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Applying to study Chemical Engineering at Cambridge

Choice of entry route

Chemical engineering students at Cambridge have a choice between studying Engineering or Natural Sciences in their first year at University.

These routes provide equally good preparation for the chemical engineering undertaken in subsequent years. Prospective students therefore can select which course they would most like to do in their first year.

  1. Chemical Engineering via Engineering (UCAS code H810)

    A typical offer for admission is A*A*A at A2-Level (or equivalent qualification). Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry are essential. It is highly desirable to take Further Mathematics at AS or A2-level.

    The Engineering route gives students an excellent background in general engineering. It suits students who are particularly interested in applying science to solve real-world problems.

  2. Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences (UCAS code H813)

    A typical offer for admission is A*A*A at A2-Level (or equivalent qualification). Mathematics and Chemistry are essential. Further Mathematics and/or Physics is highly desirable at AS or A2 level. Biology may be helpful at AS or A2-Level.

    The Natural Sciences route gives students an excellent broad scientific background. It suits students who enjoy understanding how things work at a fundamental level. In the first year, students choose three scientific subjects from a choice of eight. In addition, they must also study Mathematics or Mathematical Biology in the first year.

Note that entry requirements may vary slightly from one College to another. Each individual application is considered on its academic merits. In particular, offers may be lower than those specified above if there are special circumstances.

One great advantage of the Cambridge system is its flexibility. You are not absolutely committed to reading Chemical Engineering even if you specify it on your application form. For instance, it is usually possible to continue studying a pure science if you do first-year Natural Sciences, or another branch of engineering if you do first-year Engineering. Cambridge is thus an ideal choice for University applicants who aren't quite certain which course they eventually want to study.

It is often possible to change to Chemical Engineering, even if this isn't stated on the application form, if an appropriate first-year course is studied. However, if you are interested in Chemical Engineering, you are strongly encouraged to apply to read this subject. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the subject you apply for affects who is chosen to interview you during the admissions process. The second reason is that, in the event that the Chemical Engineering course becomes oversubscribed, preference is given to those who applied to read the subject.

Application forms

It is the Colleges, rather than the central University, who handle undergraduate admissions at Cambridge. All of the Colleges that admit undergraduates support chemical engineering. If you have a preference between them, you can choose to apply to a specific College. Alternatively, you can leave your application "open", and your form will then be assigned to one of the Colleges.

Applicants need to submit the standard UCAS form that applies for applications to any UK University. The deadline for receipt of this form is 15 October for admission to the University the following October (or deferred entry in the October after that). The UCAS code used depends on which entry route is chosen. The code for Chemical Engineering via Engineering is H810 MEng/CEE, while that for Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences is H813 MEng/CENS.

After the UCAS form has been received, applicants from the UK and EU are normally asked to fill in an on-line Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) that asks questions that are specific to Cambridge.

From 2016-17 onwards, the University is setting a pre-interview written assessment for Chemical Engineering applicants. This will be the same test as for engineering or for natural sciences applicants (depending on route chosen). Further information on the exact nature of this pre-interview assessment is available on the website Performance on this pre-interview test is used by Colleges as part of their overall assessment of an applicant.

Students who are from overseas (not UK or EU) need to submit a Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA) form in addition to the UCAS form described above. The University arranges interviews overseas for some countries (normally Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, but sometimes other countries too). For these countries, application forms should be submitted by early September so that appropriate interview arrangements can be made (the deadline depends on country). For countries in which the University does not make overseas interview arrangements, then the deadline for receipt of the COPA is the same as for the UCAS form described above.

Link: University of Cambridge undergraduate prospectus -

External link: Alternative prospectus produced by students -

External link: UCAS website -