Engineering Degrees

The entry requirements for Engineering degree courses vary across the different engineering disciplines and between universities.


Further Mathematics

Studying A level or AS level Further Mathematics is excellent preparation for many engineering degrees as it introduces a wider range of pure and applied content, such as matrices and complex numbers. The content in the mechanics units is particularly useful preparation for some engineering courses.

Only a small number of engineering degree courses specifically mention Further Mathematics in their entry requirements, but many course leaders encourage students to take Further Mathematics if possible as it is a valuable introduction to the mathematical requirements of engineering degrees. In consequence, at some of the leading universities a significant proportion of engineering undergraduates have studied Further Mathematics A level.



Mathematics

A level Mathematics (or an equivalent qualification) is required by nearly all engineering degree courses in the UK. However, not all universities explicitly refer to the need for a mathematics qualification at level 3 in their requirements. Students are advised to be well-prepared mathematically when starting an engineering degree.


Entry Requirements for Engineering Degrees

Almost all Engineering degree courses require Mathematics A level(or an equivalent qualification) for entry.

Chemical Engineering

Whilst 100% of Chemical Engineering degree courses require students to be prepared mathematically to A level Mathematics or equivalent, very few, 15%, recommended or preferred students to have studied A level Further Mathematics. The proportion of A level students starting Chemical and Process Engineering undergraduate degrees in 2012 who had taken A level Further Mathematics was 18%.


Mechanical Engineering

100% of Mechanical Engineering degree courses require students to be prepared mathematically to A level Mathematics or equivalent. A small proportion of courses prefer students to have studied mechanics units as part of their A level Mathematics, and 21% encourage or recommend students to have studied A level Further Mathematics. The proportion of A level students starting Mechanical Engineering undergraduate degrees in 2012 who had taken A level Further Mathematics was 19%.


Electronic and Electrical Engineering

100% of Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree courses require students to be prepared mathematically to A level Mathematics or equivalent. 15% encourage or recommend students to have studied A level Further Mathematics. The proportion of A level students starting Electronic and Electrical Engineering undergraduate degrees in 2012 who had taken A level Further Mathematics was 18%.


Civil Engineering


94% of Civil Engineering degree courses require students to be prepared mathematically to A level Mathematics or equivalent. 11% encourage or recommend students to have studied A level Further Mathematics. The proportion of A level students starting Civil Engineering undergraduate degrees in 2012 who had taken A level Further Mathematics was 16%.


Whilst we try to maintain up-to-date information about the entry requirements for engineering degrees, we strongly recommend visiting the university's own website for the most recent information.


Some examples of references to Further Mathematics


Bath University

Civil Engineering and Civil and Architectural Engineering

Desirable
We accept a range of subjects for the second and third A level provided that they include a good balance of subjects. Physics and/or Further Mathematics are recommended but not mandatory



Imperial College, London

Electrical Engineering
Our courses require students to have a good ability in complex numbers and for students who have not studied Further Maths at A Level this can sometimes lead to problems. In their orientation week, and in December, all first year students are given a diagnostic maths test which is designed to identify students with a weakness in this area. Attendance at these maths tutorials is compulsory for the students identified via these tests.



Imperial College, London

Civil and Environmental Engineering
In addition to pure mathematics, some knowledge of applied mathematics, particularly mechanics, is required. Module M1 is essential and M2 is desirable. Candidates will normally be required to obtain grade A in all their mathematics modules at the first attempt.

Although Further Mathematics is not a course requirement, it is an advantage and is encouraged.



Oxford University

Engineering
Inclusion of Mathematics Mechanics modules is highly recommended. Further Mathematics can be helpful to students in completing this course.

Will I find the Mathematics course, or any joint course involving Mathematics, difficult if I have not taken Further Mathematics to full A-level?

You may need to do extra work before starting your course and during your first year to compensate, not simply because you have less knowledge of the subject, but also since you may well have had less practice and experience in using Mathematics. Given commitment and determination, students who do not have Further Mathematics A-level complete the Oxford Mathematics course just as successfully as those who do.



Preparing for an Engineering Degree

Engineering degree courses all require good mathematical skills.

You will be taught the mathematics required for the course during your first year. The topics covered will be mostly content from A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics. These techniques and methods will be applied in engineering contexts and require you to pick up the skills and concepts quickly.

Consequently you are encouraged to do as much mathematics in the sixth-form as possible so that you have some familiarity with topics like:

  • Differentiation
  • Integration
  • Differential equations
  • Functions, such as trigonometric, logarithmic, exponential
  • Vectors
  • Matrices
  • Complex numbers
  • Mechanics
  • and Probability


Overview of Mathematics covered in first year Engineering Degrees

The table below shows typical areas of mathematics that might be studied in the first year of an undergraduate engineering degree course.

The hyperlinked applications of A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics in red have been included in the overview to illustrate how these mathematical ideas are used in engineering contexts:

Differential Calculus Integral Calculus Differential Equations
Differentiation – implicit and parametric

Finding stationary points

Numerical methods for finding roots
Taylor Series

Series expansions and limits

Introduction to partial differentiation
Integration methods, by parts, substitution, separation of variables

Volume of revolution, centroids

Numerical integration

Integration of rational functions

Improper integrals

Work done pumping water from a bore hole

Linear First Order ODEs

Linear Second Order ODEs

Particular solutions

Calculating Energy of an Oscillating Body
Functions Complex Numbers Matrices
Inverse Functions

Trigonometric

Exponential

Logarithmic

Hyperbolic

Curve Sketching

Cartesian, Polar & Exponential Forms

Euler’s formula

De Moivre's theorem

Complex roots

Analysing AC current

Impedance can be complex
Inverse of a matrix

Product

Solution of sets of linear equations

Eigenvalues and eigenvectors

Matrices as transformations

Calculating the current in a mesh

Motion of a coupled spring system
Vectors Mechanics Probability
Vector Algebra

Scalar and vector products

Triple product

Differentiation and integration of vectors

Vector equations of lines and planes

Newton’s laws of motion

Conservation laws

Collisions

Circular motion

Rigid body mechanics

Moments of inertia, rotation

Simple harmonic motion, damping, resonance

Random variables

Binomial distribution

Poisson distribution



Example Careers


The Tomorrow's Engineers website has information about routes into engineering and a large selection of career profiles.

Rebecca - a civil engineer describes her work and the pathway to her career as a civil engineer. This is one of many profiles on the Women's Engineering Society, WES website.

Useful links

The following websites have useful information about the mathematical topics you will study during your first year of an engineering degree together with other resources to support your preparation for engineering at university.

MEI's Engineering Resources were developed for the Royal Academy of Engineering to support the teaching and learning of mathematics within engineering courses. These are free but schools need to register with MEI to access them. Here is a sample activity for Simple Gears and Transmission for students and for teachers.

EngNRICH - a section of the Nrich website with problems and articles specific to applications of mathematics in Engineering. It is for students aged 14 - 19 and is designed to complement and enhance the study of engineering. Some of the examples in the table above are from this website.

I want to study Engineering is a website with hundreds of problems based on A level questions to help students prepare for engineering at university

Isaac Physics - a bank of challenging questions for improving your mathematical problem solving skills for physics and engineering problems. The site includes notes and explanations of techniques and is designed and maintained by the University of Cambridge.

Tomorrow's Engineers Guide to Engineering at University gives an overview of different types of engineering courses.

The Maths Centre - this site was developed by a group from the Universities of Loughborough, Leeds and Coventry and has been set up to deliver mathematics support to students looking for post-16 mathematics help.