The River Thames outside DLD College London

Do you want to study Civil Engineering at University?

27th September 12

Do you want to study Civil Engineering at University

What A Levels will I need to study Civil Engineering at University?

Like all Engineering degree courses, Maths and Physics play huge roles, and you will be expected to show your brilliance at both. To get into one of the top universities in the country, at the very least you’ll need an A grade at A Level in one, if not both of these core subjects. Some universities look favourably on Further Maths, while others like their students to be a little more rounded and will make offers to students taking other scientific A Levels like Chemistry or Biology, or more environmental A Level subjects like Geography or Geology.

Also, like most other engineering degrees, students can either study for a MEng (Master of Engineering) or a BEng (Bachelor of Engineering). A MEng is usually four years, while a BEng is typically only three. But there are other, more subtle differences too.

A MEng allows students to specialise in a certain type of engineering, and provides more focussed and extended study than the BEng. Some graduates claim that it is easier to become a chartered engineer with a MEng, and that some companies look more favourably on those with a MEng. Most universities that offer both courses allow students to change from a BEng to a MEng before the end of the second year if they meet certain academic levels of achievement.

A BEng degree is usually a three year course covering all the general and essential material you will need. The course is ideal for those of you who want an engineering degree, but don’t necessarily want to become a chartered engineer.  A BEng is often more attractive to non-UK students as very often it satisfies the requirements to become a professional in their home country.

Where should I go and study?

According to The Complete University Guide the best places to study Civil Engineering in 2013 were:

The University of CambridgeDepartment of Engineering – A four year course resulting in a MEng.

Cambridge can and will ask for the very best grades from you. Expect an offer of something between A*AA or A*AAA or A*AAB at A-Level. Maths and Physics are essential A Levels, and other subjects that contain as much additional maths or mechanics as possible are looked upon very favourably – Further Maths for example. Cambridge offers a very broad engineering degree. You will spend your first two years learning the basic principles of engineering before specialising in Civil Engineering from your third year.

Imperial College LondonDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering – A four year course resulting in a MEng.

Expect an offer of A* in Maths A Level, and a further A* and A grade in your other subjects, one of which has to be Physics. While Further Maths A Level is not compulsory, but is looked upon very favourably indeed. Imperial offer you the option of studying the last year of course abroad too.

University of BristolDepartment of Civil Engineering – A four year course resulting in a MEng or a three year BEng course.

A typical offer from Bristol will be A*AA at A Level, including Maths and Physics, with one of those subjects at A* grade. There is the option to do a three year BEng course, or a four year MEng course. And you can study the final year of your MEng course abroad if you chose.

University of SheffieldDepartment of Civil and Structural Engineering – A four year course resulting in a MEng, or a three year BEng course.

For both the MEng course, and the BEng course, Sheffield will probably offer you AAA at A Level. Two of those A grades will have to be in Maths and at least one of Biology, Chemistry or Physics.  Sheffield also offer Civil Engineering with a Modern Language as a MEng course, and you will study abroad at one of the best universities in your chosen country in your third year, before returning for your finals in your fourth year.

University of SouthamptonEngineering and the Environment – A four year course resulting in a MEng, or a three year BEng course.

Southampton will offer you A*AA. You’ll need at least one A Level science subject – Physics is preffered, but they will take Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology or Environmental Studies), and you’ll have to have Maths A Level as well. If you impress them, they may knock the offer down to three As.

Ok once I’m there, what can I expect?

Civil Engineers deal with the planning, construction, and maintenance of man-made and natural infrastructure projects. They work on anything from roads, dams, bridges, and canals, to transport systems, sports stadiums and power stations. Civil Engineering is one of the oldest of the engineering disciplines, and is grounded firmly in the mathematical and scientific world. You can expect to learn about using mathematical, mechanical and statistical models to work out how structures will perform under specific conditions.

Civil Engineering also offers one of the widest arrays of specialties in any degree anywhere, let alone in engineering. You will be able to specialise in such diverse modules as Materials Science, Construction Design and Materials, Hydraulics, and Soil Mechanics, to Thermofluids, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Analysis and Stability, and Engineering Hydrology, to name but a small fraction.

As a general rule, you can expect to spend the first two years of your course learning about the necessary basic principles of civil engineering, before going on to specialise more in your third and fourth years. Options in your third and fourth year may include Earthquake Engineering, Coastal Engineering or Environmental Engineering.

What skills will I develop?

Loads. Civil Engineering is by far and away the broadest of the engineering disciplines. As well as the very specific skills you will gain from whatever modules you chose, you will have incredible scientific, mathematical and technical knowledge. You will not only be able to design and build your ideas, but appreciate any ethical and social problems your work may have on the people and environment nearby.

Civil Engineering, like any of the engineering disciplines is rarely a solo venture. You will start working in teams very early on in your university career, and by the time you graduate you will be confident and able to lead or be part of a team working together to achieve something amazing.

Most undergraduates get to work on real life, real time problems at some point in their degrees, so you will have experience of what Civil Engineering is like in the real world as well.

What will my career prospects be like?

Excellent. There is a hug demand for Civil Engineers, and most graduates have no trouble leaving university and walking straight into respectable, well paid positions. Graduates can expect to find work in a wide variety of areas from local authorities and central government, to the construction industry or contract engineering firms. You will start off on the bottom rung, but rising through the ranks is not difficult, as once you are qualified you’ll have the necessary tools to get on with pretty much anything thrown at you.