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Study Engineering

22 November 2023

Engineers design the future. If you're keen to develop technology to improve the quality of our lives and provide solutions to meet the needs of our modern world, Engineering is for you! Studying Engineering leads to challenging, flexible, and rewarding futures with international opportunities. Learn more about studying Engineering at UC.


What is Engineering?

Studying Engineering will lead you into a challenging, flexible, and rewarding future with international opportunities. Engineers are responsible for the design and operation of the infrastructure which underpins our society including:

  • Telecommunications
  • Transport
  • Water and electricity supply
  • Large structures such as buildings and airports
  • Processing plants for food and forest products
  • Consumer items like iPads and cars
  • Manufacturing systems

Is Engineering for me?

If you enjoy mathematics and science, figuring out how things work, and working with other people to solve complex problems then you should consider becoming a professional engineer. UC offers a full range of engineering disciplines with courses ranging from nanotechnology to managing the forest landscape. 

With a balance of first-class theoretical education and challenging practical work in industry, a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degree will prepare you for a rewarding and diverse career.

Keep your options open

We give you the flexibility to study courses in your First Year (previously known as Engineering Intermediate Year) which allow you to keep a variety of options open about your discipline in Second, Third, and Fourth Years (the professional years). The nine disciplines you can choose from are:

Chemical and process engineers transform raw materials into processed, marketable products by chemical, physical, or biological means. They take science experiments performed in the laboratory and operate them on a commercial scale, taking into account economics, safety, and sustainability. Others are involved in the research and development of new products and processes, such as those in nanotechnology, biotechnology, or advanced materials.

It is the only traditional Engineering discipline that explicitly builds on PhysicsChemistry, and Biological Sciences, along with the mathematical rigour required of all engineers.


Minor in Bioprocess Engineering
This minor prepares biologically-minded engineers to meet industry demand for products such as medicines, vaccines, beverages, vitamins, alternative fuels, and clean water. You will learn about harnessing the natural power of bacteria and algae for creating new products and treating waste.


Minor in Energy Processing Technologies
This minor prepares energy-focused engineers to develop renewable and existing energy sources (such as hydrogen, solar, wind, natural gas, and oil). You will understand how natural resources produce the power, fertilisers, and fuels that enable our society to function, and gain insight into electricity generation and storage, environmental issues, sustainable engineering, and energy stewardship.


Minor in Environmental Process Engineering*
This minor prepares environmentally-minded engineers to meet society’s growing commitment to improving the environment. You will learn about strategies, legal requirements, and appropriate mitigation and treatment technologies for industrial pollution control, sustainability measures, and cultural issues related to environmental treatment technologies. We prepare you for designing, improving, and operating processes that treat contaminated water, air, and soil.

Civil engineers design, construct, project manage, and commission a wide range of facilities and infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, towers, dams, roads and railways, pipe networks, and treatment plants. These facilities provide people with a reliable, safe, sustainable, and modern environment to live in.

Electric power depends on civil engineers for the design and construction of dams, canals, and transmission towers. Many towns and cities are protected against flooding or the effects of fire and earthquakes by infrastructure designed and constructed by civil engineers.

Civil engineers have responsibility for managing people, equipment, resources, time, and money. Communication skills are vital, as all professional engineers need to effectively disseminate complex information to people of diverse backgrounds by providing detailed engineering reports, presentations, and taking part in public hearings and inquiries.

This is a broad field, and students may take courses to focus on a more specific area of civil engineering during their professional years of study to suit their interests.


Minor in Structural Engineering*
Bridges, buildings, skyscrapers, dams, and towers are engineering structures that improve our quality of life. New materials and technologies allow us to design exciting structures to resist both natural and man-made hazards. The Christchurch and Kaikōura earthquakes demonstrated that there is still much to learn to withstand these extreme forces. UC staff are world leaders in the design and assessment of steel, concrete, and timber buildings and bridges. With this minor, you will learn state-of-the-art approaches, and gain the expertise to work in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world in challenging and exciting large-scale structural engineering projects.


Minor in Water and Environmental Systems Engineering*
The greatest challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand and the world are dominated by environmental factors: climate change, natural hazards, river and water quality, food production, population health, etc. We need to find a way to effectively integrate the built environment with the natural environment. A minor in environmental systems focuses on solving this. The highest quality academic staff have been recruited globally to drive research and teaching activities relevant to these critical challenges. Environmental systems engineers integrate our understanding of engineering, communities, and the environment in a way that is ethical and effective.

Computers are at the heart of innumerable modern products, most of which would not be identified as computers. Computer engineering involves the development, both electronics and software, of such 'embedded' computers. It requires a combination of technical knowledge, science, and creativity with a strong emphasis on design to develop practical solutions to real-world problems.

