Best Chemical Engineering Universities In The UK: The 2024 Guide

Embarking on a journey to pursue a degree in chemical engineering is a significant step towards a rewarding and impactful career. As you navigate through the myriad of options available, our 2024 guide is here to illuminate the path by showcasing the best chemical engineering universities in the UK. From state-of-the-art facilities to renowned faculty and innovative research opportunities, these institutions stand out as the prime destinations for aspiring engineers. Join us as we delve into the top academic institutions shaping the future of chemical engineering in the United Kingdom.

Best Universities for Chemical Engineering

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Why Study Chemical Engineering in the UK?

Studying this course in the UK offers a plethora of benefits, making it an enticing choice for prospective students. Here’s why:

  1. Academic Excellence: The UK is renowned for its world-class universities and academic institutions that excel in providing high-quality education. Many universities offer accredited Chemical Engineering programmes that adhere to rigorous academic standards, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for their careers.

  2. Cutting-Edge Research Opportunities: The UK is at the forefront of chemical engineering research, with universities actively engaged in groundbreaking studies and innovations. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities, providing them with opportunities to work on real-world problems and contribute to advancements in the field.

  3. Industry Links and Placement Opportunities: Many UK universities have strong ties with industry partners, offering students opportunities for internships, placements, and collaborative projects. These connections provide invaluable practical experience and insight into the workings of the industry, enhancing students’ employability upon graduation.

  4. Professional Accreditation: Chemical Engineering programmes in the UK are often accredited by professional bodies such as the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), ensuring that graduates meet the highest standards of professional competence and ethics. This accreditation enhances the credibility of the degree and opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities worldwide.

Top Chemical Engineering Universities in the UK

Here are the best universities for Chemical Engineering degrees in the UK entering 2024 

  • Imperial College London
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Bath
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Strathclyde

1. Imperial College London Chemical Engineering

Along with the rest of the institution, the chemical engineering programme in Imperial College London is one of the best in the world. Academics and students in the department have been receiving various awards. For instance, a research associate in the department has been awarded the prestigious ‘2022 Most Distinguished Developing Career Achievement Prize’ by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

2. University of Southampton Chemical Engineering Review

At the University of Southampton, the Chemical Engineering undergraduate programme equips students with a strong theoretical foundation and practical skills essential for success in the field. Accredited by professional bodies such as the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), the programme ensures that graduates meet rigorous academic standards. Employers can certainly testify that the students are well-prepared for diverse career opportunities. This includes sectors such as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, energy, and environmental engineering.

3. University of Bath Chemical Engineering Review

The Chemical Engineering undergraduate programme in Bath definitely stands out. This is due to its strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, research-led teaching, and industry collaboration. Students are immersed in a dynamic learning environment like no other. It combines fundamental principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering with practical applications in cutting-edge research and industrial practice.

4. University of Birmingham Chemical Engineering Review

This programme constantly secures one of the top spots in its field. The University of Birmingham’s Chemical Engineering programme is currently 4th in the UK according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024. They are also 6th in the Complete University Guide 2024. Their The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) is a highlight within the industry. It is basically a hub for science and engineering teaching, with multifunctional labs suitable for subject-specific and cross-disciplinary learning and team-working.

5. University of Strathclyde Chemical Engineering Review

The chemical engineering programme in Strathclyde sits in the top 10 in the country. One of the highlights in this programme is the Strathclyde Incubator for Green Hydrogen Technologies (SigH₂t). This is a space where where academics from the university and beyond can develop and test new innovations. This accelerates their route to market by miles! Do note that they offer a distance learning programme as well.

Chemical Engineering University Rankings in the UK

Here is the latest list of the best universities for Chemical Engineering in the UK as we enter 2024:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Cambridge2233.69100.096.070.0100.0
2University of Oxford2204.083.6797.998.086.099.5
3Imperial College London2114.263.7495.6100.086.098.9
4University of Southampton1683.923.5891.082.093.8
5University of Bath1793.813.3098.895.088.093.7
6University of Birmingham1734.083.4996.490.080.093.0
7University of Strathclyde2124.133.3096.291.084.092.1
8University of Nottingham1794.123.4298.983.070.092.1
9UCL (University College London)1873.833.5893.386.078.091.7
10Queen's University Belfast1583.573.3298.996.086.091.4
11University of Leeds1653.853.5198.687.074.091.4
12University of Manchester1703.623.4898.588.078.091.2
13Loughborough University1583.913.2698.390.080.090.9
14The University of Edinburgh2013.533.3895.294.082.090.7
15University of Sheffield1464.203.5397.680.078.090.5
16Heriot-Watt University2014.073.3890.789.088.090.0
17Newcastle University1403.643.4297.484.074.087.6
18Swansea University1334.003.2598.379.070.087.0
19Lancaster University1453.883.2396.880.068.086.9
20University of Bradford1203.932.81100.095.074.086.8
21University of Surrey1383.993.3395.673.070.086.1
22University of Aberdeen1954.102.9294.176.076.086.1
23Aston University, Birmingham1244.112.9797.478.068.085.1
24Ulster University1503.933.2982.981.082.084.7
25Teesside University, Middlesbrough4.132.6094.784.074.084.4
26University of Hull1224.163.0389.779.074.083.6
27Brunel University London1243.662.9295.878.076.083.5
28London South Bank University1123.942.8096.888.062.083.4
29Sheffield Hallam University1133.962.8997.182.072.082.8
30Queen Mary University of London1364.11100.075.072.081.6
31University of Wolverhampton4.492.4991.959.072.080.5
32University of Chester1173.742.25100.076.056.079.4
33University of Portsmouth3.852.6997.358.066.079.1
34University of the West of Scotland3.732.46100.050.060.077.9
35University of Greenwich1073.882.9086.477.8
36University of Huddersfield1123.802.5083.468.066.075.2

