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Civil engineering courses

Civil engineers are involved in the design, construction and maintenance of the infrastructure that holds the country together - and are behind our roads, bridges, pipelines, processing plants, buildings and harbours. As well as the technical nous to apply physics, maths and mechanics to structural design, you'll need to develop strong communication skills when managing projects, on-site teams and client requirements.

Studying civil engineering at university

Example course modules

  • Civil engineering practice and surveying
  • Engineering geology
  • Hydraulics
  • Water in the environment
  • Materials and statics
  • Maths
  • Structural mechanics and analysis
  • Industry and profession
  • Soil mechanics

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 21%
    Male : 79%
  • Mature : 21%
    School leaver : 79%
  • Full-time : 79%
    Part-time : 21%

What students say about civil engineering

What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • Maths
  • Physics

Useful to have

  • Further maths
  • Design technology

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
The recession probably hit construction the hardest of all industries, which meant that civil engineering, which had one of the lowest unemployment rates before the downturn, was one of the worst affected subjects. Things have got better since then, and appear to be rapidly improving, but normally we'd expect to see unemployment rates at about half of what they are currently. We're still officially short of civil engineers, especially in areas to do with mining, tunnelling and safety, and salaries are well above the graduate average. This is a subject where work experience can be very helpful in getting a job and many students do work for engineering companies while they take their degrees – it’s the most common way for civil engineers to secure their first position.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Engineering professionals

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Flood defence engineer
  • Demolitions engineer
  • Quantity surveyor

Other real-life job examples

  • Structural engineer
  • Mining engineer
  • Highways engineer

What employers like about this subject

Studying for a degree in civil engineering will provide you with subject-specific skills such as the ability to design and build structures, in applying your judgement as an engineer under pressure, and in effectively managing and working on large building projects. Transferable skills you can gain from civil engineering include team-working, problem-solving, critical thinking and the ability to interpret data. Civil engineers are employed in construction, in the road and rail industries, in the oil and gas industry, in telecoms, in engineering consultancy, in government, and in the finance industry (particularly in accountancy and management consultancy).