Advanced Chemical Engineering Masters/MSc/Diploma

Postgraduate degree course in Advanced Chemical Engineering Masters/MSc/Diploma:

Chemical engineering now extends beyond its traditional roots in oil and gas processing. In this course you will learn about the aspects of chemical engineering that deal with the design and development of formulated products such as food and pharmaceuticals.  The programme has options in Food Processing, Pharmaceutical Technology and Business Studies. 

Chemical Engineering is dynamic and evolving. It provides many solutions to problems facing industries in the pharmaceutical, biotechnological, oil, energy and food and drink sectors.  It is vital to many issues affecting our quality of life; such as better and more economical processes to reduce the environmental burden, and more delicious and longer lasting food due to the right combination of chemistry, ingredients and processing.  

Birmingham is a friendly, self-confident, School which has one of the largest concentrations of chemical engineering expertise in the UK. The School is consistently in the top five chemical engineering schools for research in the country. It also has a first-class reputation in learning and teaching, and regularly ranks highly in league tables.

Professor Mike Adams, Unilever

Professor of Product Engineering and Manufacture

“"There is an unprecedented growth in the demand for formulated products such as fuel cell technology, pharmaceuticals and foods that require the application of cutting-edge science and engineering to meet the quality assurance and sustainability standards that are expected by legislation and consumers."”

This programme focuses on exploring the aspects of chemical engineering that deal with the design and development of formulated products, such as food and pharmaceuticals. Our graduates are well prepared for a career in a variety of industries and have an opportunity to capitalise on the growing global demand for chemical engineers.

In the autumn and spring semesters, you will study 5 compulsory core modules and 60 credits of optional modules. In the summer semester, each student on the MSc programme will then undertake an individual project in a research area of their choice within one of the School’s internationally recognised research groups.

The multidisciplinary core modules cover the fundamental science and engineering underpinning the design of sophisticated formulated products. Depending upon your academic background, you will begin by studying
the fundamental principles of either chemical engineering or the relevant biological science.

A wide range of optional modules enables you to gain specific knowledge relating to fuel cells, food and/or pharmaceutical product development. Safety, regulatory and quality issues applicable across the relevant industries are also considered. Core skill modules are topics that may be applied across all themed areas. You may also choose to study business and management modules, or develop mathematical modelling skills. You will have the freedom to pick and choose modules from each theme (providing timetabling allows for this).

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Why study this course

In this course we consider the important aspects of chemical engineering in the 21st century that address the issues of the design and development of key formulated products such as fuel cells, food and pharmaceuticals.

Our themes enable you to specialise in areas of chemical and process engineering that interest you; from the production and formulation of pharmaceuticals, formulation of structured food products, hydrogen energy and the business surrounding chemical and process engineering.


Our research strengths are in the design and characterisation of products, in heat and mass transfer, fluid flow, particle technology and materials engineering across chemical, biological and physical systems. We collaborate with world-class industry and with leading edge engineering and science departments nationally and internationally.


This course consists of 180 credits: 60 credits from the five core compulsory modules, 60 credits of optional modules and a 60-credit research project carried out with one of the School’s research teams (MSc only). The programme has options in Fuel Cells, Food Processing, Pharmaceutical Technology and Business Studies.


Introductory modules*


Bioscience for engineers.
10 credits.

If you have not studied biological science during your first degree then this module is for you. Topics include: biochemistry, cell structure and characterisation, bioenergetics, fundamental molecular biology, cell signalling, histology and physiology. This module will also address the practical application of aseptic techniques and other methods for the handling, manipulation and containment of biological material. Many of the areas and concepts covered in this module will be developed further in subsequent modules.

Process engineering fundamentals.
10 credits.

This module introduces students from a non-chemical engineering background to the fundamental aspects of process engineering. The ideas and skills developed during the module are essential for anyone planning to work in the process industries. The module starts with material and energy balances and then looks at fluid flow, heat and mass transfer and reactor design. The mathematical skills required for this and subsequent modules will be developed through tutorials.

*These modules will be timetabled to allow students to attend both if required. However, only one will be formally assessed as agreed with the course director.


Core modules


Colloid chemistry and rheology.
20 credits.

This module provides an in depth study of the world of colloidal systems and their industrial importance. The course will concentrate on three main systems namely suspensions (e.g. paints, toothpaste), emulsions (e.g. margarines, pharmaceutical preparations) and foams (e.g. mousses, shaving foams). Rheology, which is the study of how materials deform and flow, will also be covered in detail. The emphasis of the course is on how interparticle forces control the structure of colloidal systems and understanding how the processing of a fluid affects its structure, stability and function on both a micro- and macroscopic scale.

Molecular delivery.
10 credits.

This module defines and explains the principles of molecular delivery that underpin formulation engineering in food, pharmaceutical and speciality chemical processing. The first part of the module outlines the engineering science of diffusion and molecular transport, in terms of Fickian and non-Fickian diffusion and mass transfer models. The emphasis is on the physical factors that give rise to each type of diffusional and transport process and how they can be represented physically and mathematically. In the second part of the module, the ways in which this type of approach can be applied practically will be outlined using a series of examples and case studies e.g. encapsulation in drug delivery, consecutive mass transfer and diffusion stages in flavour delivery, and transport processes in catalysis and fuel cells.

Measurement techniques.
10 credits.

This module examines a wide variety of techniques that are important for characterising the structure and quality of formulated products and the processes used to make them. X-ray microtomography, micromanipulation, positron emission particle tracking, particle image velocimetry and dynamic vapour sorption are just some of the methods studied.

