One program that has long been one of the most sought-after by future engineers around the world is civil engineering at University College London. This paper critically engages with different dimensions of the UCL Civil Engineering 2019 program, with a rich underpinning of application experiences, student feedback, and the contemporary landscape of engineering education. This article develops a panoramic perspective of the civil engineering cohort at UCL based on the applicants’ expectations, the actual academic and social experience, and the graduates’ perspective on their careers.

In addition to an exemplary academic foundation, the applicants for the Class of 2019 had high expectations when they joined the UCL Civil Engineering program. An overseas applicant with excellent GCSE and International Baccalaureate (IB) results was attracted by UCL’s reputation for excellence and the promise of a rigorous engineering education. This speaks to the university’s competitive demands, which enrol students of high academic calibre – the offer they received from UCL: 39 points in the IB with high grades in higher-level subjects.

But the program’s reality, as it unfolds for students, is a more nuanced story. While the curriculum at UCL is undoubtedly broad, ranging from mathematics to fluid mechanics, soil mechanics, and structures, it is the structure of the curriculum that has caused some controversy, especially with the Integrated Engineering Program (IEP). Responses to the IEP’s focus on group projects and presentations designed to help them communicate have been mixed. Some students find it appealing with its emphasis on teamwork and real-world skills, while others see it as a loss in real deep technical learning, especially in math and fluid mechanics.

The additional design, professional skills, and environmental impact assessment modules were criticized as either too group-oriented or needing to be more individual to provide a balanced view of the field. However, despite such criticisms, many students find other distinguishing features of the UCL Civil Engineering program valuable. In particular, integrating modules such as Financial Mathematics as a minor has been highly praised and provided practical and empowering knowledge. This is consistent with the broader trend in engineering education, where there is a move toward incorporating interdisciplinary learning and applying engineering skills in various contexts.

Prospective students are also interested in the harmony between social and academic life at UCL. The program itself is demanding, which could limit their participation in extracurricular activities. Still, in most cases, students have spent quality time with university community members through societies or informal gatherings. While spacious and traffic-free, the central London location provides access to cultural and professional opportunities that are hard to find anywhere else.

Students say: “The facilities at UCL are very different depending on the department. While certain areas may only meet the expectations of some students, the reputation of the libraries and specific lecture halls is high. However, a big drawback was the need for recorded lectures in many courses – especially in an era where digital learning resources are increasingly valued.

What is the Career Outlook for UCL Civil Engineering Graduates?

Employment prospects for UCL Civil Engineering graduates are excellent. Among UK and international employers, UCL has an outstanding reputation. UCL’s links with major engineering companies and the overall quality of its engineering programs ensure that graduates are well-placed in the job market. However, the changing employment criteria, which emphasize work experience even more than academic pedigree, has left UCL students, like their peers elsewhere, scrambling to find internships and practical knowledge that would enhance their educational pursuits. Practical experience is relevant to getting hired today. Rather than those with an academic transcript, employers are looking for employees who can demonstrate the use of life skills and versatility. This trend highlights the importance of a program like the UCL IEP and others in its class that aims to give engineering students a broader set of skills despite criticism that they focus on group work and presentations. Ultimately, in the experience of the 2019 cohort, UCL’s Civil Engineering program is the epitome of academic rigour and skill development that positions a student well to face the tests of today’s engineering landscape. While the structure of the program and its emphasis on group work may not suit everyone’s learning preferences, the commitment to learning more about how engineering interacts with other disciplines and the growth of professional skills is directly related to what is required in today’s engineering profession. As the field continues to mature, programs like UCL’s will no doubt also mature in their attempts to find the exact balance: the technical depth alongside the broader competencies that are key in a rapidly changing world.


What is unique about the Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP) at UCL?

The IEP’s emphasis on group projects and presentations to build communication skills is unique. However, this focus has been one that students either have a positive or an adverse reaction to; some feel that it distracts from deeper learning of the technical subjects.

Where do UCL Civil Engineering students find the most value in their coursework?

Many students express the value they find in the program’s interdisciplinary approach, particularly in modules such as Financial Mathematics, where they feel they have finally gained some practical and empowering knowledge. This program is usually demanding and does not leave time for other activities, although some students have managed to cope and find time for their extracurricular activities.

The facilities at this university vary depending on the department. However, the libraries and some of the lecture halls are very much appreciated.

However, not having recorded lectures and not having much space in central London is a challenge.

Categories: Scholarships

1 Comment

Tashibra · 20 March 2024 at 10:42

Yeah, I get it. No recorded lectures means more pressure to keep up. And space in London? Forget about it. It’s tough.

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