Top 5 universities for engineering.

  1. Oxford
  2. Cambridge
  3. Surrey
  4. Nottingham
  5. Cardiff

For those considering attending university to study engineering the choice of institutions and courses can be overwhelming. Many universities offer a wide range of studies in different engineering disciplines, as a result it can be difficult to figure out which would offer the best education for a potential engineering career and enhanced employment prospects upon graduation. In order to gain a qualification that will provide the best choice of engineering jobs, how should potential students figure out the ideal place to pursue their studies?

It is advisable to study some independent rankings of universities to gain external insight into which establishments score best for engineering courses. The Complete University Guide rates universities on an assessment of research quality and the prospects for graduates. The overall student satisfaction and the entry standards are also researched. It lists the following as the top five institutions in the UK providing excellence in general engineering studies:


Oxford and Cambridge are regarded as the two most prestigious UK universities and some would say they are the finest teaching institutions in the world. The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University usually admits 160 students each year onto its four-year course. Successful study leads to a degree as a ‘Master of Engineering’. The course places an emphasis on practical work including design. Oxford has strong links with industry to ensure that the students’ work remains highly relevant to industry’s needs. Graduates are highly sought after by the industry.


Cambridge University is renowned throughout the world for subjects that are studied and researched to a level of excellence. The engineering course lasts four years and two degrees are possible – MEng and BA (with Honours). All engineering students are given a two-year introduction into structural and mechanical subjects. Information engineering plus material and structural subjects are covered.


Surrey has a solid reputation as an engineering research and teaching institution. The graduate employment rates are exceptional and the university is noted for its strong enterprise culture. Students enjoy the finest facilities for learning and there are outstanding research opportunities. The programmes are flexible, reflecting contemporary engineering and science. The university’s national and international links with industry work to the benefit of graduates.

The majority of students can undertake a work-based professional training year. This normally takes place between the second and third year of study, and students work as far afield as Hong Kong on paid training placements.


The Dean of Engineering and Professor of Mechanics of Materials, Faculty of Engineering, at Nottingham University, Professor Andy Long describes the university as below:

“The faculty is known for its world-class research, inspirational teaching, and diverse academic community with many exciting opportunities for study abroad and industrial placements. Our engineers and architects are passionate about what they do. They are at the forefront of new research, challenging conventional thinking, and producing novel and sustainable technologies that are changing infrastructure, communications, and the health of nations around the globe.”


The Civil Engineering course at Cardiff University provides students with a well-respected degree course, resulting in exciting future career opportunities in design and working with the built and natural environments, nationally and internationally. Civil engineering theory is high on the list of priorities, being supported by practical research and laboratory work. The course includes design classes and field courses. The syllabus provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to confidently pursue a career in Civil Engineering.

Other attractive options.

Imperial College London, Bristol, Bath and Southampton also rate highly for mechanical engineering degrees, as measured by a combination of entry standards, student satisfaction, research undertaken and graduate prospects.

London’s Imperial and UCL top tables.

The Guardian newspaper’s University Guide states that for mechanical engineering, Imperial tops the table followed by Southampton, Bath, Dundee and Loughborough, whilst for civil engineering it suggests UCL, Imperial, Heriot-Watt, Sheffield and Bath as the top choices, based on various satisfaction measures alongside spend and staff per student, entry requirements, career prospects and a measure of value added.

All the establishments mentioned perform very well with more than 80% of students working in graduate level engineering jobs within six months of leaving. Entry-level requirements do differ - for example, Dundee makes offers with significantly lower UCAS point requirements than some others, such as Imperial, so it may offer a more realistic option for many.i

Institutions vary in range of specialisms offered.

Of course, a degree from a top university will bring some prestige to the CV from the beginning, but it’s only worth it if the degree is the right one for the student, so it’s important to delve into the details.

For example, Imperial makes frequent appearances in the tables because it has a strong specialism in engineering, alongside business, science and medicine. Competition for places each year is strong, but candidates are assured of some of the best engineering teaching there is. Based in central London, the engineering focus allows the University to offer a wide range of in-depth study of specialisms as well as cross-discipline studies including engineering and management or mechanical with nuclear engineering. Most engineering degrees offer an option that includes a year abroad, studying at a partner institution in Europe, Australia or the USA.

University of Bath.

The University of Bath also appears in tables for a number of engineering disciplines, and the University has one of the highest completion rates for degrees in the UK at 93%. In the 2013 National Union of Students survey, Bath actually came top in the UK in terms of student satisfaction for the mechanical and aerospace engineering courses, and it’s the Sunday Times “University of the Year for Student Experience” in 2014. Student engineers can choose from 14 related four-year degrees, with the option of taking an extra year on industrial placement.

As mentioned, Dundee University scores very well in results tables but on average offers students a lower UCAS point requirement than many others in the top reaches. Centrally based, It’s School of Engineering, Physic and Mathematics offers degrees in civil, mechanical and electronic engineering, with opportunities to study overseas as part of the course, though this is not compulsory.

The final choice for a particular student will depend on many factors, but the key factors to bear in mind are employability at the end of the study as well as enjoyment of the four-year process to get there!