Department of Engineering / Postgraduates / Postgraduate courses

Department of Engineering

Postgraduate courses

Postgraduate courses

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Changes to teaching in 2020/21 due to Covid-19

Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and government guidance, we have had to make some changes to our programmes in order to mitigate the risks to health and to give you the best possible academic experience in the circumstances. We will continue to monitor and respond to the changing public health situation.

Lectures for some modules – those shared with other courses and with large audiences – will be delivered online. The exact proportion of modules to be delivered online will depend on the programme in question, on your elective choices, and on social distancing guidelines prevailing at the time.

It is our hope that some or all of the core modules will be taught in-person as normal, but this may be limited by social distancing requirements and space within the Department. We hope to provide you with more information about this in the near future.

Where teaching is taking place in person, contingencies will be in place for those who need to shield, or in case some form of lockdown is imposed by the government.

More detailed information about our taught courses (MPhil and MRes programmes) can be found on the Graduate Admissions website.

FAQ for applicants

Further information for applicants can be found here:https://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus and here: https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/students/guidance-for-all-students/advice-on-exceptional-circumstances.

Part-time study

Part-time study

Both of our research programmes are available for students to study part-time. The MPhil in Engineering is available at 50% of full time study (over two years instead of one) and the PhD in Engineering is available at 60% of full-time study (over five to seven years, instead of three to four years). The majority of our taught programmes are currently only available for full-time study, however we offer one part-time taught Masters in Construction Engineering.

PhD in Engineering

The PhD in Engineering is also offered via a part-time route, to allow greater flexibility to fit your studies around your career and other commitments.  The requirements for part-time students are exactly the same as for full-time students except that you have two years to complete the standard first year requirements (two taught modules, a researcher development programme and an assessed first year report). Some students find it easier to spend a term in the Department during their first year to complete the modules.

Further information regarding the requirements for part-time students in the Department of Engineering can be found on our website for current Graduate Students.

Part-time PhD students are expected to spend an average of three weeks each term in the Department. The normal period of study for a part-time PhD is five years, which equates to three years of full-time study. Further information about the terms of study for part-time students can be found on the Cambridge Students website. 

If you are interested in pursuing this mode of study there are some additional steps that must be taken in the admissions process;

  • Your proposed topic of research must be suitable for part-time study.
  • You must live close enough to Cambridge, or be able to spend enough time here during the first two years, to be able to fulfil the module and researcher development course requirements, both of which require physical attendance in the department.
  • You will need to provide a letter from your employer (if you are employed) confirming that you may have time off, if necessary, to attend the University as required for the whole duration of your course.

MPhil in Engineering

The MPhil in Engineering is also offered via a part-time route, to allow greater flexibility to fit your studies around your career and other commitments.  The requirements for part-time students are exactly the same as for full-time students except that you have two years instead of one to complete the standard MPhil requirements (two taught modules, a researcher development programme and submitting your thesis).

If you are interested in pursuing this mode of study there are some additional steps that must be taken in the admissions process;

  • Your proposed topic of research must be suitable for part-time study.
  • You must live close enough to Cambridge to be able to fulfil the module and researcher development course requirements, both of which require physical attendance in the department.
  • You will need to provide a letter from your employer (if you are employed) confirming that you may have time off, if necessary, to attend the University as required for the whole duration of your course.

MSt in Construction Engineering

The Construction Engineering Master's (CEM) programme is a 2 year Master of Studies (MSt) course offered by the Department of Engineering in association with the Cambridge Judge Business School and the Institute of Continuing Education.

The aim of the course is to develop and empower emerging leaders to transform the construction industry. This is an advanced leadership programme aimed at future leaders of the construction industry.

Teaching is delivered through a series of seven intensive residential weeks in Cambridge, interspersed through the two years of the course. These weeks involve lectures, workshops, seminars with industry experts, group project work, and individual supervisions.

Read the MSt Application Guide to find out more about the application process and what you need to do and consider as a potential applicant. Enquiries about this course should be directed to: mst.admissions@ice.cam.ac.uk.


Further information regarding part-time study can be found on the Postgraduate Admissions website.

Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs)

Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs)

There are eleven Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) associated with the Department of Engineering. Students on these programmes follow a four year course - one foundation year and then three years of research towards the PhD degree. During the first year, students follow a taught programme designed to prepare them for further study and research. In most cases, this foundation year leads to the award of a Masters degree (MRes or MPhil). Students that have successfully passed the first year will continue on to the PhD degree, either within the department of Engineering, or with a collaborating department or institution. A key feature of the CDTs is the financial support available. If eligible, students may be provided with funding to cover their fees and maintenance for the duration of the course. 

Our CDTs were developed in collaboration with other research institutions and/or industry partners, and are funded by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). Centres run with interdisciplinary themes, fostering collaborations across departments, institutions and with industry, enabling students to develop both their cross-discipline skillset and their PhD project research themes in a novel and innovative way. For many students, they will have the chance to develop connections within the academic and work environments that will shape their future careers.

