My Most-Asked Questions Part 1
Hey people! It’s been a few weeks since my last post (blame Easter break procrastination). If you’ve read previous posts of mine, you’ll know that I help out at some of the School of Engineering open days. Having done a few of these, I’ve noticed there a few questions that come up time after time – so I thought it might be handy to consolidate them into one, easy list. You may also like to check out the ‘official’ undergrad Q&A, available here.
There’s quite a bit to get through here, so I’ve decided to split this into a few parts. This week, I’ll be talking about the academic side of studying engineering at Warwick. In the next few weeks, I’ll be touching on more general student life questions, and also on choosing your accommodation. If you’ve a burning question I’ve missed out, feel free to ask it in the comments below! Now, on with the programme.
Important Bit: I’m writing this post in Spring 2017. As far as I know, everything in here is correct at this time. However, all of this is my own understanding of things, and it’s possible things may have changed if you’re reading this post in future. I’ve provided a few links to the School of Engineering website in this post, which should (hopefully!) contain the most up-to-date information. If there’s a discrepancy, I’d trust them over me!
Currently, Warwick offer both BEng and MEng degrees in most streams, including Automotive Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical/Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Engineering Business Management (BEng only). Loads of people I know originally signed up for General Engineering, then picked a stream once they know what they liked – see below for more details on this. A full list of courses, including details on modules and accreditation, is available on the departmental website.
The grade requirements for all degrees are available on the site, and I’d recommend you read it instead of me summarising the page and likely missing any details that might apply to you.
Most people I know on my course did both Maths and Physics for A Level, but not all. To quote the official admissions FAQ, as linked above:
The uni provides additional support to those without A Level maths. This is currently in the form of a first year optional module, but will still be provided when the modules are changed for this year’s entry. For what’s it’s worth, I found a huge overlap between the first year maths module and A Level Further Maths. Having studied Further will definitely help in first year, but it’s by no means necessary – by the end of the year, everyone’s at pretty much the same level. For what it’s worth, the systems modelling part of the module, in which you see how a spring, a pendulum, and a capacitor/resistor circuit can be described by exactly the same equations, is equally confusing to everybody.
No matter what Engineering course they signed up for at Warwick, current students spend first year, and (as of this (2017) September) the first term of second year taught together. This gives you a nice grounding in all areas, which is something I’ve personally had mentioned favourably when applying for internships. Most engineering projects these days are multidisciplinary (e.g. a bridge may be outfitted with sensors monitoring traffic levels and the bridge’s condition), so being able to say, “I know these words!” is a good skill to have.
This does mean the calendar is rather packed – I had the seven first-year modules crammed into 20 weeks of lectures, which led to a rather bulging schedule as deadlines approached! Though I had a choice of optional module in first year, from next year this will be replaced with a compulsory programming module for all streams. An optional language module will still be offered, which is handy for those looking to study abroad. I haven’t had a huge amount of programming experience in my course thus far, so I’d say this is a pretty good change.
Ultimately, I can’t compare the Warwick course structure to other unis, as I don’t go to them. Like most engineering degrees, the Warwick courses are accredited by the relevant professional organisations (IMechE for MechEng, JBM for CivEng, etc). This means they have all the content needed to satisfy the academic requirements for chartership as laid out by the boards. The course I signed up for has a common two years, meaning only two years are stream-specific, but those starting from this September will start specialisation earlier, as mentioned above. One of the reasons this change was made was students saying they wanted to start stream-specific content earlier. I’d say there are benefits to having the general first year, particularly if you’re not yet certain which stream is right for you. Nonetheless, there have been times when I’m sitting in lectures, staring up at a circuit containing 87 transistors, and silently crying inside, hoping against hope to never see such horrors again. Pick your poison.
Until you reach the point where you start to specialise, it’s very easy to switch between degree streams and also between the BEng and MEng programmes – you just need to get the agreement of your tutor! It’s perfectly possible to begin studying BEng General Engineering and then move to an MEng programme of your choice. Currently, it’s required for prospective MEng students to achieve a 2.1 (60%) overall in second year, no matter which course they entered on. I know loads of people who did General because they weren’t sure what kind of engineering they preferred, then picked a stream once they’d have time to get a feel for it. For those starting the course this September, specialisation will start in Term 2 of second year, so you’ll need to make a decision by then.
One of the benefits I found to studying at Warwick is that my first year textbooks were provided free! This year I’ve had to buy a couple of books, but you can usually save by either just using library copies (diffcult during peak times such as exam season) or buying older editions second-hand. Additionally, when I started the course, I was given all the personal protective equipment (PPE) required for laboratories, to ensure that everyone has appropriate gear. A slight downside to this is that the department don’t take kindly to any student who’s forgotten it…
There are a few other costs it’s worth bearing in mind. Though you’re automatically enrolled in the Warwick Students’ Union (SU) by default, the SU does charge a fee before you can join any societies, known as Societies Federation. For the current year (2016-2017), this was £17. Having paid this, you can join any number of societies, though some charge membership fees of their own, on the order of a few quid. It’s worth noting that the student-run Engineering Society is completely free to join! J A similar system exists for sports clubs, with increasing tiers of membership granting increased access to facilities. A full explanation of this is available on the Warwick Sportwebsite, and it’s worth checking out if you’re interested in keeping active at uni.
That’s all for this week! I’d like to say a quick thanks to Justin Chan and Seffana Ajaz for suggesting some of the questions, and also to Director of Admissions Prof. Duncan Lockerby for checking this over before I put it up.
Until next time!