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Engineering Science at Oxford Virtual Open Day: Course structure of the Engineering Science undergraduate course at Oxford

Student working in lab on electrical project

Course Structure

The MEng in Engineering Science lasts for four years. Take a look at what you'll be working on.

First Year

Core subjects

You’ll gain new viewpoints on the mathematical and physical basis of engineering that you studied at school. You’ll also encounter new topics, including structures, fluid mechanics and digital systems.

Teaching Styles

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures and practical lab work, working on projects in structural and mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computing. With a given goal in mind, you’ll be expected to make your own design decisions, then build and test the finished product.

Stephen, St Anne’s College

My favourite part of Engineering is Control Systems! I didn’t know it existed before I started my degree, but it’s a branch of Engineering that deals with real-life systems and making sure they are doing what they’re supposed to in a semi-automated manner!

1st Year X-Y Plotter Challenge

First year Engineering Science students have the opportunity to join an exciting and innovative course in robotics.

Over the course of eight weeks they take part in the “X-Y Plotter Challenge” - designing, assembling and programming their own piece of kit that they would then take home.

Second Year

Core subjects

Moving into your second year, you’ll continue to study the core subjects that provide a basis for modern engineering. In year two, these are Maths, Electronic and Information Engineering, Structures, Materials and Dynamics and Energy Systems.

These modules will include practical lab work, which focuses on Communications, Instrumentation and Control, Dynamics, Structures and Materials, Thermofluids, Heat Transfer and Electrical Machines.

You will gain an understanding of how your technical knowledge relates to engineering in the wider world. This includes: Technical Writing and Communication Skills; Engineering Ethics; Safety and Risk; Engineering, Sustainability and the Environment.

Practical modules

During the summer term, you’ll study four practical modules. These will include a design module in mechanical or electrical computer aided design, as well as two other modules of your choice.

In recent years, these have included:

  • Fluid mechanics - These are key to engineering problems ranging from jet engines to tidal turbines. You’ll explore their role in a variety of different situations.
  • Solar racer challenge – Working as part of a team, you’ll design, build, test and race robots which use solar energy to drive their custom-made motor systems and electronic controllers.
  • Biomedical Engineering - The application of engineering principles and material technologies to healthcare.
  • Industrial Problem-Solving – A chance to work with an external organisation to solve the real-world problems that they’re facing.

Sean, Magdalen College

Almost everything has been engineering or been possible through engineering in some way, so it’s exciting to think that I’ll be able to contribute to the world in a way like this once I’ve finished my studying.

Third Year


As you enter your third year, you will begin to specialise into your chosen branch of engineering. You’ll have a choice of papers to write, supported by practical work. These might include:

  • Solid Mechanics
  • Equilibrium Thermodynamics
  • Fluid Flow, Heat & Mass Transfer
  • Materials
  • Structures and Hydraulics
  • Soil Mechanics
  • Chemical Processes
  • Electronic Devices
  • Circuits and Communications
  • Information Engineering Systems
  • Control Systems
  • Software Engineering
  • Biomechanics
  • Biomedical Modelling and Monitoring
  • Fluid Mechanics

You will gain an understanding of how your technical knowledge relates to engineering in the wider world. This includes: Engineering Project Management, Financing Projects and Technology Strategy.

Farheen, Jesus College

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Materials and Solid Mechanics module so far, in particular the stress analysis methods that we’ve been looking at. The structure of the course is perfect because it builds on what you already know from school in a way that makes the content familiar, but still challenging and exciting.

Third-Year Design Project

Your chance to really get to grips with the engineering design process. In teams of 4-5 students, you’ll write the sort of detailed design proposal that could be used as the basis for a new product or engineering project. Recent projects have included:

  • ArJiCat - an autonomous service robot to dispense medicines in hospital thereby reducing prescription wastage. This project was entered into the Engineers in Business Champion of Champions Final in October 2022
  • Electric and Hybrid Formula Student Race Cars - A vehicle design project based around the Formula Student competition.
  • Smart Homes for the Future - A design project which developed ways to provide older people with a safe and comfortable home environment, including energy, communications, and monitoring.
  • Fuelling the Hydrogen Economy - A project focussing on small-scale production of hydrogen for transport, using non-Hydrogen fuels such as natural gas, landfill, oil, or biomass.
  • Semi-Autonomous Wheelchair - A design project which developed a wheelchair providing assisted autonomy for patients suffering from action tremors caused by Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.
  • Marine Renewable Energy System - A project which developed renewable energy devices to extract energy from tidal flow.

You’ll be making economic and design decisions, choosing between conflicting priorities and allocating work amongst the group. This will take place in the project meetings which you'll arrange alongside your weekly classes with an academic.

Additional guidance and technical advice will be provided by visiting Professors of Engineering Design, drawn from their own industrial experience.

Amelie, Hertford College

I am fascinated by how mathematical and physical principles can have real-life, practical applications. I also love problem solving. Engineering is a subject that encompasses both of these passions, whilst giving me the opportunity to positively contribute to society. This is why I chose to study engineering.

Fourth Year


Your fourth and final year will see you choose six specialist options from across engineering science. These change each year, but the current options are:

  • Automotive engineering
  • Aerothermal engineering
  • Materials failure
  • Materials modelling
  • Advanced Structures
  • Geotechnics
  • Hydraulics
  • Sustainable energy
  • Environmental engineering
  • Bioprocess engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Production engineering
  • Optoelectronics
  • Microelectronics
  • Advanced Communications
  • Power electronics
  • Machine Vision and Robotics
  • Machine Learning
  • Robust and Distributed Control
  • Nonlinear and Optimal Control
  • Medical Imaging and Informatics
  • Cellular Engineering and Therapy
  • Probability, Systems and Perturbation Methods
  • Mathematical Techniques
  • Electrochemical Energy Technology
  • Management Practice

Heather: My 4th Year Project - Playing with Fire

Fourth-Year Project

You will carry out a self-led project in your fourth year. It usually involves original research or significant design and construction work, undertaken in close consultation with an academic supervisor.

Our departmental supervisors offer over 100 topics for you to choose from. You may also be able to work on an idea of your own (or one suggested by a sponsoring company), as long as you can find an academic willing to supervise it.

Recent fourth-year projects have included:

  • Optimal duct design for marine turbines
  • Analysing heart beating in MRI scans
  • Miniaturised AUV Glider Design
  • Syncing Sound and Vision
  • Automatic Annotation of Greek Paintings
  • Sealing Jet Engines

Callum, Keble College

Elon Musk once said: “Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.” This may not seem believable, but I think it is very accurate.

A typical week

In the first two years of your degree, you’ll have around ten lectures per week, as well as two college tutorials or classes, and up to five hours of practical work. You'll also be expected to do significant amounts of self-directed study. Lecturers produce a sheet of about ten tutorial examples to accompany each set of four lectures and to provide a basis for College tutorials. A tutorial is usually concerned with one particular example sheet, which might require of the order of ten hours of your time in preparation. 

For more information, see the 1st Year course handbook

and some example timetables.

Frances, New College

Everything we learn in our engineering degree is intrinsically linked to applications in the real world. I have not learnt 1 piece of maths that I haven’t used elsewhere in the course that has a definite link to a real life application.