Best ways to get into university as an engineering student

Engineering is one of the most employable degrees you can study at university. The courses demand a diverse skill set and teach a unique combination of complex mathematical theory with practical skills to put that theory into use.

Whether you want to continue on the engineering career path all the way to getting chartered engineer status or find employment in a different field that uses your varied skills in other capacities, graduate engineers are rewarded with high salaries and a wide range of job opportunities.

Engineering is also regarded as one of the hardest degrees and, for this reason, many universities set high standards for their students and require good grades and applications for admittance. So what are the best ways to get into university as an Engineering student?

We are going to take a look at what you need to do to get onto an Engineering course at university, the qualifications you need, how to put an application together, and how to make sure that Engineering is the right choice for you.

What are the best ways to get into university as an Engineering student?

To study Engineering at university you need three A-levels at CCC as a minimum, though most universities will ask for higher. One of your A-levels must be in Maths and at least one other should be in a science, preferably physics.

Other than good grades in the right subjects, it is a good idea to demonstrate your passion for the subject in every way you can. You might choose to do work experience, complete an internship, or enrol on a summer university course that gives an introduction to the subject.

So let’s jump in and take a closer look at the qualifications you need to be accepted onto an Engineering course.

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What qualifications do I need to study Engineering at university?

For most university degrees you will need at least five GCSEs at level 4 (C grade) or above, including English, Maths, and Science.

Once you have got the requisite GCSEs, it is important that you choose the right A-levels to make sure that you get accepted onto university Engineering courses. The accepted grades for most universities range from CCC to AAA depending on the competitiveness of the course. Most universities ask for a minimum of ABB.

To give you the best chance of getting onto an Engineering degree, it is a good idea to choose A-levels in:

  • Maths
  • Physics and/or Chemistry
  • And possibly Further Maths, Computing, and/or Design Technology.

An A-level in Maths is the main prerequisite for studying Engineering at university. And some of the more competitive courses will even ask that you have an A-level in Further Maths. Further Maths is an A-level course that deepens the Maths syllabus and is only available to students who are already taking a regular Maths A-level.

You usually also need a science A-level too. Physics is often the preference, though many courses want you to have a Chemistry A-level. Some university courses require you to have Maths, Physics, and Chemistry.

You might also consider taking a Design Technology or Computing A-level depending on the type of Engineering course you want to do. Many Engineering courses include creative design elements and the right Design Technology A-level can give you a solid grasp of skills such as 3-D printing. Whereas if you want to study Electronic or Computer Engineering your application may benefit from completing a Computing A-level.

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If you are set on studying Engineering at university, then it is always wise to look at the entry requirements of your dream courses before choosing your A-levels. That way you can make sure you give yourself the best chance of getting exactly where you want to be. You can check specific course entry requirements on UCAS or on the Engineering homepage of the university you want to attend.

How do I know if Engineering is the right subject for me?

Engineering degrees are highly employable and graduates are always in demand. However, Engineering courses are well known for being vigorous and require a multifaceted set of skills.

Because they are widely regarded as one of the hardest degrees you can study, you need to be certain that you want to spend three years (or four if you go on to study a masters degree) as an Engineering student before making the decision. So how do you know if Engineering is the right subject for you?

One of the best ways to try out life as an Engineering student before taking the plunge and making your university applications is to attend a summer school Engineering programme. Moreover, completing a summer programme will look great on your application when it comes to writing a cover letter for university courses.

Top summer schools for engineering courses

There is a wide selection of such programmes available that range in price, duration, content, and residential facilities. Here we will take a look at some of the best Engineering summer programmes you can study this year in the UK.

Oxford Royale Academy

Oxford Royale’s Engineering summer school takes place amidst the dreaming spires of Oxford at the world-famous University of Oxford and at the equally famous University of Cambridge. The course is specifically for students aged 16 to 18 who are about to decide what to study at university. It runs for two weeks and is residential, which means that it includes all meals and students get to stay in the university college halls.

As well as daily classes on subjects such as Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Design Engineering taught by university scholars, Oxford Royale students are taken on cultural trips across the UK to visit some of the most famous sights in the country.

Oxford Royale courses offer the real Oxford student experience and attract students from all over the world. It is hard to think of a better place to find out if Engineering is really the right path for you.

Imperial College London

Imperial College London is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and it frequently tops the league tables in the field of Engineering.

Imperial runs two Engineering summer schools, one for all year 10 students and another for girls in year 9. The year 10 course is one week long and is residential, with meals and social activities included. The year 9 girls course is also one week long, but it is not residential.

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Students engage in a wide variety of lectures, discussions and practical classes, and have access to Imperial’s world-beating facilities and technology. The course also includes mentorship from current undergraduate students studying a variety of Engineering courses at Imperial.

So, if you are in year 9 or 10 and are interested in Engineering, then the Imperial summer school is a great place to explore your interest and begin your Engineering journey.

Swansea University

Swansea University is considered to have one of the best Engineering departments in the UK, frequently featuring in the top 10 on university league tables.

The University runs an Engineering online summer school for all students who are interested in studying Engineering at university. Students have a mixture of at-home practical sessions, lectures, question & answer sessions, subject debates and much more.

The course offers a whole range of lectures and discussions in many different fields within Engineering including Aerospace, Chemical, Civil, Electronic & Electrical, General, Materials, Mechanical and Medical Engineering, plus Computer Science and Mathematics.

So, for any students who want to learn from expert Engineering academics and explore all the wonders of the subject from the comfort of their own home, then the Swansea University online summer school is perfect for you.

How to prepare a university application for Engineering

Once you have decided that Engineering is the course you want to study at university, you must then work hard to put together a great university application.

So how do you do this?

Well, first it is good to have an idea as to what kind of engineer you want to be. So far we have spoken about studying an Engineering course at university, but there are many different courses you can study. For example, you might want to study Software Engineering or Mechanical Engineering if there were specific engineering jobs in those fields that you were hoping to apply for.

Students with Engineering degrees can become:

  • Software engineers
  • Chemical engineers
  • Aerospace engineers
  • Industrial engineers
  • Biomedical engineers
  • Civil engineers
  • Electrical engineers

And many other things both directly and indirectly related to their Engineering degrees.

If you know you want to pursue any of the specific engineering careers, then you can apply to study for a degree in that field. If you are still unsure, then you can apply for a general Engineering degree.

In either case, when you put together your application and write your personal statement, make sure you point out the areas of Engineering that interest you and why. Think about the kind of places you would like to work and be sure to dream big!

You might also consider trying to get some work experience or a short internship at a local organisation that has an Engineering department. You could even try and put some theory into practice and build your own website or even construct a simple design that you have been working on. Or, as we mentioned earlier, you could sign up for a summer school both to immerse yourself in the world of engineering and to demonstrate your love for the subject.

Anything that has given you hands-on and practical experience in engineering will benefit your application massively.

When you write your cover letter be sure to sound positive and enthusiastic. Engineering degrees are highly sought after but the courses are competitive and you want to demonstrate that you have a real love and passion for the subject that sets you above other applicants.

So be yourself, work hard, present your passion and you should be studying Engineering at university in no time!

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