The material taught in the first year at University is determined by the choice of entry route.
Those who choose the Engineering route read Part IA Engineering, which consists of a series of lectures on the basics of engineering science: Mathematics; Mechanics, Vibrations and Thermodynamics; Structural Mechanics and Materials; Electrical Circuits and Electromagnetics. There are also supporting laboratories, and projects on topics such as design, computing and electronic instrumentation, management and drawing. There is no choice of papers in the Part IA Engineering route.
There is significantly more choice in the Natural Sciences route. A student studies three scientific topics from the following list of available Part IA subjects: Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Biology of Cells, Earth Sciences, Computer Science, Evolution & Behaviour, Physiology of Organisms. To satisfy regulations, Chemical Engineering students need to choose at least one of Chemistry, Physics and Biology of Cells. However, apart from that restriction, the choice is open. Chemical Engineering students taking the Natural Sciences route must also study Mathematics or Mathematical Biology. The experimental science subjects feature supporting laboratories in addition to lectures, and the amount of laboratory work is higher than the Engineering route, at up to three sessions each week, but with less project activity.
Assessment for both routes involves marked laboratory and project work, followed by a series of written examinations at the end of the year.