Imperial vs Birmingham chemical engineering

Watch
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#1
As the UCAS deadline to confirm uni choices is approaching, I still can't decide which one to firm out of Imperial and Birmingham for chem eng
Pros of Imperial:
-The prestige
-The chem eng research there looks super interesting although I'm not sure whether there'd be many research opportunities as an undergraduate
-Some of the modules in years 3 and 4 look more interesting

Cons of Imperial
- London is expensive. Have to find your own place from 2nd year which will be super expensive and probably at least 30 mins from uni by tube
-Academically intense atmosphere
-Living in London can be quite daunting

Pros of Birmingham
-Good domestic reputation for chem eng (albeit not as good as Imperial's but still up there)
-Would probably enjoy my time there a lot more than at Imperial
-More relaxing and friendly atmosphere
-Cheaper cost of living

Cons of Birmingham
-Less prestige especially internationally speaking
-Seems to be focused a lot more on industry although has some decent research
-Would always hate myself for turning down Imperial

Any thoughts on the matter will be much appreciated!
0
reply
artful_lounger
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#2
Report 5 months ago
#2
I would argue the industry focus of Birmingham is probably a "pro", unless you already know you are planning to do a PhD (and even then, in engineering PhDs, and research generally, are often industry lead anyway). You'll probably have some opportunity to do e.g. summer research projects at either - at least when I was at Exeter a few years ago the EPSRC funded summer research grants for students to undertake at most universities (you had to apply competitively for them though, but the engineering ones at Exeter at least never had many applicants; when I did mine there were three awards available and only two people applied...).

Would living in London be significantly different to living in Birmingham outside of living costs? This is a genuine question from me, I've only lived in smaller regional cities in the UK and visited London (only proper cities I've lived in were abroad). My understanding is both are fairly large metropolises with all the benefits and downsides that go with it - except that London is significantly more expensive. Sinnoh is at Imperial (albeit studying a different course) and might be able to offer some insight into the London living aspects?
Last edited by artful_lounger; 5 months ago
0
reply
Sinnoh
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#3
Report 5 months ago
#3
At Imperial a lot of people rent out surprisingly close to uni - e.g. Hammersmith, Fulham. Cheaper than a single at the South Kensington halls. If you want to get used to commuting, pick Woodward or Kemp Porter for accommodation
also Imperial do run undergraduate research opportunities (UROPs); they might not be that well-advertised but if you're looking for them you'll definitely find them.
0
reply
Mustafa0605
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#4
Report 5 months ago
#4
Imperial is a far more prestige Univeristy. I wish I had the grades to go there. You should calculate and research how much it would cost you to live there, how much maintenance loan you get etc
Last edited by Mustafa0605; 5 months ago
0
reply
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#5
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#5
(Original post by artful_lounger)
I would argue the industry focus of Birmingham is probably a "pro", unless you already know you are planning to do a PhD (and even then, in engineering PhDs, and research generally, are often industry lead anyway). You'll probably have some opportunity to do e.g. summer research projects at either - at least when I was at Exeter a few years ago the EPSRC funded summer research grants for students to undertake at most universities (you had to apply competitively for them though, but the engineering ones at Exeter at least never had many applicants; when I did mine there were three awards available and only two people applied...).

Would living in London be significantly different to living in Birmingham outside of living costs? This is a genuine question from me, I've only lived in smaller regional cities in the UK and visited London (only proper cities I've lived in were abroad). My understanding is both are fairly large metropolises with all the benefits and downsides that go with it - except that London is significantly more expensive. Sinnoh is at Imperial (albeit studying a different course) and might be able to offer some insight into the London living aspects?
The reason why I put the industry focus as a con is because I'm considering doing a PhD but you're right it definitely is a pro for people who want to go into industry (btw the chem eng course at Bath purely focuses on preparing you for industry which is why I'm only considering it for my insurance. At least at Birmingham there's a nice balance between industry and research focus).

