Engineering is concerned with the application of scientific principles and knowledge so as to meet perceived needs. Its impact has been significant in the shaping of our present way of life; for example, the development, more than 150 years ago, of steam power and of urban water supply and drainage systems has led to contemporary expectations of facility to travel and of freedom from disease that are taken for granted - at least in the West.

The production of microchips or the building of the Channel Tunnel are cooperative achievements, carried out in the context of political and economic constraints. The education of engineers, while quite properly being focused on principles of design and analysis and on establishing a broad base of general knowledge, must include developing skills of communication and encouraging qualities of integrity and judgment. It is with these objectives in mind that the Engineering course at Cambridge has been developed.

Course structure

Engineering at Cambridge is a four-year course, leading to the award of both a BA and an M.Eng.

The first two years, Parts IA and IB of the Engineering Tripos, are broad based and all students take a common course; only in the final term of the second year is there the opportunity to choose options which may lead on to the specializations taken in the third and fourth years. In addition to the main core of Engineering coursework, there are Management assignments and there is the opportunity to develop language skills at several different levels.

Course specialization begins in the Third Year (Part IIA) with students selecting one of six areas in which to take the majority of their papers. The third term of Part IIA is devoted primarily to Project work. In the Fourth Year (Part IIB) the form of the course is modular and a major project extends throughout the year.  There is collaboration with industry and many projects have direct industrial application.

Some students may transfer after Part IA to the three-year Chemical Engineering Tripos or after Part IB to the one-year Management Studies Tripos, or two-year Manufacturing Engineering Tripos.

To find out more about the department and the course, take a look at the web-site Department of Engineering or contact the Department of Engineering for a booklet 'Undergraduate Engineering at Cambridge University' which outlines the structure of the course more fully and indicates the options available. 

Teaching in Engineering is based largely in the Department. Lectures and coursework are programmed into five mornings per week with some afternoons also allocated to coursework. In addition, 'Supervision' is arranged by the College in the first two years; typically students will meet with a College Fellow in Engineering twice a week for teaching in pairs. Supervision continues into the Third Year but is then organized by the specialist Groups in the Department.


Fitzwilliam aims to admit about 12 undergraduates to the course each year. Admissions interviews are held in December and we look for applicants with a strong motivation for Engineering and a genuine interest in some aspect of the subject.  We take seriously the school's reference for each candidate and we are anxious to ensure that those to whom we make offers have the academic ability to cope with a demanding course.

The typical A Level offer for Engineering is A*A*A at A level.  The typical IB offer is 40-42 points with 776 at Higher Level.  It is essential to have a good mathematical background and it is usual for Fitzwilliam to specify that the A* grades should be in Maths and Physics.  The preferred third (and sometimes fourth) subjects are Further Maths or Chemistry. We do not require applicants to take STEP or Special papers as part of a conditional offer. Experience of industry in the year between school and university is very valuable when this can be arranged. The advantages of work experience include the gaining of background against which to measure the coursework here; and satisfying certain practical experience requirements of the course (otherwise completed during university vacations).  Advice in making contact with firms is available through the University Department of Engineering; also the nationwide Year in Industry scheme exists to find placements for pre-university students.

Applicants are required to sit the Engineering admissions written assessment, prior to being invited to interview,  More information can be found on the University website.

In addition, all those invited to interview will be given questions to look at before each interview.

Life after Cambridge

There is a marked variety in the destinations of Fitzwilliam Engineers after graduation. Some return to their sponsoring companies, some gain jobs in other engineering firms, a few carry on to take post-graduate courses in Cambridge and other Universities. Some embark on careers outside engineering: consultancy, financial services, the armed forces etc. Some set up their own companies, often with friends they have made at Cambridge. There is no fixed pattern. What is certain is that Engineering has given all these individuals the skill, insight and confidence to make the most of their opportunities.

College Teachers in Engineering and related subjects

Dr David Cole, Director of Studies, University Senior Lecturer, Department of Engineering;  Fellow, Fitzwilliam College. Research interests: Vehicle dynamics. Teaching interests Mechanics, Maths, Design

Dr Kenneth W Platts, University Reader, Department of Engineering, Fellow and Director of Studies in Engineering, Fitzwilliam College. Research interests: Manufacturing Strategy and Performance. Teaching interests: Manufacturing Engineering, Mechanics, Structures.

Professor David A Cardwell, University Professor, Department of Engineering; Fellow and Admissions Tutor,  Fitzwilliam College. Research interests: Engineering applications of high temperature superconductors. Teaching interests: Electrical and Information Engineering, Materials, Mathematics.

Dr Jonathan Cullen, Research Associate, Department of Engineering; Research Fellow, Fitzwilliam College.  Reseach interests: Sustainable Development, Energy Efficiency. Teaching interests: Materials.

Professor Robin Langley, University Professor, Department of Engineering; Fellow, Fitzwilliam College. Research interests: Structural dynamics, vibration, and acoustics, with application to aerospace, marine, and automotive structures. Particularly interested in the mid- to high-frequency vibration of complex systems, and the effects of structural uncertainties on the statistics of the response. Teaching interests: Structures, mechanics, and dynamics (for the Engineering Tripos).

Professor Nondas Mastorakos, University Professsor, Department of Engineering; Fellow, Fitzwilliam College. Research interests: Turbulent combustion, reacting flows, chemistry of pollutants, combustion in porous media. Teaching interests: Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics and Combustion.

Dr Robin F D Porter Goff, Life Fellow, Fitzwilliam College. Research interests: The integrity of welded engineering structures, structures in composite materials.

Dr David M Scott, University Lecturer, Department of Chemical Engineering; Director of Studies in Chemical Engineering, Fitzwilliam College. Research interests: Mathematical modelling of chemical engineering processes. Teaching interests: Applied Mathematics, Chemical Engineering.

More information

Department of Engineering >>