Engineering Science | University of Oxford
Engineering Science
Close-up of the rear of a modified Nissan LEAF termed RobotCar.
(Image credit: John Cairns Photography / Oxford University Images).

Engineering Science

Engineering Science encompasses a vast range of subjects, from microelectronics to offshore oil platforms, and involves the application of creative reasoning, science, mathematics (and of course experience and common sense) to real problems.

The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford has a top-level quality assessment rating for teaching, and a world-class reputation for research. Because we believe that future engineering innovation will benefit from broad foundations as well as specialised knowledge, teaching is based on a unified course in Engineering Science, which integrates study of the subject across the traditional boundaries of engineering disciplines. Links between topics in apparently diverse fields of engineering provide well-structured fundamental understanding, and can be exploited to give efficient teaching.

The Engineering Science programme is a four-year course, leading to the degree of Master of Engineering. The first two years are devoted to topics which we believe all Engineering undergraduates should study. In the third and fourth years there is scope for specialisation into one of six branches of engineering: Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Information and Mechanical. Decisions about which of these will be your specialisation can be deferred until the third year. In the fourth year there may be opportunities to study abroad.

The course is accredited every four years by the major engineering institutions in respect of the initial requirements for the designation of chartered engineer.

Industrial experience is an extremely important adjunct to an academic engineering education, and undergraduates are strongly encouraged to obtain it. One way to do so is by being sponsored. Further information is generally available through your careers teacher, or from the engineering institutions.

If your sponsoring company wants you to spend a year with them before university, you will be asked to declare this at your interview and in your UCAS application.


Oxford Engineering Science graduates work in many different sectors such as banking and investment, consultancy, accountancy, IT and computing, energy and the environment. However, as you may expect, most go on to work in the engineering and manufacturing sector. Some decide to continue their studies at Oxford, or elsewhere, by working towards a doctorate.

Mark now works as a race strategy modeller at Ferrari and says: ‘My work involves applying mathematical techniques to a variety of engineering problems related to Formula One cars. One recent example has been with race strategy, where we try to choose the optimum times to pit the car throughout a race and the best tyres to put on. I believe the reputation of the Oxford engineering degree was an important factor in securing a job in Formula One.’

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider Earth Sciences (Geology), Materials Science or Physics.

A typical week

As a guide, in an average week you will have approximately ten lectures and two college tutorials or classes. In some weeks in the first two years you will also have up to five hours of practical work. 

Class and tutorial group sizes are designed to allow students to discuss the contents of specific lectures with a tutor and their peers. In the first two years tutorials are delivered in colleges, typically in groups of 2-4 students. In the third year the department organises tutorials for groups of up to 4 students. In the final year class sizes vary, but there are no more than 15 students per class.

Lectures are delivered by the academic staff of the department, who are experts in their areas of research and typically have years of teaching experience. Tutorials and classes are delivered by a tutor, who might be a member of the academic staff, a postgraduate student – studying at doctorate level – or a postdoctoral research assistant within the department. Practical laboratory sessions are supervised by experienced academics and technical staff.

To find out more about how our teaching year is structured, visit our Academic Year page.

1st year


  • Mathematics
  • Electrical and information engineering
  • Structures and mechanics
  • Energy and the environment
  • Engineering practical work


First University examinations: Four written papers; Assessment of Engineering practical work

2nd year


  • Mathematics
  • Electrical and information engineering
  • Structures, materials and dynamics
  • Energy systems
  • Engineering practical work


Final University examinations, Part A:
Four written papers; Assessment of Engineering practical work

3rd year


  • Five optional Engineering courses
  • Engineering in society
  • Engineering computation
  • Engineering practical work
  • Group design project


Final University examinations, Part B: Six written papers; Assessment of Engineering practical work; Project reports (Engineering Computation and Design Project)

4th year


A major project, plus six specialist courses chosen from within the areas of:

  • Biomedical engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Engineering mathematics
  • Information engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Production engineering
The options listed above are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on the Engineering Science website.


Final University examinations, Part C: Six written papers; Project report

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

  • A-levels: A*A*A to include Mathematics and Physics. The A*s must be in Mathematics, Physics or Further Mathematics
  • Advanced Highers: AA/AAB
  • IB: 40 (including core points) with 776 at HL (with 7s in HL Mathematics and Physics)
  • Or any other equivalent (see other UK qualifications, and international qualifications)

If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements.

Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved.  (See further information on how we use contextual data.) 

Candidates are expected to have Physics and Mathematics to A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or any other equivalent. Inclusion of Mathematics Mechanics modules is highly recommended. Further Mathematics can be helpful to students in completing this course, although it is not required for admission. Details of the requirements for other qualifications, including the Advanced Diploma in Engineering, can be found on the Engineering Science website.

