Frequently asked questions for Electrical and Electronic Engineering

We asked Electrical and Electronic Engineering 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?

Bristol is home to one of Europe’s largest clusters of micro-electronics and hi-tech industries, the UK’s biggest aerospace companies and a thriving creative media industry, making it an ideal location in which to study electrical and electronic engineering.

At Bristol you are encouraged to lead, to think in innovative ways, and to challenge existing practice, equipping you with the skills and confidence to make a difference.

You will learn from world-renowned experts, apply your knowledge in our state-of-the-art laboratory, and benefit from outstanding industrial links and opportunities for scholarships and placements. These links provide privileged access to industrial prototypes, software tools and equipment.

We offer a broad range of courses accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), including joint honours degrees with computer science and mechanical engineering. Electrical and electronic engineering is a fast-moving subject and we continually revise our courses to reflect the latest developments in engineering education.

Engineering students at Bristol benefit from a dedicated Industrial Liaison Office, which develops engineering-specific links between students and industry.

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

Our department is host to research groups ranging from Photonics and Microelectronics through Communication Systems and High Performance Networks to Electrical Energy Management and Digital Health.

In later years, once you are confident in the fundamentals of your chosen programme, you will have the opportunity to explore these themes as they are woven through taught units and form the basis of group and final year individual projects, where students are often assimilated into a research group.

For example, from the Electrical Energy Management Group we have had students designing and fabricating linear actuators, magnetic bearings, bicycle power meters, calorimeters and developing multi-physics cloud based optimisation software.

In Photonics and Quantum, we have students designing and testing photonic integrated circuits for quantum computing, and designing new kinds of lasers and solar cells.

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

The department runs a number of welcome and induction events to assist you in settling into university academic life, navigating your timetable, the campus, and its wide-ranging facilities.

The Faculty of Engineering is rich with discipline-aligned, student-led societies, with the Bristol Electrical and Electronic Engineering Society (BEEES), the Computer Science Society (CSS) and MechSoc covering the department’s course offerings.

Students are welcome to join any society that piques their interest across the faculty and wider university, which is an excellent way to meet those outside of your immediate academic course.

What is the first year timetable like for this course?

Our first year programmes contain a mix of traditional lectures, guided laboratory exercises, drop-in and examples classes along with introductions to key resources such as the Industrial Liaison Office and the Careers Service.

Based on the 2019/20 academic year, the average weekly contact time is typically 15 hours, plus three hours of practical work.

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

Details of each programme including the course structure, unit descriptions and opportunities for year in industry and study abroad.

What support does the school offer to new students?

Students are assigned an academic tutor who will remain your first point of academic contact throughout your studies and is able to sign-post you to any resources or services that you may need, academic or otherwise.

The department’s administrative team is here to help with any questions you may have about your programme. The school also has a team of Student Wellbeing Advisers who can offer help and guidance if you are experiencing challenges, or want some extra support.

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

Throughout your studies you will be exposed to a variety of different teaching and assessment methods designed to instil, develop and foster subject knowledge, independent learning, communication skills, creativity, critical thinking and teamwork.

All of which, along with your broader experiences of university life beyond academia, will contribute to you becoming a well-rounded individual coveted by the engineering sector and more besides, such as financial technology, business, policy and medicine.

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

Our dedicated Industrial Liaison Office (ILO) supports students in mentoring, finding internships or arranging Year in Industry placements.

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

Our graduates can be found all over the world. From multinational companies like BAE systems and Vodaphone to startups and spin-outs. Find out more about our graduate destinations.

Our research-led teaching readies our graduates both for careers not only in engineering, but also finance and consulting. Our rigorous degree programmes are great preparation for further study (master’s degree) or for research at PhD level.

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

Depending on the course you choose, there are opportunities to study abroad in many different countries. More details can be found at Global Opportunities.

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

Teaching can take place across the many buildings on campus, typically within a 10 minute walking radius. The Faculty of Engineering is partly based in the Queens Building which houses computing, project, central workshop and laboratory facilities.

The main departmental teaching laboratory has recently seen a £500k refurbishment and boasts state-of-the-art test and measurement equipment, experience of which prepares our students for what lies ahead in industry.

Students have access to fabrication facilities including rapid prototyping equipment such as laser cutters, CNC/laser PCB manufacture and 3D printers, and are actively encouraged to engage in personal extracurricular projects through our dedicated and fully staffed Hack Space.

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

Students are typically required to match their contact teaching time with self-study which amounts to between 15 and 20 hours per week in the first year.

As the students progress through the years, they are expected to become more independent and take the lead in time-management of their studies and individual or group projects.

How do assessments work for the department?

The department employs a range of assessment methods from traditional timed examinations and written coursework to online open book tests, laboratory book keeping, poster or oral presentations, Critical Design Reviews (CDRs) and interviews.

All of which are designed to develop well-rounded students adept at communicating their ideas and capabilities no matter the format.

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

The key difference between studying at school and university is the onus on the student to develop genuine independence and to take charge of their own learning.

You will be supported in this by academic subject experts, who strive to teach you increasingly complex concepts as you progress through the years.

They are placed to be challenged and in turn to challenge the limit of your understanding, and to aid you in making links between units, to form a holistic understanding of your chosen degree programme by the time you graduate.

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

Ideas for final-year projects are typically collected from research active academic staff. They tend to be aligned with ongoing research within the academic’s area of expertise, and may be aligned with industry.

Students may choose from this list, or suggest their own project for which they will be paired with an academic with suitable expertise.

For example, from the Electrical Energy Management Group we have had students designing and fabricating linear actuators, magnetic bearings, bicycle power meters, calorimeters and developing multi-physics cloud based optimisation software.

In Photonics and Quantum, we also have access to superconducting light detectors, lasers, and single photons sources, as well as commercial modelling software such as Lumerical and COMSOL.

Is there anything I should check out to familiarise myself with the subject matter before I would start the course?

It’s important to relax before embarking on your university studies, but it’s great to read up a bit before you start.

You can have a look at the programme catalogue to see what subjects you will be studying in the first year and start to read around the subjects.

Computer programming and familiarity with inexpensive computing platforms such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi will also put you in good stead for your first year.

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