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Engineering at Sidney

Engineering at Cambridge

The Cambridge Engineering course is unique. It allows you to keep your options open while equipping you with all the analytical, design and computing skills that underpin modern engineering practice. Part I (Years 1 and 2) provides a broad education in engineering fundamentals, enabling you to make a genuinely informed choice about the area in which to specialise from your third year (many students change direction as a result). Part II (Years 3 and 4) then provides in-depth training in your chosen professional discipline.

The following specialisations are available within our Engineering course:

  • Aerospace and Aerothermal Engineering

  • Bioengineering

  • Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

  • Electrical and Information Sciences

  • Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

  • Information and Computer Engineering

  • Instrumentation and Control

  • Mechanical Engineering

Engineering at Sidney

At Sidney, we are always conscious of the fact that Engineering has Industry at its heart, and that it is essential to place academic study in a wider context. We have a broad and friendly community and are always keen to find new people and aspire to help them find out how they can make their contribution to society through Engineering. Indeed, it is noticeable that our Engineering students are some of the most active in College life generally, and are quick to make their mark on the world beyond College by applying their Engineering skills to real world problems.

The Stephenson Society

One advantage of having such a large community of Engineers at Sidney is that we are able to sustain our own Engineering Society, known as The Stephenson Society (StephSoc). This is probably the most active college‐based Engineering society in Cambridge. Run by the undergraduates, The Stephenson Society meets every fortnight during the Autumn and Spring Terms (or more properly known as the Michaelmas and Lent Terms). There is an hour-long talk by a speaker (usually from a company outside Cambridge and frequently one of our Engineering alumni) at each meeting, and this is followed by dinner in Hall. These meetings are usually attended by students and Fellows alike, as well as some alumni, and are undoubtedly a reason why the Sidney community of Engineers is so cohesive and outward-looking.

Hear from a student... 

     I remember when I was in your position I was eager to know about the day-to-day life of a Cambridge student, how much work to expect, how much down time we would get… and so on. This is a very tough question as it varies so much, however, I can attempt to give you an overview of my typical day:

8.50     Cycle or walk to the engineering department. It’s close to Sidney - a perk of being so central!

9-11     Two lectures: You are given lecture notes with some gaps to fill so no intense copying down! Lectures are the source of new information and all of the content needed for the exams is covered here. Almost all lectures are with all 300 engineering first years and most are now recorded and put online which certainly helps.  

11-1     Long or short lab: These range from technical drawing to labs based on theory learnt in lectures. They are very practical and everything is taught from scratch so don’t worry if (like me!) you’ve never done things such as technical drawing before. Some labs require write ups and you will have two longer projects that take up most of your time for a week; these are the Structural Design Project and the Integrated Electric Project (IEP). Both of these were highlights of the first year course for me!  One of the best things about labs here is Standard Credit. What this essentially means is that, provided you turn up to your sessions and give it your best shot, you’ll receive full marks! This avoids people spending too much time on lab work.

1-2     Head back to college and eat lunch in the Hall at Sidney. Hall is a great place to eat as the food is good and decently priced and Hall is very sociable. 

2-3     Time for some independent study and preparation for supervision.

3-4     Supervision: You have 2/3 of these a week. They are the only form of teaching based in Sidney. These are 2-on-1 sessions with an academic – this can range from a PhD student to a field-leading Professor. You will have the same supervision partner for all of your supervisions. During supervisions, you will go through work that has been set in the form of examples papers. These are problem sheets which cover the lecture material, and working through them will be the bulk of your independent study. Supervisions give you the opportunity to discuss any questions you had difficulty with and consolidate your understanding. These unique sessions are what makes the Cambridge education so great, so embrace them and try to make the most of extremely patient supervisors who want to get the best out of you!

4-5:30    After a lot of contact hours I like to take the time before dinner in Hall to take a break and do some exercise such as in the Sidney gym, football training with the College team or getting out on my bike.Robbie Blythe, Engineering undergraduate at Sidney

5:45     Dinner is served in Hall and I often make the effort to go as it is easy and a perfect way to catch up with people.


