Masters degrees in Engineering
A postgraduate guide to masters courses in mechanical engineering, electrical & electronic engineering, civil engineering, materials science and much, much more!
In the United Kingdom the MEng degree is the normative university-level qualification taken by people wishing to become chartered engineers registered with ECUK. The degree is typically awarded to students who complete an extended undergraduate course lasting four years (five years in Scotland) when taken full-time. The MEng degree represents the minimum educational standard required to become a chartered engineer, but there are other ways to demonstrate this standard, such as the completion of a BEng Honours and a subsequent postgraduate diploma or MSc, or by completion of the Engineering Council Postgraduate Diploma.
ECUK's minimum requirement for entry to a recognised MEng course is BBB at A-level, compared to CCC for a BEng Honours course. Universities are free to set higher entry requirements if they wish. Some universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial only admit students to study for the MEng degree. (Their courses usually allow a student to leave with a Bachelor's degree after three years, but these shortened degrees are not ECUK-recognised and therefore do not count towards the educational requirements for becoming a chartered engineer.) Other universities, such as the University of Surrey and Brunel University, admit students to read for BEng Honours and MEng courses and allow students to change between the two during the early years of the course. The Open University offers the MEng degree as a postgraduate qualification but requires students to complete its course within four years of completing a BEng Honours degree.
The Master of Engineering (MEng) is the highest award for undergraduate studies in engineering. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales this is a four-year course or a 'sandwich' five-year course (with one year spent working in industry). In Scotland, it is a five year course. The Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) is usually a three year course (four in Scotland), or can also include a year in industry. Many universities offer the BEng, and may then allow a transfer onto the MEng.
Covering the aspects of the building industry that don’t require you to get your hands dirty, this subject area includes construction, conservation, estate management, surveying, construction management, project management, planning, building design and civil engineering, amongst other subjects. These courses will not teach you how to build a sturdy wall, but you will learn how to efficiently manage someone else who is.
Some of the MBAs, MScs, PGDips, MAs, and PGCerts are aimed at those already working within the construction industry who want to acquire project management skills. They may be offered via distance learning or as part time courses to facilitate this. Others are full time courses for graduates who might want to become surveyors, estate agents, planners, civil engineers, estate managers, or pursue a career in construction at the management level.
If watching the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster unfold on TV made you wish you had the skills to help then Chemical Engineering may be for you. Many of the courses in this subject area are concerned with applying scientific engineering skills to environmental problems. Check out the masters in Green Chemistry, Energy and the Environment, Clean Technology and Water Management, among others. Alternatively, if it made you long to work in the oil industry, Chemical Engineering is probably also for you. Check out courses such as the research MSc in Petroleum and Environmental Process Engineering or the taught MSc in Oil and Gas Chemistry.
You will need an undergraduate degree in materials science, chemistry or chemical engineering, to gain a place on both the taught (MTech, MSc(Eng), MSc, PGCert and PGDip) and research-based (MPhil, MRes) courses. Future careers might involve destroying the planet or saving it, but the demand for chemical engineers means you will surely have a career. It could be in plastics manufacturing or the oil industry, or you might work advising the government on how to reduce its carbon emissions or design systems to efficiently use and conserve water in developing countries.
If you look up the word Boring in the Yellow Pages, underneath it says ‘See Civil Engineers’. Unfortunate, but true. Still, someone’s got to design and build bridges, motorways, the Channel Tunnel and stuff like that, and it’s a good thing if those people are concentrating on their jobs so hard they haven’t got time to memorise hilarious jokes and hone their raconteuring skills.
As well as offering MScs and postgraduate certificates and diplomas in pure Civil Engineering, this section also includes taught courses on subjects as various as Earthquake Engineering with Disaster Management, River Environmental Management and a research degree in Railway Systems Integration. A number of courses focus on management skills, such as the MScs in Construction Management and Transport with Business Management. Career paths from here might see you advising on the reconstruction of earthquake damaged cities in New Zealand and Japan, designing flood defences for at-risk areas of Britain or designing a railtrack that works even when it has leaves on it.
