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.
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MEng Civil Engineering
“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.
Our first year has been designed to provide a contemporary and flexible educational model that builds upon essential engineering fundamentals to develop students’ 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.
You’ll extend your technical understanding and learn how to apply your knowledge and creativity to solving civil and railway engineering problems. You’ll focus on designing real structures using concrete and steel and come to understand railway infrastructure and traction systems.
Optional industrial placement year
During your second year you will have the opportunity to apply into a number of companies who are seeking civil engineering students to work in their rail and transportation divisions. Taking a paid placement for a year allows you to apply your classroom learning and embed engineering knowledge and skills. It usually also means a head-start into a career with your placement host or, at the very least, an informed choice of future career direction. Upon successful completion of your industrial year, you will go on to complete the BEng Civil and Railway Engineering with Industrial Year degree.
During your third year you will solve real-world problems through challenging design projects in the railway sector. You work in teams and individually to engineer appropriate and creative design solutions. You will study railway operations and management and train control.
Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.
In the Department of Civil Engineering, we are dedicated to our specialist areas of engineering. When we are not teaching you, we will be found working with industry, either as advisers or research partners. We are fortunate to have links with more than 50 engineering companies and senior academics in the School advise on issues such as the sustainability of railway construction projects, operating trains through flood water and railway asset management around the world. Our research informs our teaching, so you will be exposed to the latest developments in the industry and get to learn about current engineering projects from practicing engineers.
We involve industrial partners in developing and delivering our programmes and our partnership with the civil engineering industry will help you to become the self-motivated, employable engineer that the industry looks for.
As an independent guarantee of quality, all our BEng, MEng and MSc degree programmes are accredited by the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, and the Institution of Highway Engineers and are compatible with the latest guidelines for professional engineering registration.
If you would like to know more reasons why we believe your experience at Birmingham would be special, please see 10 reasons to come to Birmingham.
Electrical Engineering 1
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.
1 & 2
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
The module aims to enhance student knowledge and understanding
of the mathematics used in engineering and to develop the skills of its use.
1 & 2
Fluid Mechanics and Energy Transfer
In this module, the fundamentals of fluid mechanics and energy
conservation, and introduce associated engineering applications.
||1 & 2
Integrated Design Project|
The aim of the module is to introduce students to the design process and the skills employed therein, within an engineering context.
||1 & 2
|Computing for Engineers
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.
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.
||1 & 2
|Structural Engineering 1
||1 & 2
|Materials Engineering 1
||1 & 2
|Geotechnical Engineering 1
||1 & 2
|Water Engineering 1
|Construction Practice and Management 1
||1 & 2
|Railway Infrastructure Engineering
||1 & 2
|Structural Engineering 2
||1 & 2
|Materials Engineering 2
||1 & 2
|Geotechnical Engineering 2
||1 & 2
|Railway Management and Train Control
||1 & 2
|Integrated Railway Design Project
||1 & 2
|Individual Research Project
||1 & 2
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 compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.
- Number of A levels required:
- 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 Extended Diploma will be considered for BEng programmes providing there is sufficient Mathematics content and applicant satisfactorily completes our Mathematics aptitude test.
- BEng; D*D*D* plus Distinction in all units required.
BTEC Diploma considered in combination with A Level.
- 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.
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.
You will need to submit an application through UCAS to be considered for study using the UCAS code for this course.
Demand for places is high and we advise applicants to apply early. Please remember to provide full information on your education
history when you apply www.ucas.com.
Learn more about
Key Information Set (KIS)
Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.
All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.
The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.
The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.
The learning and teaching methods adopted in the Civil and Railway Engineering programme will include large group lectures, tutorial classes, small group tutorials, laboratory classes, design classes and supervised self study for design and research projects. In the fourth year of the programme, many of the lectures will be delivered by engineers working within the railway industry.
You will be taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and postgraduates, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience.You can find out more about the members of staff in the Department of Civil Engineering here where you can read about their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest.
"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
Collaborative Teaching Laboratory
The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL), planned to open in 2018/19, will become a hub for science & engineering teaching, with multifunctional labs suitable for subject-specific and cross-disciplinary teaching and team working.
As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.
Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).
To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we'll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues. During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into University. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.
What you can expect
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.
How will I be taught?
As a Birmingham student, you are joining the academic elite and have the privilege of learning from world-leading experts in the field of civil engineering. Throughout your studies, you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, thriving on challenge and opportunities to think for yourself.
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.
Laboratory-based work is an integral part of our civil engineering degree programme, vital to develop your experimental practical skills, and to reinforce concepts introduced in lectures or to explore a particular phenomenon. Lab work takes place mainly in the first two years of the programme when you'll learn all the fundamental concepts, but you can also opt for a laboratory final-year project. You never know, you could be 'playing' in the Department's newly constructed wind tunnel.
