engineering universities

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

Engineering and technology encompasses a huge range of disciplines, reflected in the number of different specialist courses available at university.

Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:

  • General engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Aerospace
  • Naval architecture
  • Electronic and electrical engineering
  • Production and manufacturing
  • Chemical, process, and energy
  • Metallurgy
  • Ceramics and glass
  • Polymers and textiles
  • Maritime technology
  • Biotechnology

While the majority of degrees focus on a particular disciple, there are some general engineering courses that enable the decision about which specialism to study to be taken at a later date. The Engineering Council accredits many engineering degrees.

Subject combinations and available course options include:

  • single, joint, and multiple subject combinations
  • full-time, part-time, and flexible study options as well as a few courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
  • qualifications ranging from BSc, BEng and MEng (Hons) degrees, through to HND, HNC, and Foundation Certificates

Most universities offer four year undergraduate or integrated masters degrees (MEng) in engineering. This allows for extended study and enables students to acquire Chartered Engineer status more quickly from one of the engineering professional bodies.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Many engineering degrees can be taken as sandwich courses. These include a year-long industrial placement in the middle of your degree. You get valuable work experience, and learn new skills which may help make you more employable.

Entry requirements

A levels – To get on to an engineering-related degree, you will usually require a minimum of two A levels, with three A levels and A/B grades required for the most popular courses. Entry requirements range from CCC to AAA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for ABB. Maths A level is normally essential, with many universities requiring or preferring a second A level in physics. As an alternative to physics other universities may accept subjects linked to science, computing, maths, or design.

Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from ABBB to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for AA.

Biotechnology and chemical engineering degrees typically require two science A levels, or Scottish Highers, with biology/chemistry respectively required or preferred as one of the subjects. In addition to A levels or Scottish Highers, you will also need five GCSEs or equivalent (A– C) including science, English, and maths.

Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Engineering or Construction and Built Environment, SVQ Scientific, Technical and Formulation Processing (SCQF Level 6)) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.


Some universities may require students not taking A levels maths to complete an additional aptitude test in mathematics and or mechanics.

Tomorrow’s Engineers

Engineering is one of the few degree subjects that has a significant link with industry. If you are keen to work for a particular organisation or within a particular field of engineering, find out which (if any) universities the companies are associated with.

Personal statement

Competition for places can be high so personal statements form an essential part of the selection process. Admissions tutors want to see you have aptitude, interest and motivation in you chosen subject. In general, this means they are looking for the following:

  • an explanation of what drives your interest in your chosen field
  • evidence that you have a real enthusiasm for the subject , which could be demonstrated by:
    • relevant work experience/shadowing or voluntary work
    • additional reading and research
    • membership of related societies/clubs


If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.

There are approximately 120 apprenticeships in the engineering sector available in England, with more in development.

Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.

Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)

  • Aircraft maintenance certifying engineer
  • Automation and controls engineering technician
  • Brewer
  • Electrical power networks engineer
  • Electrical power protection and plant commissioning engineer
  • Fashion and textiles product technologist
  • High speed rail & infrastructure technician
  • Nuclear welding inspection technician
  • Process leader
  • Propulsion technician
  • Rail engineering advanced technician
  • Road transport engineering manager
  • Technical dyer and colourist
  • Vehicle damage assessor

Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)

  • Aerospace engineer (degree)
  • Aerospace software development engineer (degree)
  • Control/technical support engineer (degree)
  • Electrical/electronic technical support engineer (degree)
  • Electronic systems principal engineer
  • Embedded electronic systems design and development engineer (degree)
  • Food and drink advanced engineer (degree)
  • Manufacturing engineer (degree)
  • Manufacturing manager (degree)
  • Marine surveyor
  • Marine technical superintendent (degree)
  • Materials process engineer (degree)
  • Materials science technologist
  • Non-destructuve testing engineer (degree)
  • Nuclear scientist and nuclear engineer (degree)
  • Ordnance munitions and explosives (OME) professional
  • Packaging professional (degree)
  • Power engineer (degree)
  • Process automation engineer (degree)
  • Product design and development engineer (degree)
  • Project manager (degree)
  • Rail and rail systems principal engineer (degree)
  • Rail and rail systems senior engineer (degree)
  • Risk and safety management professional (degree)
  • Science industry process/Plant engineer (degree)
  • Systems engineer (degree)
  • Through life engineering services specialist

