• Question: do you have any university courses that you would recommend?

    Asked by AndrewC on 20 May 2020.
    • Photo: Tatsuki Fushimi

      Tatsuki Fushimi answered on 20 May 2020:

      I took two courses on edX on Python programming and Data Science.


      It is an amazing website where you will definitely find a course on something that you wanted to learn more about.

    • Photo: April Redford

      April Redford answered on 20 May 2020:

      I studied Civil Engineering Design and Management. Learning about the project and construction management was super useful and came in handy once I started working. It meant that not only did we get to learn the theory behind civil engineering design but also how projects are run in the real world.

    • Photo: Martin McGuinness

      Martin McGuinness answered on 20 May 2020:

      Hi Andrew, my advice on University courses would be to go for a course that meets with your interest and what areas of subjects that you enjoy most. Picking a course that is best tailored to your interests will ensure that the chosen course will lead to a job that you enjoy. When trying to determine where is best to study a particular course i would use the good university guide which will give you an idea of the best university to study a particular course with regarding different aspects be that job prosperity, student experience etc.

    • Photo: Gillian Steele

      Gillian Steele answered on 20 May 2020:

      I went to Cardiff University and studied Civil Engineering (MEng) which I would highly recommend if you are looking to study civil engineering. We did a mix of practical workshops and lectures as well as field trips/courses. Lots of universities offer a similar course though which I am sure are just as good. A bachelor of engineering (BEng) course will generally be 3 years (or 4 years in Scotland) and the Master of engineering (MEng) will be 4 years (or 5 years in Scotland). I also opted to do a year working in industry in the middle of my degree scheme. This is offered by lots of university courses and I would highly recommend doing it if you get the opportunity.

    • Photo: Nicola Grahamslaw

      Nicola Grahamslaw answered on 20 May 2020:

      I would recommend choosing your university course based on your own situation. Here are some of the things to think about:
      1. What subject do you want to do, and do you have a particular career in mind afterwards? Look at the details of courses in the uni’s prospectus, as it will tell you which modules you will be choosing from. I studied Engineering but I didn’t know what type of engineer I wanted to be so I chose a course where in 1st and 2nd year everyone studied all kinds of engineering, then in third year you choose a specialism. This course was perfect for me but if you already knew what kind of engineer you wanted to be then it wouldn’t be the right course for you.
      2. What kind of university do you want to go to? Some unis are a campus, where all of the courses, accommodation and student facilities are together, and other unis have them a bit more spread around a city so you are more part of city life and not just uni life. What size of uni do you want, a big one with lots going on, or a small one where you can feel like you know everyone? Where is it compared to your parents’ house? Will you want to visit home some weekends and how easy is that to do if it’s the opposite end of the country? Or even in some cases you could go to uni in your own town and stay living with your parents which is a great way to save money.
      3. Is being a full-time student right for you? You can now do degree apprenticeships where you end up with a degree just the same as you would have with uni, but you also get loads of experience and earn money at the same time. Do you enjoy being in a classroom full-time or would you like to be doing something more hands-on?

    • Photo: Riona Armesmith

      Riona Armesmith answered on 20 May 2020:

      Choice of University course is a very personal thing. So I can’t recommend anything specific.

      However, things you might want to consider are:
      What courses are available to you based upon the subjects you are studying (e.g. A-Levels)
      What career or field you want to go into at the end of your University studies and what course would enable that career choice.
      Where you might like to study and the courses available to you at that University

      My only recommendation is to choose a course and a place that you will enjoy and be happy to put a lot of hard work into for 3-4 years.

    • Photo: Rob Husband

      Rob Husband answered on 20 May 2020:

      I studied Electronic Engineering and as part of that course, i was introduced to programming and software development. I think the best option is to ask about what modules are on a particular course as this could help you decide where you’d fit best. For me robotics was a passion and i wanted a course that allowed my to build and control robots, then decided i preferred the programming side more so pursued that. Also i am still learning and have a company paid subscription to Pluralsight where i keep my technology skills up to date.

