Types of engineering: which engineering degree should I study?

Close up of student working in lab

Engineering is an engaging subject that covers many different areas whilst appealing to a wide range of interests. But with so many types of engineering degrees available, how do you decide which is right for you?

All engineering degrees are considered one of the STEM subjects and share certain similarities. No matter which branch of engineering you go into, you will encounter the same sort of problem-solving opportunities, however, the specific skills you learn on each degree can provide widely different career opportunities.

Civil engineering

Civil engineers design and develop buildings, as well as working on infrastructure projects such as transportation networks.

You may enjoy studying civil engineering if you:

  • are interested in how things work
  • enjoy designing and building things
  • want to learn computer-aided design (CAD).

A degree in civil engineering can lead to a variety of careers, including:

  • Civil engineer
  • CAD technician
  • Building control surveyor
  • Design engineer
  • Structural engineer

Chemical engineering

Chemical engineers use scientific processes to create different materials and substances, including industrial chemical plants, influencing many areas of science and technology.

You may enjoy studying chemical engineering if you:

  • have an analytical mind
  • enjoy maths, chemistry and natural sciences
  • are interested in how everyday items are made.

Earning a degree in chemical engineering can lead to a job as a:

  • Process engineer
  • Product development scientist
  • Energy engineer
  • Chartered chemical engineer
  • Petroleum engineer

Electrical and electronics engineering

Electrical and electronics engineering are related, but are actually two different types of engineering. Electrical engineers deal with the production and distribution of electricity. Whereas electronics engineers design, develop and test the manufacturing of electrical equipment.

You may enjoy studying electrical and electronics engineering if you:

  • are interested in how technology is powered
  • want to learn about electrical systems
  • enjoy improving and developing how things work.

A degree in this subject can lead to a variety of exciting careers, including:

  • Electrical engineer
  • Electronics engineer
  • Broadcast engineer
  • Acoustic consultant
  • Network engineer

Computer engineering and computer systems engineering

Other branches of engineering you might wish to explore are computer engineering and computer systems engineering. Computer engineers develop computer software and hardware, whereas computer systems engineers design large-scale computer systems.

You may enjoy studying these subjects if you:

  • are interested in how computer hardware, software and systems work
  • want to design new technology and computer systems
  • enjoy maths, science and computer science.

A degree in computer engineering or computer systems engineering can lead to a job as a:

  • Computer hardware engineer
  • Software engineer
  • Systems architect
  • Systems analyst
  • Network security specialist

Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineers design, make and maintain products and systems with moving parts. They use engineering principles to develop and test new designs, constantly improving mechanical structures.

You may enjoy studying mechanical engineering if you:

  • are interested in how mechanical devices work
  • want to improve how things with moving parts work
  • enjoy working in a team with people who have complementary skills.

Earning a degree in mechanical engineering can lead to jobs including:

  • Mechanical engineer
  • Maintenance engineer
  • CAD technician
  • Control and instrumentation engineer

Aerospace engineering

Aerospace engineers research, design and use engineering principles to make aeroplanes and other types of aircraft.  Some aerospace engineers even specialise in making spacecraft.

You may enjoy studying a degree in aerospace engineering if you:

  • are interested in the history and science of how flying machines work
  • want to learn about the mechanics of making things fly
  • enjoy working with computer simulations.

Earning a degree in aerospace engineering can lead to many different exciting careers, including:

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Design engineer
  • CAD technician
  • Materials engineer
  • Manufacturing systems engineer

How to become an engineer

Depending on which area of engineering you think is right for you, you may need to go to university to gain a qualification. You can start gaining the skills needed for an undergraduate degree in engineering by studying the following subjects at school:

  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Design Technology
  • Computer Science

If you are an international student looking to study engineering in the UK, a foundation year pathway programme may be a great way to prepare for study at a high-ranking university. Leeds International Study Centre will help you to develop the skills you need to progress to an undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds.

The International Foundation Year in Science, Engineering and Computing will improve your English language and subject skills, so you feel ready to join whichever engineering degree is right for you.

Applying online to the Leeds International Study Centre is easy with our direct application form. Once you successfully complete your International Foundation Year, you will be able to progress to the University.

Why study engineering at the University of Leeds?

The University of Leeds is renowned for its teaching and research – with its engineering faculties being some of the leading in the UK. The Faculty of Engineering is one of the largest in the UK; with its 700 members of staff and 3,500 students coming together to create a strong engineering community.

By studying your engineering degree at the University of Leeds, you are benefiting from degrees which are highly-ranked across the university league tables:

  • Top 5 for Civil Engineering (Guardian University League Tables 2020)
  • Top 5 for Mechanical Engineering (The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019)
  • Top 10 for Chemical Engineering (Guardian University League Tables 2020)

To begin your journey to a degree in engineering at a high-ranking university, apply to the Leeds International Study Centre for progression to the University of Leeds today.


What defines engineering?

Engineering is the application of maths and science to solve problems. The role of an engineer it to apply the inventions and innovations of scientists to the real world.

What is the best type of engineering to study?

The best engineering degree for you is the one that interests you the most. If you choose an area you have interest in, you are more likely to enjoy your studies and want to develop your skills and knowledge of the subject. 

What are the benefits of studying engineering?

Engineering has a big impact on everyday life and having the ability to positively affect this is rewarding. The skills and knowledge you will gain from a degree in engineering will also allow you to find success in different types of engineering and industries.