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Study Chemical Engineering, Why & How To Study

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

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  1. What’s Chemical Engineering?

  2. What Chemical Engineering degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Chemical Engineering degree?

  4. What topics does a Chemical Engineering degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Chemical Engineering?

  7. What do Chemical Engineering graduates earn?

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

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Chemical Engineering

  11. Have any questions?

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.

What Chemical Engineering degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering include:

  • Biochemical Engineering BEng/Meng
  • Chemical and Energy Engineering BEng
  • Chemical Engineering BEng/MEng
  • Chemical Engineering with Business Management BEng
  • Chemical Engineering with Chemistry BSc

Options may include an integrated foundation year or master’s, industrial experience or study abroad.

What do you need to get onto a Chemical Engineering degree?

Entry requirements for a Chemical Engineering degree at a university range from 96–165 UCAS points. This could include the qualifications below:

  • A Levels: A*A*A–BBC
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–MMM (or in combination with A Levels)
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA–BBBB (Advanced Highers: AAB–AA)
  • International Baccalaureate: 42–26
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: an A Level (or equivalent) in maths, plus chemistry and/or physics

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Further maths or STEP (Sixth Term Examination Paper) sometimes required
  • General subjects at A Level may be excluded

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Extra reading on the subject, such as from the websites of the New Scientist, the Chemical Engineer journal, or WhyNotChemEng
  • Work experience or shadowing: if eligible, check out Industrial Cadets, Nuffield or In2scienceUK STEM placements
  • Taking part in STEM challenges or competitions
  • Online courses such as Insight into University, Smallpiece Trust or MOOCs
  • Learning coding such as Python
  • If eligible, summer schools such as UNIQ or Sutton Trust

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science taken at A Level
  • Interviews and admissions tests are required by some universities

What topics does a Chemical Engineering degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Chemical engineering design
  • Chemistry and processes
  • Electrical and information engineering
  • Engineering computation
  • Fluid mechanics, mass and heat transfer, thermodynamics
  • Introduction to biochemical engineering
  • Practical skills in chemical engineering
  • Programming skills for engineers
  • Structures, materials and dynamics

How will you be assessed?

Courses are assessed in a variety of ways, depending on the module:

  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Reports
  • Design and research projects
  • Presentations.
  • Exams are held at the end of each semester for almost all courses

Why study Chemical Engineering?

Through Chemical Engineering, you'll gain detailed knowledge of chemistry, engineering, materials science and IT. You’ll also learn about the economics, management and safety of modern science.

Career-specific skills:

  • Principles and practices of chemical engineering
  • Professional skills in engineering, including research, process design and management
  • Placements could give you industrial experience for your CV

Transferable skills:

  • Data analysis
  • Numeracy and IT skills
  • Organisation
  • Problem solving and creative thinking
  • Resource management
  • Team working
  • Working under pressure

Professional accreditation:

  • Degrees may be accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and provide a route towards registration as a Chartered Chemical Engineer (MIChemE)
  • Degrees may also be accredited by IOM3 (Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining) or the Institute of Measurement and Control
  • May include registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng), and partial registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng)

What do Chemical Engineering graduates earn?

Chemical Engineering graduates enjoy good starting salaries of between £22,000–£30,000.

As your career progresses, you could earn £30,000–£65,000 as a chemical engineer, depending on the stage of your career and the sector you work in. Chartered chemical engineers are at the higher end of this scale, with potential for an income of up to £90,000 as a principal process engineer.

What jobs can you get as a Chemical Engineering graduate?

A degree in Chemical Engineering is highly vocational. However, if you decide not to continue as an engineer, opportunities can be found in management or analytical roles – including supply chain, risk management or finance.

  • Biotechnologist
  • Chemical engineer
  • Consultant engineer
  • Design engineer
  • Energy coordinator
  • Geochemist
  • Nuclear engineer
  • Product development scientist
  • Project manager
  • Risk management
  • Senior Process Engineer

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

If you have a first degree in a related discipline you could pursue postgraduate study in Chemical Engineering. Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • Advanced Process Integration and Design MSc
  • Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology MSc/MPhil
  • Chemical Engineering MPhil/PhD
  • Formulation Engineering EngD

Similar subjects to Chemical Engineering

Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:

Have any questions?

If you’ve got any questions about studying Chemical Engineering, you can email our experts at We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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