Key areas of employment

Aside from engineering, graduates find employment in a wide range of careers sectors. The key areas of employment include:

  • agriculture, forestry and horticulture
  • education
  • environment and conservation
  • local and central government services
  • manufacturing
  • pharmaceutics
  • sales and marketing
  • technical media and journalism

Engineering careers are some of the most searched and well-paid in the world. To get “the best seats” in the Engineering industry you should make sure you are the best at what you do, or at least you have the best tools to develop the right set of skills the industry expects you to have.

Studying at one of the best engineering schools in the world can be a great start, but it’s not the only way. It’s a good starting point to have an idea about the best engineering universities, but you shouldn’t disregard other engineering schools just because they are not on the top 100 lists. Explore your options thoroughly before making a decision!

 top 10 lists of best-quality engineering schools from QS World University Rankings, US News & Global Report, Times Higher Education and

1. QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021: Engineering and Technology

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US – 6.7% acceptance rate
  • Stanford University, US – 4.3% acceptance rate
  • University of Cambridge, UK – 21% acceptance rate
  • ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland – 27% acceptance rate
  • Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore – 36% acceptance rate
  • University of Oxford, UK – 17.5% acceptance rate
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB), US – 16.3% acceptance rate
  • Imperial College London, UK – 14.3% acceptance rate
  • National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore – 5% acceptance rate
  • Tsinghua University, China – 2% acceptance rate

2. U.S. News & Global Report – Engineering Universities 2022

  • Tsinghua University, China
  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
  • National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • Harbin Institute of Technology, China
  • Stanford University, US
  • University of California – Berkeley, US
  • Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China – 32% acceptance rate
Team of engineers discussing plans during a meeting

3. World University Rankings 2022 by subject: Engineering

  • Harvard University, US – 4.6% acceptance rate
  • Stanford University, US
  • University of California – Berkeley, US
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
  • University of Cambridge, UK
  • University of Oxford, UK
  • Princeton University, US – 5.8% acceptance rate
  • California Institute of Technology, US – 6.4% acceptance rate
  • ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • National University of Singapore

For the complete Engineering ranking, visit the Times Higher Education website.

4. Academic Influence Ranking – Engineering Worldwide strives for objective ranking lists by using machine learning algorithms that follow the number of times universities are mentioned on the web. The Academic Influence rankings measure published papers of universities, industry citations, and references made on the web.

Here is the top 10 engineering schools list worldwide according to the Academic Influence:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US
  • University of Cambridge, UK
  • Stanford University, US
  • Columbia University, US – 5.4% acceptance rate
  • University of California, Berkeley, US
  • Harvard University, US
  • University of Edinburgh, UK – 10% acceptance rate
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, US – 54.4% acceptance rate
  • Cornell University, US – 10.9% acceptance rate
  • California Institute of Technology, US

Here are other Engineering universities we recommend:

  • Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands
  • Aalto University, Finland
  • University of Birmingham, the UK
  • Kaunas University of Technology, Sweden
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

Ready to begin your Engineering study adventure?

Engineering is not an easy degree, but it leads to well-paid and fulfilling careers. Your work will either create new technologies and structures or improve existing ones. This will make people’s life easier as we head towards a society where machines will do the hardest work.

Now that you know the best engineering schools worldwide, all you need do is choose from the numerous Engineering subdisciplines (e.g. Electrical, Chemical, Construction, Mechanical, Transportation Engineering) and start your study adventure abroad. May the gods of Engineering be with you!

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