Study Mechanical Engineering – A Comprehensive Subject Guide

A branch of engineering that deals with the design, analysis, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It encompasses a wide range of disciplines and applications, making it one of the broadest and oldest engineering fields. Explore this subject guide to learn more about mechanical engineering.

mechanical engineering

Table of Contents

What is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is a diverse field that offers a wide range of career opportunities and the chance to work on projects that have a significant impact on society and technology. It requires a strong foundation in mathematics and physics, problem-solving skills, creativity, and a deep understanding of engineering principles.

Why Study Mechanical Engineering?

Studying mechanical engineering offers numerous advantages and opportunities, making it a compelling choice for those interested in the field of engineering and technology. Here are some reasons why you might consider studying mechanical engineering:

  1. Versatile Skill Set: Mechanical engineering provides a well-rounded skill set that is applicable across various industries. You’ll gain expertise in areas such as design, analysis, materials, thermodynamics, and mechanics, making you versatile and adaptable in the job market.
  2. Innovation and Problem Solving: Mechanical engineers are at the forefront of innovation, designing and creating new technologies, products, and systems. If you enjoy solving complex problems and coming up with creative solutions, this field offers plenty of opportunities to do so.
  3. Global Demand: Mechanical engineering skills are in demand worldwide. This means you can find job opportunities in various countries and potentially work on international projects.

Best Universities for Mechanical Engineering in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Ranking:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Cambridge2273.6998.5100.090.0100.0
2University of Oxford2204.083.6797.998.086.094.7
3Imperial College London2284.053.7497.388.080.092.4
4University of Bristol1993.803.5697.494.080.088.6
5University of Bath1954.143.3098.
6UCL (University College London)1973.883.5896.490.076.087.3
7University of Sheffield1674.253.5397.488.086.086.5
8University of Southampton1733.903.5897.
9The University of Edinburgh2023.443.3897.394.086.084.4
10University of Leeds1843.733.5198.480.078.084.2
11University of Exeter1563.923.2499.390.084.083.3
12University of Birmingham1533.803.4997.
13University of Nottingham1533.773.4297.490.080.082.2
14University of Glasgow2083.673.4694.
15University of Manchester1793.913.4896.774.066.081.2
16Loughborough University1673.913.2693.988.074.080.9
17Queen's University Belfast1533.643.3298.
18University of Strathclyde2153.783.3094.984.076.080.5
19Queen Mary University of London1533.603.5495.380.082.079.6
20University of Liverpool1403.983.4097.
21Lancaster University1503.893.2398.674.080.078.9
22University of Surrey1323.993.3396.784.076.078.6
23Swansea University1443.723.2596.384.078.078.2
24Cardiff University1403.733.3599.
25Newcastle University1423.513.4295.884.076.077.7
26Nottingham Trent University1283.883.4395.
27University of Hull1413.823.0392.
28University of Leicester1203.803.0498.
29University of Sussex1393.722.94100.
30Heriot-Watt University1813.513.3891.882.072.075.3
31Ulster University1293.853.2992.878.076.074.7
32Brunel University London1333.502.9295.678.088.074.1
33Aston University, Birmingham1253.722.9797.
34University of Aberdeen1533.932.9297.572.076.073.4
35Bristol, University of the West of England1383.832.9194.
36Northumbria University, Newcastle1403.353.0989.486.078.073.0
37London South Bank University1214.212.8091.770.082.071.6
38Liverpool John Moores University1303.833.2288.
39University of Portsmouth1233.822.6993.778.080.070.4
40University of Hertfordshire1173.802.9696.
41University of the West of Scotland3.712.4687.
42University of Lincoln1233.392.7391.578.080.069.2
43University of Brighton1013.563.0292.978.080.068.7
44Bournemouth University1094.052.3895.774.074.068.6
45Teesside University, Middlesbrough1474.742.6078.472.072.068.5
46University of Greenwich1303.482.9094.
47Manchester Metropolitan University1303.823.1790.962.062.068.3
48Coventry University1243.942.7484.778.078.067.4
49University of Dundee1743.513.2691.856.050.067.1
50Oxford Brookes University1193.662.5689.
51Robert Gordon University1563.892.5889.
52Glasgow Caledonian University1583.752.3393.
53Harper Adams University1104.0998.
54University of Huddersfield1093.732.9489.
55University of Plymouth1183.492.9990.
56University of Kent1283.7195.
57City, University of London1193.332.8995.562.058.065.7
58Staffordshire University1183.772.8490.562.052.064.7
59Edinburgh Napier University1484.0091.
60University of Bradford993.922.8196.854.054.064.2
61De Montfort University1103.702.7287.662.076.063.4
62University of Central Lancashire1293.482.7887.562.066.063.3
63Solent University (Southampton)1074.0590.
64Sheffield Hallam University1213.282.8986.
65University of Salford1333.122.9089.764.050.062.7
66University of Wales Trinity Saint David993.772.5080.580.066.061.5
67University of Wolverhampton874.212.4991.460.050.060.5
68Birmingham City University1103.652.6190.946.072.060.3
69University of East London993.892.5681.458.076.058.7
70University of Bolton1174.1389.558.056.058.1
71Kingston University1153.452.5887.454.054.058.1
72University of Derby1223.742.3887.
73University of Sunderland3.892.6477.458.066.057.1
74University of South Wales3.432.7988.
75University of Chichester1223.382.2773.753.9
76Anglia Ruskin University923.642.3167.962.072.050.5

