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Academics Chemical Engineering Study Abroad

4th Year: The Struggle of Explaining What I Actually Do

So, the short answer, I am a 4th year MEng Chemical Engineering with Business Management student. But surely, if I’m bothered to make it a blog post, it is much more complicated than that one simple sentence. And yes, it is.

I think I need to first explain how this fact messed up with everyone’s mind, except if you are doing the exact thing that I do, which is, doing an MEng course.

This is how the scenario goes, depending on the people who ask:

UK friends, especially those doing non-engineering/science degree: 4th year? Oh yes, I’m doing my Master’s. Oh, you just graduated last year? No, I didn’t, it’s one course called Integrated Master’s. Right, but you still get 2 certificates right, one for your bachelor and one for your Master’s? No, I’m getting one certificate at the end, which is my MEng certificate. And then they will get even more confused. And then when someone asked me, how long I’ve stayed in the UK, I will tell them that this is my 5th year in the UK since I did a foundation year. Then they will start asking about a foundation year, which is an entirely different matter, it’s a huge discussion in itself.

American friends: so you are in your senior year? No, it’s a Master’s year. oooh, you are doing a fast-track degree? No, it’s the same. It takes 3 years to do bachelors’ degree and 1 year to do master’s degree. Oh right, when are you graduating? Next year, summer 2018. Right, so you will get both your master’s and bachelor’s certificate? No, I’m just getting one Master’s certificate. But you said it takes 3 years to do a bachelor’s degree right? So you don’t have a bachelor’s degree???

Indonesian friends: Woah so cool, you are doing your Master’s already! Well, it’s the same course with my undergraduate year. Ohhh, you are doing a fast track year? No, it takes 3 years to do bachelor’s in the UK and 1 year of Master’s. Oh, you graduated last year? Congratulations! No, I didn’t, it’s one course….

Do you see what I mean by now? Exactly. Hope I haven’t confused you so much. But let’s dive into the explanation now.

Let me start by saying that it’s a 4 years’ course where I graduate with a Master’s degree and I don’t get any bachelor’s certificate at all. In the UK it takes 3 years to do a bachelor’s and 1 year to do a Master’s degree. I didn’t graduate after 3 years because it is one course altogether. I can only graduate after 4 years, since I am combining my subjects, unlike those doing pure chemical engineering. They can graduate after 3 years to get a BEng and then do another MSc. But if you graduate after 3 years, then you cannot get an MEng title for your Masters’, it will be an MSc.

So what’s the reason for doing this complicated course? I am not too sure about the main reason, but I can think of several reasons. Firstly, UK/EU students can use their student loan to study an MEng course, which I think is not available for the normal postgraduate course. Also, to become a chartered engineer, you need a Masters course, so employers prefer those who have a Masters degree and hence why integrated masters are quite popular. Also, you don’t need to apply again for Masters, so it saves a lot of time and for those who are okay with staying at the same university for the whole 4 years duration, this is a convenient option.

Personally, I have different reasons than those outlined above. I am not eligible for a student loan, so it doesn’t matter to me. Of course, firstly it’s cheaper to take an MEng course. Since each year there is an increase in tuition fee, but the same tuition fee applies throughout your degree, I still pay the 2014 fee when I was admitted instead of 2017 fee. I don’t know what is the 2017 fee, but if I take a gap year and then re-enter in 2018, I would have to pay a third (33%) more. That’s a huge number by the way.

But for me, the 2 main reasons for taking an MEng course are study abroad and combined subjects. So in Manchester, I can take some business modules alongside with my chemical engineering major but it’s only available as an MEng course. I wanted so badly to do it, so here I am. Secondly, when I planned for my study abroad, my academic exchange adviser told me that I can only do the study abroad programme if I’m doing an MEng degree. So yeah, both were the deal-breakers for me.

So I hope that explains, but if not, feel free to shoot me a question in the comment section!

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