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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Group of students working on a team project in the department

Students currently in their first year at Cambridge or starting at Cambridge in October 2022

Students who are reading Part IA Natural Sciences or Part IA Engineering in 2021-2 or 2022-3 are welcome to "switch" to the old 1+3 structure Chemical Engineering course in their second year.

They would join the cohort who were admitted to study the old Chemical Engineering Tripos.

While well established, the old course is actually modern in content. It does include some aspects of biotechnology, but with less emphasis than the new course, beginning in 2023. Students interested in switching should contact one (or all) of their College Tutor, Director of Studies, or Tutorial Office.

Year 2 at Cambridge (termed CET Part I)

This year introduces the discipline and covers many of the fundamental principles of chemical engineering (e.g. fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat & mass transfer, reactors, separations, biotechnology, sustainability). There is also a course on engineering maths. Students who took Natural Sciences are taught some mechanical engineering, while those who took Engineering are taught some chemistry.

Students undertake a fortnightly practical laboratory experiments, and do some continually assessed projects termed exercises.

Year 3 at Cambridge (termed CET Part IIA)

This year completes the study of core chemical engineering. Students who pass the course are entitled to the BA degree.

Many of themes from the previous year are developed further (e.g. fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, reactors, separations, bioprocessing). While other courses are new (e.g. process dynamics & control, materials & corrosion). Students undertake continually assessed projects termed exercises.

The year culminates in a 5-week full-time Design Project. This entails the conceptual and process design of a plant making a particular chemical. The project is performed in groups of about five students and includes all the important aspects of chemical engineering design: process flowsheet development, equipment specification, control, economics, safety and environmental considerations. 

Year 4 at Cambridge (termed CET Part IIB)

Almost all students continue to year 4 from year 3. Students who pass the course are entitled to both the BA and MEng degrees. The MEng degree satisfies the academic requirements for full membership of the IChemE and so leads to Chartered Engineer status for those who get relevant experience without the need for taking further examinations.

There are compulsory courses on energy technology, sustainability, and chemical product design. Students then choose from a wide range of optional modules depending on their interests. There is a major research project, usually undertaken in pairs, which may involve experimental or computational work.