UCL Engineering


How we teach

At UCL Engineering we teach our undergraduate programmes in the context of our award-winning teaching framework, the IEP.

Apply theory, focus on communication and consider engineering ethics, all while working on real-world integrated engineering problems in creative, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams.

What is the IEP? 

  • An award-winning undergraduate teaching framework - not a programme that you apply to.
  • The IEP emphasises interdisciplinarity, creativity and communication alongside teamwork, learning through projects and the social context of engineering.  
  • Choose to study one of seven engineering disciplines with us, including Computer Science, or Management Science. You will start learning discipline-specific content in your first term, but you will find IEP content automatically embedded into your timetable as well.    
  • Many other universities have common first years in their engineering programmes. At UCL Engineering, you specialise straight away - but you will also work and learn alongside students from other disciplines throughout your first three years of study, and will have the chance to take three modules in a different engineering or management subject area, or even a modern foreign language.
  • These three modules are called the IEP Minor - which doesn't change your degree title, but does allow you to customise your degree. Find out more about the IEP Minor in the 'How is the IEP part of my chosen programme?' section below.      
  • We believe this is the best way to learn engineering in the 21st century. After all, to change the world, you need to be taught differently.  


UCL Engineering undergraduate programmes that follow the IEP 

Please visit our Departmental pages to find out more about MEng programme routes. As specialisation usually occurs in your fourth year, specific routes have not been mentioned in the information above. Any instances where certain routes do not follow an element of the IEP are clarified, however. 
Most UCL Engineering Departments offer MEng or MSci programmes which include a year abroad, and some offer year in industry opportunities. Please get in touch with individual Departments to enquire further. 

UCL Engineering undergraduate programmes that do not follow the IEP 

All the above degree are either already highly specialised, have input from other UCL Faculties and Departments, or are for particular groups of students (i.e. medical students in the case of Intercalated degrees). 


How will I be taught? 

You will learn in a variety of ways, including lectures, self-study, real-world scenarios, group work and flipped lectures (self-study via video and written material beforehand, so the time spent with your lecturer is more useful). You will spend time in experimental or computer labs learning key technical skills, and a series of authentic team-based engineering projects will provide a unique opportunity for you to apply your technical knowledge through the process of engineering design. You may also have the chance to go on field trips.

Why teach in this way?

Good engineering happens when people work together to solve problems with complimentary skill sets. The IEP teaching framework was designed as a response to both the changing nature of 21st century engineering, and industry requirements for innovative, curious graduates who are not only technically brilliant in their chosen discipline, but also have a wider knowledge base, are used to working with both engineers from other areas and non-engineers, and can effectively communicate their ideas.  

Who will teach me?

Academics from every UCL Engineering Department contribute to the IEP. The majority of teaching on your IEP modules will be taught by academics from your core programme Department. Interdisciplinary IEP elements are delivered by leading academics from across the Faculty. Our Departmental colleagues embrace a shared attitude towards collaborative, problem-based, creative learning.  Some teaching on certain modules is delivered by members of the Faculty-based IEP Team. 

The IEP Team 
  • IEP Director, Emanuela Tilley (on maternity leave)
  • IEP Director, Rebecca Yerworth
  • Mathematical Modelling & Analysis Lead, Dr Abel Nyamapfene 
  • Principal Teaching Fellow, Dr Kate Roach 
  • Engineering Challenges Lead, Dr Fiona Truscott  
  • Design and Professional Skills Co-ordinator, Dr Chika Nweke 
  • Senior Teaching and Learning Administrator, Alex Reffell (on secondment)
  • Senior Teaching and Learning Administrator, Kerry-Anne Tarlton
  • Faculty Learning Technologist, Matt Seren Smith
  • IEP Operations Manager, Jim McKenzie  
  • Communications and Student Engagement Manager, Garance Mourgaud


How is the IEP part of my chosen programme? 

