Zoe Knee
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Hi, my name is Zoe, I am currently living in South Africa but am planning to study engineering in England later this year. I have applied to Exeter (general engineering), Durham (general engineering), South Hampton (chem eng), Bath (chem eng) and Edinburgh (chem eng). I have no idea where to go and don't know whether to study general engineering or chemical engineering. Please please give any advice!!!
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Helloworld_95
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If you don't know which one to choose then I would normally err towards general engineering which would usually include chemical engineering, but neither of the general engineering courses you chose include ChemE content so that's a lost cause.

On the other hand, Edinburgh's engineering degrees are general in year 1 then you specialise from year 2 onwards so that could be a good option, but it would mean specialising earlier than you normally would in a general engineering degree (normally you specialise after 2nd year, equivalent to after 3rd year in Scotland).

I would say Durham and Edinburgh are your best options. Durham is very good for general engineering, Edinburgh gives you the closest to being the best of both worlds out of your options. Bath is also worth an honourable mention for being the best out of the remaining 3 and being one year shorter than Edinburgh's course if you wanted to do chemical engineering.

I'd consider looking at clearing when it opens to see if you can get a place on Sheffield's general engineering degree because as far as I can tell they're the only one remaining where you'll have a chance at getting a place through clearing which offers chemical engineering as part of the degree.
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DC.JP
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I personally studied chemical engineering and I enjoyed it despite being a hard course to undertake. I feel that some jobs ask for a specific engineering course that you completed. For example, they ask for chemical engineering or mechanical engineering. Some jobs advertisements ask for you to have completed an engineering degree, but doing a chemical engineering degree, qualifies you for that job role.

General I think is not specific, which in the long term would limit you. Depends on what career you wish to have in the future.
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Zoe Knee
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(Original post by DC.JP)
I personally studied chemical engineering and I enjoyed it despite being a hard course to undertake. I feel that some jobs ask for a specific engineering course that you completed. For example, they ask for chemical engineering or mechanical engineering. Some jobs advertisements ask for you to have completed an engineering degree, but doing a chemical engineering degree, qualifies you for that job role.

General I think is not specific, which in the long term would limit you. Depends on what career you wish to have in the future.
Can I ask what chemical engineering is like? Is it similar to chemistry in school? Is there a lot of maths? Also do you think the switch from let's say chemical engineering to mechanical engineering would be possible, or is it completely different material? Also what are you currently doing with your degree?
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Zoe Knee
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
If you don't know which one to choose then I would normally err towards general engineering which would usually include chemical engineering, but neither of the general engineering courses you chose include ChemE content so that's a lost cause.

On the other hand, Edinburgh's engineering degrees are general in year 1 then you specialise from year 2 onwards so that could be a good option, but it would mean specialising earlier than you normally would in a general engineering degree (normally you specialise after 2nd year, equivalent to after 3rd year in Scotland).

I would say Durham and Edinburgh are your best options. Durham is very good for general engineering, Edinburgh gives you the closest to being the best of both worlds out of your options. Bath is also worth an honourable mention for being the best out of the remaining 3 and being one year shorter than Edinburgh's course if you wanted to do chemical engineering.

