UCL Centre for Engineering Education


Integrated Engineering Programme

What is the IEP?

In 2014 the UCL Faculty of Engineering undertook a major revision of its degree programmes. The Integrated Engineering Programme, introduced to the majority of undergraduate programmes a thread of project-based design throughout, integrated ‘employability’ skills, interdisciplinary ‘minors’ and an applied mathematics programme focusing on modelling and analysis of engineering systems. Centred on a thread of authentic activities, the programme aimed to enhance the students’ understanding of key theoretical concepts and heighten the development of key professional skills.  Covering all the engineering disciplines, computer sciences and with elements in Management Science, to date over 7000 students have entered the programme. It is perhaps the most comprehensive implementation of the Connected Curriculum at UCL. 

The IEP changes the centre of gravity of the programmes from the technical content to a thread of project activities and supporting skills development. Whilst the level of the technical subjects covered by students remains as high as it was before, students now take part in engineering challenges and scenarios weeks throughout the first two years of their programmes. In this thread they take on design projects, either within their departments or in interdisciplinary teams, that require students to apply the knowledge gained from their studies. 

Watch 'What do students think of scenario based learning at UCL?'

To allow students to connect to the research excellence of the faculty the IEP also introduced Interdisciplinary Minors, a set of three modules in a specific topic that is either within engineering but interdisciplinary or out of discipline completely. 

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To find out more:

The UCL Integrated Engineering Programme, Steve Hailes, Liz Jones, Martina Micheletti, John E. Mitchell, Abel Nyamapfene, Kate Roach, Emanuela Tilley and Fiona Truscott, In ASEE Advances in Engineering Education, August 2021

MIT: The Global State of the Art in Engineering Education, March 2018


What are Minors?

The IEP Minor is unique in UK engineering education. A set of three modules grouped together, with one module in the second-year of study and two modules in the third-year compulsory for all students in the IEP. The IEP Minor does not change the final degree title, but it does enable students to customise their chosen engineering degree programme and study with different students from different backgrounds, disciplines and perspectives, and gain insight into specific engineering sectors. We have seen that this experience is used by our graduates to stand out in a competitive jobs market. All minor topics are designed to be interdisciplinary and available to as many students as possible with minimal pre-requisites. Students get to choose to from a wide range of topics including data science, public policy, connected systems, entrepreneurship, environment engineering, finance and accounting, strategic thinking, nanotechnology or a modern foreign language. 

Ocean Engineering IEP Minor example 
Strategic Thinking in Engineering and Technology IEP Minor example
Connected Systems IEP Minor example

What is scenario based learning?

Group design projects put a lot of pressure on students, especially when they are expected to continue with other aspects of their curriculum in parallel. First implement at UCL in 2006, scenario-weeks were developed as intensive project-based learning experience directly derived from the taught material that students are studying but isolated in the timetable in way that allows students to focus on this activity solely. The projects undertaken aim to encourage integration of knowledge from across the material studies, development of interpersonal and professional skills as well as acquisition of new knowledge through enquiry. 

Each department runs six scenarios (eight in Management Science) for their students covering a wide range of topics and involving all aspects of the design cycle from requirements capture to build and test activities.
Biomedical Engineering scenario based learning example.

To the students these weeks are often cited as a highlight, intense and sometimes stressful but an authentic opportunity to put into practice the classroom learning of their programmes. Mostly importantly, they provide repeated opportunities for students to practice team-work and communications skills which are developed in parallel by a design and professorial practice programme. 

students learning
For more information see:
Sarah Bell, Patricia Galilea & Reza Tolouei (2010) Student experience of a scenario-centred curriculum, European Journal of Engineering Education, 35:3, 235-245






How to change the world

Engineers change the world. While for many engineering projects this is the explicit objective, all engineers, computer sciences, management sciences must realise that the systems the design and create, the applications they develop, even the management processes they implement impact people and society. Regardless of scale it is beholden our graduates to ensure that they fully understand the impact that they are having on society through their innovations. 

The How to Change the World programme is an intensive, two-week design experience that is the capstone of the first two years of the IEP programme. It takes the majority of second-year students across the faculty (approximately 1000) and presents them with a ‘wicked’ problem to address. A real and current problem, that our partner organisations from government or NGOs are being challenged to address. It asks them to consider their skills and abilities, to write their own problem brief within the problem space and to conceive of radical and innovative solutions to some of the pressing challenges faced across the global. It draws on a sub-set of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) to provide complex technical, societal and economic problems to interdisciplinary teams of young engineers, computer scientists and management scientists.

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