Frequently asked questions for Engineering Design

We asked the Engineering Design team some questions about what it's like to study with them. Here's what they said.

We are adapting our teaching methods and spaces in accordance with the latest COVID guidelines and therefore the information below may be subject to change.

What makes this department at the University of Bristol unique?

After a broad, common first year, Engineering Design students can choose to specialise in Mechanical, Aerospace or Civil Engineering, studying technical units alongside other students from these other engineering courses. The course also offers students the opportunity to study bespoke design project units.
 
The third year is usually a paid placement in industry, which forms an assessed part of the course and is closely monitored by the University, allowing you to start working towards becoming a Chartered Engineer. Students will be given responsibilities similar to graduate entrants, with opportunities to manage their own projects. We will support students in applying for a placement.
 
In the fourth and fifth year of the course, students can choose from a wide range of technical modules from the School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and open units in other faculties. This gives students the chance to gain further technical expertise in their chosen specialisation and a broader learning experience in other subjects, such as finance, geography or languages.
 
A group research and design project forms a major component of the final two years. The project is conducted with one of our industrial partners and students can choose from a range of topics, such as robotics, manufacturing, renewable energy, future cities and sustainable transport.

How does the research at the school benefit the experience of the students at the school?

As an Engineering Design student, you have access to state-of-the-art teaching and research spaces across the Faculty of Engineering, including design studios, workshops, computer labs and test facilities. 
 
A recent example is a fourth and fifth year design project where students designed and developed a robotic device for volcano exploration. The students worked in close collaboration with the Bristol Flight Lab. See the Bristol Flight Lab YouTube channel.

What does the school do to welcome students when they first start at Bristol?

In your induction week, you can engage with a range of University, Faculty, School and course-specific activities, and there are specific induction activities for different types of student (eg international, mature).  

Last year, our Engineering Design students joined Civil Engineering students on a trip to the SS Great Britain. The students also took part in a treasure hunt to find their way around the Queens Building, as well as a fun quiz with fellow students and staff. 
 
The EngDes student society is linked with the course, offering social opportunities, industry visits and a ‘family’ system to help new students integrate with life at University. 
 

What is the first year timetable like for this course?

In first year, just under half of a student's teaching time is typically lectures, tutorials, seminars and labs – with the remaining time dedicated to independent and self-study.

Wednesday afternoons are normally kept free to allow students to engage with society activities.

Each teaching block is broken up with a reading week, allowing students to focus on self-study. There are also revision weeks at the end of each teaching block to allow students to revise for January and summer examinations, respectively.

Where can I find out more about the detailed structure and content of the degree programmes?

You can access the course structure from the programme and unit catalogue. You can find out about specific unit content in each year, including disciplinary streams in second year, as well as optional units in fourth and fifth year. 

What support does the school offer to new students?

As well as the Eng Des family system, the School also offers Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) to all students. You will be assigned a personal tutor, who offers academic guidance and support during your programme of study.
 
You will meet your personal tutor regularly throughout your first year, in a group and individually. You can also seek academic support from the year tutor and senior tutor of the course.
 
Last year, students were given course-specific study skills sessions which also included academic language and report writing workshops. 

How will the course set me up for my future career?

You will be assigned an industrial mentor, to give professional support and career related advice. All first year Engineering Design students undertake industrial visits with partner companies, and are encouraged to pursue summer placement opportunities between first and second year. Application and interview advice and support is given to students seeking summer and year-long placement opportunities. 
 
The Year in Industry is an invaluable experience for acquiring professional skills and consolidating academic learning. Read about the experience of some of our students on their placement year.

Are there any employers or other initiatives that the school works with for industry placements?

The Engineering Design course works in partnership with a range of companies from Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering sectors. The course also has links with Bristol-based product design companies, Crux and Kinnear Dufort.
 
The industrial partners are involved in taking students on placements during the first summer vacation and in the third year of the course, providing projects in the fourth and fifth years of study, and guiding the programme’s teaching content.  You can find out more about the companies by visiting the links to their sites.
 

What do graduates go on to do after studying this course at Bristol?

The Engineering Design course opens a wide range of opportunities. Many Engineering Design graduates now mentor students, support projects and supervise industrial placements: you can browse a selection of graduate profiles.

Over recent years, many Engineering Design students and graduates have either created their own companies or played a leading role in developing innovative startups.

What opportunities are there to study abroad as part of this course?

Unfortunately, the Engineering Design course does not offer opportunities to study abroad. 
 
However, some of our students have been placed in companies outside the UK as part of their year-long placement in third year. For example, Topaz Maitland spent her placement year working on a renewable energy turbine in Nepal. Read the Cabot Institute blog post about her experience.

What are the facilities like on campus that students will use to study this course?

You will experience a full range of large lecture theatres, open-plan design studio spaces, computing labs and small, interactive group working spaces in Queens Building, Merchant Venturers Building and across campus.

You'll have access to the Queens Building library and its facilities, as well as bookable group study spaces. The majority of lab and practical work is undertaken in the General Engineering Lab, with support from our technical services team – as well as a student workshop for project work.

You can also use the Faculty Hackspace in Merchant Venturers Building to develop practical 3D printing, prototyping and electronics skills for extracurricular work.

Cafes can be found in both Queens and Merchant Ventures buildings for hot/cold drinks and lunch breaks.

How many hours (on average) are required outside of lectures for additional work and study?

This varies depending on each unit, the format of assessment, as well as the year of study.

For example, a 10-credit first year unit with 100% coursework might have one lecture per week, with a two-hour tutorial session. 
 
Around one to two hours a week would be expected for work/study outside of class for that unit.

How do assessments work for the department?

In the first year of study, the majority of assessment is written exams, with under one third based on coursework.

This changes throughout the programme of study. There is some practical assessment but this is limited.

Coursework can be either formatively assessed (feedback only) or summatively assessed (graded with feedback).

Coursework can be varied in format, and may include report writing, essays, group work, posters and presentations.

What would you say are the main differences between studying at school and study at university?

From conversations with first-year students, there seems to be more focus on independent, self-directed and active learning.

Academic support for students not only comes from teaching staff, but also their peers; students working in study groups is a common sight.

Assessment through report/essay writing, group work and presentations can be a new experience, and the Study Skills resources provide relevant support on these topics for new students.

There is an excellent ‘Upgrade to University’ resource that gives a broad introduction to life as a student.

What are examples of final year projects/dissertations that students have worked on when they study this course?

Final-year engineering students worked on a project in collaboration with DNV-GL and Atkins, to develop a novel floating wind turbine platform. See details of the project in the Cabot Institute case study.

What could I do over the summer to prepare for starting this course?

The school will be in contact with incoming students to let you know about any equipment you require. You are advised to contact the school for any PC or laptop requirements. 
 
You can access Study Skills resources in advance, and become familiar with the University’s virtual learning environment on Blackboard.
 
If you're new to mathematical modelling and programming you may find some of the MATLAB resources for a High School useful in preparation for first-year computing work. 

Anything else offer holders should know about?

The Engineering Design course values problem solving and engineering/science awareness, organisational skills and teamworking, as well as drive, commitment and self-motivation equally with academic performance. It is the reason why our students are selected as part of our unique admissions process.

We endeavour to support our students in enhancing their professional skills, their participation in societies and extracurricular activities and their knowledge of industry and the engineering sector – as well as celebrating their academic achievements.

At the end of this course, our graduates are high-calibre engineers who can lead complex engineering projects that are vital to modern society.

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