I'd consider looking at clearing when it opens to see if you can get a place on Sheffield's general engineering degree because as far as I can tell they're the only one remaining where you'll have a chance at getting a place through clearing which offers chemical engineering as part of the degree.
Thank you so much for the advice!
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RobW1234
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Hi - I studied Chem Eng before you were born! I ended up working in Mech and Automotive, but that's unusual. Chem Eng has NO Chemistry in it other than Physical (the bit with the gas laws, rates of reaction, enthalpies). I would strongly recommend you start a course that allows you to choose your Engineering discipline as late as possible - so either General or a specific one but where the first and ideally second year is common. Good Luck!
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Zoe Knee
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(Original post by RobW1234)
Hi - I studied Chem Eng before you were born! I ended up working in Mech and Automotive, but that's unusual. Chem Eng has NO Chemistry in it other than Physical (the bit with the gas laws, rates of reaction, enthalpies). I would strongly recommend you start a course that allows you to choose your Engineering discipline as late as possible - so either General or a specific one but where the first and ideally second year is common. Good Luck!
Hello, thank you for the response! Is there a lot of maths in chemical engineering? Is the switch over from chemical to mechanical or other engineering disciplines easy? And why do you recommend a general degree?
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RobW1234
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(Original post by Zoe Knee)
Hello, thank you for the response! Is there a lot of maths in chemical engineering? Is the switch over from chemical to mechanical or other engineering disciplines easy? And why do you recommend a general degree?
There tends to be a lot of maths in most engineering disciplines at university - you'll never use most of it when you qualify. This is particularly true of the top universities. I think they should make the higher maths optional but it's heavily ingrained in the system.
In many universities it is not easy to transfer as the Chem Eng first year is different - the basics are lots of heat transfer, fluid flow, thermodynamics - Mech Eng does these too but less and often later in the course. In some universities, the first year is more shared - you'd need to ask on an individual basis. That's why I suggested General - the only one I know about is Sheffield because my son is going there later this year. Doing General would give you time to understand what the disciplines are really about - hopefully you'd find yourself drawn to one or another.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by RobW1234)
There tends to be a lot of maths in most engineering disciplines at university - you'll never use most of it when you qualify. This is particularly true of the top universities. I think they should make the higher maths optional but it's heavily ingrained in the system.
In many universities it is not easy to transfer as the Chem Eng first year is different - the basics are lots of heat transfer, fluid flow, thermodynamics - Mech Eng does these too but less and often later in the course. In some universities, the first year is more shared - you'd need to ask on an individual basis. That's why I suggested General - the only one I know about is Sheffield because my son is going there later this year. Doing General would give you time to understand what the disciplines are really about - hopefully you'd find yourself drawn to one or another.
It's worth noting that the only one of her choices that gives a comprehensive general engineering offering is Edinburgh. Both Durham and Exeter are somewhat limited in that they don't teach Chemical Engineering.

Sheffield's General Engineering degree does currently offer ChemEng as part of their GenEng degree, but this is going to change for 2022 entry. Other than Sheffield, I think the only other one that offers ChemEng as part of their GenEng degree is Oxford.
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Anonymously.y
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Well I would suggest to take chemical engineering>>general engineering cuz from what I’ve seen there’s more scope and my cousin does chemical and she really enjoys it, it’s a growing field as well
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University of Sheffield Alumni
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(Original post by Zoe Knee)
Hi, my name is Zoe, I am currently living in South Africa but am planning to study engineering in England later this year. I have applied to Exeter (general engineering), Durham (general engineering), South Hampton (chem eng), Bath (chem eng) and Edinburgh (chem eng). I have no idea where to go and don't know whether to study general engineering or chemical engineering. Please please give any advice!!!
Hi Zoe!

I'm a Sheffield University grad and I studied Chemical Engineering (the 4 year MEng course) - so thought I'd jump on here and give you a couple of my thoughts!

Firstly, I would agree with posters above and say that Chemical Engineering really doesn't contain that much Chemistry at all - and if it does, it's 100% in Physical Chemistry modules. I opted to take some Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry modules too, but these were completely optional and only because I was interested in those disciplines As a subject it does contain a lot of Maths - at Sheffield, in 1st year, you'll take a year long Maths module where the content is shared with all other Engineering disciplines, so you're learning the same maths as Mech Eng, General Eng etc. In later years you may then go on to learn more specific Maths techniques that are more applicable to Chem Eng. It also contains a lot of Physics content too (as you would expect), but it's quite specific and specialised - you'll be learning lots of heat transfer, mass transfer, fluid flow etc. I'd recommend having a look at the specific modules you would study at each of the Universities you've applied to and see whether they interest you.

