School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering students study the science and engineering of processes in which materials, not just chemicals, undergo some sort of change: chemical or physical, or both.

The title chemical engineering is synonymous with process engineering. The applications of these changes are essential to a wide variety of industrial processes including:

  • brewing and freeze-drying in the food industry
  • refining fuels and lubricants
  • producing man-made fibres, synthetic detergents or plastics in the petrochemical industry

You'll also learn about process automation and control to make sure that processes are optimised, made more productive and efficient, and that they are operated safely.

What we do

Chemical engineers are educated and trained to be conscious of the wide needs of society and the dangers facing the global environment. Chemical plants must be designed and built to minimise their impact on landscapes and to ensure that their operation will not cause pollution.

We devise recycling processes for paper, plastics, glass and many other materials. We apply our knowledge in areas such as the generation of energy and the extraction of metals. These are fundamental to the agricultural, manufacturing, commercial and domestic activities of modern society.

Much of our work is crucial for developing countries, as well as for industrialised nations.

We contribute to medical science by developing drugs and artificial organs. We contribute to the health of the community by designing plants for water purification and effluent treatment. The issue of sustainable development is very high on the agenda of all chemical engineering activities.

Your career

Chemical engineers are the highest paid of all engineers. The Institution of Chemical Engineers's 2012 salary survey showed that the average salary for graduate engineers was £28,000.

The reason is simple – our expertise and knowledge are required in many industrial sectors, from the production of silicon chips and new materials to the manufacture and processing of bulk chemicals and polymers.

As a chemical or process engineer, you might:

  • solve the problems encountered in one of these processes
  • work alongside scientists and engineers from other disciplines to design and commission manufacturing complexes of the future
  • become a production manager co-ordinating the raw materials, manpower and energy consumption to make sure that the production process operates cleanly, safely and efficiently

You may even develop a career in the world of commerce, making use of your knowledge to predict chemical market trends and to perform financial audits on production sites.

The face of chemical and process engineering is constantly evolving and career paths are vast and varied. A chemical engineering degree will leverage the opportunity for a challenging and exciting career.

Find out more

The following websites have lots of useful information about this field: