Undergraduate Teaching

Course overview

Course overview

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The undergraduate engineering course is organised in four parts, each taking a year. Each year has three terms, two of eight weeks of formal teaching and one of seven weeks. The periods of formal teaching and examinations in the third term vary from year to year.

Course structure diagram

NB. An exchange with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is running for the final time in 2016-17.

Assessment , progression requirements and industrial experience

Part IA and IB students sit Tripos examinations at the end of the Easter term. Part IIA and IIB students sit them at the start of the Easter term. Continuous assessment by coursework is used together with the examination marks for classing the students at the end of each year.

Progression requirements are set by the Faculty Board.  Students may not take the same part of the same Tripos more than once.  Students must also fulfil the industrial experience requirement.

The Engineering Department has a commitment to inclusive teaching.


Lecture courses

Experimental work


Part I

(two years)


General engineering for first five terms, no choice.


Sixth term: elective lecture courses

Mechanics, structures, materials, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, electrical engineering, electronics, information, control, mathematics

Approximately two 2h laboratory experiments per week covering all subjects, plus:

Engineering drawing exercises;


Projects: structural design; Integrated Electrical project; integrated design project ‘Robot lab’; integrated coursework ‘Buildings in earthquakes’; mini-project ‘Materials characterisation’.

Part IA: Four 3h examination papers, no choice of questions.

10% credit from experimental work.

Part IB: Mainly 2h examination papers, choice (broadly) four questions out of six. 15% credit from experimental work

After Part I: specialise into engineering area of choice, or keep a broad focus

Engineering areas:

Aerospace and Aerothermal Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; Bioengineering; Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering; Energy, Sustainability and the Environment; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Electrical and Information Science; Information and Computer Engineering; Instrumentation and Control.


Part II Engineering: Two years

Part IIA


Choice of 10 modules out of 45

16 hours of lectures per module

Labs / coursework associated with each module. Two projects in Easter Term.

1.5h examination paper for each module.

30% credit from experimental work.

Part IIB


Choice of 8 modules out of 75

12-14 hours of lectures per module

Modules may include coursework.

Individual project runs through the year.

1.5h examination for some modules; others are assessed by coursework. 43% credit from project.

Graduate with Honours degrees of Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Engineering (MEng)


Parts IA and IB (first and second years)

During the first two years of the course students study substantially the same subjects. These extend across the whole range of engineering and include mechanical, electrical, information and civil engineering, design, manufacture and management, together with the mathematical and computing skills that underpin much of modern engineering.

Parts IA and IB provide a coherent basic course of the principles underlying engineering science as a whole. Although Part IA is not designed to be taken alone, undergraduates may change to other subjects after one year, and indeed they must do if they wish to take the three-year course leading to the Chemical Engineering Tripos.

Parts IIA and IIB Engineering and MET (third and fourth years)

At the end of their second year students decide which Tripos to prepare for in their third and fourth years. It is straightforward to choose the Part II of either the Engineering Tripos or the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET), both of which are based on the first two years of the Engineering Tripos and are offered in the Department.

Instead, they may decide to change department to read Computer Science, Management Studies or indeed any other subject for which they are qualified. A small number of students may spend their third year on one of the student exchanges.

Part II Engineering

Students staying with the Engineering Tripos specialise in a chosen engineering area. During the first two terms of Part IIA they take ten modules, at least six of which must be from one of the specified Engineering Areas. The third term is devoted entirely to two projects chosen from a wide range of available topics. In Part IIB students take eight modules, at least four of which must be from one of the specified engineering areas. They also undertake a major project that occupies about half of the total time throughout the year.


Students taking MET specialise completely in manufacturing engineering and management. They all take the same course in both Part II years. In Part IIA they study five subjects and undertake one major project, all in the Department in Cambridge. In Part IIB they take six modules in the Department together with five projects in industry, one of which is a long project occupying eight weeks. In both years there are a number of industrial visits, culminating in an overseas tour at the end of Part IIB.




Last updated on 17/02/2017 16:56