Frequently asked questions for the Department of Mechanical Engineering

We asked the Department of Mechanical 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’s Mechanical Engineering department is uniquely dynamic and industry-led. We consistently rank among the top 5 Mechanical Engineering courses in national comparisons and offer a range of three-year BEng and four-year MEng degrees which are fully accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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

Our research informs every aspect of the student experience, with team projects in earlier years and large, open-ended research projects in the third and fourth year carried out in collaboration with department research groups and industry. In the fourth year of the MEng, we offer optional units which are linked to our cutting-edge research.

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

We run a range of events in welcome week, which in recent years has included trips to local engineering landmarks (S.S. Great Britain, Aerospace Bristol) as well as introduction events and pop-ups for student-led societies. These societies include the Mechanical Engineering Society (MechSoc) which runs events, socials, talks and the undergrad 'parenting' scheme and the Women in Engineering Society (WiE) which runs talks, sports events, socials and outreach.

What is the first year timetable like for this course?

Based on the 2019/20 academic year, a typical first year timetable may contain 17 hours of contact time per week, including lectures and labs. Units that you will take during the first year may include Engineering by Design, Engineering by Investigation, Engineering Science, Engineering Mathematics 1 and Principles of Mechanical Engineering.

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

Find out detailed information about the course structure and all individual units.

What support does the school offer to new students?

We offer a range of support to new starters including study skills, professional development support, language development and a student wellbeing service.

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

Our courses give students the best possible preparation for a professional engineering career and are developed in collaboration with our industrial advisory board. We offer industrial mentorship for all students, a summer internship programme, regular industry speakers on the course, a Year in Industry programme and a dedicated Industrial Liaison Office to connect students with companies. Our IMechE accreditation means that our courses are also the first step towards Chartered Engineer status.

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

We work with a very large range of companies for industry placements and have strategic partnerships with several large engineering businesses including Rolls-Royce, Airbus and EDF Energy. Our dedicated Industrial Liaison Office connects students with employers for summer placements, Year in Industry placements, mentorship, research projects and their future careers.

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

Read more about our graduate destinations.

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

We offer students the opportunity to study for the MEng abroad either in a different language (H301) or in an English-speaking country (transfer from H300, H301 or H305). This takes place in year three of the four-year course. See a list of universities where study abroad is possible.

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

We operate a range of dedicated lab facilities for undergraduate and research use in Queen’s Building. This includes labs for structural dynamics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, electronics, and heavy structures testing. We also have several teaching workshops, computer labs, a large number of break-out/project rooms for students, and a large engineering library in addition to shared campus facilities.

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

Roughly 23 hours per week. In the first year, we offer plenty of guidance on how to spend this time, but help you steadily gain more independence in later years. 

How do assessments work for the department?

The department uses a broad range of assessments. These include written exams, lab reports, online quizzes and coursework. You will also undertake a substantial research project in year three and a group industrial project in year four (if on the MEng course).

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

At university, you can focus on a subject that you are passionate about and develop the specialist skills and expertise needed for a professional career. We put more emphasis on building independence, guiding you through the transition towards independent professional practice in engineering design, research and analysis.

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

Our final-year projects (Individual Research Projects and Group Industrial Projects) are intentionally challenging, open-ended and multi-disciplinary. Recent examples include:

  • Finite element modelling of damage in spiders’ webs resulting from to prey impact
  • Locally-appropriate bicycle technology for The Gambia
  • Designing a suspension system for torque-vectoring in an off-road vehicle.

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

Yes! We have a welcome page for new students with introductory videos, activities and taster lectures to try before you arrive. Also, take a look at the individual units listed in the first-year outline. Each one has a reading list (see Reading and References) so you can read around any topic you find interesting.

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