The university of birmingham, being a campus uni, isn't situated right in the city centre but rather in a suburb called Edgbaston, so you don't get that daunting feel of having to navigate through a city to get to uni but the city centre is easily accessible from the uni which is good. I'm not overly concerned about finances as I'm fortunate enough to rely on the bank of mum and dad but I would be spending more than double for accommodation in london. My main concern is whether I'd enjoy my time at imperial if I went there. I heard that the large population of international students make it quite difficult for home students to keep up because their level of maths is often miles ahead of ours. I'd much rather get a 1st at birmingham than a 2:2 at imperial. Especially if i want to do a phd. When applying for postgraduate courses, unis don't give a damn about where you went for undergrad. They only care about your academic performance i.e. your degree classification (so I've been told). I could be a star student at Birmingham and an average student at Imperial by putting in the same amount of effort. I'd much rather be the former. Of course, for industry, prestige does play a role in getting jobs however imperial don't offer a year in industry for chem eng for some reason (they do for other courses). A guy from astrazeneca gave a talk at my sixth form and he said having a year in industry carries soo much more weight than going to a top uni and not having any industrial experience. So there's always that to consider.
Right now I'm 90% leaning towards Birmingham. My plan is to go to birmingham for undergrad, have a good time there and grow as a person. Then I'll apply for PhD positions at several top unis (Cambridge, Imperial, MIT, Stanford etc.). By then I would be a lot more mature and should be able to cope in a more academically intense environment. I'm basing this plan off my dad's life. He studied maths at Bedford College London which doesn't exist anymore. Then he did his phd at imperial and had the best time of his life (he actually started his PhD at Oxford and dropped out after a year for personal reasons). He said had he gone to imperial or Oxford for undergrad, he definitely wouldn't cope. Any thoughts?
Last edited by sathyoo132; 5 months ago
1
reply
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#6
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#6
(Original post by Sinnoh)
At Imperial a lot of people rent out surprisingly close to uni - e.g. Hammersmith, Fulham. Cheaper than a single at the South Kensington halls. If you want to get used to commuting, pick Woodward or Kemp Porter for accommodation
also Imperial do run undergraduate research opportunities (UROPs); they might not be that well-advertised but if you're looking for them you'll definitely find them.
If I do go to imperial, I'm definitely picking the nearby halls in first year (Eastside, beit hall etc). Do most people share a flat from 2nd year? How much do flats in that area cost per week? And at what point during first year should you start looking for places to live during second year?
I just stumbled across UROPs on their website. Looks interesting!
0
reply
mnot
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#7
Report 5 months ago
#7
(Original post by sathyoo132)
As the UCAS deadline to confirm uni choices is approaching, I still can't decide which one to firm out of Imperial and Birmingham for chem eng
Pros of Imperial:
-The prestige
-The chem eng research there looks super interesting although I'm not sure whether there'd be many research opportunities as an undergraduate
-Some of the modules in years 3 and 4 look more interesting

Cons of Imperial
- London is expensive. Have to find your own place from 2nd year which will be super expensive and probably at least 30 mins from uni by tube
-Academically intense atmosphere
-Living in London can be quite daunting

Pros of Birmingham
-Good domestic reputation for chem eng (albeit not as good as Imperial's but still up there)
-Would probably enjoy my time there a lot more than at Imperial
-More relaxing and friendly atmosphere
-Cheaper cost of living

Cons of Birmingham
-Less prestige especially internationally speaking
-Seems to be focused a lot more on industry although has some decent research
-Would always hate myself for turning down Imperial

Any thoughts on the matter will be much appreciated!
Id go Imperial if your academically up for the challenge. Its in a different league to Brum imo.

Youll just get far more early careers opportunities their.
0
reply
genson
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#8
Report 5 months ago
#8
I’m a final year doing chem eng (MEng) at Birmingham. If it were me I’d pick Imperial, unless London doesn’t make sense financially or you really want a typical student party life, which Birmingham (or any other “studenty” city like Leeds etc) would be better than London for, in my opinion. This is just from what I’ve gathered comparing my own experience at Birmingham versus friends who go to LSE, UCL, Imperial.

