What A-Levels do you need?
You’ll need to put your thinking cap on if you want to get a place on a Civil Engineering course, as competition is tough and the entry requirements are high. From among the Russell Group, Imperial College London asks for A*A*A and the University of Bristol sets the bar at A*AA. Elsewhere, the University of Surrey has a minimum grade requirement of AAA for a four-year MEng or ABB for a BEng, and you’ll need BBB to study at the University of Brighton. Almost all Civil Engineering courses require you to have an A-Level in Mathematics and most ask for Physics or at least one science topic too. Remember, research is key! Also, don’t worry if you don’t have A-Levels – lots of universities accept BTech students onto Civil Engineering courses, too.
What are your study options?
You can study for a BEng or BSc in Civil Engineering at undergraduate level. While the course material doesn’t actually vary that widely, the main difference is that BEngs almost always end in accredited engineer status, but this isn’t a guarantee with BSc courses, so make sure to check if that’s something you’re interested in. You might also choose a BSc instead of a BEng if you choose a joint honours degree, as Civil Engineering can be combined with lots of science-based subjects, like Physics or Computer Science. You’re not limited to a bachelor level degree, though – almost all universities offer a four-year course with an MEng built in, although you might need higher grades at A-Level to guarantee a place. Otherwise you can apply to study for an MEng after finishing your first degree. Finally, like all engineering courses, a good Civil Engineering degree will offer a year out in industry, known as a sandwich year. Sandwich years look great on your CV and lots of students even end up being offered graduate jobs after their placements, so they’re well worth doing. As well as being a chance to experience what life as a civil engineer is really like, a sandwich year can also offer you an opportunity to travel (as you can opt to spend your placement year abroad).
Why study Civil Engineering?
Because you’ll get to design and build some really cool stuff! The ‘civil’ part of Civil Engineering comes from the word ‘civilisation’, and as a civil engineer you’ll focus on public infrastructure, designing, creating and maintaining facilities that are used by millions of people every day. So, not only is it a really useful job, but if you’re going to end up stuck in traffic, think how much more fun it will be to be stuck in traffic on a road that you built. Plus, civil engineers are in demand by employers all over the world, so you’ll be able to command good wages and have the option to travel or settle permanently abroad, and even enhance countless people’s lives by improving public infrastructure in poor and developing countries.
After your Civil Engineering degree…
Quite a lot of Civil Engineering students go on to do an MEng, or Master of Engineering degree, if it wasn’t already built into their undergraduate course. Once you’ve got all your academic qualifications out of the way you’ll be well on your way to working as a certified civil engineer, or in a closely related job such as site engineer or building surveyor. If you’re interested in green technology and sustainable building, you could even use your skills to become an environment consultant. There are lots of employment opportunities for civil engineering graduates in the public sector – like the government or local authorities – or alternatively you could work for a private organisation like a utility company.
Q & A with a Civil Engineering lecturer
Adelaja Israel Osofero is a Civil Engineering lecturer at Northumbria University…
Why should students study a degree in Civil Engineering?
Civil Engineers provides infrastructure for our day to day living. They are essential to the design of infrastructures that makes our daily activities possible and more efficient. These infrastructures include the roads and bridges we drive on, the house we live in, train lines, airport developments and the systems that supply water to our kitchen and bathroom taps. Civil engineers also ensure that our sewage is properly channelled away from our household. This is an ideal course for people that want to make a real difference to how people live and to the world in a sustainable and innovative way with due regards to the environment.
What kind of skills will students learn on the course?
The most essential skills are mathematics and physics. Team work and personal initiative are also necessary. You will be required to generate initial design concepts and engineering solutions to practical issues. Increasing emphasis is now been laid on civil engineering students’ and graduates’ ability to manage projects and resources.
What key modules can students expect to cover in their first year?
Structural Mechanics, Engineering Mathematics, and Engineering Materials.
What kind of careers do students typically go into after they graduate?
Many students go into consultancy in jobs such as structural engineers, water engineers, geotechnical engineers, tunnel engineers, etc. Alternatively, construction roles include construction engineers, construction managers, site engineers and quality engineers. There are also opportunities to move into research and development in positions like research and development engineer, finite element analyst or academic or lecturer.
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