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UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

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Do you have a question about studying in the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering at UCL? Check out our FAQs below.

 

What is Electronic & Electrical Engineering all about?

The modern world is absolutely dependent on technology that is underpinned by Electronic and Electrical Engineering. Many of our highly-skilled graduates go on to play a central role in advancing this technology around the world.

The ‘Electronic’ part of the title is concerned with the development of electronic components such as transistors and microprocessors, and the design and implementation of electronic circuits built from them for a wide range of applications such as mobile and wireless communications; computing and the internet; transport and healthcare, control systems and machine learning; television and radio; and many more. The “Electrical’ part of the title is concerned with larger scale applications such as electricity supply and generation, renewable energy, motors, transformers generators, and power-related technology.

The aim of the first two years of all our programmes is to give you a solid grounding in the underlying principles of both Electronic and Electrical Engineering. The later years of the degree will generally involve  more specialisation and optional modules to suit your interests, together with substantial project work. The research interests of the Department lie more towards the Electronics side, but our degrees cover all the core theory that any graduate in Electronic and Electrical Engineering should know.

What is the difference between Electronic and Electrical Engineering and a science degree like Physics?

An Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree covers some of the same theory as a Physics degree in areas such as electromagnetism and semiconductor devices. The essential difference is that an Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree is much more concerned with immediately applying that theory to develop real world applications, rather than just learning the theory for pleasure in itself. For instance our degrees take you all the way from understanding the quantum physics of electrons at the nanoscale, to using this to design transistors, to implementing transistors in processors and larger circuits, to writing the software and apps to operate and control these circuits in real world applications.

We emphasise all this from day one with project work and scenarios (free-form design challenges) following on from theory delivered in lectures

What is the difference between Electronic and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Often the distinction between these two subjects is blurred, but they are in fact separate departments at UCL. Our Electronic and Electrical Engineering degrees provide a good coverage of both the hardware and software aspects of computer technology from your home to the cloud. This includes everything from the design of CPU architectures, to the internet, fibre optic networks, information transmission and data storage. Our graduates go on to work in both the hardware and software technology sectors.  We teach several computing languages (such as C and Java) from scratch during the first two years of our degree programmes.

In an Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree the emphasis is on using the programming language as a tool to develop and control applications which often involve hardware that you have also designed and built.

In contrast a computer science degree tends to deal with only the software side rather than the hardware side, and the practical elements of the degree are only computer based. Computer Science degrees are in some ways closer to pure mathematics– for instance to understand the underlying structures and logic of algorithms and programming languages rather than just using them as a tool.  

What sort of jobs do your graduates get?

Quite a variety actually. In principle with a good Electrical Engineering degree, a well presented CV and some self-motivation, you can probably find work in almost any field except those that require specialist degrees like law or medicine. Being an Electrical Engineer means you are a problem solver, with a strong set of skills from team working to being able to develop and deploy advanced mathematical models to a wide range of situations.

Of course many of our graduates work for companies across the wide range of electronic and electrical engineering specialisms, including the communications and computing sectors, energy, aerospace and rail firms, and companies specialising in emerging technology like machine learning and ‘The Internet of Things’. However, it is also common for our graduates to find employment in corporate roles such as management consultants or as financial analysts in 'the City', or even to start their own hi-tech companies.

What level of salary might a graduate electronic engineer expect to earn?

Engineers generally earn competitive starting salaries that are on average higher than those of say science graduates. The median starting salary of our graduates in 2016-17 was £25,000 to £33,000 depending on the degree programme (as assessed by the DLHE survey run by the Office for Students, an independent public body).  Of course graduates can expect their salaries to increase throughout their careers.

Our strong emphasis on building skills through group and project work throughout our degree programmes gives our graduates a competitive advantage in many job interview situations. We also help our students gain relevant industry experience through summer internships or year-long internships (such as our Cisco International Internship Programme) all of which make them attractive to potential employers and help command higher starting salaries.

What is the standard offer for your programmes?

Our standard offer level is currently AAA at A Level, including A in Maths for either our BEng or MEng programmes.  Our preferred second subjects are Physics or Further Maths.

We welcome applicants from overseas. For those taking overseas qualifications our conditional offers are made at a level that UCL considers to be of a similar standard to our A Level requirement. Full details of other UK and the overseas qualifications we accept can be found in drop down menus on the UCL Prospectus pages for the BEng and MEng programme.