Engineering Challenges Module

Who Takes This? BEng/MEng Biochemical, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Electronic & Electrical and Mechanical Engineering students, BSc/MEng Computer Science students

Engineering Challenges takes place in Term 1 of your first year, and comprises two Challenges - team projects that last for half a term.

During these 5 week-long projects, you will work in a team to investigate a problem and create a solution. You have other lectures during this time, and will spend two hours in class each week on the Challenge.

The Challenges are themed around broad issues which have a global impact, taken from the UCL Grand Challenges topics – for example, sustainability or global health.

Challenge 1 is discipline-specific, so is taught by your home Department. Your team will be made up of students from your programme cohort. This Challenge is aimed at giving you further insights into cutting-edge innovations within your chosen discipline.    

Challenge 2 is multidisciplinary. You will work with students from different engineering disciplines, and be taught interdisciplinarily by academics in partnered Departments. This Challenge gives you a chance to work with students from another discipline on a ‘real-world’ project, in an area that naturally occurs in industry. For example, if the Challenge 2 topic is the development and distribution of vaccines in Uganda, Biochemical, Biomedical and Chemical Engineering students may work together on developing effective bioreactorsElectronic and Electrical Engineering students may work with Computer Science students on developing the control systems for bioreactors, and Civil and Mechanical Engineering students may work together on developing the infrastructure and plant systems needed for these bioreactors. Each discipline has a distinct part to play, becoming truly effective when working in conjunction with other disciplines. 

"The unique components introduced by the IEP - for example, Challenges and How to Change The World - gave me early exposure to working in teams comprising of individuals from different disciplines and backgrounds. The various activities helped me work on my leadership skills in multidisciplinary environments, where it was crucial to be able bridge the gaps in knowledge between members in order to complete given tasks. This experience helped me stand out as a candidate when applying to summer internships or work placements."

Akmal, MEng Mechanical Engineering, 3rd year 18/19

Design & Professional Skills I & II

Who takes this? BEng/MEng Biochemical, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Electronic & Electrical and Mechanical Engineering students, BSc/MEng Computer Science students

Takes place in Terms 1 & 2 of your first and second year. Design & Professional Skills includes a special project in your first week – the infamous Pebble in the Pond. 

Design & Professional Skills, or DPS, is taught in discipline cohorts – so you study with your programme peers. Everyone studies the same materials and curriculum, however, with plenty of discipline-specific adjustments taught in context.  

In DPS, you’ll learn about communications – and why this is so important to engineers – ethics, teamwork and leadership, the engineering design cycle and technical skills specific to your chosen degree programme, such as engineering drawing and CAD (computer aided design), programming and risk assessments.  

Design & Professional Skills includes Scenarios – week-long team projects where all your other lectures stop, and you have one focus: a team-based technical engineering design project. Scenarios are taught by your Department, and give you the opportunity to apply your Design & Professional Skills knowledge to issues relating to your subject area. Scenarios also give you a real insight into how engineers work; such experience helps you stand apart compared to other engineering students. Our students say that Scenarios are intense, but they love them!

"You have a whole real-life project, and you’re expected to complete it by the Friday [having only been given it the Monday before]. It’s challenging because it’s a lot of work, and initially, especially on the Monday you’re a bit everywhere. But by the end of the week you get to see a project come together, and I think that’s really exciting."

Zara, BEng Chemical Engineering, 2018

Mathematical Modelling & Analysis I and II

Who takes this? BEng/MEng Biochemical, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Electronic & Electrical and Mechanical Engineering students 

Please note BSc / MEng Computer Science students take a different mathematics module (see the UCL Computer Science prospectus pages). 

Undertaken in Term 1 of your first year and Terms 1 and 2 of your second year, you will have mixed cohort lectures and discipline-specific tutorials and workshops. In your first year you will also benefit from timetabled, tutor-led MATLAB sessions. Everyone studies the same theory, and has a chance to apply and understand that theory in areas relevant to their chosen engineering degree programme.  