CDTs based within the Department of Engineering

Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems

A four-year PhD course in collaboration with University College London. The course comprises an initial year undertaking the MRes in Connected Electronic & Photonic Systems, followed by a three-year PhD programme. The programme is designed to produce engineering leaders with a high level of understanding and skills in photonic and electronic systems, in particular, the fundamentals of the field together with the necessary research expertise, and technology, systems and applications knowledge.

Future Infrastructure and Built Environment (FIBE)

This four-year course comprises an initial MRes year, followed by a three-year PhD programme.This cross-disciplinary programme aims to address the major threats to infrastructure and turn them into opportunities. These include infrastructure resilience against technological opportunities and environmental causes; infrastructure resilience in a world of economic, social, political and cultural change; and infrastructure resilience to support urbanisation and demographic change.

Future Propulsion and Power

A four-year PhD course in collaboration with the Universities of Oxford and Loughborough; at the end of the first year, successful students are awarded an MRes degree in Future Propulsion and Power before proceeding to the doctoral programme. The course benefits from the team of universities (Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and  Loughborough) and companies (Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Siemens, Dyson) that are collaborating to deliver the CDT. This team enables the course to provide students with an advanced course in the aero-thermal engineering of propulsion and power devices, particularly the gas turbine (compressors, combustors, and turbines), as well as the skills (experimental, computational, and transferable) required to become an expert practitioner and future leader in the field.

CDTs associated with the Department of Engineering

Students on these courses may undertake the PhD element of the programme within the Department of Engineering, however applicants for these courses do not apply directly to the Engineering Department for admission. Further information can be found via the links below, and any queries should be directed to the contact details found on the websites.

Aerosols Science

Agri-Food Robotics (AgriFoRwArdS)

Application of Artificial Intelligence to the study of Environmental Risks (AI4ER)

Computational Methods for Materials Science

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Nuclear Energy Futures

Sensor Technologies and Applications

Automated Chemical Synthesis Enabled by Digital Molecular Technologies (Syntech)

Research study

Research programmes

There are two research programmes available within the Department of Engineering; the MPhil in Engineering and the PhD in Engineering.

MPhil in Engineering

This is a one-year full-time (or two years part-time) research course designed to provide further study and training in research. As a student registered for the MPhil in Engineering programme, you will spend the majority of your time undertaking research in one of the areas of current interest in the Department, under the supervision of an academic member of staff. In addition, you will study two taught modules chosen from over sixty offered in the Department. Modules consist of lectures and practical work, and each module involves about 80 hours of work. You will also participate in a researcher development programme. During the year, you will write your research up into a 15,000 word thesis, and then have an oral examination.

This general MPhil is very flexible, and can be tailored to suit your particular interests. You can browse current topics of research in the department and identify potential supervisors via the research pages of our website.You should state the name of the supervisor(s) that you wish to work with on your application form, and should also give at least an indication of the topic you wish to undertake research on, so that we can direct your application appropriately

Please note that we admit very few students each year onto the MPhil in Engineering. The MPhil is not a prerequisite for the PhD Degree so students wishing to undertake a PhD should apply directly for admission to the PhD programme. Applicants are strongly advised to identify a supervisor that they wish to work with and to contact them directly to discuss their research interests, in advance of submitting an application. Not all of our supervisors are able to accommodate MPhil projects, and applicants who have not already established contact with a supervisor before applying are unlikely to be admitted. Please note that successful applicants may be allocated to a different supervisor than the one(s) named on the application form.

Further information, including entrance requirements and how to apply, can be found on the online Course Directory.


PhD in Engineering

To obtain a PhD degree you must complete three years full-time training (or five years part-time) and carry out an original piece of research which makes a significant contribution to learning in one of the many research areas in the Department. At the same time, the Department expects that students will leave with the wider skills necessary to be successful in either an academic or a non-academic career. Research students are therefore expected to obtain an effective training in research and to broaden their background knowledge, as well as to undertake a novel research project. In their first year, students take a minimum of two taught modules from a wide range of courses offered by the Department. Modules consist of lectures and practical work, and each module involves about 80 hours of work. You will also participate in a researcher development programme during your first year, and you are expected engage in personal development opportunities throughout the PhD in order to develop important transferable skills.

As a research student working in the Department of Engineering, you will work most closely with your Supervisor, who is responsible for guiding your research and training. You can expect at least eight one hour-long individual meetings with your supervisor every calendar year, although it may be much more frequent. You will also have daily contact with the research group you are working within. In addition, you will be assigned an Adviser, who will take an active interest in your progress and be available to provide additional support and advice when needed.

All doctoral research takes place in University of Cambridge facilities. However, the Department and its supervisors have strong links to other institutions both in the UK and around the world. After their first year, students may therefore apply for permission to undertake research in other institutions for extended periods of time. There may also be opportunities to teach small groups of engineering undergraduates to widen your experience and gain valuable expertise in explaining engineering concepts.