Frontiers in interdisciplinary bioscience.
10 credits.


Research project. MSc only.
60 credits.

Our interdisciplinary summer projects fully exploit links within the School of Chemical Engineering and other schools, and also with industry, offering opportunities to join teams of high calibre research staff. The project consolidates course work and intensive research experience in an exciting way, providing a route to technological publications, and rounding off the year of study in a satisfying way.

Optional themed modules – choice of 60 credits (MSc & Diploma)

Modules from different themes can be combined within timetabling constraints. All modules are offered subject to sufficient enrolled students. All module descriptions are provisional and subject to minor change. 

Hydrogen Energy Theme


Introduction to electrochemistry.
10 credits.


Advanced electrochemical applications.
10 credits.


Fuel cell & hydrogen technology.
10 credits.


Techniques for fuel cell characterisation.
10 credits.


Food Engineering Theme


Food structure for performance.
20 credits.


Food plant and process.
20 credits.


Food chain security.
10 credits.

This module considers food security as defined by the World Health Organisation. Aspects of insecurity and the mechanisms to manage them will be addressed including, for example deliberate contamination, infrastructure issues, food safety management systems and global sourcing.

Pest management and cleaning systems.
10 credits.

Pest management and cleaning systems are basic requisites in all types of food businesses to ensure safe production of food, whether small or large. This module will provide the knowledge and understanding to control the hazards associated with pests and fouling. Lectures will take place on the biology and ecology of common food pests, cleaning materials and methods and the importance of hygienic design. There will be a range of problem solving workshops to apply this new knowledge and evaluate pest management and cleaning systems. This module is essential for anyone who wishes to work in hygiene management sector of the food industry.

Chemical contamination of food and water.
10 credits.

You will learn about the importance and effects of the major classes of chemical contamination in food and drinking water. Additionally, you will be made aware of a) sources of contaminants, b) methods of treatment of food and water and c) the importance of contaminants in food relative to other uptake pathways. Legally accepted chemical additives will also be considered in this module.

Sustainability in the food industry.
10 credits.

Sustainability and the need to address environmental issues is a significant driver in the food industry. It has a major impact on the production and therefore the safety of food. This module provides an overview of the main issues facing the industry, including the economic, legislative and political contexts which influence the options available to the industry.

Principles of nutrition.
10 credits.


Pharmaceutical Theme

Plant design and manufacturing principles

for pharmaceutical production.
10 credits.

This module provides students with an understanding of the engineering and operational issues involved in the manufacture of new chemical and biological products for the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Topics include the design and layout of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, principles of quality assurance (QA), good manufacturing practice (GMP), quality control (QC) and validation. Cleaning (CIP), sterilisation methods, aseptic processing and containment are also discussed. Part of the module is delivered by external speakers from industry.

From bench to market: the development of pharmaceutical drug products.
10 credits.

From the latest technologies used in drug discovery through to post market surveillance activities – this module looks at the stages involved in the multimillion pound process of drug product development. You will learn about drug discovery in the post genomic era, preclinical studies, clinical trials, pre-formulation and formulation activities, manufacturing considerations and regulatory procedures.

Design and development of drug delivery systems.
10 credits.

Drugs are rarely administered to patients solely as chemical or biological substances – instead, they are first formulated into dosage forms or drug delivery systems. This module examines a range of available methods and technologies for the delivery of chemical and macromolecular drugs (peptides, proteins and nucleic acids) and concentrates on the scientific and engineering principles underpinning their design.

Business Studies Theme

Effective project management.
10 credits.


This module introduces project management and covers economic project appraisal, resource management, safety awareness, project planning and critical path analysis. There are exercises on critical path analysis, time management and team working.
Business methods, economics and strategy.
10 credits.
The module is divided into three sections: 1) human relations; 2) economics; and 3) strategic analysis. Examples of topics discussed include: theory of the firm; managing change and conflict in the workplace; communication and methods of communication analysis; economic models; and strategic decision making.

Marketing and total quality management.
10 credits

The module provides a comprehensive introduction to the concepts of consumer behaviour, marketing and market planning and research and concepts of total quality management in engineering companies.

Core skills

Modern minerals engineering.
10 credits.


Systems modelling.
10 credits.


Chemical nanoengineering.
10 credits.


Explosion science, prevention and protection.
10 credits.


Special Features

The lecture courses are supplemented with tutorials, seminars and experimental work. Industrial visits and talks by speakers from industrial and service organisations are also included in the course programme.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for UK/EU students 2018/19

MSc:  Full-time £9,270. Part-time £4,635
Postgraduate Diploma:  Full-time £6,180. Part-time £3,090
For further information please view the fees and funding page. 

Tuition fees for International students 2018/19

MSc: Full time £20,610
Postgraduate Diploma: Full-time £13,740
For further information please view the fees for international students page.

Scholarships and studentships

Some students on this programme receive BBSRC or EPSRC funding. 
International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

For further information contact the School directly or email

Entry requirements

You should have, or expect to obtain, a 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject (eg, Chemical Engineering or Chemistry with sufficient Mathematics). Learn more about entry requirements.  

International students

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about international entry requirements. Standard English language requirements apply.

How to apply

International students requiring visas

Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2018 made after this date; a new application should be made for September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2019 entry by 21 September 2018.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

This programme comprises 12 short-course taught modules (six core and six optional) and a research project carried out with one of the department's research teams (MSc only).The programme has options in Food Processing, Pharmaceutical Technology and Business Studies.  

University Careers Network

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Professional accreditation

Our Chemical Engineering programmes are accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers.