Why study a general engineering degree?

Close up of engineering tools and papers

One of the highly-regarded STEM subjects, engineering is an exciting and varied subject. There are many different disciplines of engineering which lead to a range of careers. A degree in general engineering means you can study an introduction to the subject, before making an informed decision on the right specialism for you.

What is general engineering?

General engineering is the main branch of engineering before been broken down into different subcategories and specialisms. General engineering covers all of engineering – designing, developing, building, testing and maintaining. After a broad introduction to the subject, you’ll be able to explore the different available specialisms and start planning for your future career.

The first two years of a general engineering degree will help you to build a foundation of knowledge. In your third year, you’ll be able to use your new knowledge to choose a specialist subject stream depending on your interests, taking modules related to this in your final year.

Reasons to study general engineering

Even if you already know what type of career in engineering interests you, there are many reasons why you should study a general engineering degree. Read a few of them below.

Keep your options open

What better way to be absolutely sure of your future career choice than to try it out whilst still at university? On a general engineering degree, you’ll be able to experience a wide range of different specialisms, including:

  • Civil engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Electronic engineering
  • Mechanical engineering

You may have always planned on a career in mechanical engineering, but a second year module in electrical engineering may show you a whole other career path you haven’t even considered!

Building your engineering network

Being a general engineering student means you’ll be surrounded by students interested in all disciplines of engineering. Where you might discover a passion for civil engineering, another of your classmates may feel that electronic engineering is their calling. You’ll be learning together, but graduating with skills developed in widely different areas. This means that alongside your specific subject knowledge, you’ll develop the skills to communicate and work with engineers in other disciplines – a great skill to have in your career as an engineer.

Developing transferable skills

You won’t only be learning about engineering on a general engineering degree – it’s a great subject choice to ensure you graduate with a whole range of transferable skills valued by employers. These include, but are not limited to:

Teamwork and problem-solving

Engineers will need to be able to communicate with people in a range of job roles and sectors. A general engineering degree means you’ll be meeting and working with people from all over the world. Your tutors and lecturers will set you work and challenges and you’ll be expected to work together to create a solution – excellent practice for the world of work.

Planning and organising

Engineering students will need to be hardworking and dedicated to succeed. You’ll be in charge of your own schedule and making sure you complete all your work. Tutors will assign you work and set deadlines, but it will be up to you to make sure you manage the work for each of your different classes. This will show employers that you’re able to handle responsibility, as well the daily tasks which will be required of you in your future career.

Written and verbal communication

An important part of any university degree is communicating your newfound knowledge in a range of ways – and engineering is no exception. From written essays and reports to verbal presentations and seminar discussions, showing you can distill complicated information in a clear and concise way is a great skill to impress potential employers.

Employability and income

As a STEM subject, engineering is a highly employable degree choice. At Durham University’s Department of Engineering, 86% of students who graduated in 2017 were in paid employment or further study six months after graduation – and 94% of those were in graduate level employment with a median salary of £29,000 (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2016/17 graduates).

Engineers typically go on to have a high average salary in the UK. Depending on the sector you work in, you could be earning an average of £44,504 in electronics to £53,913 in oil and gas (The Engineer Salary Survey 2018).

International opportunities

Engineering can take you all over the world. You can get a head start on these international opportunities by taking advantage of a study abroad placement whilst at university. These placements typically last one academic year, giving you the opportunity to experience living and learning in a new country whilst being supported by your university. On top of this, showing the initiative to live and work in another country is a valuable addition to your CV – and one that employers will look favourably on.

Practical skills and learning

General engineering is a hands-on degree – no matter which specialism you choose to focus on. Depending on your degree, you may be able to benefit from a placement year or year in industry. This will allow you to put what you’ve learnt so far into practice between your second and third years. This is particularly useful for students on a general engineering degree, as you’ll be able to spend time trying out a specific type of engineering before finalising your choice in your third year.

How to study general engineering in the UK

The best way to study a general engineering degree in the UK as an international student is to study a pathway programme before your university degree. At Durham University International Study Centre, the International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering combines English language tuition, study skills, and engineering modules to prepare international students to succeed at a top-ranking UK university.

After developing these important skills, students are able to progress to study engineering at Durham University – including BEng General Engineering.

For more information about what life is like at the International Study Centre, get to know more about us on our website.

Frequently asked questions

Is general engineering a hard subject?

General engineering may be a difficult subject to study if you don't have the skills required to succeed, such as a love of science, good communication and problem solving.

What are the different types of general engineering?

General engineering is the study of the foundations of engineering that prepare you for further specialism in the subject. You could go on to study civil engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering or mechanical engineering.

Why study engineering in UK?

The UK is a great place to study engineering. As well as being the home of many top-ranking engineering degrees, it is also a great way to develop your English skills – meaning you have both the subject knowledge and language skills to work globally.