12 Best UK Universities for Engineering

11 Jan, 2024 | Blog Articles, Engineering Articles, Get the Edge

Engineering is a field that propels the world forward, shaping the way we live, work and interact with technology. Aspiring engineers embark on a journey that demands dedication, problem-solving skills, and a solid foundation of specialised knowledge. 

Like all degrees, choosing the right university for an Engineering degree is an important step in the application process.

Why Is Choosing the Right University Important for Engineering Students?

Engineering graduates are in high demand across various industries, including aerospace, automotives, energy and telecommunications. A well-rounded engineering education equips students with the skills and knowledge to tackle complex problems and drive innovation in these fields.

An Engineering degree opens doors to a wide range of future career opportunities, from designing cutting-edge technology to managing large-scale infrastructure projects.

A degree from a reputable Engineering programme can provide students with a significant advantage in the job market. Employers often seek out graduates from top universities for their rigorous training, critical thinking abilities, and hands-on engineering experience.

How Do I Choose a University for Engineering?

It’s important to start your engineering journey at the right university – one that aligns with your goals, interests and aspirations! Consider your preferred teaching style and assessment method, as well as your need for research or work experience opportunities. 

Here are some of the key factors to consider when choosing a university for your Engineering degree:

I. Consider your engineering field

Engineering is an incredibly diverse subject, with specialisations ranging from mechanical and electrical engineering to civil and chemical engineering, among others. 

Before choosing a university, it’s a good idea to reflect on your personal interests within the subject. Which type of engineering excites you the most – is it the mechanical intricacies of machines, the electrifying world of circuits, the grandeur of civil infrastructure, or the chemical processes that drive industry?

If you already have a specific field in mind, then you can look for universities that offer strong programmes with faculty expertise in that area. 

On the other hand, if you’re unsure about your specialisation, consider universities that cover a wide range of engineering specialisations. This flexibility will allow you to explore your interests and make an informed decision as you progress through your studies.

II. Laboratory facilities for engineering

One of the hallmarks of a great Engineering programme is access to state-of-the-art laboratory facilities! 

Engineering is a hands-on discipline, and having access to modern labs equipped with the latest technology will help you develop your practical skills as an engineer.

When researching universities, pay close attention to the quality and availability of their engineering laboratories. Are the labs well-equipped with cutting-edge equipment? Can undergraduate students easily access these facilities for coursework and research projects? 

Two students working on a project at an Engineering summer school

III. Engineering industry connections

Universities that have strong partnerships with engineering companies and organisations offer valuable networking opportunities and potential employment connections. 

When evaluating universities, inquire about the available opportunities they offer for students to engage with engineering professionals. A university with a robust network can help you secure internships and job placements, providing you with valuable insights and a competitive edge in the job market.

IV. Research opportunities for engineers

Research is at the heart of innovation in engineering. It’s not just about applying existing knowledge, but also about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. As an undergraduate Engineering student, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in research projects that contribute to the advancement of your chosen field.

Look for universities that encourage and support undergraduate research, and evaluate the research opportunities available, including research labs, projects and mentorship programmes. 

Involvement in research at an early stage can enhance your problem-solving abilities, critical thinking skills and future career prospects.

What Are the Best Universities for Engineering in the UK?

Here are twelve of the best UK universities, known for their exceptional Engineering programmes!

Mechanical Engineer working on a computer

Best for mechanical engineering

1. University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is a prestigious institution, renowned for its excellence in education, with an Engineering department known for pioneering research and innovation. Students benefit from an interdisciplinary approach that encourages collaboration across various engineering disciplines. 

The first two years of the course teach students about the fundamentals of engineering, with the third and fourth years of study centring around specialisation in a chosen professional discipline. By the end of the degree, students have received in-depth training in their chosen area, including aerospace and aerothermal engineering, mechanical engineering, information and computer engineering, and sustainable engineering.

With strong industry connections, a degree from the University of Cambridge can open doors to exciting opportunities in the world of mechanical engineering.

2. University of Warwick

The University of Warwick’s dynamic Engineering department places a strong emphasis on research-led teaching and industry collaboration. Students can choose to specialise after following a more general programme at the very start of their degree.

There are opportunities to learn from world-leading researchers at the School of Engineering and the WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group). Students also have the chance to develop their practical skills as they design and develop mechanical engineering products and systems.

The programme fosters creativity and problem-solving skills, preparing graduates to tackle real-world engineering challenges with confidence. Studying at the University of Warwick prepares students to face current challenges to solve the big issues of our lifetimes.

3. University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is a hub for engineering excellence. It offers a comprehensive range of engineering disciplines, and provides extensive support to its students. 

In particular, the university’s School of Mechanical Engineering has been described as “world-leading”, while the Complete University Guide 2024 placed it in the top ten UK universities for Mechanical Engineering.

Notably, the university is actively engaged in addressing global challenges through sustainable engineering solutions, making it an excellent choice for those passionate about making a positive impact on the world. At the University of Leeds, there’s a focus on research, working to solve real-world problems.

4. University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde offers a range of interesting opportunities for students looking to pursue mechanical engineering. Students can study a combination of disciplines at undergraduate level, such as aero-mechanical engineering, or electrical and mechanical engineering together.

The university excels in its industry-focused approach to engineering education. It has strong ties to Scottish engineering and innovation, offering students unique opportunities to engage with the local engineering ecosystem. 