How are the Rankings Measured?

The ranking methodology includes several key indicators, such as teaching quality, research output and reputation, industry connections and engagement, international diversity, and citations. These indicators help evaluate the academic environment, resources, faculty expertise, and global impact of relevant institutions. The rankings also consider factors like student satisfaction, graduate employability, and the influence and reach of research conducted by the universities.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Chemical Engineering Programme

When selecting a Chemical Engineering programme, several crucial factors should be carefully considered to ensure that you choose the right fit for your academic and career goals. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Accreditation: Verify whether the programme is accredited by recognised professional bodies such as the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE). Accredited programmes meet stringent quality standards and ensure that graduates are well-prepared for their professional careers.

  2. Curriculum and Specialisations: Review the programme’s curriculum to ensure it covers a wide range of fundamental chemical engineering principles and offers specialisations or elective courses aligned with your interests and career aspirations.

  3. Research Opportunities: Investigate the research opportunities available within the programme, including faculty expertise, research facilities, and ongoing projects. Engaging in research can provide valuable hands-on experience and open doors to further academic pursuits or industry opportunities.

  4. Industry Connections and Internship Opportunities: Consider the programme’s links with industry partners and whether it offers opportunities for internships, placements, or industrial projects. 

  5. Facilities and Resources: Evaluate the availability of state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment, and resources necessary for hands-on learning and research. 

Career Opportunities for Chemical Engineering Graduates

Chemical engineering graduates possess a diverse skill set that opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities across various industries. Here’s an overview of the career paths available to chemical engineering graduates:

  1. Process Engineering: Many chemical engineers pursue careers as process engineers, where they design, optimise, and troubleshoot manufacturing processes in industries such as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, and materials production. 

  2. Research and Development: Chemical engineers are involved in research and development activities aimed at developing new products, processes, and technologies. 

  3. Environmental Engineering: With a growing emphasis on sustainability and environmental protection, chemical engineers are increasingly sought after in roles related to environmental engineering. 

  4. Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals: Chemical engineers play a vital role in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. They are typically involved in the development, production, and quality control of biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical devices. 

  5. Energy and Oil & Gas: Chemical engineers are integral to the energy sector, where they work on projects related to oil and gas extraction, refining, and processing. 

  6. Regulatory Compliance and Quality Assurance: Chemical engineers are involved in ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and quality assurance protocols in industries such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, and chemicals manufacturing.

Dissertation Topics for Chemical Engineering

  1. Process Optimisation in Chemical Manufacturing: Investigate methods for improving the efficiency and sustainability of chemical manufacturing processes, such as through the use of advanced control strategies, process intensification techniques, and renewable feedstocks.

  2. Advanced Materials Development: Explore the synthesis and characterisation of novel materials with unique properties for applications in fields such as catalysis, energy storage, biomedical engineering, or environmental remediation.

  3. Bioprocess Engineering for Biopharmaceutical Production: Study the design and optimisation of bioprocesses for the production of biopharmaceuticals, including the cultivation of cells, downstream processing techniques, and quality control measures.

  4. Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies: Evaluate different carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes and power plants, considering factors such as cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency, and environmental impact.

  5. Water Treatment and Desalination Technologies: Investigate innovative methods for water treatment and desalination, focusing on membrane-based processes, advanced oxidation techniques, and hybrid systems for addressing water scarcity and pollution challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions about UK Chemical Engineering Universities

Chemical Engineering is a branch of engineering that applies principles of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics to design, develop, and optimise processes for the production, transformation, and utilisation of chemicals, materials, and energy.

A Chemical Engineering course typically covers subjects such as chemical thermodynamics, transport phenomena, reaction engineering, process control, unit operations, materials science, and environmental engineering.

While a background in chemistry is beneficial, it is not always necessary to have a strong foundation in chemistry to study Chemical Engineering. Chemical Engineering courses typically cover the necessary chemistry principles and provide students with the required knowledge and skills.

Prerequisites for enrolling in a Chemical Engineering course vary depending on the university and the specific programme. However, typical prerequisites may include mathematics, physics, chemistry, and sometimes biology or computer science at the secondary school level.

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