    • Photo: Fidel Olaye

      Fidel Olaye answered on 20 May 2020:

      I studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering at uni and it was great for me but that might not be the case for you. The key to choosing the right course is finding out what you enjoy and what you’re good at. Universities’ websites allow you to see the content of the course beforehand so you can easily see what modules each course contains and see if it’s right for you or not.

    • Photo: Kevin Burke

      Kevin Burke answered on 20 May 2020:

      Choose a subject that you are really interested in – and a location that is also good for you (could be away or close to home – advantages in both!). Don’t specialize too early, just in case you don’t eventually enjoy the subject – so maybe try a broader subject area like Mechanical or Electrical/Electronic Engineering – or better still Systems Engineering (Warwick University offer a good BEng in Systems Engineering).

    • Photo: Frances Askill-Kirk

      Frances Askill-Kirk answered on 20 May 2020:

      Hi Andrew,

      I would work backwards. Think where you might want to end up (doesn’t need to be specific) let’s say the engineering sector and then pick a broad course with lots of opportunity to pick modules you enjoy. Don’t pick anything too specific unless you know exactly what you want to do with that degree afterwards.

      If you have no idea what job you’d like to do or what you’d like to study, I’d honestly recommend working and gaining some life experience before signing up to a course that will cost you a lot of money and not make you happy.

      The other important thing to remember is university is not the only route! If you’re looking to go into engineering, apprenticeships are highly regarded and are a brilliant way to kick start your career. Most employers will fund your studies up to a bachelor or masters degree as well!!

      Do lots of research and ask lots of questions. Most importantly, think about what *you* want, write it down and then find a route to get there.

    • Photo: Isabel Vidal

      Isabel Vidal answered on 21 May 2020:

      I studied Civil Engineering and Ports and Coastal Engineering in Spain, and I really love working in this sector.

      However, I think choosing a Uni course is very personal and depends on what you like and enjoy doing.

      What I would recommend is to choose something in line with what the future brings. In my opinion, there two main things engineering/science related that will be very much needed in the future.

      New technologies, bots, automated routines etc. will play an important role in design, construction and operations, so if you like mathematics and solving puzzles I would recommend programming courses like Python, C++ or other languages relevant to the sector of engineering/science you’re interested in.

      However, this is not the only path. In the future, creativity will be as important. Inventing, creating and imagining are things that machines won’t be able to do, and engineering and science careers have a strong component of creativity. If you like creating things, looking for original solutions to problems (or even painting or dancing!) and you would like to become an engineer or a scientist you could take courses related to industrial/engineering design.

    • Photo: Doogie Kenyon

      Doogie Kenyon answered on 21 May 2020:

      This is a good question, and one that really can be answered in many ways, depending on the kind of person you are, and what you want out of the course.

      Outside of Oxford and Cambridge;

      Loughborough Uni are great for doing engineering degrees, but also supporting sport.

      Imperial College London is world renound for it’s engineering courses.

      Have a think about what kind of engineering degree would you want to follow.

      I went to Strathclyde Uni to study Chemical Engineering and I had a great time. Herriot Watt offer a campus lifestyle. Other university courses include industrial placements, which I would suggest can be critical when finding a job on graduation.

      For unbiased reporting on the academic stuff, have a look here;


    • Photo: Martin McKie

      Martin McKie answered on 21 May 2020:

      When I started at University alot of people did the traditional engineering subjects i.e. Mechanical, Electrical and Chemical Engineering.

      However, times are changing and we are moving towards the 4 industrial revolution, you may have heard of people talking about it as Industry 4.0.

      Its about becoming more connected, utilising technology, etc.

      For that reason I think a good course to do would be electrical, programme, software engineering.

      For example look at the automotive industry: cars are becoming autonomous, electrical powertrains, lots of software, etc.

    • Photo: Simon Porter

      Simon Porter answered on 21 May 2020:

      I’m in agreement with other answers here that you should pick a subject/course that you are interested in studying, and at a university that is ranked well in the good university guide.
      However, also consider your personal preference for where in the world you would like to study and to live, and all the other things that you might be interested in outside of your degree.
      For particular recommendations, I studied Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University and a number of my peers have worked with Formula 1 teams, luxury sportscar manufacturers, and various automotive consultancy firms. If that interests you, I can strongly recommend trying to get onto this course, espeically since the rest of the ‘Student Experience’ at Loughborough is ranked very highly.