This connection to industry can be a valuable asset as you pursue your engineering career.

Close up of an Electrical Engineer working on the circuitry of a camera

Best for electrical engineering

5. Imperial College London

Imperial College London is a leader in electrical engineering education, offering a wide range of engineering disciplines with a focus on cutting-edge research. 

The university’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering has been around since the 1870s, and has a long history of world-class research and innovation.

The university’s collaborations with industries, alongside its contributions to technological advancements, make it an ideal choice for aspiring electrical engineers. As an institution, they understand how important electrical and electronic engineering is in the modern world!

6. University College London

University College London is a leading institution in engineering education, known for its diverse Engineering programmes and research excellence. 

The study of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at UCL was first introduced by the so-called “father” of electronics, Professor Sir John Ambrose Fleming, in 1885. The university values their long tradition of innovation and globally-pioneering research.

Situated in the heart of London, UCL offers students access to a vibrant city and numerous industry connections, enhancing their engineering education and career prospects. The institution encourages students to push themselves in new directions, and develop personally as well as professionally.

7. University of Southampton

The University of Southampton boasts reputable Engineering programmes, state-of-the-art facilities and research centres. Students have the opportunity to carry out experimental research to try to solve some of the biggest modern engineering problems.

In particular, the university offers unique opportunities for those interested in electrical engineering. For example, students can learn about high-voltage electrical engineering, intelligent robotics. You could even build a robot!

Its strong connections to the aerospace, maritime and electronics industries provide students with valuable insights and opportunities to work on cutting-edge projects. The university encourages students to think outside the box and experiment with their research, providing excellent resources to support them in the process.

Civil Engineer working on a structural project

Best for civil engineering

8. University of Bristol

The University of Bristol’s Engineering programmes stand out for their innovative teaching methods and emphasis on practical skills. Bristol is currently ranked third in the UK for Civil Engineering, according to the Guardian University Guide 2023.

The Department of Civil Engineering actively focuses on sustainability, signing up for the Institution of Civil Engineers’ and the Institution of Structural Engineers’ climate emergency pledges.

When choosing a Civil Engineering course at the University of Bristol, there’s an opportunity to apply for undergraduate study with either a year in industry or a study abroad programme. The university actively engages with industrial partners, providing students with valuable industry exposure and entrepreneurship opportunities.

9. University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham offers reputable Engineering programmes with a strong focus on applied research and industrial partnerships. The university is ranked in the top ten for Engineering research in the UK for GPA and 4* research.

The Department of Civil Engineering prioritises employability and professional skills development, ensuring that graduates are able to prepare for their future career.

The study of Civil Engineering has been taught in Birmingham for over 135 years – even before the university’s inception! Students work on a diverse range of projects at the forefront of the civil engineering industry, and are encouraged to work towards solving the problems of the future.

10. University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh provides a dynamic learning environment and access to state-of-the-art facilities for Civil Engineering students. Their Civil Engineering programme equips students to shape and sustain a world that never stops changing. 

Students have the opportunity to specialise in a technical practice as they progress in their study; for example, structural engineering, environmental engineering or construction management.

The university’s collaborations with research institutes and industrial partners offer students unique opportunities to work on cutting-edge projects and gain valuable industry insights. Students are also given various chances throughout their degree to interact with recent graduates who are now working in the industry, equipping them with knowledge and inspiration!

Chemical Engineer conducting an experiment with test tubes

Best for chemical engineering

11. University of Oxford

The University of Oxford offers prestigious Engineering degrees with a focus on addressing global challenges. 

The Chemical and Process Engineering department enables a range of work, from studies in a laboratory to applications of skills in the real world. This is an especially great choice of degree for anyone also interested in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

The Engineering department emphasises entrepreneurship and real-world applications, providing students with a holistic education that prepares them for impactful careers in chemical engineering. 

In their final year of study, students work on an extended project that can be run in partnership with industry. This can be an incredible opportunity to kickstart a career, researching a subject you’re truly passionate about. 

Please note: The Oxford Scholastica Academy is not affiliated with the University of Oxford.

Industrial Engineer pointing and explaining a project to his team

Best for industrial engineering

12. University of Manchester

The University of Manchester is a top choice to study Industrial Engineering in the UK. Students can study a degree in Mechanical Engineering with Industrial Experience, which just so happens to be one of the best Engineering courses in the country. 

The University of Manchester was the first English university to offer a degree in Engineering, and the department has been going strong since 1824!

Its interdisciplinary research approach and innovation hubs create an ideal environment for students interested in sustainable engineering and making a positive societal impact. Available facilities such as wind tunnels and laser laboratories make this a world-class department for Engineering!

The University of Manchester has excellent links to industry, and was named the number-one most targeted university by top graduate employers, by Graduate Market 2022.

Although it can be hard to know where to start when choosing a university, you should now feel more confident knowing what each university offers at a glance.

Engineering is a really useful degree that can set you up for an incredible career, so read carefully and apply for the universities that best align with your personal interests and preferences. 

Good luck!

emily

By Emily Hindle

Emily is an undergraduate student at the University of Bristol reading English Literature, specialising in Modernist writers. In her free time, Emily enjoys running and hopes to complete her first half-marathon next year. She also loves photography and videography.
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