Mathematical Modelling & Analysis I reinforces the engineering utility of mathematical concepts. You’ll study topics including engineering calculus, engineering uncertainty, how to analyse data, matrices and vectors.  

Mathematical Modelling & Analysis II integrates mathematics theory and engineering practice. You’ll study topics including partial differential equations, series and transforms, Eigenvectors and Eigenvalues, probability and statistics. 

IEP Minor Modules

Please note - the IEP Minors do not change your degree title.

Who takes this? BEng/MEng Biochemical, Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Electronic & Electrical and Mechanical Engineering students, BSc/MEng Computer Science students, BSc/MSci Management Science students

BEng / MEng Mechanical Engineering with Business Finance students do not have an IEP Minor choice option. 

If you take an MEng, and choose to take your third year abroad, you may not be able to complete your third year IEP Minor modules, though every effort will be made for you to take them in your fourth year.    

The IEP Minor is unique in UK engineering education. A set of three modules grouped together, you take one module in your second year, and two modules in your third year. At the end of your first year, after receiving further information, you will select your first and second preference IEP Minors.

Before the IEP Minor, timetable clashes meant picking electives was difficult for our students. By grouping elective modules together, we have allowed students to both gain in-depth knowledge of certain subject areas over three modules, and also ensured timetable issues are lessened.

Now, you have space in your timetable for the IEP Minor modules, and an exciting opportunity to study intelligent systems (AI) if you are a chemical engineering student, or ocean engineering if you are a computer science student. This will give you an advantage in a competitive jobs market.

The IEP Minor is compulsory, and you must study all three modules in one grouping. The IEP Minor does not change your degree title, but it does enable you to customise your chosen engineering degree programme, follow your passions, come across different ideas and gain insight into specific engineering sectors. Such experience really will make you stand out compared to other students.

IEP Minor topic areas are subject to change, but there are currently over 15 choices, including the aforementioned intelligent systems (AI) and ocean engineering, plus programming, environmental engineering, modern foreign languages, entrepreneurship, modern application of engineering mathematics and biomechanics, to name but a few.  

We have tried to make every IEP Minor available to everyone, but there are some prerequisites, which will be explained to you in your first year. If your core degree programme already covers the subject area, you will not be able to take the corresponding IEP Minor. Some IEP Minors may require certain A-levels, or equivalent. 

No matter what IEP Minor you choose, you will work and learn with students from other engineering disicplines, building your interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary knowledge.

You can learn more about IEP Minor Pathways available to students starting their second year of studies in the academic year 2019-2020 on our IEP Minor leaflet 2019-20.

Student IEP Minor Team Success in EWB Design for People Challenge

Subtitled version of IEP Minors video: https://youtu.be/lOXIYWPy41Q

“My IEP Minor in Engineering and Public Policy allows me to analyse the impact of technology from a political standpoint and how it fits in the policy sphere. While my degree equips me with the technical understanding of a certain technology, my IEP Minor opens up my horizons, encourages me to think beyond normal engineering assumptions and ultimately understand how power and influence work.”

Sarah, Chemical Engineering, 3rd Year 18/19

How to Change the World 

Who takes this? BEng/MEng Biochemical, Biomedical, Chemical, Electronic & Electrical and Mechanical Engineering students, BSc/MEng Computer Science students, BSc/MSci Management Science students (plus other students not on IEP programmes) 

How to Change the World (HtCtW) is the Integrated Engineering Programme’s capstone element; an intensive, two-week studio-based group project with industry and government involvement, taken at the end of your second year.

Working in interdisciplinary teams made up of students from across UCL Engineering, including students on programmes which don’t follow the IEP, you are set a broad, wide-ranging, real-world task related to a UN Sustainable Development Goal. Working in facilitated workshops with industry, your group will plan and design an engineering solution to the issue you are given, then pitch to a panel of academics and undergraduate teaching assistants (student helpers who will have taken HtCtW the year before).

