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Choosing your engineering discipline

Find out what careers and study in the different engineering disciplines involves.

Engineering is a vast field, so most engineers specialise in a particular knowledge area. Many engineering degrees focus on one specific discipline, though there are some that let you try a bit of everything.

Here at Cardiff University, there are a wide range of engineering programmes for you to choose from. Whichever path you take, you will be contributing to an exciting field with the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives and improve the world around us.

Civil and architectural engineering

Civil engineers design, create and maintain the buildings and structures we need to get around and live our lives safely, from roads, buildings, bridges, dams and tunnels to railways, hospitals, energy facilities and airports. They also sustain our natural landscapes and manage rebuilding projects in the event of natural disasters.

Civil engineering is a broad subject and covers many topics including structures, foundations, water and the environment, and data and computing. Some degrees offer an element of specialisation alongside these topics. For example, architectural engineering has more of a focus on the design, construction and operation of buildings, whilst environmental engineering considers the management of environmental impacts like pollution and flooding.

If you choose a career in civil engineering, you could be working across the globe to construct new sustainable buildings and transport systems, as well as adapting existing infrastructure to meet challenges such as population growth, climate change and natural disasters.

View our architectural engineering courses
View our civil engineering courses
View our civil and environmental engineering courses

Electronic and electrical engineering

Electrical and electronic engineers combine scientific concepts with creative design skills to develop efficient, powerful, and universal electrical products, applications, and systems.

Electrical engineers cover the generation, distribution, application, and control of electrical energy, working on large-scale projects such as wind turbines, railway lines, power networks and battery design. They also design, develop and test electronic components, devices, and systems.

If you choose a career in electronic and electrical engineering, you could pursue careers in high-technology industries such as electronics, aerospace, data communications, robotics, or manufacturing.

View our electrical and electronic engineering courses

Mechanical and medical engineering

Mechanical engineers apply their scientific knowledge and design skills to develop and improve the machines, technologies and systems that make our world and lives function, such as power plants, microscale sensors and driverless cars.

Medical engineers are researching and evolving the innovations that improve our health and healthcare systems, by developing mechanical innovations such as 3D organ printing, prosthetic limbs, wearable technology, and improvements in specialist equipment such as wheelchairs.

If you choose a career in mechanical or medical engineering, you could be working across a range of exciting industries including aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, medicine, renewable energy, robotics, computer-aided design, and nanotechnology.

View our mechanical engineering courses
View our medical engineering courses

Integrated engineering

Integrated engineering allows those who have an interest in engineering but do not want to specialise straight away, to study an overview before choosing a specific subject branch later. This is a good choice if you would like to keep your options open for your first year of undergraduate study, or in some cases throughout your entire course.

In some courses, you study topics from across all engineering disciplines, whilst in others (including those at Cardiff) you might combine disciplines such as mechanical and electrical engineering, also known as mechatronics.

Integrated engineers have a broad range of engineering skills including aspects of electrical, electronic, mechanical, and manufacturing engineering. Their broad knowledge allows them to work in a wide variety of roles where several skills might be required.
View our integrated engineering courses

Types of degree

Typically, there are two types of engineering qualifications offered in the United Kingdom, a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) and a Master of Engineering (MEng). Many degrees also offer professional placements and study abroad options, as well as a Foundation Year programme for those without the appropriate qualifications for direct entry to the BEng and MEng courses.

Find out more about the different types of degrees we offer.