Engineering is the largest department in Cambridge (although not the largest cohort - natural sciences is split between multiple departments) with roughly 330 students each year. For the first two years, you'll be mainly learning about the basics of all disciplines, from Aerospace to Computer to Civil Engineering. You'll get an option to dabble in electives at the end of second year to give you a taste of all the options available in the third and fourth year for specialisation. Don't worry about learning "less" than courses at other unis whose course start out specialised - you're still learning very similar content, you just get a better grasp of the fundamentals of related areas. The engineering course at Cambridge is also one of the courses accredited by the most engineering institutions in the UK because of this - you're learning everything you need to be an actual engineer!

Introducing your Academic Rep

Haley Huang

Haley Huang, current 2nd year Engineer, will be 3rd year Aerospace and Aerothermal Engineer

Key Facts

Average offer: A*A*A

4 years

Available at all colleges

ENGAA (pre-registration required). Peterhouse requires STEP

No inclusive prayer space :(

Maths / Physics, some colleges require a third science / maths. Further maths recommended. BTEC engineering accepted by all except Trinity.


Why did you want to study Engineering?


Engineering appealed to me as it's quite an applied subject - you get to spend a lot of time in workshops making your own designs and working on projects! That's not to say we don't cover a lot of theory - there's more than enough maths and physics to keep you busy studying before exams. Career prospects of Engineering is also quite broad - since I (still) haven't made up my mind as to what I want to do for the future, it gives me a versatile base to jump start my career with.

How is the Engineering course structured?


For the first two years, our course is fairly rigid in its structure, where you cover essential engineering topics across all disciplines. This will mainly be led by lectures, labs, and supervisions. You'll also have coursework projects scattered throughout, covering topics like CAD, computing, sustainability, electronics, and an integrated robot design project in second year. As you move through the course, coursework marks matter more and more compared to your exam results, although the first two years are still heavily dominated by exams. For the final two years, you get to specialise in an engineering area, where you pick from roughly 45 and 75 choices (respectively, for third and fourth year). Specialisation usually requires a combination of the modules, although you are given a lot of freedom to dabble in a couple - you can even do a general course where choices are unrestricted! You'll also get larger group projects and a master's project to do where you can really dive deep into applying your knowledge in a particular area. There's an option for an exchange scheme in the third year and an option to switch to Manufacturing Engineering (a separate course which only exists for third and fourth year). Of course, you can also intermit and do a year in industry, which is more common for engineering than other subjects; this just requires discussion with your college and the department so you can make the best choice for yourself.

What is the faculty building like?


The main department is near the Fitzwilliam Museum, Peterhouse, and Pembroke on Trumpington street. It's a collection of buildings with a lot of facilities - libraries, 3D printing, all the fancy engineering equipment you expect... For your first couple weeks (or years), it's quite easy to get lost and not be able to find where your lab is supposed to be. The exterior isn't the most exciting, although you get used to it.  The department also has a lot of facilities in the West Cambridge site, which is a bit farther away near the sports centre. The buildings are a lot more modern there and complements the main department building with a lot of fancy new equipment, although they're mainly for later years and graduate research.

What is the workload like?


Engineering has a lot of contact hours in the first two years, usually 10-12 hours of lectures, 2-4 hours of supervisions, and 4-8 hours of labs (this can increase when you're doing the integrated design project!). This is on top of doing example papers, typing up lab reports, and completing coursework projects, which can take up different amounts of time depending on how fast you work, if you collaborate on questions, and whether or not you put in 100% effort. Altogether, this can add up to 30-60 hours a week, which is nothing to scoff at.

What about your course would you change?


The shear amount of content can be quite intimidating and difficult to revise for, especially for second year, which culminates in having eight exams in ten days. Support for coursework can also be limited since we have such a large cohort, leading to a lot of us having to teach ourselves CAD and programming in first year in order to complete the projects - this can be very difficult if you've never done something like this before! The quality of supervisors also vary a lot between colleges for the first two years, which can be quite disheartening since a lot of content is taught and consolidated in supervisions. When your supervisor is less adept at explaining concepts, this can lead to you running to friends at other colleges for a better explanation.

Anything else?


Engineering has one of the best careers services in Cambridge! We get weekly emails about potential openings for internships, weekly careers workshops, speakers from industry in lectures, and dedicated 1-on-1 support for CVs and interviews on request. Professors also post a lot of undergraduate research positions for summer, so look out for that if research and academia is something you're interested in. One thing you'll also have to do is complete a 6 week internship before the end of third year: this is a hard requirement unless there are exceptional circumstances.

A typical timetable

Haley's 2nd year timetable

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9am Lecture (Electrical Power) Lab   Lab Lecture (Mechanical Engineering)
10am Lecture (Thermofluid Mechanics)   Lecture (Probability)
11am Lab Lecture (Business) Lecture (Electrical Power) Lecture (Thermofluid Mechanics)  
12pm Lecture (Fourier Transforms)   Lecture (Mechanical Engineering) Lecture (Fourier Transforms)
1pm Lecture (Probability)   Lecture (Structures) Lecture (Structures)  
4pm   Supervision (Information Engineering)      
5pm       Supervision (Electrical Engineering)  
6pm Supervision (Mechanical Engineering)   Supervision (Thermofluid Mechanics)    


Have more questions? Talk to an academic rep

Academic Reps are the voice of students in faculties, departments and schools. Reps have the power to enact changes to education, individually based on their priorities and collectively, working with other representatives across the University. Their responsibilities include taking students’ ideas and concerns to faculty and department boards, relaying important information from those boards back to students, and organising with their peers to foster a subject community.