Overseas/EU students will also have to meet the English Language requirements and for those requiring an English test we require the 'Standard level'.

What happens if I do not meet my offer?

We treat any dropped grade in our offer (including any English language test requirement) as missing our offer even if you do better than expected in something else.  

Although we will try and accept applicants who narrowly miss our offer, for the past few years this has not been possible due to lack of space and the high number of applicants who successfully met their offer.

What do you look for in the personal statement?

Our main concern is whether you would really be interested in Electrical Engineering once you start your degree. You should therefore try and demonstrate why you think that you would be interested in the subject given that you probably haven’t studied it as a standalone subject at high school. What experiences, interests, and thinking about your future career, have led you to choose to study this subject full-time for the next 3 or 4 years?

Do you hold interviews?

No – we base our decisions only on the information supplied through UCAS.

How important are my GCSEs to getting an offer?

Students who are predicted AAA at A Level will usually have a good set of GSCEs. However, your final predicted A Level grades are more important to us in assessing your future potential than absolutely perfect GCSE scores across the board.

How much does the course cost?

Course fees are set centrally by UCL and vary from subject to subject, and are dependent on your fee status (UK/EU/overseas) as assessed by UCL. Note UCL’s course fees do not include living costs (for accommodation, food, travel, etc). You can view the most up-to-date information and advice on all these topics on the UCL Fees and Funding page.

Are there any scholarships available?

Unfortunately we do not offer full scholarships within the Department. UCL maintains a searchable list of scholarships and funding that might be available for both Home/EU students and International students.

Many engineering professional bodies also offer limited scholarships and bursaries that you may be eligible to apply for. For further details see the Scholarships page.

What is an average day studying Electronic Engineering like?

All our degrees are full-time only (9am to 5 or 6 pm most days) and we keep our undergraduate students very busy! Don't imagine this means that you would be attending lectures for eight hours a day! The timetable involves a variety of activities as well as time set aside for working on problem-solving and design exercises. But in general there are more than 30 hours of timetabled contact time per week in the first two years of the degree.

A typical day might involve three lectures, a tutorial or problem class or maybe time for personal study and, on certain days, a full-day laboratory session or key skills lecture.

All UCL students are free from timetabled work on Wednesday afternoons to allow time to participate in sports, student societies or other 'extra-curricular' activities.

Is there much 'homework'?

Most of our students would answer 'yes' to this question. Reading material before attending lectures and laboratories is essential to get the most out of these sessions. Setting you problems to study in your own time helps you learn by reinforcing lecture material.

There are also coursework assignments and laboratory reports to write up. Most of our standard lecture modules are assessed by final exams in the summer term (typically 80% of the total mark) and a coursework element (typically 20% of the total mark).

If you use your time efficiently - for instance making use of free slots - it is possible to keep the amount of work that you need to do outside of 'office hours' to a reasonable level.

I am interested in studying abroad as part of the course. Where can I go?

Our four-year MEng programme offers the chance to spend the third year of your studies at a range of European, American, Asian and Australasian universities. This includes prestigious global institutions such as Columbia, Purdue and Caltech in the US, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Melbourne University and the University of Tokyo - for the full range of options, please visit the UCL Study Abroad website.

Many of our students find this experience very valuable.

You apply for the year abroad during the 2nd year of the MEng at UCL. There is competition for places at some of the choices, but most students find an overseas university to suit them. If accepted you spend your entire 3rd year at the overseas university and take your exams there. Your marks are then converted to equivalent grades once you return to UCL

Are your degrees accredited?

All our undergraduate degree programmes are accredited by the UK Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Accreditation is the process whereby the professional body recognises a university degree as part of the training towards becoming a Chartered Engineer (CEng) in the UK. If you want to be a Chartered Engineer (CEng), you should aim for a degree programme which is accredited. Accredited UK qualifications can generally be used in applying for similar international statuses. In some overseas countries having such status is actually a legal requirement for being able to work as a “Professional Engineer”.

What's the difference between BEng and MEng?

The degree system in the UK is similar but not exactly the same as in other countries. In the UK system the 4-year MEng is the most advanced type of undergraduate degree, it's like a 3 -year BEng followed by an integrated 4th year which involves studying advanced courses at a Masters level.

Our BEng and MEng programmes have the same 1st and 2nd year so they start off at the same level of difficulty. This gives students some flexibility to switch programmes at the end of their 2nd year,  subject to (i) any visa restrictions, and (ii) having adequate grades (>50% average) in the case of switching from BEng to MEng.

