Nature-Inspired Solutions MSc

London, Stratford (UCL East)

The world is facing Grand Challenges in solving problems related to sustainable development, including in addressing the crisis in climate change, global health, energy and environment, requiring transformative solutions for innovation and design. This MSc will empower students to harness their creativity in solving such challenges, using nature-inspired solution methodologies as an effective tool for disruptive design and responsible innovation.

UK students International students
Study mode
Full-time
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£18,000
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£35,000
Duration
1 calendar year
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 1

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

UCL Chemical Engineering is one of the top-rated Chemical Engineering departments in the world, being internationally renowned for its outstanding research and education.

The MSc in Nature-Inspired Solutions is specifically designed to allow students to develop transformative solutions by drawing on inspirations from nature (e.g. resilience, scalability, and efficiency) on interdisciplinary problems through research-related teaching and public engagement. For example, you learn from the scalability and efficiency of the human lung to redesign hydrogen fuel cells and CO₂ electroreduction in our race to net-zero, in the context of the energy transition and environmental sustainability. You learn from the resilience of the kidney and the efficiency of cell membranes to develop superior solutions for water treatment, and you learn from trees and forests to approach circularity in manufacturing.

This programme covers systematic design approaches to innovate in a wide range of fields, including sustainable manufacturing, energy and environmental technology, functional materials, health and biomedical engineering, and the built environment, where outside-the-box thinking is urgently needed within the pressing context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Moreover, the programme prepares you to learn how to work in multi-disciplinary teams on interdisciplinary problems, equipping you with transferable, lateral thinking skills and a competitive edge, for careers in research and development, entrepreneurship or industry. 

This MSc programme educates future graduates to be uniquely qualified in innovation and design based on unconventional problem-solving and analysis, using a wealth of solutions informed by nature, seamlessly working across traditional discipline boundaries.

The course will be delivered at the brand new UCL East campus on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London. This is the biggest development in our 200-year history, and our accessible, state-of-the-art facilities will have shared labs and workshop spaces open to all, to facilitate collaboration across different disciplines. The Park around the campus is a living landscape of biodiversity and a testbed for ground-breaking innovation. 

Who this course is for

The programme is designed to cater for a range of academic and career backgrounds, with optional modules to tailor the learning experience to the prospective student. The programme will consider prospective students from chemical and biochemical engineering, materials science, chemistry, environmental science and engineering, physics, mechanical engineering, architecture, biomedical engineering, and their allied fields.

What this course will give you

Upon successful completion of this programme, graduates will have unique problem-solving skills for accelerated innovation in a rapidly changing world. Particularly, you will be able to implement fundamental principles, borrowed from natural systems, to formulate ingenious solutions to complex engineering problems and propose innovative designs.

The foundation of your career

This is a new programme. However, based on information from alumni of the Nature-Inspired Chemical Engineering (NICE) module (CENG0029) and on PhD graduates from the Centre for Nature-Inspired Engineering (CNIE), typical destinations of graduates are expected to be either in a professional career (industry, designer, entrepreneur, policy maker, etc) or have an academic/research focus (PhD, mostly interdisciplinary).   

Employability

This MSc provides graduates with a firm foundation in research methods and research knowledge, as well as interdisciplinary teamworking skills, to apply nature-inspired solution methodologies for innovative design and for the development of transformative technology. The programme also provides you with the opportunity to work on real engineering and/or design challenges together with academics and/or industry, where possible.

Along with the increased interest in sustainability and nature-inspired solutions as a method from prospective employers, graduates are expected to either continue for a PhD, become entrepreneurs or enter industry in sectors related to chemical and biochemical manufacturing, energy and environmental process, materials, pharmaceutics, medicine, built environment, etc.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning methods are strongly guided by the UCL connected curriculum and on emphasising active research-led learning. Teaching and learning methods/strategies include: 

