What can you do with a mechanical engineering degree?

An essential guide to what you will learn on a mechanical engineering course, what you should study to get your place on a degree, and what jobs you can get once you graduate
May 4 2017

Mechanical engineering

Why study mechanical engineering?
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What is mechanical engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the branch of engineering which covers how to maintain, analyse, design and manufacture machinery. This can span from the delicate design of tiny parts of machines as well as handling large-scale machinery.

There is some overlap between other engineering disciplines such as civil engineering, electrical engineering and aerospace engineering.


Best universities for mechanical engineering


What do you learn in a mechanical engineering degree?

Courses span between three and five years depending on whether you choose a BEng, a MEng, or undertakes a professional placement during your degree.

The first and second years are usually similar across most mechanical engineering programmes. They will likely cover an introduction to engineering with modules in applied mathematics, computing, thermodynamics and design and manufacture.

Following on from this, students will be able to specialise through selecting modules that interest them such as computational continuum mechanics, interfacing and data processing, nuclear reactor physics, fluid mechanics and many others.

Students will also  carry out an individual project in the final year and will often have the opportunity to undertake a placement in industry. 

What should I study at school if I want to do a mechanical engineering degree?

The majority of universities will require a strong background in maths and physics to study mechanical engineering. Studying other sciences such as chemistry may also be beneficial.

Entry will vary between universities so it is important to check with an individual university's grade requirements. 


Other subject guides

What can you do with an aerospace engineering degree?
What can you do with a general engineering degree?
What can you do with a chemical engineering degree?
What can you do with an electrical engineering degree?
What can you do with a civil engineering degree?
What can you do with a mathematics degree?
What can you do with a physics degree?
What can you do with a chemistry degree?


What do people who study mechanical engineering do after graduating?

Careers for mechanical engineering graduates can span many different industries including defence, transport, healthcare, manufacturing, machinery, IT, finance and many others. Mechanical engineers will be responsible for building, designing and maintaining machinery across a wide range of sectors and purposes.

It is also possible to move into a consulting role, working as part of a consultancy or as an independent contractor.

Many graduates will also turn to further education in order to specialise further or to gain chartered engineer status. There is also the opportunity to work abroad.

Famous people who studied mechanical engineering

Film director Alfred Hitchcock studied mechanical engineering at the London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation before directing some of the most iconic thriller and horror films of all time. His knowledge in mechanical engineering helped him to create some of the special effects in his films.

Bill Nye, an American science educator and television presenter, studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University. He hosted his own science show Bill Nye the Science Guy in the 1990s and has since made television appearances on Dancing with the Stars and The Big Bang Theory

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