    • Photo: Florence Van Vaerenbergh

      Florence Van Vaerenbergh answered on 21 May 2020:

      The university course you choose really is a personal decision. Keep in mind that you will be spending minimum 3 years working towards completing your chosen course, so the more it interests you, the easier it will be.

      There are plenty of guidance online on how to choose the best course and university for you; but a few personal suggestion would be:

      – If you have a precise idea of what you would like to do in future, find out which courses will make that goal easier to achieve. Even better if you have the chance try talking to someone doing that job and asking about their path to it.

      – Keep in mind that “standard” university is not the only option, degree level apprenticeships have become much more common and can be a great way to gain a degree whilst getting experience.

      – If you are not sure about what you would like to do, take some time to talk to people in your family, listen to podcasts, and do research online to get an idea of the various options out there. There are some general courses out there which will help keep your options open (I personally studied Civil with Environmental Engineering, and this was a great way to get exposure to both engineering and environmental disciplines and careers).

    • Photo: David Linsell

      David Linsell answered on 21 May 2020:

      There are a lot of good courses available, choose wisely. What sort of engineering are you planning to study? And then:
      1. Research the type of engineering that would interest you. This is in part understanding the post-degree balance between being office/desk bound or out with the plant. E.G. If you do not like standing outside on a rainy day then stay away from Civil Engineering.
      2. Don’t narrow your options too early. For example, if you want to go into motor-sport engineering consider a more general degree, such as Mechanical Engineering, and specialise afterwards. If however, you choose a specialist Motor Sport Engineering degree and then find it is not for you, it may then be harder to get work in more generalised areas of engineering.
      3. Try and find a course that includes a good balance of practical activity alongside the theory study. This may be dedicated workshop training, placements/secondments into industry for several months, being part of the university team building a car for the Formula Student races, or similar.
      4. Check that the course you want is recognised by the relevant Engineering Institution(s), if not then achieving Chartered Engineer status will be that little bit harder.
      5. Find out, if you can, where graduates from the course have gone for their first jobs? Are they, or at least some of them, going to top-flight engineering companies?

    • Photo: Rob Hudd

      Rob Hudd answered on 22 May 2020:

      Hi Andrew, this depends on what’s important to you. Here’s are the top 5 factors that played into my decision which might help you:
      1. What do you want to do after university? Does that course fit that, or is the course at least broad enough that several different career routes will still be open to you after you graduate.
      2. If you want to go into engineering and you’re not sure what type, make sure the university allows you to change your specialism after the first year. For example, I started on Mechanical but could have changed to Electrical after year one.
      3. Does the outline of their course interest you? Could you imagine yourself spending a lot of time learning about those topics in great detail?
      3. What grades are you likely to get and what do the university require?
      4. What are the facilities of your chosen department like?
      5. How much research does the university publish in your chosen department? Some universities are more focused on teaching, others on researching. If they’re active in researching this will be useful if you really want to go far in the subject.
      I hope that’s helpful 🙂

    • Photo: Joe York-Fisher

      Joe York-Fisher answered on 22 May 2020:

      I have two suggestions;
      — Material Science Engineering is a little known of course that is a fantastic combination of science and engineering. It explores everything about materials from visible damage and material properties, right up into the microscopic and nano worlds. Plus Material science is a profession that fits into almost every industry, so it is much easier to be noticeable for job prospects afterwards.
      — My second suggestion is actually more of a club than a course; in some universities there is an opportunity to experience military training along side your university course, the three clubs are called:
      — University Air Squadrons – Royal Air Force Experience
      — University Officer Training Core – Army Experience
      — University Royal Naval Unit – Navy Experience

      None of these clubs require you to join the forces afterwards but some people choose to because the clubs give them a great idea of what a military career may be like. Plus the advantages are fantastic, in the University Air Squadron I got free flight training, I went skiiing, I had regiment training, and did loads of other activities!