Bin Laden may be gone, but the War on Terror rolls on and this elite troupe of courses will equip you to fight it. If you’re put off by the scary course titles like Guided Weapon Systems, Explosives Ordnance Engineering, try your hand at Human Security and Peacebuilding or the enigmatic MA in Resilience. These courses are not the place for woolly liberals though, but then neither is the defence industry.
Many of these courses are aimed at professionals already working in the defence industries, and almost all are taught. A few require a great deal of professional experience and are aimed a senior members of the defence industry. Qualifications available range from MBAs and MScs to postgraduate diplomas. Potential careers will probably involve you signing the Official Secrets Act and not being able to tell anyone what you do. If you’re not working for the Secret Service though, there’s always a lucrative overseas career as a mercenary or a security consultant to a multinational.
Electrical and Electronic Engineering ranges from designing the circuitry in mobile phones or electrical systems in jumbo jets to seriously sci-fi stuff like Robotic Technology, Cybernetics and Nanotechnology and Advanced Electric Devices. If you wanted to create a real life Terminator cyborg, you’d need an electrical and/or electronic engineer to do it. Electrical and electronic engineering has applications in most areas of modern life, from medicine to music, and this is reflected in the range of courses on offer.
You will need a first degree in some aspect of electrical and electronic engineering, or possibly physics, to get a place on these taught and research masters and postgraduate certificates and diplomas. Career paths from here might include designing electrical systems in the automotive, aerospace and defence industries; helping to design pioneering medical equipment; or creating an intelligent computer that eventually becomes self-aware and tries to extinguish all human life on the planet to ensure its survival. Probably try to avoid the last one.
Britain is rightly proud of its engineering heritage, and if you fancy yourself as the next Isambard Kingdom Brunel these courses are a good first step to take towards becoming his successor. From aerospace to subsea, the hundreds of engineering courses in this section cover all its applications. Different aspects of the engineering process, for example Project Management, Logistics or Quality Management also have their own dedicated courses. (If you are only interested in a particular type of engineering, however, for example Civil or Electrical and Electronic, it may be worth checking to see if it has its own dedicated subject heading.)
You will need a first degree in engineering or a related subject to get onto most of the research and taught masters and postgraduate certificates and diplomas There are also a couple of MBAs available in Industrial or Engineering Management. Career paths from here are manifold. Why not start up your own manufacturing business, work as an engineer on an oil rig, or for an engineering consultancy developing new forms of sustainable energy.
Materials technology involves the design and creation of the materials we use to make everything from plastic forks and silicone oven mitts to astronauts’ outfits and nuclear reactor rods. Just one small example of materials technology that has had a real impact on our lives in the last fifty years, is the invention of a lightweight breathable waterproof and windproof fabric textile that we know as Gore- Tex. Courses in this subject area cover all sorts of applications of materials technology from Textiles, Fashion and Surface Design through Nanomaterials for Nanoengineering to Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering. By far the best titled course, however, is Stickiness in the Drying of Food Powders. .
Both research and taught masters are available, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. Careers from here include working for a pharmaceutical company developing, for example, a new type of plaster that doesn’t sting when you rip it off; or working in the research and development department of an environmental company designing a new form of plastic that is not derived from the oil industry.
If planes, trains and automobiles are your thing, and you have an engineering background, this subject area could be just the ticket. The majority of the courses here are concerned with using engineering to optimise the design of products, manufacturing processes and tools for industry, medicine, defence and transport of all kinds. If you want something more specialist than an MSc in Mechanical Engineering, there are plenty of more tailored courses on offer. How about an MSc in Racing Engine Design; an MPhil in Energy Technologies looking at engineering solutions to help increase sustainable energy sources; or an MA in Human Factors, analysing that most unreliable element of the manufacturing process, human beings?
Both taught and research masters are available, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas. You will need an undergraduate degree in engineering or a closely related subject. Future careers might see you working in the Research and Development department of British Aerospace, trying to make Formula 1 cars go faster as an engineer for McLaren, or designing innovative medical devices.