At the end of your first year, you will write a 15,000 progress report on your research to date, and discuss your work with two assessors. Passing this assessment is a requirement to continue with the PhD beyond the first year. After completing three years of research, you will submit a 60,000 word thesis on your research and have an oral examination. The final deadline for submission of the thesis is four years after the start date (or seven years for part-time students), but we advise students to aim to submit by either the end of their tenth term, or the end of their funding, whichever is soonest.

The PhD in Engineering can be tailored to suit your particular interests. Applicants are strongly advised to identify a supervisor that they wish to work with and to contact them directly to discuss their research interests, in advance of submitting an application. You can browse current topics of research in the department and identify potential supervisors via the research pages of our website. You should state the name of the supervisor(s) that you wish to work with on your application form, and should also give at least an indication of the topic you wish to undertake research on, so that we can direct your application appropriately. Please note that successful applicants may be allocated to a different supervisor than the one(s) named on the application form.

Further information, including entrance requirements and how to apply, can be found on the online Course Directory.

Taught courses (MPhil and MRes)

MPhil programmes

We offer five full-time one year taught programmes in various specialist areas of Engineering. These Masters' programmes are assessed by a combination of coursework, examinations and dissertations and lead to the award of an MPhil degree. Further details about each of the programmes can be found on the individual courses' websites, and on the University's online course directory.

MPhil in Energy Technologies

The world faces major challenges in meeting the current and future demand for sustainable and secure energy supplies. The MPhil in Energy Technologies course is designed for graduates who want to help tackle these problems by developing practical engineering solutions, and who want to learn more about the fundamental science and the technologies involved in energy utilisation, electricity generation, energy efficiency, and alternative energy.


MPhil in Sustainable Development

The Engineering for Sustainable Development MPhil course is designed for graduates who want to help tackle pressing global problems by developing practical engineering solutions. The course is about recognising that engineers have to operate within an increasingly complex set of constraints, and therefore must be capable of dealing with a range of challenges. The subject is based on some very straightforward principles: it is about living within Earth’s finite limits and resources, helping everyone on the planet to achieve an acceptable quality of life; acting as stewards of the environment for future generations; dealing with complexity; and handling the many trade-offs which have to be made.


MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacture and Management

The aim of ISMM is to equip numerate graduates with the academic skills, personal development and industrial experience to be immediately effective in their early careers in industry. ISMM is very different from any other academic course: it combines traditional academic teaching material with a series of industrial visits, industrial seminars, skills development and projects in industry. ISMM is a very intensive programme that gives a direct experience of many different industries, cultures and working environments. In addition to the lectures, the projects present real challenges in genuine industrial and business environments.


MPhil in Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence

This is an 11 month MPhil programme, taught from within our Information Engineering Division, with a unique, joint emphasis on the expanding areas of machine learning and machine intelligence, including speech and language technology and computer vision. The course aims to teach the state of the art in machine learning and machine intelligence; to give students the skills and expertise necessary to take leading roles in industry; and to equip students with the research skills necessary for doctoral study.


MPhil in Nuclear Energy 

The MPhil programme in Nuclear Energy, provided by the department in collaboration with the Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre and co-sponsored by a Nuclear Energy Industry Club, is a one-year full-time nuclear technology and business master's programme for engineers, mathematicians and scientists who wish to make a difference to the problems of climate change and energy security by developing nuclear power generation. The combination of nuclear technology with nuclear policy and business makes the course highly relevant to the challenges of 21st-century energy needs, whether in the UK or in countries across the globe.

MRes programme

In addition to the MPhil programmes, we also offer three full-time one year taught MRes programmes, which are part of our Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs). Only one of these is available as a standalone Masters course, the others are only available as part of the CDTs.

MRes in Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems

This programme is designed to begin to equip students for engineering leadership positions, developing a high level of understanding and skills in photonic and electronic systems, in particular, the fundamentals of the field together with technology, systems and applications knowledge, and some research experience.

Overview of postgraduate courses

Postgraduate courses in the Department of Engineering

The Department of Engineering offers options in both research study and taught course programmes across a wide range of engineering specialisms. Further details about what is available can be found via the links below.

Taught courses

We offer six full-time one year taught programmes, leading to the award of a Masters Degree (MPhil or MRes).

Research study

Applicants wishing to engage primarily in research can apply for either the one year MPhil programme (also available part-time over two years) or the PhD programme, which usually takes between three and four years (also available part-time over five to seven years).

Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs)

Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) offer a combined taught and research-based programme, leading to both a Masters and a PhD programme. In addition to three CDTs based in the Department of Engineering, we are also partners in eight CDTs based either in other departments at the University of Cambridge, or in other institutions.

Part-time study

Both of our research programmes are available for students to study part-time. The MPhil in Engineering is available at 50% of full time study (over two years instead of one) and the PhD in Engineering is available at 60% of full-time study (over five to seven years, instead of three to four years). The majority of our taught programmes are currently only available for full-time study, but we offer one part-time professional development course in Construction Engineering.

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