Civil and Railway Engineering BEng

Civil and Railway Engineers play a pivotal role in shaping the future of rail transport and are fundamental to all aspects of this sector, from the design and construction of new railways to the maintenance and management of the railway system.

Around the world the railway sector is increasing in significance, with many major projects underway and planned. At Birmingham, our staff and students are working on a diverse range of projects. In fluid mechanics, we investigate topics ranging from the wind effects on the transportation system, to the flooding of rivers; current geotechnical engineering projects range from developing 'intelligent' tunnels to designing new sub-track and drainage systems; and in structural engineering our students are designing a variety of iconic structures as well as investigating and implementing the sustainable construction technologies of tomorrow.

This course has been developed in close liaison with the railway industry, which means that what you will learn is relevant and immediately-applicable. The companies involved are committed to Birmingham’s railway engineering students for summer and industrial year placements for that all-important experience prior to a rewarding graduate career. If you have accepted an offer of a place at Birmingham you may also be able to apply for pre-university experience.

The School plays a major role in the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, carrying out research in railway infrastructure, geotechnics, aerodynamics and risk management at its core. The BEng in Civil and Railway Engineering aims to produce highly qualified graduates who will go on, through further learning, on become Chartered Civil Engineers, to meet the growing demands for engineers within the railway and other sectors.


Civil Engineering at Birmingham top 100 world-wide QS Ranking
Civil Engineering at Birmingham 2018 NSS score

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James Shanley

James Shanley

MEng Civil and Railway Engineering with Industrial Year

“The Civil Engineering course can really equip you with a lot of skills that are useful in every aspect of your life, whether it is professional or personal. The very fact that the skills cover a variety of areas makes the course a strong and adequate foundation for a variety of professions. The course also provides many opportunities to engage in team working and collaborative projects. Since it will be in teams that most of us will be working in the future, which I found is invaluable.”

If you have a good grasp of maths and design and love to solve problems creatively, and have an interest in railways and transportation, then this Civil Engineering degree will be an excellent choice for you.

During this degree, you will be actively involved in developing the specific design and professional skills required by Civil Engineers and will tackle numerous design problems to develop your analytical, technical and decision-making abilities. Whilst studying all the major Civil Engineering subjects, you will also gain experience in a range of railway system issues and disciplines.

For the first two years of the degree, all of our undergraduates follow an integrated BEng or MEng route. Once you’ve finished your second year, you’ll then choose whether to complete the Civil and Railway Engineering BEng or switch to the MEng option. Progression to the MEng will require excellent second year examination results. All students will have the opportunity to take a full year in industry after the second year, to gain extra experience and make a head-start on a rewarding career in the railway sector of the civil engineering industry.

Why study Civil and Railway Engineering BEng at Birmingham

  • Shared first year across disciplines of Civil, Mechanical and Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering allowing students to gain foundations of understanding in all three areas.
  • Strong design theme which allow students to be creative and develop design skills which are highly prized by employers.
  • Many opportunities to work as a team which is great preparation for the types of roles that students can secure after graduation.
  • RESPECT scheme allowing students to build strong links with industry supporting employability opportunities.
  • The reasonable staff student ratio allows for enhancing learning, and good interaction between the academic staffs and students
  • Opportunities to be involved in cutting edge research projects on built environment of infrastructure, and energy and working with internationally leading researchers in those fields.
  • Accredited degrees, providing employers with assurances that you have the qualities they seek.

Modules

Year 1

Our first year has been designed to provide a contemporary and flexible educational model that builds upon essential engineering fundamentals to develop your broader understanding of behaviour, policy, entrepreneurship, and global perspectives and kindles the passion necessary to address the societal challenge agenda. The first year is shared across the disciplines of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering.

  • Electrical Engineering 1 - 20 credits
    In this module, the fundamentals of electronic and electrical engineering are covered. It will begin with analogue circuits describing the fundamentals of circuit analysis and the design of analogue devices. The fundamentals of digital systems will then be covered using Boolean algebra and related techniques to analyse digital circuits up to an introduction to flip flops. Finally electrical power and machinery systems will be introduced.
  • Engineering Materials - 10 credits
    The aim of the module is to introduce the range of materials and their key properties used in engineering in order to allow them to select the appropriate materials for a given application. The module also introduces fundamental science that determines the electrical or mechanical properties of materials, such as atomic / molecular structures. In addition students will also be introduced to software which will allow them to model the properties and behaviour of engineering materials and analyse the results of experiments.
  • Engineering Mathematics 1 - 20 credits
    The module aims to enhance student knowledge and understanding of the mathematics used in engineering and to develop the skills of its use.
  • Fluid Mechanics and Energy Transfer - 20 credits
    In this module, the fundamentals of fluid mechanics and energy conservation, and introduce associated engineering applications.
  • Integrated Design Project 1 - 20 credits
    The aim of the module is to introduce students to the design process and the skills employed therein, within an engineering context.
  • Computing for Engineers - 10 credits
    The aim of this module is to introduce engineers to computers and computer programming using an important modern programming language which has applications from small embedded systems to supercomputers.
  • Mechanics 1 - 20 credits
    In this module, the mathematics and scientific principles related to mechanics in the context and application in engineering. The module covers: general principles, the mechanical properties of material and the basic principles of analysis, all underpinned with essential mathematics. Where relevant, historical examples are embedded into the module in order to provide context for the taught material.

