Leading Chemical Engineering Schools in the UK

Chemical Engineering is a truly global profession, with endless opportunities to work and travel in every corner of the globe. The study of Chemical Engineering is fundamentally important in understanding how the world works, and how we can help sustain the planet’s natural resources.

Here, graduates stand at the forefront of cutting-edge technology that directly impacts the way we live across the world today. As a chemical engineer, it is your role to develop new technologies and products through the conversion of raw materials in a safe and cost-effective manner. Chemical Engineering provides the basis for developing new processes and technologies that can help support sustainable supplies of energies, protecting our environment, while supplying clean water and food sources for those who need it most.

In the UK, chemical engineers are in high demand and their salaries reflect this. The average starting wage for UK chemical engineers is £28,600 with the potential to rise to £70,000 onwards. When you look at the average graduate starting salaries for students starting at £19,000-£22,000, a degree in Chemical Engineering degree will leave you one step ahead of the game.

Below are five UK universities who are at the forefront of global Chemical Engineering research:


Chemical Engineering at The University of Manchester boasts a rich history as the birthplace of chemical engineering, dating back to the first lectures given by George Davis in 1887. From this strong lineage the School remains at the forefront of the field, educating future leading chemical engineers.

This is reflected in their impressive level of employability, particularly for its four year MEng with Industrial Experience course, which sees 95 percent of students obtain a professional or managerial job within six months of graduation.

The School has recently invested in a £16 million state-of-the-art teaching and research space which contains an ultramodern pilot plant -housing large scale process equipment-, a well-equipped undergraduate teaching laboratory and a bespoke enquiry-based learning suite, all designed for chemical engineering education in the 21st century.

Students benefit from the hands-on experience of operating pilot scale processes as part of their course, providing opportunities to learn using industry standard equipment, such as a Siemens PCS7 process control system.

This, plus a faculty consisting of world-leaders in their field, ensures students are getting a cutting-edge and relevant education right from the get go.

“The proactive learning style I developed whilst studying at The University of Manchester has benefited me when pursuing opportunities in my career,” says Chemical Engineering Graduate Kirsty Donovan. “There is also an international recognition of the standard of Manchester Chemical Engineering Graduates that has given me a good base to build on.”


Interdisciplinary research forms the basis of study at the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter. With scientific disciplines including engineering, mathematics, computer sciences, physics, astronomy, geology, mini and minerals engineering, the University of Exeter grants students the chance to explore an abundance of scientific themes to find their expert field.

The College is continuing to invest £8 million in facilities and academic staff over the course of the next two years, establishing the University as a leader for scientific research in the UK. World-class facilities at the College include 3D visualisation and rapid prototyping, an automated QEMSCAN scanning electron microscope, thermodynamics and energy labs, a £1 million supercomputer, ultrafast lasers, nano-fabrication, and an astronomical observatory.

Scientists at the College are internationally-recognised experts in their respective fields, committed to undertaking research to understand and solve issues affecting the world today: modelling climate change, sustainable urban water supply, malaria diagnosis, new optical imaging techniques to treat brain disease, and bomb-proof materials.

Degrees here are designed to prepare students for a career in their scientific field of choice. Discipline-specific skills and experiences that are highly sought-after by employers are embedded into the curriculum. There is also a wealth of extracurricular activities to help develop your CV, from business placements and management training to the UK’s largest volunteering programme.


Number one in the UK for research environment and top five in the UK for chemical engineering output, the University of Sheffield is a global shining light for high-quality scientific research. Students here take part in a fully-developed lab programme, focused on the principles and the application of chemical engineering in the real world.

The Diamond, the University’s new £100 million state-of-the-art research facility, is home to all engineering undergraduates. Dedicated staff teach using modern methods to support and assist the development of their students’ futures.

The Department currently has a unique facility named the ‘Pilot Plant’ under commission, delivering a safe environment to apply their learning from lectures, tutorials and labs on larger-scale process equipment. The lab simulates a true industrial plant, with industry-standard software. Coupled with this, students have the opportunity to carry out virtual experiments using the simulation software, allowing them to explore the depth of practical industrial chemical processing. This prepares graduates for life after graduation, acting as a perfect springboard into meaningful employment.

The School is supported through funding from government and industrial sources in the UK, the European Union and the rest of the world, which also opens the door to a number of employment opportunities for graduates.


As one of the largest chemical engineering departments in the country, the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, offers innovative courses delivered by highly-qualified staff with years of practical experience.

The University has strong links with major chemical engineering employers worldwide, particularly for those studying through the available distance learning programmes. The MEng final year placement scheme, along with the BEng and MSc courses, are a major attraction for prospective employers, all of which are fully-accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

The University is an expert in the fields of the controlled assembly of nanostructured materials, the design of advanced reactors, combating global warming with novel energy storage technology, and understanding protein aggregation in degenerative diseases. It also specialises in advanced computational modelling, as well as looking at materials and processes on all scales from the atomic to the macroscopic.

Complex equipment and instruments enable students to characterise a wide range of porous and nanomaterials. Experimental techniques at the university support the investigation of crystallisation, flow reactions and combustion processes.


The Department of Chemical Engineering at UCL offers a variety of first degree and post-graduate programmes in chemical engineering. These include four-year MEng degrees, which offer one year to study abroad in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain or the USA.

Courses at UCL are designed to be flexible for students, who begin on a core programme but are presented with a variety of research options to gain a better understanding of the field and what interests them in particular.

The Department aims to create pioneering breakthroughs in science and technology, and seeks solutions to ‘Grand Challenges’ such as energy, materials, sustainable manufacturing, health and the environment. With this in mind, the department regularly collaborates with the UCL Engineering and Chemistry departments, as well as various academic and industrial research groups.

The School is based on the main UCL campus in the heart of central London, and is one of the top research and teaching Chemical Engineering departments in the whole of the UK.

Some 90 percent of the staff in the department are rated as world-leading or of internationally excellent quality in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) carried out by the HEFCE.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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