Cambridge is unusual in offering a broad Engineering degree, which specialises only in later years.
We believe that our general course equips students well for increasingly multidisciplinary careers, during which they will need to absorb many new techniques and ways of thinking; many former students testify to the benefits of this type of course. The course is fast-moving and demanding and is held in high regard by employers throughout the world. The Cambridge course is accredited by the major Engineering Institutions, subject to reasonable restrictions on the choice of subjects in the final years.
Most Cambridge Engineering students take an additional fourth year that leads to the M.Eng. degree, although it is possible to leave after three years with a B.A. degree. The first two years cover fundamental principles of engineering across a very wide range of topics, aligned with the traditional disciplines of Mechanical, Electrical, Civil and so on, with a minor element of choice in the second year. In the third year, students choose modules from a wide range of topics, but with the majority taken from one of eight engineering areas. These areas represent professional specialisations and include Aerospace and Aero-thermal Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Civil and Mechanical Engineering (the full list can be found on the Department of Engineering website). The final “Masters” year then comprises 50% project work, plus a selection taken from a broad range of short, specialist courses. Alternatively, it is possible to move into Manufacturing Engineering or https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/management-studies for years three and four.
Engineering at Peterhouse
Peterhouse has a strong tradition in Engineering, with notable alumni including Babbage, Kelvin, Whittle and Cockerell. Although undergraduate work is centred around the University Engineering Department, which is next door to Peterhouse on Trumpington Street, College teaching is also significant. The College currently has a total of five Fellows in Engineering, who teach in all the main disciplines as well as directing studies for each undergraduate year. This enables most first and second year supervisions to be given in College by Fellows of Peterhouse, amounting to approximately two hours of supervising per week during term. College-based supervisions may continue in later years in cases where options chosen coincide with Fellows' specialist interests, although many are arranged with other specialists in the Department.
Engineering is one of the larger subjects taught in Peterhouse, with typically 10 undergraduates being admitted each year. There is also a strong community of graduate students working towards the M.Phil. and Ph.D.
In terms of entry requirements, A level Mathematics and A level Physics (or their equivalents) are essential, and it is expected that candidates who have had the opportunity to study A level Further Mathematics at school, or perhaps through the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme, will have done so. There is the opportunity to state on your My Cambridge Application Form if you have not had the opportunity to take Further Mathematics. Science and technology subjects are desirable and Chemistry is of some use generally. We consider Mathematics and Physics essential subjects for Engineering, and we would expect the highest levels of achievement to be in these subjects, whatever the qualifications studied. For applicants studying the International Baccalaureate, we expect the Mathematics option taken to be Analysis and Approaches. If this is not available to you, please contact the Admissions Office.
Where candidates have an element of choice in the options or modules of their school Mathematics course, it may be helpful to consider the core knowledge assumed at the start of the Engineering course. Both mechanics and pure mathematics are immediately relevant to Engineering.
The application process
All applicants for Engineering across the University will be asked to sit a pre-interview written assessment at their school, college or local testing centre in October. These will form part of our holistic assessment of candidates' achievements, abilities and potential and are no more, and no less, important than any of the other pieces of information considered during the admissions process. Registration for this assessment closes at the end of September. Further information can be found on the University website.
At Peterhouse, there will be one in-person interview for all candidates based for educational purposes in the UK or Ireland. Overseas candidates will be interviewed online. In both cases, the interview will last approximately 40 minutes, during which one or more technical problems will be discussed. The problems have no concise answer; we expect to hear candidates’ considered views, but we will also give some prompting and hence assess how new ideas are absorbed. It is recognised that the way and order in which material is covered by different schools varies, and applicants will not be disadvantaged by this. No special preparation is necessary for the interview beyond what candidates already do at school.
Several universities have engineering admissions tests and interviews that involve solving problems. If you want to practise solving problems relevant to engineering in general, you may wish to visit i-want-to-study-engineering.org.
Typical conditional offers
Our typical conditional offer for Engineering is A*A*A in relevant subjects at A level, with the A*s generally expected in Further Mathematics and Physics. IB offers are usually for a minimum of 40-42 points, to include 776 or 777 at Higher Level, with 7s in Mathematics and Physics.
For many years, we have often included the requirement of achieving a certain grade in the Sixth Term Examination Paper (STEP) amongst the academic conditions set for some of our offer holders in Engineering. We realise that achieving a grade 2 in STEP II is challenging but, when set, we believe it to be in the best interests of our candidates, providing valuable insight into mathematical ability through access to STEP scripts, as well as encouraging further development of mathematical fluency.
As is the case throughout the admissions process in Cambridge, individual considerations remain paramount and we wish to stress that achievement at STEP forms just one part of our assessment of candidates' abilities and potential. All offers are designed to be realistic, taking into account individual circumstances, and to reflect potential and likely levels of achievement. Most of those who receive offers will attain the grades required. Note that there is no expectation that candidates should sit STEP before applying, and all offer holders will be provided with advice and support, including, where relevant, through a range of STEP resources.
Some of our Engineers take a gap year, often linked to sponsorship. We encourage this when there is a good prospect of gaining appropriate industrial experience. In any case, some approved industrial training is a requirement as part of the Engineering degree, and we strongly encourage links to industrial companies during your time here.