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Guide to studying Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering provides many lucrative opportunities due to its different applications and great graduate prospects.

Group of chemistry students working together in laboratory


  1. What's Chemical Engineering?

  2. Why study Chemical Engineering?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Chemical Engineering graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Chemical Engineering?

Chemical Engineering combines physical sciences with life sciences, and also includes some mathematical elements.

Modern chemical engineers are mostly concerned with attempting to convert raw materials into more useful items. They also examine pioneering techniques, like nanotechnology and bioengineering.

Similar courses for Chemical Engineering include: 

  • Chemical, Process & Energy Engineering

Why study Chemical Engineering?

Through Chemical Engineering, you'll not only have knowledge of chemistry, engineering, materials science and IT; you'll learn about the economics, management and safety of modern science.

Read our five reasons to study Chemical Engineering for more information on why you might choose to study this subject area.

Chemical plant for production of ammonia and nitrogen

What jobs can you get as a Chemical Engineering graduate?

Particular job roles include chemical engineer, energy engineer, petroleum engineer and product development scientist.

Several professional organisations, such as BP, offer specialised positions for Chemical Engineering graduates.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Chemical Engineering have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Chemical Engineering students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need? 

To study Chemical Engineering you’ll usually need an A Level (or equivalent) in Mathematics. Other useful subjects include Chemistry and Physics.

A lot of courses won't accept anything less than straight As. If you get in, you’ll be among some of the best and can expect a high quality of education from former industry professionals.

Always confirm for the particular university/course you're interested in, as grades and other requirements can vary between institutions.

What degrees can you study?

  • BEng Chemical Engineering (three years)
  • MEng Chemical Engineering (four years)
  • BEng Chemical and Energy Engineering
  • BEng Chemical Engineering with Business Management

How will you be assessed?

Most universities have continuous assessments in the form of module essays and reports. Others have design and research projects which are assessed via written reports and presentations. Written examinations are held at the end of each semester for almost all courses.

In the BEng programmes, years 2 and 3 contribute to the final degree award, while for MEng programmes, it’s years 2, 3 and 4.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include in Chemical Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, Theoretical Chemistry, Industrial Automation, Polymer Engineering and Petroleum Engineering.

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