You will also pitch to a panel of external and internal (UCL) experts at the Innovation Showcase, which takes place on the final day, and is usually held in prestigious locations such as County Hall, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

In recent years, industry partners have included the UK Government Department for Transport, ARUP, Engineers without Borders UK, Motorola Solutions and Lloyds Banking Group.

How to Change the World is managed by our colleagues in UCL STEaPP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy), and emphases the social context of engineering, whilst giving you another opportunity for problem-based learning - solving problems whilst working in teams, and applying your knowledge as you're learning it. 

Check out our student takeover #HtCtW Stories - follow @uclengineering on Instagram 


"The IEP has played a fundamental role in building my teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills, especially through Scenario weeks and How to Change the World. I have had the opportunity to apply my engineering knowledge to real-world problems, and to propose innovative solutions. This has been enjoyable, and has helped to expand my creative side by allowing me to think outside the box."

Simran, MEng Chemical Engineering, 3rd year 

Beyond The Curriculum 

As well as studying the above modules and projects – which all include some form of assessment – as a UCL Engineering student on a programme that follows the IEP, you’ll come across additional elements that aren’t part of the curriculum as such, but are still important, and will still influence your student journey. 

Strengths Finder 

Communication is central to being an engineer, whether giving or receiving instructions, interacting with a client or collaborating with colleagues. As an undergraduate engineering student, you will also find yourself studying, working and living in new environments with people who are beyond your chosen friendship group. This can be challenging.

That’s why the IEP introduces the CliftonStrengths for Students tool to first years in the first week of Term. CliftonStrengths helps develop self-awareness and provides you with a vocabulary, so you can sensitively explore and discuss how people can inspire or frustrate you. This is exceptionally useful when it comes to working in teams – in university, and also in industry.

Strengths is a positive psychology tool widely used by employers. The tool provides a set of descriptions that help each person understand how they think, connect with others and get things done. Through the IEP’s active learning approach, we help you reflect on how you achieve, and through this reflection you will learn to appreciate and value different styles of contributing to work.

The IEP works with a Certified Strengths Coach who supports our teaching and learning staff to get the most out of this programme.

Text by Dr Jan Peters (external consultant). 

IEP Ambassadors 

Our wonderful IEP Ambassadors are students from every programme on the IEP who believe in our aims and ethos - that engineering is a people-centred, creative discipline that works best when it is diverse, inclusive and considers social contexts.   

You may have already met some of our Ambassadors at UCL's Undergraduate Open Days. IEP Ambassadors are not academic reps, but rather students who want to raise awareness of the IEP, and showcase why this is such an exciting, effective way to be taught engineering. 

As a relatively new teaching framework - the IEP was first implemented by UCL in 2014 - we have also benefitted from crucial feedback from our Ambassadors. The IEP was partially set up to respond to industry requirements for adaptive engineering graduates with strong communication and problem-solving skills, and needs to be flexible enough to reflect change. Having a solid, consistent student viewpoint from our Ambassadors helps ensure the IEP stays innovative and dynamic enough for all students - equipping you properly for life after university.   

If you join us, and decide to become an IEP Ambassador, you may get the chance to work on projects involving social media, video production, pre-19 STEM engagement, events management and student engineering conferences.   

Please note, a competitive application process must be passed in order to become an IEP Ambassador. 

Is the IEP for me?
  • Are you interested in applied and industry-aligned engineering?
  • Are you creative, or do you like working in creative environments?
  • Are you interested in more than one area of engineering?
  • Do you like working with people from different backgrounds and specialisms?
  • Do you like communicating your ideas and solutions?
  • Are you intrigued by the idea that engineers and engineering can change the world? 

If you answered yes to any of the above, this way of learning is for you

IEP Success

If your company would like to work with the IEP, be invited to student events, or be an industry partner, please contact Kerry-Anne Tarlton, Senior Teaching & Learning Administrator (faceng.iep@ucl.ac.uk

If you are from another HE institution and would like to find out more about the IEP, please visit the Centre for Engineering Education website.