Imperial is a completely different league to Birmingham and I would say the opportunities it would open up for you gives you more flexibility in future.

I wouldn’t say Birmingham is massively industry focused, I’d say that’s more somewhere like Bath. It’s probably more balanced. The majority of the faculty are career academics, although the school has a visiting lecturer from industry to help those get placements and they have alright industry links to the usual suspects like Exxon and Unilever, amongst others. Although this doesn’t guarantee you a job at any of those.
0
reply
Sinnoh
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#9
Report 5 months ago
#9
(Original post by sathyoo132)
If I do go to imperial, I'm definitely picking the nearby halls in first year (Eastside, beit hall etc). Do most people share a flat from 2nd year? How much do flats in that area cost per week? And at what point during first year should you start looking for places to live during second year?
I just stumbled across UROPs on their website. Looks interesting!
yes most people share a flat from 2nd year onwards, only affordable way really. I'm not the one to ask though because I'll be staying at home for second year so it's not something I've looked into. South Kensington is one of the most expensive areas in the world so don't get your hopes up about staying there.
Around about spring in first year is a good time to look, there is a kind of exhibition on looking for private accommodation at the beginning of March so you will get some guidance.
0
reply
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#10
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#10
(Original post by genson)
I’m a final year doing chem eng (MEng) at Birmingham. If it were me I’d pick Imperial, unless London doesn’t make sense financially or you really want a typical student party life, which Birmingham (or any other “studenty” city like Leeds etc) would be better than London for, in my opinion. This is just from what I’ve gathered comparing my own experience at Birmingham versus friends who go to LSE, UCL, Imperial.

Imperial is a completely different league to Birmingham and I would say the opportunities it would open up for you gives you more flexibility in future.

I wouldn’t say Birmingham is massively industry focused, I’d say that’s more somewhere like Bath. It’s probably more balanced. The majority of the faculty are career academics, although the school has a visiting lecturer from industry to help those get placements and they have alright industry links to the usual suspects like Exxon and Unilever, amongst others. Although this doesn’t guarantee you a job at any of those.
I hope it's ok if I ask you a bunch of questions!
What are your general impressions of the course? Did you do a year in industry/abroad? What modules did you take in years 3 and 4? (I'm considering taking the healthcare tech modules). How much maths is there? What was the work/life balance like? Which halls were you in in 1st year? Where did you live from 2nd year and how long was the commute?

You're an absolute legend if you can answer my questions! Thanks in advance
0
reply
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#11
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#11
(Original post by mnot)
Id go Imperial if your academically up for the challenge. Its in a different league to Brum imo.

Youll just get far more early careers opportunities their.
(Original post by genson)
I’m a final year doing chem eng (MEng) at Birmingham. If it were me I’d pick Imperial, unless London doesn’t make sense financially or you really want a typical student party life, which Birmingham (or any other “studenty” city like Leeds etc) would be better than London for, in my opinion. This is just from what I’ve gathered comparing my own experience at Birmingham versus friends who go to LSE, UCL, Imperial.

Imperial is a completely different league to Birmingham and I would say the opportunities it would open up for you gives you more flexibility in future.