    • Photo: Chris Dobson

      Chris Dobson answered on 22 May 2020:

      I would just say do a bit of research into the courses available, what you would like to do in your career, and most importantly something that fits with what interests you and what you enjoy doing. Remember there are other routes into engineering aside from going to university Try and find out about what life will be like as a qualified engineer to see if you think it is for you, there are many different types of role available! The engineering institutions are good for this and a site I only found out about as a student was prospects.ac.uk, which has some great information about careers.

      … finally if you do choose an engineering course, try to take advantage of those long summers with internships, they area great way to see what life is like as an engineer. If I was starting over I would definitely look to take more advantage of internships.

    • Photo: Henry Lancashire

      Henry Lancashire answered on 22 May 2020:

      I you are unsure think about going to a University taster day or virtual open day.

      My university (UCL) will be holding its virtual open days from 29 June to 4 July, you can sign up here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/open-days/ucl-undergraduate-open-days

      UCAS has a lot of advice on attending Virtual Open Days: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/after-you-apply/coronavirus-covid-19/attend-virtual-open-day and a list of how to tour any university you are interested in: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/what-and-where-study/open-days-and-events/virtual-tours

      You can find lots of taster days here: https://www.unitasterdays.com/

      Michael Slavinsky shared an excellent range of resources on Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaelslav/status/1261547052707782657

    • Photo: Tom Stewart-Brackenridge

      Tom Stewart-Brackenridge answered on 25 May 2020:

      I would recommend Mechanical Engineering or general engineering as a starting point and specialise further once you know what you would like to get into more specifically.

    • Photo: Jeni Spragg

      Jeni Spragg answered on 27 May 2020:

      Loads of great advice here! Another thing you might want to think about is whether you want to do an industrial placement year, or spend some time studying abroad. These can be really useful and fun experiences, so it’s worth considering whether this is something you want in your university course.
      When I went to university I thought I didn’t want to do a placement year, because it would add another year onto what was already a 4-year course. However, in the end I did do a placement, and it turned out to be really valuable (and fun, too!). Some of my friends loved their placement year and went back to work there after graduating. Others didn’t enjoy their placements very much – but that wasn’t a bad thing, because when they graduated they had a better idea of what they were looking for in a job.

    • Photo: Asha Panchal

      Asha Panchal answered on 28 May 2020:

      Hi Andrew,
      It really depends on what you are interested in but more importantly, what you are passionate about! I’m a Civil Engineer because I care about sustainability, building infrastructure to help make people’s lives better and safer. I’m very hands on so like working on muddy sites, but also pretty good at maths and analysing results and understanding how structures behave when loaded.
      There are loads of different types of engineering courses available which can focus on technical skills or managerial or environmental or even economical skills… there is definitely something for everyone!

    • Photo: Rohin Titmarsh

      Rohin Titmarsh answered on 4 Jun 2020:

      It depends on what your interests are and what kind of industry you see yourself going into. I studied Mechanical Engineering at Coventry University for my undergraduate degree (your first degree). This was because I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do but I was fairly sure I wanted it to involve cars or manufacturing, but I was still looking to see what else was available. I also chose Coventry because their course was more coursework and project focused, than exam focused, and I don’t like exams! It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out on whether the course is accredited by one of the Engineering Professional bodies, like the IMechE or the IET for example. This will mean it’s easier for you to become a member of these organisations which usually helps your career.

    • Photo: Katie Sparks

      Katie Sparks answered on 4 Jun 2020:

      If you’re interested in the space industry, there are all sorts of options:
      o Physics (with or without astrophysics), would be worth aiming for an industrial placement or internship to support things, STFC/ Airbus/ Lockheed Martin/ ESA/ NASA/ Thales Alenia Space are the biggies that way
      o Aerospace Engineering
      o Electrical Engineering
      o Chemical/ power – propulsion can be chemical, electrical is becoming more the norm, but solar and nuclear play a part
      o Software Engineering – such a huge aspect of spacecraft as everything is automated (and low power)
      o Mechanical Engineering – it’s still a structure!

      Often people may also do a postgrad Masters, Cranfield do a fantastic one, many come from PhD backgrounds in instrument design. If you’re wanting to work on the continent, employment is very different, you’re unlikely to get a permanent post within 5 years of uni unless you have a PhD, ESA is a great place to look to see what sort of things are out there.