Entry Requirements for a Mechanical Engineering Degree

The entry requirements for a mechanical engineering degree in the UK can vary depending on the university and the specific programme.

  1. Academic Qualifications:
    • A-levels or equivalent qualifications are commonly required. The specific A-level subjects and grades needed may vary but often include Mathematics and Physics. Typical offers might ask for AAB or AAA at A-level.
    • International Baccalaureate (IB) is usually accepted, with requirements typically around 36-38 points, including higher-level Mathematics and Physics.
    • For mature students or those with non-traditional qualifications, universities may consider alternative qualifications or work experience.
  2. Mathematics Proficiency: Mathematics is a fundamental requirement for mechanical engineering. You will likely need to have a strong foundation in mathematics, often including calculus and algebra.
  3. English Language Proficiency: If English is not your first language, you may need to demonstrate proficiency through an English language test like IELTS or TOEFL. The specific English language requirements can vary but are typically in the range of IELTS 6.0 to 7.0 or equivalent.
  4. Interviews or Aptitude Tests: Some universities may conduct interviews or require you to take aptitude tests as part of the admission process.

Jobs for Mechanical Engineering Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Mechanical Engineer: This is the most common job role for mechanical engineering graduates. They design, analyse, and test mechanical systems and products. They can work in industries like aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, and energy.
  • Design Engineer: Design engineers create detailed designs and plans for mechanical components and systems. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create 2D and 3D models.
  • Quality Control Engineer/Inspector: Quality control engineers or inspectors ensure that products meet quality standards and specifications. They perform inspections, tests, and quality assessments to identify and rectify defects.
  • Project Engineer/Manager: Project engineers and managers oversee the planning, execution, and completion of engineering projects. They are responsible for budgets, timelines, and coordination among team members.

Salary for Mechanical Engineering Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £20,000

Medium-skilled: £23,000

High-skilled: £28,000

Topics for Mechanical Engineering Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of mechanical engineering and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. Finite Element Analysis of Mechanical Components: Analyse stress, deformation, and fatigue of mechanical components using finite element analysis (FEA) and propose design improvements.
  2. Thermal Analysis of Heat Exchangers: Investigate the thermal performance of different types of heat exchangers and optimise their designs for efficiency.
  3. Aerodynamic Analysis of Airfoil Shapes: Study and compare the aerodynamic characteristics of different airfoil shapes, and design an optimal airfoil for a specific application.
  4. Renewable Energy Systems Design: Design and analyse renewable energy systems, such as wind turbines or solar panels, for maximum energy generation and efficiency.

How Many Mechanical Engineers Are There in the UK?

There were estimated to be approximately 75,500 mechanical engineers working in the United Kingdom as of the first quarter of 2023, compared with 77,100 in the previous quarter.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  • Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineering focuses on the design, development, and maintenance of electrical systems, electronics, and devices. It covers areas such as power systems, electronics, telecommunications, and control systems.
  • Civil Engineering: Civil engineering deals with the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure projects such as bridges, buildings, roads, and water supply systems.
  • Environmental Science/Engineering: Environmental science and engineering are concerned with studying and mitigating environmental issues, including pollution control, water resource management, and sustainable practices.
  • Mechatronics or Robotics: Mechatronics combines elements of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering to design and build intelligent systems and robots.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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