Applications, industries, and devices associated with computer engineering include computer systems, portable electronics, autonomous robotics, biomedical devices, household electronics, telecommunications and networks, and manufacturing and infrastructure.


Minor in Communications and Network Engineering
If you have an interest in the Internet, and specifically in the "Internet of Things", the design and deployment of computer networks, and in a wide range of communications, the minor in Communications and Network Engineering would be a good choice to complement your Computer Engineering degree. Aotearoa New Zealand has a large number of Internet service providers, communication and network equipment manufacturers, and infrastructure providers — spanning both major exporters and smaller companies, a number of which are based in Ōtautahi Christchurch. Currently, there is a need to increase the number of graduates with skills in both Computer and Network Engineering to fulfil these roles. Employment opportunities for graduates in this field are extensive, especially in the overseas marketplace.

For more information about Computer Engineering visit their web pages.

Electrical and Electronic Engineers harness one of the fundamental forces of the universe, electromagnetism, for the benefit of the world.

Electrical and Electronic Engineers create systems to provide efficient and sustainable power for homes and industry, the physical parts that transfer information between computers, and also the smart miniature devices we now have throughout the modern world.

Electrical and Electronic Engineering involves being creative with the generation, storage, and use of electricity; the design and programming of smart systems, such as robots and mobile devices; as well as the design and use of integrated circuits, sensors, and actuators. This discipline also involves the transmission and transformation of information using computers and communication networks, and the design of new electronic and computer products.

Electrical and Electronic Engineers have played a major role in the development of many technological advances, from personal computing and smart phones to autonomous vehicles and renewable electrical power. Digital television, unmanned aerial vehicles, robotics, medical imaging, and space exploration have all been possible in large part because of electrical engineering innovation.


Minor in Power Engineering 
Efficient and sustainable power generation and transmission is highly important in our modern world. Studying the Power Engineering minor will allow you to investigate electric power generation, distribution, and usage.

Systems such as generators, transformers, and motors are widely used across different industries, and therefore need graduates with the expertise to create and improve these. You can find employment power generation companies, consultancies, transmission companies, contractors, energy retailers, equipment suppliers, and distribution companies.

You may also find the knowledge gained through this minor useful in transport industries that deal with the design of electrical railways, aircraft, and electric motors.

Forest engineering is a hybrid of engineering, forestry, and management. It requires people who can combine skills to solve engineering problems in the natural environment, with a focus on balancing economic, societal, and environmental requirements.

Forest engineers construct and evaluate the operational systems that make the forest industry ‘work’. This can include:

  • designing and building new roads
  • developing or modifying forestry equipment
  • planning harvest operations
  • optimising transport logistics
  • integrating new technologies
  • supervising employees and contractors
  • ensuring safety standards are maintained.

Forest engineers work with public and governmental agencies. They look after the environment, and may steer projects through the resource consent process. Forest engineering graduates know the forest environment and forest products and processes, and they provide the essential link between the forest and the final product.

Mechanical engineers design and develop everything that is moving or has moving parts – from airplanes to wind turbines to dishwashers, as well as everything from macroscopic (large) down to nanoscopic (very small). Mechanical engineers are systematic thinkers with a sense of social responsibility that leads them to constantly seek better ways of doing things.

Many mechanical engineers specialise in areas such as materials, dynamics and controls, product design, manufacturing, energy and thermodynamics, and mechanics. Others cross over into other disciplines, working on everything from artificial organs in bioengineering to enhancing the field of nanotechnology.

The mechanical engineer may design a component, a machine, a system, or a process, and analyse their design using the principles of work, power, and energy to ensure the product functions safely, efficiently, reliably, and can be manufactured economically. Central to a mechanical engineer's role is the design and the use of information technology.


Minor in Biomedical Engineering
For students who want to have a biotechnology focus and work in the medical industry, the minor in Biomedical Engineering offers a programme specialising in designing, testing, and implementing medical products for use in hospitals and clinics, and includes industry project work in this area.

As a priority industry in the 21st century, there is a growing need for life-changing engineering solutions that restore function and aid in diagnosis, monitoring, rehabilitation, and delivery of care. This field of study builds awareness and addresses challenges encompassing global health issues, for example our increasingly aging population, and a rise in illnesses from sedentary lifestyles.

Biomedical Engineers will develop current and emerging devices, such as prosthetics, implants, heart-rate monitors, mobility equipment, medical imaging scanners, and assistive technologies.

Mechatronics is the field behind the "Smart Products and Systems" that increasingly dominate many aspects of our lives. It sits at the intersection of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, and combines sensors, software, and motors to create innovative and amazing new devices.

