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What Type Of Engineering Should I Study?

What type of Engineering should I study?If you’re thinking about becoming an engineer, you have a range of options to choose from. There are many different areas of engineering to study, from chemical engineering and mechanical engineering to civil engineering and electrical engineering – you could even choose from aeronautical engineering or molecular engineering.  

To study engineering, students need to have a good knowledge of mathematics as well as problem-solving skills, critical-reasoning skills and, depending on what field of engineering they choose to go into, a great eye for design.

So, how do you decide what is the best type of engineering to study? In this article we take a look at the main types of engineering and consider how you can choose which is the best one for you.


What are the main types of engineering? 

The four main types of engineering are:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering

Within each of these areas of engineering, there are several subfields.

Chemical engineering

Chemical engineeringChemical engineering is concerned with turning raw materials into useful products.

Chemical engineers have been responsible for the production of many of today’s essential items, including oil, gas and plastic. Chemical engineering is now very much focussed on sustainability, and chemical engineers can spend their time looking at ways to develop ecological fuel alternatives.

By studying chemical engineering, you will study across a wide range of disciplines including maths, physics, biology and chemistry. These disciplines are used to find solutions and applications for real-world problems.

Chemical engineering is at the forefront of new technologies and as such is an innovative and exciting area to study and work in.

What does a chemical engineer do?

A chemical engineer will be involved in developing processes to convert raw materials into commercially useful products. They will apply the principles of the sciences – physics, chemistry, maths and biology – to produce useful items such as fuel, chemicals, food and drugs.

Chemical engineers will work in laboratories and on industrial equipment. They are also likely to spend much of their time in the field.

They are innovators and as such will be involved in working with new technologies and developing new concepts and ideas.

Modules of a chemical engineering degree

Chemical engineering degrees will differ between universities, but modules are likely to include:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Separation processes
  • Nanotechnology
  • Renewable energy
  • Carbon capture
  • Bioprocess engineering
  • Fluid mechanics

Chemical engineering degrees will include plenty of lab work.

Subfields of chemical engineering

Petroleum engineering – this field of engineering covers the exploration and extraction of natural gasses and crude oil. The ultimate goal of petroleum engineering is to recover these hydrocarbons in the most efficient way, and also in one that is least destructive to the environment.

Biochemical engineering – this is the study and analysis of cells, proteins, viruses and other bio substances. These bio substances are analysed to aid the creation of new products to advance and support everyday life.

Biomedical engineering – this is concerned with developing new technologies and systems to advance understanding of the human body. Examples of biomedical engineering outcomes include developing software and drug therapies to advance medical science.

Environmental engineering – environmental engineering is concerned with improving sustainability and improving the natural environment, addressing areas such as recycling, waste disposal, air pollution and water pollution.

Molecular engineering – this is a merging field of engineering, focussing on the design, behaviour, testing and interaction of molecules and molecular properties.

Study chemical engineering

If chemical engineering sounds like an interesting area of study for you, explore postgraduate chemical engineering courses here at Postgrad.

Civil engineering 

Civil EngineeringCivil engineering is the branch of engineering that’s related to the built environment.

It is concerned with the design, construction and maintenance of public highways and byways, such as bridges, damns, railways, roads, airports and sewage systems.

Over recent years there has been an increasing importance placed on sustainability and the preservation of the natural world within this branch of engineering. This means that those entering into this field will be driven by environmental and energy efficient goals in their work.

What does a civil engineer do?

A civil engineer will plan, design and oversee the building of large construction projects, such as bridges, schools, hospitals, roads and sewage works.

As such, they are essential to our day-to-day life as their work will include the transportation and provision of electricity, water and other essential resources.

Civil engineers are likely to spend much of their time in the field working on construction sites. However, they will also work in an office, particularly when they are in the planning stages of the project.

Modules of a civil engineering degree

Those studying a civil engineering degree will be able to choose from a diverse range of modules, including:

  • Mathematics
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Soil mechanics
  • Construction
  • Surveying
  • Materials
  • Geology
  • Structures
  • Hydraulics
  • Robotics

A civil engineering degree is likely to include plenty of field work to enable the students to apply their academic knowledge to the real environment, particularly to undertake surveying and oversee construction sites.

Subfields of civil engineering

Structural engineering – this subdivision of civil engineering is concerned with the actual design of the structures, calculating how these structures will stand up to the physical pressures that they are exposed to.

Environmental engineering – environmental engineering addresses areas such as recycling, waste disposal, air pollution and water pollution to ensure sustainability is at a maximum and the natural environment receives minimum disruption.

Energy engineering – this area of engineering addresses the production, storage, distribution and utilisation of energy. Energy engineers will be concerned with both renewable and conventional energy and how to produce these in the most efficient way.