In the UK system there are also separate postgraduate Masters degrees (MSc's) which are generally stand-alone one year courses that specialise in one particular area rather than the entire discipline of Electrical Engineering.

Should I chose the BEng or the MEng?

Our BEng and MEng degree programmes are all accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). To meet the academic requirements for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status requires either a 2.2 (upper 2nd class, >50% average) or better honours MEng degree, or alternatively our accredited BEng degree followed by an accredited stand-alone Masters (MSc, MRes or MPhil) at UCL or elsewhere. The MEng course has the advantage of satisfying all of the educational requirements for achieving chartered status without the need to apply for a separate degree.

Irrespective of whether you choose BEng or MEng, the first two years of study will contain the same material. To be allowed to enter the third year of the MEng course we require that students have reached a certain benchmark level - currently an average of at least 50% or above at the end of the second year.

What are your MEng specialist routes?

In addition to our standard MEng Engineering (Electronic and Electrical) programme we also allow MEng students (or BEng students who are eligible to transfer to the MEng) a choice of alternative specialist "with" degree programmes in their 3rd and 4th year. These are applied for during your second year at UCL, not through UCAS.  We currently offer MEng Engineering (Electronic and Electrical) programmes with one of Communications, Computer Science, Nanotechnology, or our International Programme (year abroad). The "with Communications", "with Computer Science" and "with Nanotechnology" streams involve compulsory 3rd and 4th year modules on these topics together with related project work. Although they involve specialism, they are not 50:50 joint degrees run with another department, and you would still be based in  Electronic and Electrical Engineering.

Can I defer my year of study?

Yes! We are very supportive of students who want to take a gap year off before starting as long as you are enthusiastic and ready to learn when you return to study. It is possible to request to defer for a year during the UCAS application itself or later in the UCAS cycle by contacting undergraduate-admissions@ucl.ac.uk once you hold an offer. We recommend that students who take a gap year revise and practice maths and physics questions before they return.

I want to come to UCL but my qualifications do not quite meet the entry requirements, what can I do?

We will consider applicants who are resitting their A-Levels and predicted to meet our entry requirements (including those who are reapplying to us). Every year we take some students who have resat A Levels.

If you are an overseas student without access to qualifications like A Levels that allow direct entry to UCL, then UCL does offer an engineering/science foundation programme , UPCSE run centrally by the UCL Language Centre.

Note this scheme is not suitable for students who have access to qualifications that we do accept for direct entry like A Levels, i.e. it cannot be used if your grades do not meet our entry requirements.

Do you accept foundation courses?

UCL does not in general accept foundation courses for entry except for its own (UPCSE mentioned above) and a few others at selected London institutions and Warwick which are mainly aimed at overseas students without access to A-Levels or equivalent. If you are unsure whether your foundation course would be acceptable for entry, please contact UCL’s Central Admissions Department using undergraduate-admissions@ucl.ac.uk.

Do you accept transfers from other universities?

We do not take transfer students into the second or higher years of our programmes regardless of previous courses studied. It is only possible for transfer applicants to apply through UCAS for entry to our 1st year. We only consider transfer applicants if they have already met our usual entry requirements at A Level or equivalent.

Is it possible to change Engineering subject in my 2nd and 3rd year at UCL?

The Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department is separate to the other engineering departments at UCL, although we are all part of the same Faculty of Engineering. Our degree programmes are also largely independent, and not designed to enable you to switch to another department in later years. However our Electronic and Electrical Engineering degrees do share some modules (such as Mathematics and Design & Professional Skills) with the other departments as part of the Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP) that runs at UCL.

In UCL’s Integrated Engineering Programme you major in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the outset, unlike at some universities where you can only study general engineering for the first few years. During the 2nd and 3rd year of your degree you will have the opportunity to study a “minor” topic offered by one of the other departments in the Faculty, and in the 3rd and 4th year we generally offer you some optional modules taught by other departments, which you can take depending on your degree programme.

Where is the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering located?

The department is on the main UCL site in Bloomsbury in the heart of London's West End. Most of central London's famous landmarks and attractions are within easy walking distance. You can find maps and directions to the department, along with information about local public transport services on our How to Find Us page.

My question isn't answered here, what should I do?

Please email the Undergraduate admissions team and we will do our best to answer your question – in fact we will be happy to answer any questions you have about studying with us.