These mechatronic systems can be found manipulating the smallest bits of matter, in spacecraft, as well as throughout your home and town. From smart phones and TVs, to smart energy grids to smart cars and smart medical care and devices. They are everywhere, making life better, greener, healthier, more productive, and more interesting.

During the coming decades, we will see an explosion of these automated systems further aiding our lives. Robots are widely used to automate manufacturing processes for productivity benefits, quality consistency, and reduction/elimination of physically hard and/or hazardous labour. Mobile machines, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), and Autonomous Ground Vehicle (AGV), are deployed to operate in such environments.

The vast discipline of Mechatronics Engineering does not stop at the visible world. Micro and nano electro-mechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS) are an ever increasing branch of mechatronics research and technology for applications such as atom-scale microscopy and spectroscopy, micro and nano fabrication, big data storage, sensor technology, medical drug delivery, and many more.

Our society relies in many ways on software or software-based systems, for example in transportation, entertainment, telecommunications, government, business, health, and avionics.

Very often software systems have a high degree of complexity, often consisting of millions of lines of code produced by large teams of engineers or programmers. We critically depend on their timely and cost-effective completion, and on their reliable and efficient operation. To meet all these targets, a disciplined and well-founded approach to the design, creation, and operation of software (or software-based systems) under real-world constraints (economical, ethical, technical, legal) is needed.

The Software Engineering programme at UC provides a unique blend of foundational courses in Computer Science and Engineering, and practical work through a series of projects.

Engineering and Product Design brochure

Brochure of all engineering and product design-related study options at UC.
Download (application/pdf, 3 MB)

Why choose UC?

International reputation

QS World university rankings rate UC in the top 1 per cent of universities worldwide for engineering and technology. Our Civil and Natural Resources Engineering Department is ranked in the top 100 worldwide. Chemical and Electrical and Electronic Engineering are both ranked in the top 250.

UC is also the first university in New Zealand to receive a five-star rating from QS Stars. A typical five-star university is generally world class in a broad range of areas, enjoys a high reputation and has cutting-edge facilities and a renowned research and teaching faculty. UC has received a five-star rating for Engineering and Technology, Research, Teaching, Infrastructure and Internationalisation.

All of our degrees are accredited by Engineering New Zealand, formerly known as the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand and therefore recognised as meeting the academic requirements for professional engineers. Engineering New Zealand is a signatory to the Washington Accord, making an Engineering degree from UC an internationally recognised qualification.

UC is the only university in New Zealand to offer Forest Engineering and Forestry Science. Our Diploma in Global and Humanitarian Engineering is also unique within Australasia. 


Support for students

Eng ME!
Our new student-led, Faculty enabled, peer mentoring programme. All First Year students (previously known as Engineering Intermediate Year) will be assigned to a peer mentoring group led by a current Second, Third or Fourth Year engineering student who has successfully “been there and done that”.

What you will get?

  • A weekly mentoring session for the first 10 weeks of Semester One
  • Expert tips and tricks to help you thrive in your Intermediate Year including:
    - How to start assignments
    - Ways to juggle the workload
    - Who to see for advice including all UC’s different support services
    - Great places to study on campus
    - The best food spots
  • Somewhere you can ask questions about Engineering Intermediate Year
  • A fun way to make connections with other students 
  • Free food

We also offer additional mentoring groups to support:

  • Māori students
  • Pasifika students
  • International students
  • Women students

Engineering students have access to specially designed computer laboratories and software. There are dedicated Engineering teaching and research laboratories in every discipline, with first-rate equipment, testing facilities and expert technicians available to provide you with the skills and support required for hands-on learning. There is also a specialist EPS (Engineering and Physical Sciences) library.

Student-run clubs like ENSOC (Engineering Students' Society), WIE (Women in Engineering), EWBNZ (Engineers Without Borders NZ), and IEEE Student Branch support learning and provide links to industry.


Add a Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering

UC offers the only Humanitarian Engineering qualification in Australasia.

If you'd like to

  • Add a humanitarian focus to your degree
  • Gain an employment advantage
  • Help solve the world's biggest problems

Add a Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering to your Bachelor of Engineering and get an extra qualification without adding any extra time to your degree. 


International Links

International experience as part of your degree is a benefit when you are looking for employment. As an engineering student at UC you have the opportunity to study for part of your degree at a university overseas through our Outgoing Exchange (current UC students) scheme. 

The University of Canterbury is the only New Zealand university that is a member of the Global E3 consortium. This engineering exchange scheme allows students to apply to study at a number of international universities for a part of their degree, usually one semester.



The University of Canterbury campus is located in a suburb of Christchurch and acts as its own small community. You will find numerous cafes, restaurants, a bookshop and an events centre. Cultural diversity is excellent and the Faculty of Engineering has strong links with China and Malaysia as well as students from around the world.

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