I wouldn’t say Birmingham is massively industry focused, I’d say that’s more somewhere like Bath. It’s probably more balanced. The majority of the faculty are career academics, although the school has a visiting lecturer from industry to help those get placements and they have alright industry links to the usual suspects like Exxon and Unilever, amongst others. Although this doesn’t guarantee you a job at any of those.
Another thing I forgot to mention is that my imperial offer is A*A*AA in maths, chem, physics and further maths respectively. As you probably know, cos of corona, a level grades are submitted by teachers this year. My problem is that I don't think my chem teacher is gonna give me an A* as all my mock results suggest I'm a high A. I'm hoping he'll give me the benefit of the doubt as I aced the last test we did in February but the prospect of missing my imperial offer is giving me even more doubts about firming imperial. Most unis have said they'll be accommodating this year given the circumstances but imperial have said that everyone who misses their offer will be assessed on a case by case basis and that if they feel you're not qualified to be admitted, they'll defer your offer so you can sit the autumn exams. I definitely don't want to take a gap year so I'd just go to my insurance which would be Birmingham but then I wouldn't be guaranteed a place in halls. So my question is, do I firm imperial if I know I might miss my offer? Imperial do seem to be quite pedantic about grades so I'm not sure how much luck I'd have if I do miss my offer.
0
reply
mnot
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#12
Report 5 months ago
#12
(Original post by sathyoo132)
Another thing I forgot to mention is that my imperial offer is A*A*AA in maths, chem, physics and further maths respectively. As you probably know, cos of corona, a level grades are submitted by teachers this year. My problem is that I don't think my chem teacher is gonna give me an A* as all my mock results suggest I'm a high A. I'm hoping he'll give me the benefit of the doubt as I aced the last test we did in February but the prospect of missing my imperial offer is giving me even more doubts about firming imperial. Most unis have said they'll be accommodating this year given the circumstances but imperial have said that everyone who misses their offer will be assessed on a case by case basis and that if they feel you're not qualified to be admitted, they'll defer your offer so you can sit the autumn exams. I definitely don't want to take a gap year so I'd just go to my insurance which would be Birmingham but then I wouldn't be guaranteed a place in halls. So my question is, do I firm imperial if I know I might miss my offer? Imperial do seem to be quite pedantic about grades so I'm not sure how much luck I'd have if I do miss my offer.
So im gunna simplify this down,
Imperial have set a very high bar, is the risk of missing the offer and having to go to Brum via insurance choice without halls worth risking and instead just firm Brum because your guaranteed halls?

IMO, it would be very shortsighted to pick Brum for this choice. If you dont get halls I can see it not being ideal as everyone wants the halls experience but getting a house will be fine. Also people often look for people to take over the lease at halls so you might still get in regardless. (but even if you have to live in a house in 1st year I still think its worth the risk).
0
reply
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#13
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#13
(Original post by mnot)
So im gunna simplify this down,
Imperial have set a very high bar, is the risk of missing the offer and having to go to Brum via insurance choice without halls worth risking and instead just firm Brum because your guaranteed halls?

IMO, it would be very shortsighted to pick Brum for this choice. If you dont get halls I can see it not being ideal as everyone wants the halls experience but getting a house will be fine. Also people often look for people to take over the lease at halls so you might still get in regardless. (but even if you have to live in a house in 1st year I still think its worth the risk).
I see your point but no this wouldn't be the only reason for turning down imperial. I outlined the main reasons in my original post.

In terms of job prospects would imperial be that much better? I don't want to go into finance so ignore that part of the equation. If I'm not feeling chem eng after my degree I'd consider going into something like biostatistics or epidemiology and the ticket to those jobs is a master's degree from the London school of hygiene and tropical medicine, not going to a top uni at undergrad I believe
Last edited by sathyoo132; 5 months ago
0
reply
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#14
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#14
(Original post by Sinnoh)
yes most people share a flat from 2nd year onwards, only affordable way really. I'm not the one to ask though because I'll be staying at home for second year so it's not something I've looked into. South Kensington is one of the most expensive areas in the world so don't get your hopes up about staying there.
Around about spring in first year is a good time to look, there is a kind of exhibition on looking for private accommodation at the beginning of March so you will get some guidance.
Do you know roughly how much people are paying for flats in the areas you mentioned (Hammersmith, Fulham)? Don't worry if you don't, it's not something you'd just randomly ask your friends about
Also, how long is your commute? And what's the work life balance like at Imperial?
0
reply
ajj2000
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#15
Report 5 months ago
#15
(Original post by sathyoo132)
Do you know roughly how much people are paying for flats in the areas you mentioned (Hammersmith, Fulham)? Don't worry if you don't, it's not something you'd just randomly ask your friends about
Also, how long is your commute? And what's the work life balance like at Imperial?
Hi. I find a lot of London students a bit cagey about how much they spend on rent. Would be worth raising a specific post on it. A couple of years ago Imperial postdocs I know were spending about £900 a month in the Acton area - all bills included but seemed high to me compared to some other areas of London.
0
reply
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#16
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#16
Ah ok thanks for the info. I actually have an uncle who lives in North Acton so if I can't find a reasonably priced flat closer to imperial, worst comes to worst I'll just live with him which isn't that bad considering imperial has halls in that area so a lot of people would be in the same boat. Just dreading a 40 mins commute everyday
0
reply
Sinnoh
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#17
Report 5 months ago
#17
(Original post by sathyoo132)
Do you know roughly how much people are paying for flats in the areas you mentioned (Hammersmith, Fulham)? Don't worry if you don't, it's not something you'd just randomly ask your friends about
Also, how long is your commute? And what's the work life balance like at Imperial?
I honestly don't know how much they're paying. I have a vague idea of £200 a week at the most but I don't know where I heard that.
The commute from North Acton to Imperial is usually about 35 minutes. Around 15 minutes of that is walking across Hyde Park though so that's pretty nice.

