Chemical engineers design and operate industrial processes that convert raw materials into valuable products. The need for more sophisticated products and sustainable processes means chemical engineers are in great demand. Our multidisciplinary course provides the training.
|UCAS code||via Engineering H810 MEng/CEE
via Natural Sciences H813 MEng/CENS
|Colleges||Available at all Colleges
|Open days and events 2012||College open days (sciences)
Cambridge Open Days - 4 July, 5 July 2013
|Contact details|| 01223 334777
Chemical Engineering at Cambridge
Our course concentrates on the scientific principles that underpin modern chemical and biochemical engineering. The aim is to produce graduates that meet the needs of today's process industries by providing technical competence, training in transferable skills, and a thorough understanding of the subject. The underlying theory is complemented by a series of lectures and projects that teach process design and chemical product design.
We have strong links with industry. The course is supported by a consortium of 10 industrial companies which provide input on content and assist with teaching. These links also mean that there are opportunities for vacation placements with some of the world's top companies.
Teaching and facilities
Our Department enjoys a reputation for excellence in its teaching and research, regularly topping national league tables. The Department also has excellent facilities, including an extensive network of computers equipped with modern applications used by practising engineers.
Qualifications and accreditation
It's possible to graduate with a BA degree after three years. However, virtually all students stay for the fourth year leading to the BA and MEng degrees progression to the fourth year is dependent on satisfactory performance). The four-year course is accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers, meaning that after graduation you can apply for Chartered Engineer status once you have four years of relevant experience without taking further exams.
Within chemical engineering there are many well-paid career opportunities. You might work as a field engineer, be part of a research team, or become a senior manager within industry. Chemical engineers can also easily secure jobs outside the discipline because of their broad range of skills. About 50 per cent of our graduates go into the chemical, process and food industries; 20 per cent go into finance and management; and 15 per cent go into further education and research.
You're taught primarily through lectures, which are supported by projects, laboratory classes, supervisions and coursework.
In a typical week you attend 10 lectures and have two supervisions. You also undertake fortnightly projects.
Introduction to core chemical engineering
From Year 2, you're based within the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. The second year contains lectures on:
- fundamentals - fluid mechanics, mass and heat transfer, thermodynamics
- process operations - reactors, separators, biotechnology
- process systems - safety
- enabling topics - mathematics, economics
Depending on your first-year subject, you have additional lectures and practical work on either chemistry or engineering. You're assessed on these topics at the end of the year by four three-hour written exams.
You also take laboratory classes on fluid mechanics and undertake regular assessed project work. Towards the end of the year, you perform the mechanical design of an item of process equipment such as a heat exchanger.
Continuation of core chemical engineering
The third year contains lectures on:
- fundamentals - fluid mechanics, heat transfer, thermodynamics
- process operations - reactors, separators, bioprocessing
- process systems - process dynamics and control, heat integration, environment
- enabling topics - materials, statistics
You perform assessed project work throughout the year, and sit four three-hour written exams at the start of the third term.
After the written exams, you undertake a Design Project that lasts five weeks of full-time work. This project is carried out in groups and concerns the design of a modern industrial process. You take into account all aspects of engineering design, including specification of equipment and control procedures, and consider safety aspects, environmental impact and economic performance. The Design Project brings together all the taught subject matter whilst giving you the opportunity to work in a team on an open-ended problem.
Choice of advanced topics
You undertake a project on Chemical Product Design and take a compulsory paper on Sustainability in Chemical Engineering. You choose six further advanced topics from a list of optional papers which changes every year to reflect the research interests of academic staff. Past examples have included:
- modern metrology
- electrochemical engineering
- particle technology
You also choose a 'broadening material' paper which is on a topic that's useful to chemical engineers without being part of the discipline, such as a foreign language or entrepreneurship.
In addition, you undertake a research project. This might involve experimental, theoretical and/or computational work. Some projects support ongoing research activities within the Department, while others are 'blue sky' investigations leading to new research programmes. Several are sponsored by interested companies and successful projects sometimes lead to students becoming authors of publications in scientific literature.
Typical offers require
A Level: A*AA
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages.
Essential A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics
Desirable A Level/IB Higher Level Further Mathematics
Natural Sciences route
Essential A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics and Chemistry
Desirable AS/IB Standard Level or above in one or more of Physics, Biology, Further Mathematics
Check College websites for College-specific requirements. See also Entrance requirements and our Subject Matters leaflet for additional advice about general requirements for entry, qualifications and offers.
Find out more about Chemical Engineering at Cambridge
- Course website - Explore Chemical Engineering in more detail on the course website.
- Course FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about the Chemical Engineering course.
- Course guide - A detailed guide to the Chemical Engineering degree.
Tools to help you with your Chemical Engineering application
- Application information - A detailed guide to applying to study Chemical Engineering at Cambridge.
- Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) Preparation - Resources to help prepare for the TSA (required for Chemical Engineering at some Colleges). Includes practice tests, suggested textbooks and further reading.
Chemical Engineering and your future
- Why study chemical engineering? - A list of reasons for studying Chemical Engineering, including the great career prospects.
- Graduate profiles - Some recent graduates reflect on their experience studying Chemical Engineering at Cambridge and on their subsequent careers.
- Transferable skills - A guide to the transferable skills you can develop during the course of a Chemical Engineering degree.
The student experience
- The Chemical Engineering Society - Find out more about the Cambridge University Chemical Engineering Society and what they get up to.
- whynotchemeng.com - An independent site offering a range of resources and information for applicants interested in Chemical Engineering as a degree and as a career.
From September 2012, every undergraduate course of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual courses at different higher education institutions.
However, please note that superficially similar courses often have very different structures and objectives, and that the teaching, support and learning environment that best suits you can only be determined by identifying your own interests, needs, expectations and goals, and comparing them with detailed institution- and course-specific information.
We recommend that you look thoroughly at the course and University information contained on these webpages and consider coming to visit us on an Open Day, rather than relying solely on statistical comparison.
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Any course which combines several disciplines (as many courses at Cambridge do) tends to be compared nationally with courses in just one of those disciplines, and in such cases a KIS comparison may not be an accurate or fair reflection of the reality of either. For example, you may find that when considering a degree which embraces a range of disciplines such as biology, physics, chemistry and geology (for instance, Natural Sciences at Cambridge), the comparison provided is with courses at other institutions that primarily focus on just one (or a smaller combination) of those subjects.
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The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other important factors that are relevant to the choices that you are making, but we hope that this will be a useful starting point to help you delve deeper than the face value of the KIS data.