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Course content

What's the Master of Chemical Engineering all about? 

The Master of Science in Chemical Engineering programme is primarily aimed at applying chemical engineering principles to develop technical products and to design, control and improve industrial processes. Students also learn to take environmental and safety issues into account during all phases of the process.

Two guiding principles of sustainable development – the rational exploitation of resources and energy, and the application of the best available technology – are emphasised, as is the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle”.

As a chemical engineering student, you will learn to think in a process-oriented manner and grasp the complexity of physico-chemical systems. Even more than other specialists, you will be asked to solve problems of a very diverse nature. Insights into processes at the nano and micro scale are fundamental for the development of new products and/or (mega-scale) technologies.

While students should have a foundational knowledge of chemistry, the underlying chemistry of the elements and components, their properties and mutual reactions are not the main focal points of the programme.

With a focus on process, product and environmental planet engineering, the programme does not only guarantee a solid chemical engineering background, it also focuses on process and product intensification, energy efficient processing routes, biochemical processes and product-based thinking rather than on the classical process approach.

Structure 

The programme itself consists of an important core curriculum that covers the foundations of chemical engineering. The core curriculum builds on the basic knowledge obtained during the Bachelor’s. In this part of the programme, you will concentrate on both the classical and the emerging trends in chemical engineering. 

Students also take up 9 credits from ‘Current trends in chemical engineering’-courses. These courses are signature courses for the Master’s programme and build on the research expertise present within the department. These courses encompass microbial process technology, process intensification, exergy analysis of chemical processes and product design. 

The curriculum consists of a broad generic core, which is then strengthened and honed during the second year, when students select one of the three specialisations: product, process and environmental engineering.

This choice provides you with the opportunity to specialise to a certain extent. Since the emerging areas covered in the programme are considered to be the major challenges within the chemical and related industries, graduating in Leuven as a chemical engineer will give you a serious advantage over your European colleagues since you will be able to integrate new technologies within existing production processes.

During their Master’s studies, students are encouraged to take non-technical courses (general interest courses), organized for instance by other faculties (economics, social sciences, psychology…) in order to broaden their scope beyond mere technical courses.

An important aspect of the Master’s programme is the Master’s thesis. Assigning Master’s thesis topics to students is based on a procedure in which students select 5 preferred topics from a long list.

The Master’s programme highly values interactions with the chemical industry which is one of the most important pillars of the Flemish economy. As such, some courses are taught by guest professors from the industry.

International and industrial experience

One or two semesters of the programme can be completed abroad in the context of the ERASMUS+ programme. Additionally, you can apply for an industrial internship abroad through the departmental internship coordinator. These internships take place between the third Bachelor’s year and the first Master’s year, or between the two Master’s years.

The department also offers a new exchange programme with the University of Delaware (United States) and with the Ecole Polytechique in Montréal (Canada).

The faculty’s exchange programmes are complemented by the BEST network (Board of European Students of Technology). This student organisation offers the opportunity to follow short courses, usually organised in the summer months. The faculty also participates in various leading international networks.

You can find more information on this topic on the website of the Faculty website.

Career perspectives

The chemical sector represents one of the most important economic sectors in Belgium. It provides about 90,000 direct and more than 150,000 indirect jobs. With a 53 billion euro turnover and a 35% share of the total Belgian export, the chemical sector is an indispensable part of the contemporary Belgian economy.

As a chemical engineer you will predominantly work in industrial branches involved in (the production of) bulk and specialty chemicals, oil and natural gas (petrochemical companies and refineries), non-ferrometallurgics, energy, waste treatment, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. The following professional activities lie before you:

  • design, planning and building of installations ('project engineer')
  • monitoring and optimisation of existing processes ('process engineer')
  • design/formulation and optimisation of products ('product engineer')
  • R&D of technical products, processes and devices
  • customer services, retailing ('sales engineer')
  • management

Apart from the traditional career options, your insight into complex processes will also be much appreciated in jobs in the financial and governmental sector, where chemical engineers are often employed to supervise industrial activities, to deliver permissions, and to compose regulations with respect to safety and environmental issues.

As self-employed persons, chemical engineers work in engineering offices or as consultants. Due to their often very dynamic personality, chemical engineers can also be successful as entrepreneurs.


Visit the Chemical Engineering MSc page on the KU Leuven website for more details!

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