I'd also have a think about whether some of the common career paths for Chemical Engineers interest you - although there's plenty of scope and choice, typical routes after graduating including working in the renewables sector, pharma, energy (inc. oil & gas), chemicals, biopharma, manufacturing etc. Check out the Prospects website here too (a super useful website I used a LOT in Sixth Form) which shows you lots of different career destinations. It's also worth mentioning that a lot of graduate jobs in this sector will often just ask for an Engineering degree, or maybe specify Chemical/Mechanical Engineering degree, so you won't be super limited if you do decide to specialise in Chem Eng. A fact I found reassuring too is that 60% of graduate jobs are open to absolutely any degree discipline too - something worth bearing in mind

General Engineering, on the other hand, (as you would expect) is much more generalised and gives you a solid grounding in lots of different disciplines. This could be a better option if you're not dead set on studying Chem Eng and you want to keep your options open. As other posters have mentioned, General Engineering at Sheffield does currently give you the option to specialise in later years in Chem Eng, which not a lot of other courses at other Unis do offer. Have a look at our course here if you fancy to see some more about it - you can also chat to current Engineering students at Sheffield (both Chem and General) here on our Chat to Us platform - this could be really useful for weighing up your options and speaking to current students!

Let me know if you have any more questions - about studying Chem Eng, Sheffield, or anything else!

- Ellie
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Zoe Knee
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(Original post by University of Sheffield Alumni)
Hi Zoe!

I'm a Sheffield University grad and I studied Chemical Engineering (the 4 year MEng course) - so thought I'd jump on here and give you a couple of my thoughts!

Firstly, I would agree with posters above and say that Chemical Engineering really doesn't contain that much Chemistry at all - and if it does, it's 100% in Physical Chemistry modules. I opted to take some Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry modules too, but these were completely optional and only because I was interested in those disciplines As a subject it does contain a lot of Maths - at Sheffield, in 1st year, you'll take a year long Maths module where the content is shared with all other Engineering disciplines, so you're learning the same maths as Mech Eng, General Eng etc. In later years you may then go on to learn more specific Maths techniques that are more applicable to Chem Eng. It also contains a lot of Physics content too (as you would expect), but it's quite specific and specialised - you'll be learning lots of heat transfer, mass transfer, fluid flow etc. I'd recommend having a look at the specific modules you would study at each of the Universities you've applied to and see whether they interest you.

I'd also have a think about whether some of the common career paths for Chemical Engineers interest you - although there's plenty of scope and choice, typical routes after graduating including working in the renewables sector, pharma, energy (inc. oil & gas), chemicals, biopharma, manufacturing etc. Check out the Prospects website here too (a super useful website I used a LOT in Sixth Form) which shows you lots of different career destinations. It's also worth mentioning that a lot of graduate jobs in this sector will often just ask for an Engineering degree, or maybe specify Chemical/Mechanical Engineering degree, so you won't be super limited if you do decide to specialise in Chem Eng. A fact I found reassuring too is that 60% of graduate jobs are open to absolutely any degree discipline too - something worth bearing in mind

General Engineering, on the other hand, (as you would expect) is much more generalised and gives you a solid grounding in lots of different disciplines. This could be a better option if you're not dead set on studying Chem Eng and you want to keep your options open. As other posters have mentioned, General Engineering at Sheffield does currently give you the option to specialise in later years in Chem Eng, which not a lot of other courses at other Unis do offer. Have a look at our course here if you fancy to see some more about it - you can also chat to current Engineering students at Sheffield (both Chem and General) here on our Chat to Us platform - this could be really useful for weighing up your options and speaking to current students!

Let me know if you have any more questions - about studying Chem Eng, Sheffield, or anything else!

- Ellie
Thank you so much for the detailed response! In school I honestly preferred mechanics to chemistry but I hated motor laws and thus was steered towards chemical engineering. I'm also quite interested in pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, food etc... and am not terribly interested in computer programming. Do you think chemical engineering is more for me or is it much of a muchness? Is the chem eng degree harder than other engineering disciplines? Also what are you currently doing with your degree? Thank you!!!!! xxxxx Zoe
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University of Sheffield Alumni
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(Original post by Zoe Knee)
Thank you so much for the detailed response! In school I honestly preferred mechanics to chemistry but I hated motor laws and thus was steered towards chemical engineering. I'm also quite interested in pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, food etc... and am not terribly interested in computer programming. Do you think chemical engineering is more for me or is it much of a muchness? Is the chem eng degree harder than other engineering disciplines? Also what are you currently doing with your degree? Thank you!!!!! xxxxx Zoe
Hi Zoe Knee, sorry for late reply, I've been off on my Easter hols

Those were the exact areas I was (and I am!) interested in, and the same as me, I wasn't massively fussed on Computer Programming. I'll say that Chem Eng did involve a bit of programming/working on software, but it's very relevant to Chem Eng and quite applied so I didn't mind it too much. We used software such as MATLAB, Aspen Plus, and did lots of Technical CAD drawings too which was quite fun I'd say though that any Engineering discipline (inc General) will involve some kind of computer work/programming just bc it's so relevant to working in industry, so don't let that put you off - it's likely something you'll get used to.