You will often find you need to do some work in the evenings, but you will find plenty of time to do sociable things such as going to the College bar, going out with friends, watching a film in the JCR or just taking some chill time in your room.

Robbie Blythe, Sidney Engineering undergraduate


Directors of Studies (DoS) and Fellows

Professor Andrew Flewitt is a Professor in the Electrical Engineering Division with interests in microsystems, acoustic sensorsand the driving electronics for flat panel displays.

Dr Ricardo Garcia-Mayoral is a Lecturer in aeronautical engineering working on non-conventional surfaces to control turbulent flows.

Dr John Longley is a Senior Lecturer in the field of turbomachinery and works on modelling fluid flows in turbines.

Professor Abir Al‐Tabbaa is a specialist in geotechnical engineering with interests in environmental ground engineering.

Professor Andy Neely is Head of the Manufacturing and Management Division of the University of Cambridge Engineering Department and of the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM).


Professor Dame Ann Dowling is active in the fields of acoustics and fluid mechanics and from 2009-14 was Head of Cambridge's Engineering Department. She has a particular interest in the development of ‘silent aircraft’ and recently chaired the Royal Society’s Commission to study nanotechnology and nanoscience. She is also the first female President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Professor Keith Glover is a control engineer with wide interests in systems and information technology, and was until 2009 the Head of the Engineering Department.

Mr Donald Green

Professor Rodolphe Sepulchre is a control engineer with an interest in neuronal behaviour.

Professor Richard Penty is in the Electrical Engineering Division and works in the field of photonic communications. He is also Master of Sidney Sussex.

Each undergraduate coming to Sidney receives College teaching (called supervisions) from at least three of these Fellows, together with other university teachers and research workers. The College maintains a tradition of broad based teaching for the first two years of the Engineering Tripos. In each of these years an undergraduate can expect to have two or three hours of College teaching per week in addition to Department teaching (lectures and laboratories). In the third year undergraduates receive specialised supervision either from Fellows of the College or from others as appropriate.

In addition to supervisions, you will be assigned one Engineering Fellow who will act as your Director of Studies (DoS). Your DoS has responsibility for overseeing your Engineering education, and will meet with you a couple of times every term to review progress, talk about study skills, consider module choices and discuss longer term career plans as appropriate. Unlike most Colleges, where your DoS changes every year, at Sidney we believe  that there is value in a student having the same DoS, where possible, throughout all of the undergraduate course. As a consequence, you will get to know your DoS well, and your DoS will get to know what really motivates you as an Engineer. Therefore, you will get the very best help throughout your time at Sidney. We believe that this is one reason why our students generally get such good results and end up exceeding their expectations and ambitions.

All of our undergraduate students are allocated a Director of Studies and learn from specialists in particular areas of their subject. From time to time, individual teaching staff may be away on leave.

Typical Intake

10 - 12

Standard Entry Requirements

A*A*A at A Level

41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level

Please note that any conditional offer will specify that applicants must achieve A* or 7 in Mathematics or Further Mathematics.

Please see the University website for standard entry requirements in other qualifications.

Please note that offers are set on an individual basis using all of the information available to us in context of the entire field of applicants.

All Colleges require A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics and Physics. At Sidney, all applicants will also be taking Further Mathematics to at least AS Level, and preferably as a full A-Level if this is available. The A Level work in Mathematics must have included Mechanics, unless you have some other means of studying this essential subject, in which case the College should be consulted beforehand.

We also frequently receive applications from students offering Chemistry (which is essential if you intend to specialise in Chemical Engineering), languages, Economics or Design & Technology as well as other humanities and arts A-Levels.

Industrial experience

Typically one or two of our Engineering students each year will have taken a Gap Year to gain industrial experience.

Admissions Process

Written work

We will not ask you to submit any written work as part of your application.

Admissions Assessments

Pre-interview assessment. Read more about the admissions assessment on the University website.


Two interviews. The first is focussed on mathematical ability and the second on engineering, and both include working through problems.

Find out more

Department of Engineering

University website Engineering course page

I Want to Study Engineering




Skype interviews may be considered for international applicants on a case-by-case basis in certain subjects. If you wish to enquire further, please contact the Admissions Office (