Lectures take place in our theatres which, as well as the traditional whiteboard and pen, are equipped with the latest technology, including facilities to show movies, animations and molecular graphics, to record lectures and to interact with 'ask the audience' style electronic voting systems.
Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside the lecture course, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate lecture material, as well as test your understanding through problem-solving exercises.
Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) is a group activity which requires you to work in a team, with a variety of assessment methods; in either a group or individually, by written reports and sometimes as a presentation. Based on techniques used in research-led organisations like the University of Birmingham, EBL gives you a research-orientated approach to a problem and helps you to gain essential skills that are highly valued by employers.
Each module is assessed independently with all containing some components of continuous assessment, which usually accounts for a quarter to one third of your marks. Some modules are completely assessed by coursework. Assessment methods include end-of-year examinations in May and June, written assignments, oral and poster presentations, computer-based tests, marked exercises, and laboratory and project reports.
In your first year, assessment is weighted more towards exams at 56%, with coursework accounting for 44% of your mark. By the second year they're weighted equally. In the third year your design projects take precedence and this is reflected in the marks; 55% coursework and 45% examination. These figures are the average for MEng Civil Engineering so they'll vary depending on what options you choose.
During your first year you will also undergo a formal 'transition' review, mentioned above, to see how you are getting on and whether there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your School or Department and can help with any academic issues you encounter. Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre?s aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.
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 within four weeks, highlighting the positives of your work as well as any areas that need more attention. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you fail an exam we will ensure that you receive particularly detailed feedback to enable you to learn for the future.
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.
As one of our Civil Engineering students, the range of career opportunities open to you when you graduate is enormous. The civil engineering and construction industries offer a wealth of jobs (from engineering consultants to contractors), with work in such fields as structures, geotechnics, water, environmental, highways, and railways. Engineering management jobs could also come from the environmental protection and local government sectors, or your problem-solving skills could, equally, be directed towards a career in finance, law, teaching and/or research.
Superb opportunities exist for you to gain industrial experience before you graduate:
You could add a year to your programme and spend this time in paid employment; usually between your second and third study years. You will gain relevant work experience, and earn money putting into practice the skills and knowledge gained from your degree. Students on placement get involved in practical projects which ask challenging questions that require good engineering answers - and which often lead to sponsorship and/or the offer of a graduate job.
Spending at least two summers in industries will enable you to obtain a 'with industrial experience' degree.
Many top construction companies offer placements to students through the RESPECT scheme.
A rich vein of experience will be available for you to tap into, not only through the University's dedicated Careers Network, but from the School's own industrial liaison officer. From these careers professionals you will gain the skills to help you secure a range of placements from vacation jobs to, eventually, your graduate job.
At School-level, you can opt to add a year to your programme, whatever the course you are studying, and spend this time on placement in industry. You will gain relevant work experience, and earn money putting into practice the skills and knowledge gained from your degree. Students on placement get involved in serious projects which ask searching questions that require good engineering answers - and which often lead to sponsorship and/or the offer of a graduate job. On successful completion of a placement in industry organised by the School, and success in your studies, you will be awarded the Certificate in Industrial Studies to add to your degree and improve your employability prospects.
At University-level, our unique careers guidance service is tailored to academic subject areas, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team sources 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. 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.
We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.
Whichever of the above forms of careers guidance, or combination of such, you select you will find your prospects for employment after graduation considerably enhanced. If you make the most of the wide range of careers advice we can offer, you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.
Career destinations of previous graduates include:
Balfour Beatty Ltd
Bam Nuttall Ltd
Birmingham City Council
Costain Group PLC
Edmund Nuttall Ltd
Metronet Rail BCV
Mott MacDonald Group Limited
Nottinghamshire County Council
Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council
Wardeil - Armstrong
The graduate employment market is competitive, many employers require evidence of employability or being ready for the world of work.
Internships represent a great way for you to gain experience of the workplace. They also offer employers the opportunity of clarifying what they are looking for and perhaps even assessing interns for future employment.
We offer our students the opportunity of internship placements during their time at Birmingham.
The video below talks to students, staff and employers about their internship experience:
"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
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.
If you make the most of the wide range of services
you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.
Visit the careers section of the University website for further information.
This degree is accredited as fully satisfying the educational base for a Chartered Engineer (CEng). It is also recognised by the European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI).
See www.jbm.org.uk for further information.
Our degree programmes are accredited by the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, and the Institute of Highway Engineers and are compatible with the latest guidelines for professional engineering registration. Further details on the JBM site
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.
Engineering Society organises events throughout the year. You may also
be interested in Engineering
Rugby or Engineers
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.
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.