Study civil engineering

If civil engineering sounds like an interesting area of study for you, explore postgraduate civil engineering courses here at Postgrad.

Mechanical engineering

Mechanical EngineeringMechanical engineering is concerned with moving parts and the application of science to enable parts to move to solve real-world problems.

It is about the design, development and manufacture of new machines and devices, as well as the study of mechanical processes.

Put in a very simple way, mechanical engineering is about creating things that move, be that thing a vending machine, a prosthetic limb or a car.

What does a mechanical engineer do?

Mechanical engineers design and build machines, such as engines, generators and turbines. Their work can be with power-using machines, for example refrigerators and elevators or power producing machines, such as combustion engines and gas turbines.

Mechanical engineers’ responsibilities will range from the design, development and production of small components to building prototypes and masterminding the manufacture of entire machines.  

Modules of a mechanical engineering degree

A degree in mechanical engineering is like to include a variety of modules, such as:

  • Mathematics
  • Mechanics
  • Mechatronics
  • Materials
  • Thermofluids
  • Design
  • Dynamics
  • Computing
  • Robotics

Subfields of mechanical engineering

Aerospace engineering – this is concerned with the design and development of aircraft, spaceships and satellites. Aerospace engineers will create and test prototypes of their designs.

Automotive engineering – automotive engineering focusses on the design, development and production of motor vehicles, such as cars, motorbikes, trucks and buses. This subfield of mechanical engineering is ideal for those with a passion for the motor industry.

Robotics engineering – robotics engineering specialises in the development and manufacture of machines that perform automated jobs, such as those used in a factory production line.

Study mechanical engineering

If mechanical engineering sounds like an interesting area of study for you, explore postgraduate mechanical engineering courses here at Postgrad. 

Electrical engineering

Electrical EngineeringThis is the field of engineering that is concerned with the design, development, testing and manufacturing of all electrical equipment, such as communications systems, electric motors and radar systems.

Electrical engineering is involved with all things electrical, from small microchips in a hand-held gaming device to large generators at power stations.

What does an electrical engineer do?

Electrical engineers are essential in today’s society as they are responsible for the design and production of electrical systems used in buildings, as well as in transport networks and power generation, including sustainable power.

Electric engineers will have a specialist knowledge of power circuits, and these are used in many of the essential items we find in our homes and places of work, such as computers, televisions, kettles and other electric-powered devices.

Modules of an electrical engineering degree

Areas of study on an electrical engineering degree are likely to include:

  • Mathematics
  • Electrical circuits
  • Electronic devices
  • Materials
  • Thermodynamics
  • Circuit prototypes
  • Design
  • Programming

Subfields of electrical engineering

Computer engineering – electrical engineering and computer engineering are very closely related, this is because much of electrical engineering involves circuits and these circuits are used in all computers. However, computer engineering is specifically focused on designing, building and manufacturing computer hardware and software.

Systems engineering – this is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering concerned with the design and integration of complex systems, for example cruise control on a car. While an electrical engineer will work with electric projects, systems engineers will coordinate this element and integrate it into other large-scale projects. 

Electronic engineering – the field of electronic engineering is all about the design, development, evaluation and maintenance of all types of electronics. Electronic engineering differs from electrical engineering because it focuses specifically on the design, optimisation and management of smaller electronic circuits and devices, whereas electrical engineering is also concerned with the large-scale production and distribution of electrical power.

Study electrical engineering

If electrical engineering sounds like an interesting area of study for you, explore postgraduate electrical engineering courses here at Postgrad.

Other types of engineering 

As well as the types of engineering discussed in this article, there are other areas of engineering that you may want to consider – these include:

Aeronautical engineering ­– the design and production of aircraft, closely related to aerospace engineering.

Astronautical engineering – the design and production of spacecraft, closely related to aerospace engineering.

Communication engineering – the design and development of communications equipment and systems.

Marine engineering – the design and production of ships, submarines, aircraft carriers and tankers.

Software engineering – working on a microscale and using programming knowledge to design, develop, test and maintain systems that power technology. Closely related to computer engineering.

Supply chain engineering – the planning, design and operation of supply chains.

Outcomes of engineering graduates

Engineering graduates can go on to enjoy a wide variety of different careers, courses and activities. This table shows the results of a recent survey of engineering graduates from the academic year 2019/20 by HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency).

Graduate outcome


Full-time employment


Part-time employment


Unknown pattern of employment


Voluntary or unpaid work


Employment and further study


Full-time further study


Part-time further study


Unknown pattern for further study


Other, including travelling, caring for someone, retirement


Unemployed and due to start work


Unemployed and due to start further study





Explore postgraduate engineering courses  

Discover a range of engineering courses at Postgrad. We list full-time, part-time and online course options from a variety of universities.


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