Year 2

Your second year will build on the broad base of Year 1, and begin your departmental specialisation with coverage of rail-specific modules and the core fundamentals that underpin Civil Engineering. The strong design theme running through our programmes will become apparent, where detailed design work shows you how to apply the taught theory to design key components of Civil Engineering structures, continuing the theme of integrated design project working established in Year 1.

  • Structural Engineering 1 - 20 credits
  • Materials Engineering 1 - 20 credits
  • Geotechnical Engineering 1 - 20 credits
  • Water Engineering 1 - 10 credits
  • Construction Practice and Management 1 - 10 credits
  • Railway Traction - 20 credits
  • Railway Infrastructure Engineering - 20 credits

Year 3

Year 3 allows you to develop further as your specialisation increases. You have the option to choose some modules and can also tailor your study towards your interests through individual projects. In the later years of the course, we aim to challenge your innovative, creative, technical, management and presentation skills to bring together your learning over the degree programme.

All final-year students will also ‘go it alone’ in a supported research project where you develop an understanding of an area of civil engineering that particularly interests you. You have an individual supervisor throughout the research project and may work with their research team for additional support.

  • Structural Engineering 2 - 20 credits
  • Materials Engineering 2 - 20 credits
  • Geotechnical Engineering 2 - 20 credits
  • Railway Management and Train Control - 20 credits
  • Integrated Railway Design Project - 20 credits
  • Individual Research Project - 20 credits

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. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2019. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to core modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees 2019/20

UK/EU £9,250
International £22,260

Visit our  tuition fees page for more information.

Scholarships

At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAB with A level Mathematics
Required subjects and grades:
A level Mathematics. You must also pass the practical element of any reformed science A levels which include Biology, Chemistry and Physics taught from 2015.

General Studies or Critical Thinking not accepted. However, a good performance in one of these may be taken into account if you fail to meet the conditions of the offer.

International Baccalaureate Diploma

6,6,5 at Higher Level to include Mathematics with a minimum of 32 points overall. 

BTEC

BTEC Extended Diploma will be considered for BEng programmes providing there is sufficient Mathematics content and applicant satisfactorily completes our Mathematics aptitude test.
Grades:
 - BEng; D*D*D* plus Distinction in all units required.

BTEC Diploma considered in combination with A Level. 
Grades:
 - BEng; D*D* plus B. If the A level taken is not in Mathematics, then the BTEC Diploma must include Maths and Further Maths units, and the applicant must satisfactorily complete our Mathematics aptitude test.

BTEC Subsidiary Diploma considered in combination with 2 A Levels
 - BEng; D*plus A B. If A level Mathematics is not taken, then the BTEC Subsidiary Diploma must include Maths and Further Maths units, and the applicant must satisfactorily complete our Mathematics aptitude test.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

Additional information:

Foundation Year

Would you like to study for one of our degrees but lack the entry qualifications we require? Consider a Foundation Year programme which can lead to entry onto one of our courses.

International students:

Standard English language requirements apply, learn more about international entry requirements.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through the UCAS website using code 52H7.

UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

View advice on ' How to apply for undergraduate courses', including advice for UK, EU and overseas applicants.

You will benefit greatly from ongoing and substantial investment in new teaching spaces and experience interdisciplinary working alongside other engineering branches, replicating industry expectations. The mixture of labs, lectures and projects provides a balance of practical and theoretical learning.

Resources and facilities

Your learning is based around dedicated teaching and research facilities, with laboratories for teaching and project work.

New building and facilities for the School Of Engineering

The University has begun work on a new School of Engineering building which is due for completion in 2020. It will bring together many engineering disciplines into one state-of-the-art building.

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory

The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) is a hub for science and engineering teaching, with multi-functional labs suitable for subject-specific and cross-disciplinary teaching and team working.

How you will learn

We are an engineering department within a larger engineering school – so you get the best of both worlds. You will be taught from a combination of large-scale lecture tuition, small-group teaching and lab and other practical classes. We make extensive use of online learning tools, too, so you can study even when you’re not on campus.

You will extend your technical knowledge and creativity to solve real-world problems through challenging design projects, working as part of a team and as an individual. Examples include structural work involving concrete and steel, geotechnical projects such as 'intelligent' tunnels, wind-loading problems and flooding of rivers. You will experience interdisciplinary working alongside other engineering branches, replicating industry expectations, whilst the mixture of labs, lectures and projects provides a balance of practical and theoretical learning.

You will gain a thorough grounding in fundamental engineering topics before specialising in an area that particularly interests you. Our courses cover areas around structural, water, geotechnical and energy engineering, and management, with many of our pathways offering optional modules allowing you to tailor your study in later years. With a shared first year and a common second year, you will have the opportunity to add on International Study or an Industrial Year after you arrive at the University.

