Masters Degree Engineering in the UK
For Masters degrees in general, British universities have a worldwide reputation for providing both choice and high quality. However, a Masters degree is a big investment for your future career, both financially and with respect to your time. What does a British Masters degree in Engineering offer you?
A Cosmopolitan Environment
Masters Degree Engineering in the UK
Britain is a cosmopolitan nation that has a tradition in global trade, and has benefited from the diversity of cultures that this has brought. Britain receives significant investment from around the world, and a significant number of multinational companies are based or have bases in Britain. Engineering in Britain, whether in terms of education or in terms of its industry, is therefore viewed from a global perspective. A Masters degree will certainly reflect Britain's position on the world stage, and provide the opportunity to experience technical developments from research around the world.
From the student's perspective, the cosmopolitan environment extends to the universities. Another significant benefit is the opportunity to explore problems with students from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds - a distinct advantage when you may well be trading with those same students, or at least in their countries, in years to come!
Research & Innovation
As a student on a Masters programme, you will be exposed to some of the 'leading edge' technology, systems and methods that are currently being developed. Britain deservedly has a reputation for research, and its universities are home to many world-class research centres. Partnerships and collaboration between universities and industry are also a key feature of British education. Whether it is by working with industry or through project work, you will experience this culture of innovation and exploring the unknown to develop tomorrow's technology.
Britain has over one hundred universities and university colleges, and a large number of these have Engineering departments, or at least offer Engineering disciplines. Consequently, the wide availability and choice of university is a major factor. Indeed, choice extends to the degrees themselves - all the traditional disciplines of Engineering are available, such as Mechanical, Chemical and Civil, but departments will now specialise in broad areas such as Biomedical Engineering, Software Engineering and Engineering Design. Then there are the specialist degrees themselves, such as Aerodynamics, Smart Materials, and Lean Manufacturing.
Types of Degree
Masters degrees in Engineering tend to fall into three categories:
- Masters that extend the broad subject-matter of the first degree to a higher level;
- Specialist Masters degrees that focus and develop an area within a broad discipline, such as Mechanical Engineering;
- Conversion Masters that provide an additional range of skills and knowledge that would not normally be developed to any great extent on the undergraduate degree. For example, there are a number of Masters aimed at developing the commercial capabilities of engineers in terms of business, finance management, etc.
As a prospective Masters student, you will have your own reasons for wishing to undertake such a programme. Indeed, the type of Masters that you select largely depend on your career aspirations, and in many cases is self-evident. However, when you are not sure, contact the course tutors at the university of your choice, who will be pleased to advise you.
Whilst there is some variation from university to university, most British Masters degrees in Engineering tend to be one year in duration - that is, one calendar year where the summer vacation period (in Britain, from July to September) is used for further study. This clearly offers some distinct advantages over two-year Masters programmes offered by other countries, and gets you into the workplace or to a research degree a year sooner.
Entry requirements will vary between courses and institutions, but typically a first degree is required that is equivalent to a First or Second Class bachelors degree from the UK. However, relevant professional experience will also be taken into account, and many universities will also have pre-masters programmes for those who may not quite meet the normal entry requirements. Competence in the English language is important, as Masters programmes are demanding, as they require students to write a significant research dissertation, general written assignments, and oral presentations. British universities would normally expect a candidate to score at least 6.5 on the British Council's IELTS test or equivalent where English is not the first language or has not been the language of instruction. To find out more, contact the university! British Council offices keep the prospectuses for British universities, but you can contact the universities through their websites, by letter, telephone or fax.
Many universities attend education fairs around the world, and this also offers an opportunity to meet university staff to collect literature and ask questions. Staff are well aware of the commitment that you are making, and how important it is for you to make the right choice of course; the programme leader will be able to provide you with full details of the programme, entry criteria, research interests of the department, costs… you only have to ask!