General engineering, the whole story!

Jessica Kelly

Back when I was applying to universities I knew that I wanted to study a broad and multi-disciplinary degree. However, the actual content of this degree changed more times than I can count. I wrote personal statements for broad humanities programs, law degrees and finally landed on engineering about two months before I submitted my application. So, safe to say I wasn’t the most decisive person back then (although I like to think it’s a skill I’ve learned since).

As a second year ‘General Engineering’ student here at Durham, I can confidently say that postponing my decision-making, by applying for only general programs, was the best choice I never consciously made.

Why study a general engineering degree?

  • Informed decision making

Engineering is one of those fields not many of us dipped our toes into before diving into a full three or four years of study! I’ve seen friends who were dead set on their third-year specialty do a 180 as they tested the waters with different streams and disciplines. As a result, I really advocate for spending at least a portion of your degree exploring what engineering has to offer.

  • Flexibility in career choices

Being well-versed in various engineering makes switching between departments, trying out different roles, and even exploring entirely new careers down the road much easier.

  • The nature of engineering problems

Engineering is this amazing mix of different fields, and for any engineering company to thrive, they’ve got to have individual teams and departments handling various parts of their projects. But, at some point, all these teams have to collaborate. That’s where having the vocabulary and understanding to communicate with other teams becomes a really valuable skill in industry.

What does a general engineering degree look like at Durham?

Here at Durham our engineering degree is really unique in that you get two whole years of general engineering before we have to specialise!

In my first year I studied really broad modules covering the basic skills needed for each stream alongside an elective module in French, then this year I’m studying slightly more specific modules alongside a ‘Engineering Design’ module (which I’ll get into in a minute). Then next year, and in fourth year, since I’ve chosen to study an integrated masters, I’ll be taking stream-specific modules alongside that ‘Engineering Design’ module I mentioned earlier.

Design is a year-long opportunity to work in a small group of students from any stream to deliver a project. It’s the highlight of my timetable and has come up in every job interview I’ve done this year

Choosing my stream

So, after two years of dabbling I’ve reached the point in my academic career where I’ve got to choose a stream.

Personally, I’ve found this process surprisingly difficult. I came into first year with no idea where I wanted the degree to take me and as a result I enjoyed trying out everything it had to offer! Through my two years of general engineering I’ve found that I like tackling challenging, multidisciplinary problems and as a result chose my third year stream, mechanical engineering, as it offers the most flexibility for fourth year specialties and beyond.

Discover more

Feeling inspired? Visit our Engineering webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes. 

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Jessica Kelly

Hi, I’m Jess! I’m a 2nd year Engineering student in Van Mildert College. I came to Durham from Ireland and have been having a blast at my college, university and the UK!

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