You’re taught primarily through lectures, which are supported by projects, laboratory classes, supervisions and coursework.
In a typical week, you attend 10 lectures and have two supervisions. You also undertake fortnightly projects.
Assessment is by written exams during the final term of each year, and coursework which makes an increasing contribution to your marks each year.
Year 1 (Part IA)
Your choice of route
Chemical engineers spend their first year studying either Engineering or Natural Sciences. These routes provide equally good preparation for becoming a chemical engineer, and are taken up by a similar number of students.
Year 2 (Part IB)
Introduction to core chemical engineering
From Year 2, you’re based within the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. You study compulsory topics within five themes:
- fundamentals – fluid mechanics, mass and heat transfer, thermodynamics
- process operations – reactors, separators, biotechnology
- process systems – safety, economics
- mathematical methods – mathematics
- enabling topics – depending on your first-year subject, you have additional lectures and practicals on either chemistry or mechanical engineering
You also take laboratory classes and undertake regular assessed project work. Towards the end of the year, you perform the mechanical design of an item of process equipment such as a heat exchanger.
Year 3 (Part IIA)
The third year includes further compulsory topics within four themes:
- fundamentals – fluid mechanics, heat transfer, thermodynamics
- process operations – reactors, separators, bioprocessing, particle processing
- process systems – process dynamics and control, process synthesis, safety
- enabling topics – materials, mathematics
After the written exams in the third term, you undertake a group project that lasts five weeks of full-time work to design a modern industrial process. You consider all aspects of engineering design (including specification of equipment and control procedures), safety, environmental impact and economic assessment. The design project brings together all the taught subject matter whilst giving you the opportunity to work in a team on an open-ended problem.
Year 4 (Part IIB)
Choice of advanced topics
You undertake a project on chemical product design and take a compulsory paper on environmental aspects of chemical engineering.
You choose six further topics from a list of optional papers which changes every year to reflect the research interests of academic staff. Some are advanced chemical engineering topics – past examples have included:
- pharmaceutical engineering
- rheology and processing
- electrochemical engineering
- computational fluid dynamics
Some are broadening material topics from outside the discipline (past examples have included healthcare biotechnology, a foreign language, and entrepreneurship).
In addition, you undertake a research project. This might involve experimental, theoretical and/or computational work. Some projects support ongoing Department research, while others are ‘blue sky’ investigations leading to new research programmes. Successful projects sometimes lead to students becoming authors of publications in scientific literature.
For further information about studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge see the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology website.