four and five years, full time. BEng (Hons) students with high marks in their second year are usually offered the opportunity to transfer to the MEng. A professionally accredited MEng fulfils the educational requirements for the highly valued Chartered Engineer (CEng) qualification. A professionally accredited BEng (Hons) degree, plus an appropriate Master’s degree or appropriate further learning to Master’s level, will also meet the requirements. Several universities offer a general engineering foundation year before starting your degree – these are suitable for students whose entrance qualifications are



not of the required standard, or in the wrong subjects. A foundation year is also useful when a students’ are not sure which fields of engineering they wish to enter as the course covers mechanical, electrical, civil, and electronics engineering. A professionally accredited Bachelor’s degree (BSc or BEng) fulfils the educational requirement for Incorporated Engineer (IEng) registration. Such degrees, which the Engineering Council (UK) sees as a growing field, usually last three years, full time. Postgraduate qualifications, e.g. Postgraduate Diploma (PgD), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Philosophy (MPhil), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), New Route PhD

See Choosing your postgraduate programme in this series. Postgraduate studies are required if you wish to become a chartered engineer. UK MSc are taken to widen or deepen a student’s technical ability. They involve eight months of laboratory and classroom studies leading to a PgD. A further four months’ research project leads to a MSc. Study for a PhD normally takes 3 years. The New Route PhD in Engineering & technology is currently available in 7 UK universities. It is an integrated programme of postgraduate training which combines research with a structured programme of advanced training in discipline-specific and generic skills. For further information see:

Checklist: choosing the right course •

There are so many courses on offer that it is vital that you do careful research in advance to ensure you find the right one for you. Start your search on but always obtain prospectuses from all the institutions you are considering. Look at the institutions’ websites and talk to the staff if possible.

UCAS has over 50,000 courses listed on ‘course search’:

Universities and higher education colleges offer a wide variety of courses and it is difficult to compare institutions. There are many sources to consult about the quality of teaching and research. Look at the independent reviews conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency ( The information available on the Unistats site ( is particularly helpful, as it compares job prospects, as well as student satisfaction rates. There are no official performance tables for universities, but some newspapers such as The Times and the Guardian publish unofficial league tables. The tables vary enormously depending on the factors assessed and the weightings used. Read the tables critically and do not base your final decision on the ratings alone. For example an excellent National Students Satisfaction rating might indicate a good teaching environment for your MSc, whereas a high research rating might be better for a PhD.

Bear in mind other factors, such as cost, location and size of the institution, work experience opportunities, international mix of students on the programmes, provision of supervision for dissertations and available facilities. Don’t just consider London because you have heard of it, as there are many excellent universities all over the UK with much lower living costs than London who provide a full range of engineering qualifications.

3 What are the entrance requirements for my course? You should check with the institutions you are interested in for the exact nature of the qualifications or experience which they require. The UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) ( is the official source of information on the comparability of international qualifications with those in the UK. UK NARIC supports universities and colleges but the final decision on the recognition of international qualifications is always made by the individual institution. If you do not have the standard entry qualifications, some universities offer a foundation year providing remedial or conversion tuition before you start your BEng/MEng. Many universities run pre-sessional English courses over the summer to boost your IELTS grade up by one grade band, e.g. IELTS 5.0 to IELTS 6.0. In general, for entry to postgraduate programmes all institutions will expect you to hold a university degree or the equivalent qualification from 3 Engineering

your home country, including a higher ability in English than normally accepted at degree level entry. For further information, see Choosing your postgraduate programme in this series.

4 How can I register as a professional? The Engineering Council (UK) – ECUK – has 36 member institutions representing the various specialist areas of engineering. These institutions are licensed by the ECUK to be able to assess candidates for inclusion on its Register of professional Engineers and Technicians. There are also 18 Professional Affiliates of ECUK- organisations which can participate in the development of the engineering profession through opportunities to network with other like minded bodies and by access to information on major issues which affect engineering and the engineering profession. This total of 54 organisations shows the wonderful and varied careers which engineers can enter. The full list of institutions can be found at

To become professionally registered as either a Chartered Engineer (CEng), Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Engineering Technician (EngTech) you will need to join one of these member engineering institutions. Normally you are able to apply for both institution membership and ECUK registration at the same time. Your chosen institution will assess your academic qualifications and your professional development/training. However, you are encouraged to join an engineering institute as a student at the start of your studies. The student membership schemes generally include publications, professional visits, career advice and networking opportunities. More information about registration can be found at See the table overleaf for an outline of the routes to professional qualification. UK qualifications are internationally recognised and there are formal agreements that aim to ensure qualified engineers can work in many parts of the world. Further information on all international agreements can be found at



Registration with the Engineering Council (UK)

Note: for all three registers, elements of academic formation and professional development may be undertaken at the same time.

Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Incorporated Engineer (IEng)

Engineering Technician (EngTech)

Academic qualifications A professionally accredited BEng (Hons) plus Master’s degree or appropriate further learning to Master’s level or a professionally accredited MEng

Academic qualifications A professionally accredited BEng or HND or Foundation Degree plus appropriate further learning to Bachelor’s level

Academic qualifications Engineering education exemplified by a range of qualifications and experience

Note: Institutions are able to accept other equivalent qualifications. In such incidences, applications will be assessed on an individual basis.

Initial professional development with content specified – including named skills, specialist knowledge and competence needed to practise

Initial professional development with content specified – including named skills, specialist knowledge and competence needed to practise

Initial professional development with content specified

Note: IPD can take place through structured development schemes or be self-managed. Institutions will assess the applicant’s experience and training; however, there is no requirement for ‘timeserving’. Demonstration of competence and commitment is the sole criterion for registration.

Professional responsibility with Interview – an assessment based on evidence, set against the competence and commitment criteria for the particular type of work

Professional responsibility with interview – an assessment based on evidence, set against the competence and commitment criteria for the particular type of work

Professional responsibility – an assessment based on evidence, set against competence and commitment criteria for the particular type of work

Chartered Engineer (CEng)

Incorporated Engineer (IEng)

Engineering Technician (EngTech)

European Engineer (EurIng) Must have seven years of combined academic and professional experience after the start date of higher education



5 Next steps Checklist: your next steps • If you know the branch of engineering in which you wish to specialise (e.g. mechanical, electronic, manufacturing, civil or, marine,), start your search on If you are unsure of which branch to enter then read up about the 36 engineering institutes that represent the engineering profession ( For degree courses, check whether the course is on the ECUK’s list of accredited degree courses – go to • Always obtain the course prospectus or study the online version. Find out whether you have the required entry qualifications, including the relevant English language level. For an undergraduate course this may be an IELTS score of 5.5 to 6.5, while for a postgraduate course an IELTS score of 6.0 to 7.0 may be required depending on course and university. Ask your local British Council office where and when you can take the IELTS test. • Make sure that the course you choose will be accepted in your own country by the relevant professional bodies and the government, if the job you want to do demands this. • Apply for undergraduate degree courses, foundation degrees (England only) and Higher National Diploma through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) at For other courses, apply to the institutions direct. • If you wish to undertake a Doctorate degree (PhD), then you might require a recognised MSc for entry, e.g. a UK MSc in a similar field to your area of research. Start your search at and and then apply direct to the university department offering the PhD studentship.

6 What else do I need to know? You should bear in mind immigration requirements when considering whether to study in the UK, as the regulations for entry into the UK have changed recently. For advice and guidance about the new points-based system and to download application forms for students see the UK Border and Immigration Agency website: The college or university for which you are applying has to be officially registered with the UK government as an Education and Training Provider under Tier 4 of the points-based system. Note the fact that the name “Register of Sponsors” does not indicate any financial support. You can check your institution on: ucation A good source of up-to-date information on immigration requirements is the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), which also includes advice on fees and funding, the cost of living, study methods, and working in the UK during and after your studies. The International Student Calculator will help you to plan and manage your money for your studies in the UK -



7 Where can I find out more information? The British Council has produced the Education UK portfolio to provide international students with a wide range of information and guidance that will help them find out more about studying a UK course and other important issues, such as applying to study, entry clearance and living in the UK. The portfolio includes: • • • •

The Education UK website and a number of country websites containing locally relevant information – The essential guides to education in the UK: Undergraduate and pre-university, Postgraduate and MBA* Universities, Colleges and Schools Handbook* Postgraduate UK magazine.*

* The publications are available at a selected number of British Council offices for students to use. The Education UK websites are a valuable source of information, with a database of over 450,000 courses and profiles of institutions that contain details of entry requirements and course fees; some offer a virtual tour of their campus. UCAS Rosehill New Barn Lane Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ

European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI) Avenue Roger Vandendriessche 18 B-1150 Brussels Belgium

Telephone +44 (0)870 1122 211 E-mail

Telephone +32 2 639 03 90 Fax +32 2 639 03 99

Engineering Council (UK) 246 High Holborn London WC1V 7EX

UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) Oriel House Oriel Road Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL50 1XP

Telephone +44 (0)20 3206 0500 Fax +44 (0)20 3206 0501 E-mail

Royal Academy of Engineering 3 Carlton House Terrace London SW1 Telephone +44 (0)20 7766 0600 Fax +44 (0)20 7930 1549

Telephone +44 (0)87 0990 4088 Fax +44 (0)12 4225 8611 E-mail Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (SEMTA) 14 Upton Road Watford WD18 0JT Tel: 01923 238441 Fax: 01923 256086

Other useful resources Engineering CRAC Degree Course Guides 2007/8. (Trotman Publishing, 2007, ISBN: 1906041113) – information on more than 3,000 undergraduate courses and on the various branches of engineering. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information given here is correct and up to date, the British Council accepts no legal liability for its accuracy, currency or completeness. © British Council 2009 The United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. A registered charity: 209131 (England and Wales) SC037733 (Scotland)




The UK has a rich engineering heritage and is home to many world-class engineering companies such as Rolls-Royce and BAE systems. Recent eng...