  • Lecture-based modules delivered by academics from different disciplines to equip you with skills and knowledge to work within interdisciplinary teams on cross-disciplinary projects. Teaching will make optimal use of e-learning with some material pre-recorded, which allows more face-to-face time for project/research-based discussions and activities between students and the lecturers/professors during tutorials or workshops. The flexibility of the teaching delivery will also enable you better manage your studies.  
  • Team-based projects and coursework that enables you to work within an interdisciplinary team to tackle engineering problems or for design innovation. 
  • Formative assessments (such as quizzes, project-based tutorials, critical literature reading) to help you gain knowledge and practical skills. 
  • Workshop discussions to develop a deeper understanding of nature and inspiration for nature-inspired methodologies.  
  • Engagement with world-leading academics and non-academic practitioners through the departmental seminars. 
  • Engagement with local communities (schools, etc.) to broaden the application of nature-inspired solution methodologies.

 

Formative:

  • Quizzes that conclude learning units
  • Coursework tutorials
  • Project tutorials
  • 1-to-1 sessions providing detailed feedback on project work

Summative:

  • Quizzes
  • Coursework on application of taught content
  • Written reports
  • Oral presentations
  • Project work on case studies
  • Research project

Please note that some modules may present additional forms of assessment (e.g. exams), which is dependent on the student’s choice.

All full time students are expected to study 40 hours per week during term time. This time is made up of formal learning and teaching events such as lectures, seminars and tutorials, as well as independent study. You are expected to read around the subject matter given in lectures. Your lecturers will not prescribe exactly what you should do in your private study time.   

Some modules may have asynchronous content in Moodle (resources for you to study at your own pace) as well as weekly face-to-face sessions on campus to give you the chance to learn in real time with your lecturers and this will be a chance to ask questions. 

Normal teaching hours are Mon – Fri 9am to 6pm, and all sessions will take place during these hours. There may be additional events, e.g. careers sessions, which may take place outside of these hours. Wednesday afternoons are normally kept free to allow time for sports and other activities.

Modules

You will undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.


In Term 1, you take three compulsory modules covering topics on nature-inspired solution methodologies. Lectures on nature-inspired solution methodologies and their applications in several areas (including sustainable and scalable manufacturing, energy and environmental technology, the built environment and biomedical engineering) are delivered. Two of the compulsory modules, focusing on the technical knowledge and skills necessary for research projects, start in Term 1 and continue in Term 2.


In Term 2, you undertake another three compulsory modules to further develop and extend the toolbox of nature-inspired methodologies. Through the learning of these compulsory modules, you also develop and improve other skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, effective team working, self-directed learning, technical writing and communication.


In Term 3 and during the summer, you focus on the individual research project, which culminates in a project report and an oral examination. You apply the acquired interdisciplinary knowledge and the nature-inspired methodologies to solve a possible challenge in engineering process and/or product design.


You may select two optional modules total, to be studied in the first two terms.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. Also, not all module combinations may be possible due to timetable clashes

Compulsory modules



Nature-Inspired Solutions

Nature-Inspired Materials Engineering

Nature-Inspired Design

Dynamics of Natural Systems

Nature-Inspired Research Project


Optional modules


Advanced Characterisation

Nature-Inspired Bioengineering

Mathematical Modelling of Engineering Systems







Sustainability Analysis of Engineering Systems


Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Fieldwork

Fieldwork offers the opportunity for students to observe nature and discuss many of the topics discussed in lecturers, seminars and tutorials. Fieldwork may include: 

  • A one-day trip to Kew Gardens in the reading week of the first term (November)
  • A one-day trip to London Zoo in the reading week of the second term (February)

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

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Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £18,000
Tuition fees (2023/24) £35,000

Additional costs

Students may be required to cover costs of printing of final project reports and/or posters, as well as for minor laboratory equipment such as a laboratory logbook. 
 
Moreover, any additional costs associated with, for instance, travel to exam venues within London, will be met by the student. 

The cost of field trips, including travel costs and related personal costs, within the U.K. will be met by the student. This is estimated not to exceed £100/day.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Brown Family Bursary

Deadline: 8 June 2023
Value: £15,000 (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Nature-Inspired Solutions at graduate level
  • why you want to study Nature-Inspired Solutions at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic, professional and personal background meets the demands of this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.