You could apply to be a hall senior after 1st year and stay in halls but that involves doing stuff. Or use the halls for returning undergrads (Evelyn Gardens) but I hear they're a bit crap.

Work/life balance is fine, Imperial hasn't lived up to the scare stories - yet. I've had a lot of free time. I hear chemical engineering don't start off nearly as slowly as physics, though.
0
reply
sathyoo132
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#18
Report Thread starter 5 months ago
#18
(Original post by Sinnoh)
I honestly don't know how much they're paying. I have a vague idea of £200 a week at the most but I don't know where I heard that.
The commute from North Acton to Imperial is usually about 35 minutes. Around 15 minutes of that is walking across Hyde Park though so that's pretty nice.

You could apply to be a hall senior after 1st year and stay in halls but that involves doing stuff. Or use the halls for returning undergrads (Evelyn Gardens) but I hear they're a bit crap.

Work/life balance is fine, Imperial hasn't lived up to the scare stories - yet. I've had a lot of free time. I hear chemical engineering don't start off nearly as slowly as physics, though.
What exactly does a hall senior do? And I'm guessing international students get priority for halls after 1st year?

Yeah I heard chem eng is pretty grim in terms of workload right from the start
0
reply
Sinnoh
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#19
Report 5 months ago
#19
(Original post by sathyoo132)
What exactly does a hall senior do? And I'm guessing international students get priority for halls after 1st year?

Yeah I heard chem eng is pretty grim in terms of workload right from the start
Hall seniors are 2nd year and above, they help out with moving in, hall activities, also telling noisy freshers to shush it after 11 pm. I don't know if international students get priority for re-applying to halls, it's not something I've heard of.
0
reply
username5312814
Badges: 8
Rep:
?
#20
Report 4 months ago
#20
go to Birmingham, for several reasons for masters you can obtain a high GPA, Also it also has a good reputation in Chemical engineering, much cheaper and you may have some difficulties these days to pay your tuition fees and living expenses and you must not rely on any family financial support this time, Once you finish your degree as a Chemical Engineer you can find a well-paid job and you can work for two years in the UK if you are a foreigner, then that will boost your knowledge in the felid and make you an expert then you might win a scholarship to do a PhD, by this you can create a great future and you will be able to fulfil your dreams, to prove it to you look at a lot of famous professors and doctors and CEOs you can find them holding a degree from not highly universities like oxford or camb This is only and way to look to positives and negativities much different than your way of think and I hope that helps you to take a productive path for your future and career
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Current uni students - are you thinking of dropping out of university?

Yes, I'm seriously considering dropping out (163)
14.54%
I'm not sure (51)
4.55%
No, I'm going to stick it out for now (330)
29.44%
I have already dropped out (33)
2.94%
I'm not a current university student (544)
48.53%

Watched Threads

View All
Latest
My Feed