How you will be assessed

Each module is assessed independently and methods may include end-of-year exams, written assignments, oral and poster presentations, computer-based tests, class tests, and laboratory and project reports. The early years of your course are assessed mostly by examination, whereas in later years, this emphasis will shift to continuous assessment in project work. This model reflects your ability to specialise in the final Years 3 and 4, after undertaking thorough grounding of engineering principles at the start of your studies.

Feedback is an essential part of learning and we use a wide range of methods, such as written feedback on your assessments, class feedback sessions and discussions with your tutor. You'll receive feedback on each assessment, highlighting the positives of your work as well as any areas that need more attention. 

Your personal tutor

At the start of your degree, you'll be assigned a personal tutor who will remain with you throughout your studies to help you in three important areas: supporting your academic progress, developing transferable skills and dealing with any welfare issues.
We also have our own Welfare Tutor/Wellbeing Officer who is able to provide practical and emotional support for you if you are experiencing personal problems that interfere with your academic work.

Seminars and tutorials

Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside our lectures, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate lecture material, as well as testing your understanding through problem-solving exercises.

Self study is an essential part of the programme and requires self motivation and enthusiasm for your subject. It also allows you to pursue your own lines of enquiry and become an independent thinker.

Lecturers and world leading researchers

"The greatest inspiration that I had whilst I was here at the University was actually the lecturers. They're just so smart, and they should be because they're lecturers at university, but they just have such a breadth of knowledge."

Joanna Maguire, MEng Civil Engineering with Industrial Experience graduate, 2015

Watch Joanna's video profile

You will be taught by staff who are experts in their research fields: staff with extensive industrial connections, research staff and staff with teaching qualifications. They will provide you with tools to gain the creative, problem-solving and technical skills needed to undertake your final-year individual project.

As well as specialised labs with state-of-the-art facilities, you may also get to work with internationally leading research groups. There are also opportunities to work in industry which will provide real-world experience.

Contact hours

Throughout your degree, depending on module choice, you can expect about 20 hours of contact time per week on average. This consits of approximately 14 hours of lectures and 6 hours of tutorials/labs.

In your first and second years, the course is delivered as lectures, small group workshops, laboratories, computer-based activities, enquiry-based learning and tutorials.  A strong emphasis is placed on design project work in your third year.

As a student at Birmingham, you will benefit from our excellent relations across all areas of the civil engineering industry. These will help enrich and enhance your learning, and prepare you for the best possible start when you graduate.

Civil Engineering at Birmingham employability

The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2016/17 shows that 93% of our Civil Engineering graduates are in graduate-level employment or further study six months after graduation.

Opportunities include:

  • Mentoring with a recent graduate or industry leader (second year)
  • Site visits to get involved in real projects around Birmingham
  • Engineering-specific careers events
  • Work experience through your degree programme and/or our RESPECT scheme
  • Benefitting from our extensive industry connections with help finding placements
  • Extra-curricular lectures delivered by industry professionals
  • Access to our award-winning Careers Network team

Industrial experience

We offer two types of accredited industrial experience, both of which count towards your degree. You will gain valuable experience working on real-world problems whilst developing your personal and professional skills in the workplace. Many students who engage with industrial experience during their study find their academic learning becomes more meaningful, and they tend to perform better as a result.
Industrial Year: Adding an extra year to your degree, you can spend a year working with an organisation, before returning to the University to resume your study. You can add an industrial year to any of our BEng and most of our MEng programmes.
Industrial Experience: Your degree remains the same length and you instead have your work experience formally recognised over two summer placements.

Where our graduates work:



  • Amey
  • Arup
  • Balfour Beatty
  • Interserve Construction
  • KBR
  • Laing O’Rourke
  • Mott MacDonald
  • Keller Ground Engineering
  • InBev
  • The British Army
Employability quote from the Director of Arup


  • Procter & Gamble
  • Aecom
  • Buro Happold
  • Barclays
  • IBM
  • URS
  • CH2M
  • Osborne
  • BP
  • Cundall

"My time at Birmingham really well prepared me for the outside world. I had a great time here, I did a lot of different modules, so I studied things like construction management, studied things about transport policy, I did a lot of group projects so that taught me how to engage with other people."

Molly Dalton, MEng Civil Engineering with Industrial Experience graduate, 2015

Watch Molly's video profile

Careers Network

We provide a wealth of opportunities to develop your career. From your first day at Birmingham to after you graduate, the Careers Network  is here to help you identify and achieve your individual career aspirations through its wide range of services.

Our dedicated careers team brings you information, advice and guidance tailored to your specific needs. Careers advisers offer one-to-one advice appointments where you can discuss your career plans and explore your options. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning  Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Visit the Careers Network website for more details

Internships

Our multi-award-winning work experience team has dedicated internship officers to help find the right work experience for you. Make the most of these opportunities and apply for our Work Experience Bursary Scheme, the Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Programme or one of our successful mentoring schemes. 

The video below talks to students, staff and employers about their internship experience:

Professional accreditation

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

The Civil Engineering Society organises events throughout the year. You may also be interested in Engineering RugbyRailSoc  and Engineers Without Borders.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.