From what you're interested in Chem Eng sounds quite suited to you...but it's also worth mentioning that any Engineering student with any Engineering degree will also be able to work in those sectors too - Chem Eng degree would just mean you get to study really relevant modules to those industries during your degree, so hopefully it means you'll enjoy it more and also might give you a slight advantage over another Engineering student. BUT what's more important I think is the 'extra' stuff - so in addition to any Engineering degree, what will get you employed is placement years, summer placements, volunteering, work experience, being on a society committee, part time work etc. That's something I definitely learnt more and more through the years of my degree.

I wouldn't say Chem Eng is harder than other Engineering disciplines - it's by no means easy, but I think that's common across all Engineering You'll find out what your favourite modules and topics are quite quickly and hopefully those should mean you enjoy your course. Your enjoyment of it + work ethic (which it sounds like you defo have already!) + support of your coursemates + tutors will get you through it The hardest aspect for me (and most people) is probably your design project in 3rd year.

I've only recently graduated, so I'm currently looking at my options. I'm current working for the University (which I really enjoy!), and applying for Grad Schemes for next year - some Engineering-focused, and some not! I really like being able to apply for the generalised Grad Schemes which accept any degree (e.g. Management/Consultancy/Banking), as well as those more specific grad schemes in areas I'm passionate about (e.g. pharma, food, fast moving consumer goods). It's best of both worlds I think

Again sorry for the long reply - happy to answer any more questions! If not, good luck with your decision-making - everything works out OK in the end, believe me!

- Ellie
Last edited by University of Sheffield Alumni; 3 months ago
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Zoe Knee
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(Original post by University of Sheffield Alumni)
Hi Zoe Knee, sorry for late reply, I've been off on my Easter hols

Those were the exact areas I was (and I am!) interested in, and the same as me, I wasn't massively fussed on Computer Programming. I'll say that Chem Eng did involve a bit of programming/working on software, but it's very relevant to Chem Eng and quite applied so I didn't mind it too much. We used software such as MATLAB, Aspen Plus, and did lots of Technical CAD drawings too which was quite fun I'd say though that any Engineering discipline (inc General) will involve some kind of computer work/programming just bc it's so relevant to working in industry, so don't let that put you off - it's likely something you'll get used to.

From what you're interested in Chem Eng sounds quite suited to you...but it's also worth mentioning that any Engineering student with any Engineering degree will also be able to work in those sectors too - Chem Eng degree would just mean you get to study really relevant modules to those industries during your degree, so hopefully it means you'll enjoy it more and also might give you a slight advantage over another Engineering student. BUT what's more important I think is the 'extra' stuff - so in addition to any Engineering degree, what will get you employed is placement years, summer placements, volunteering, work experience, being on a society committee, part time work etc. That's something I definitely learnt more and more through the years of my degree.

I wouldn't say Chem Eng is harder than other Engineering disciplines - it's by no means easy, but I think that's common across all Engineering You'll find out what your favourite modules and topics are quite quickly and hopefully those should mean you enjoy your course. Your enjoyment of it + work ethic (which it sounds like you defo have already!) + support of your coursemates + tutors will get you through it The hardest aspect for me (and most people) is probably your design project in 3rd year.

I've only recently graduated, so I'm currently looking at my options. I'm current working for the University (which I really enjoy!), and applying for Grad Schemes for next year - some Engineering-focused, and some not! I really like being able to apply for the generalised Grad Schemes which accept any degree (e.g. Management/Consultancy/Banking), as well as those more specific grad schemes in areas I'm passionate about (e.g. pharma, food, fast moving consumer goods). It's best of both worlds I think

Again sorry for the long reply - happy to answer any more questions! If not, good luck with your decision-making - everything works out OK in the end, believe me!

- Ellie
Wow! Thank you again for the detailed reply! Your responses have really helped me!
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