If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.

For candidates who are predicted A*AA serious consideration will be given to extenuating circumstances, such as disruption to education or bereavement, which have led to under-performance in exams and which are described in their application. Any offer would be conditional on achieving A*A*A.

All candidates must also take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) as part of their application. Please see how to apply for further details.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)


These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2019.

Fee status

Annual Course fees

(Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2019 are estimated to be between £1,058 and £1,643 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support


A tuition fee loan is available from the UK government to cover course fees in full for Home (UK)/EU students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your course fees up front.

In 2019 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of around £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man


Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford Bursaries and Scholarships page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Engineering Science

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written test

All candidates must take the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) in their own school or college or other approved test centre on Wednesday 31 October 2018. Candidates must make sure they are available to take the test at this time. Separate registration for this test is required and the final deadline for entries is Monday 15 October 2018. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for this test. We strongly recommend making the arrangements in plenty of time before the deadline.

Updates to PAT: The test consists of maths and physics questions, which are mixed in sequence (there are not separate maths or physics sections). Formula sheets, tables and data books are not permitted. Calculators will be permitted from 2018. Guidelines about the use of calculators along with details of the syllabus and links to supporting materials which candidates are encouraged to look at for preparation are available on the Physics website.

For everything you need to know, including guidance on how to prepare, see the PAT page

Written work

Applicants are not required to submit other written work as part of their application.

What are tutors looking for?

Enthusiasm for engineering combined with high ability in mathematics and physics is essential for those wishing to study any engineering course. These qualities will be tested at the interview and combined with an assessment of your predicted and attained examination performance (especially in mathematics and physics, and your PAT score) to decide who will be offered places.

For more detail on the selection criteria for this course, please see the Engineering Science website.

Suggested reading

At present we do not produce a reading list for students applying for Engineering Science but we encourage you to read any relevant materials which you find interesting.


Yuan Gao

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.


'I’m currently designing an offshore device that could convert wave energy in the sea into electricity, to be transmitted back to land. There are five people in my team, working on this for our third year project. I particularly enjoy it because I am putting into practice everything that I have been learning over the last two years.

I was attracted by the academic challenge of studying at one of the top universities in the world, and the Engineering Science course at Oxford really caught my eye because students cover a wide spectrum of engineering before choosing specialised options. I was convinced that the course would provide me with a broad foundation to understand and tackle real-world engineering problems, which cannot be solved solely by one discipline of engineers.

My tutorials are mostly arranged with one other student and one college tutor. This has enabled me to discuss engineering problems in depth with tutors who are the top academics in their fields.

I was Secretary of the Engineering Society last year, which was a great experience to see how various types of events are organised behind the scenes. I am also a member of the Engineering Department’s Joint Consultative Committee, which enables undergraduates to exchange ideas about the development of the department with senior academic staff. It shows how Oxford is committed to continual improvements – and listening to their students!'


He now works for a defence electronics firm called Thales Group as an acoustic engineer. He says:   

‘The approaches to problem-solving I learned at Oxford have been directly applicable to the challenges I have faced in my career so far. The tutorial system has given me confidence in my skills, and the ability to communicate my opinions effectively.’


Mark now works as a race strategy modeller at Ferrari. He says:

"My work involves applying mathematical techniques to a variety of engineering problems related to Formula One cars. One recent example has been with race strategy, where we try to choose the optimum times to pit the car throughout a race and the best tyres to put on. I believe the reputation of the Oxford engineering degree was an important factor in securing a job in Formula One."


First job after graduating

Graduate Engineer with Babcock International Group (Marine Division). This was a chance to work on one of the largest ship building projects in the UK - building the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers.

Current job

At the moment I am the Head of Development for a large utility company where I'm responsible for strategy development and execution for our business to business, unregulated energy services division. The job is really exciting as it involves a blend of innovation, technology, finance, business development, and business incubation. As my role focuses on delivering new growth areas for our business it means that I'm involved a variety of the exciting changes that are happening in the UK energy industry at the moment.

How did Oxford prepare you for this type of work?

The engineering degree at oxford gave me a broad grounding in all aspects of the field which certainly helps given the variety of work I'm involved in. It also cultivated a number of transferable skills of which the most relevant are; problem structuring in uncertain conditions and time management.

What was the most important thing your time at Oxford taught you?

The social life and various societies that Oxford offered was a great way to build friendships and learn new skills. I think the ability to manage a work-life balance was really important at Oxford and is even more important when working.

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college

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