What courses? Engineering, civil engineering , computer engineering, clean technology, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, instrumentation engineering, aerospace engineering, automotive engineering... It's a broad subject and the list of specialist fields goes on.
What do you come out with? Mostly, you'll end up with a BEng which is a Bachelor of Engineering. If you take your studies further, you'll have a MEng.
Why do it? "Engineering is about using science to solve problems – how to build a better bridge, make a product in a less environmentally damaging way, or deliver clean water to a rural community. If you would like to combine the excitement of science with the satisfaction of making an impact on people’s lives, an engineering degree is for you. Engineering is also a way of thinking analytically about challenges that can be applied to a wide range of careers, in business, law, and policy making, for example." - Professor Nigel Seaton, senior deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Surrey
What's it about? How things work. Engineers work on making current technology more efficient, and creating new technology. They design and create. In short, it's the art of using scientific, mathematical, economic, social and practical knowledge to design and build anything. It applies to every aspect of life, so it's no surprise that there's a demand for engineers.
For more specialised ideas, see related courses.
Study options: Degrees last three years, generally. You can do four years and get an MEng, which you'll need to become a chartered engineer. In Scotland you do a four year master’s, and a couple of English institutions also offer this option. Some universities will offer sandwich years, where you work and apply your newly-gained skills in a professional context.
What will I need to do it? Engineering academics look for science and maths-related subjects, so mathematics is quite a good choice. A science A-Level is also preferable. Entry grades vary but the standard is quite high - think BBB upwards.
What are my job prospects? It varies, depending on course. Specialising can give you an advantage over broader courses, but it also limits you to your specialism. Those who don’t specialise generally enter careers in commerce, teaching, the civil service and journalism, where an engineering education is a useful preparation. Some students move on to study a MEng. According to The Times' Good University Guide 2012, 47 per cent of general engineers end up in a graduate-level job within six months of graduating, with an average starting salary of £24,937.
Where’s best to do it? The Complete University Guide shows that Cambridge and Oxford take the first and second places in the subject table. Surrey comes third, followed by Nottingham and Imperial College London. Surrey, Coventry and Exeter ranked top three for student satisfaction on general engineering courses, and the best courses for graduate prospects - according to the CUG - are Cambridge, Cardiff and Nottingham Trent University.