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Why study a postgraduate engineering degree?

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A wide variety of people study postgraduate engineering courses at the University of Sunderland. Some students progress onto postgraduate study straight after graduating from an undergraduate engineering course, while others choose to work in industry first. For those progressing straight from their undergraduate degree, postgraduate study offers the chance to continue and build upon their studies, and potentially continue their research projects. Students who have worked in industry before returning to postgraduate study are able to bring real-world experience to the course and apply their studies at work. There are also students who come from a completely different discipline, wanting to learn engineering approaches, and so choose to study one of our conversion courses, such as MSc Project Management.

Whatever your reasons, here is why it's a good idea to study a postgraduate engineering degree at the University of Sunderland. 

Our engineering courses

At Sunderland, we offer three main types of postgraduate engineering degrees:

Specialist Engineering MSc courses

Our specialist MSc courses are designed to extend knowledge and skills from an undergraduate course and progress towards the educational requirements for professional registration as a Chartered Engineer. The courses focus on very specific areas, drawing on current research in that subject and how this might be applied to industry. We offer: MSc Advanced Maintenance Engineering, MSc Electronic Engineering, MSc Engineering Management and MSc Mechanical Engineering.

Conversion Engineering MSc courses

Our conversion courses are designed to develop the engineering knowledge and skills of those who have studied another subject at undergraduate level and are either working in engineering or wish to, or want to deploy engineering practices in another discipline. The conversion courses provide an overview of the basic engineering principles but then look at how these can be deployed in the context of professional engineering using Masters level research and professional skills. We offer: MSc Manufacturing Engineering, MSc Project Management and MSc Applied Project Management.

Engineering Doctorates

We offer engineering doctorates such as PhD/DProf which are designed to recognise work in research or at the cutting-edge of a field of engineering. A variety of routes exist but typically the subject will either be a technological investigation into some aspect of technology and its application to a particular engineering problem, or it will be a detailed investigation of some aspect of engineering practice and how this might be enhanced. By the end of the study, there is an expectation to make a contribution to the body of knowledge in a novel area.

Our emphasis on advanced manufacturing courses

Our courses are aligned with the North East region’s strengths in manufacturing; in particular they are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills of the latest advanced manufacturing techniques and processes including Industry 4.0, advanced materials technologies and the latest digital skills. The courses are also designed to focus on providing the academic, management and leadership skills required to select and deliver change in manufacturing organisations and their processes.


A postgraduate degree enhances the chances of entering the profession at a higher level and therefore has a strong impact on salary and earning potential. An engineering postgraduate qualification also provides equivalence to international four-year engineering qualifications and alignment with the educational requirements for Chartered Engineer status. 

All of our postgraduate engineering courses are supported by industry via industry-led projects or factory visits. This enhances student employability as it enables our students to gain an understanding of innovative tools and techniques used in industry. Our MSc engineering graduates typically enter organisations at a higher tier in roles where they will be expected to manage and lead either technology or innovation and change or develop new processes and practices to enhance efficiency and profitability. The skills acquired during postgraduate study mean that our students are work ready and can lead and manage projects, deliver change and continuous improvement and have an ability to be innovative and work independently. 

A group of students are sitting together looking at workbooks, two students are in the centre of the frame, talking to each other.

What’s involved at Masters level?

At MSc level, the use of research is critical in terms of determining the best option for solving specific engineering problems – drawing on the latest technology and processes where appropriate. A full-time Masters course is 12-15 months in duration, depending on the course, and you will be on campus (under non-Covid conditions) for approximately two days a week with the remainder of the time spent on independent study. During the second semester you will begin to plan your project work and will work on this full-time through the summer. The project is open ended and flexible to allow students to select their favoured topic or area of study. You will work under the guidance of the project module team to develop their idea and construct the necessary research questions and planning detail around this. The range of projects includes design exercises, experimental research or development of new management approaches. 

What’s involved at Doctorate level?

A Doctorate involves the equivalent of three years of full-time study to address a single topic or research and can be a great support to those who seek an academic career.

PhD is the traditional academic research route. Industrial companies with Research and Development departments also employ Post Doc students for their expertise in cutting-edge research. ProfDoc enables recognition for those already working at that level in the profession, and for them to gain academic understanding of research. PhD by Existing Published or Creative Work is appropriate for experienced researchers to have their work recognised.

Wherever possible, we support our Doctoral students in being involved in publications, externally funded research and, of course, teaching activities to develop their wider portfolio of skills should they wish to follow an academic career. We aim to provide our Doctoral students with the opportunity to engage in research collaborations with other academic institutions and the industry (this depends on the supervisory team and their network of collaborations). We also arrange research seminars in which staff, students and external experts are invited to deliver talks nurturing a research environment. We encourage collaboration with other research students, perhaps working in other discipline areas. 

At a PhD level, you have enough time to receive in-depth training in specialised equipment and learn the underlying theory. We expect our Doctoral students to make contributions to knowledge and academic literature.

Our support

We operate an open-door policy and work with our students as partners. Many modules and projects are derived from, or related to, staff research so you will often be working alongside staff in your own research.

Previous Masters and Doctoral students have made excellent use of the facilities from our recent lab upgrade. Library resources are also excellent with access being available to specialist engineering repositories such as IEEE Xplore, Elsevier and other technical sources of information.

You will have opportunities to learn from guest speakers and attend industry forums. We have strong professional body links to the Project Management Institute and the Institution of Engineering and Technology and you are invited to attend and contribute to events. You are encouraged to support one of our industry partnership events where companies present their manufacturing problems and openly discuss tools and techniques to remain competitive and sustainable.

To learn more about studying engineering at postgraduate level at the University of Sunderland, see our courses.

Published: 8 July 2020