Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

  • UCAS Code: H810 MEng
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Places per year: 1-4

Chemical engineers design industrial processes that convert raw materials into valuable products. Biotechnologists use living systems and organisms to make valuable products. The need for sophisticated products and sustainable processes means chemical engineers and biotechnologists are in great demand.

This course concentrates on the scientific principles that underpin the discipline. These principles are essential to develop processes and products that address some of the problems currently facing humanity. These include the energy transition away from fossil fuels, the need for sustainable food and water supplies as climate change occurs, and the provision of improved global healthcare solutions and therapeutics.

Course Overview

The aim of our course is to produce graduates who meet the needs of today’s process and biotech industries by providing a thorough understanding of the subject, technical competence and transferable skills. The underlying theory is complemented by projects that teach process and product design for chemical engineering and biotechnology.

We have strong links with industry. The course is supported by a consortium of seven industrial companies which provide input on content and assist with teaching. These links also mean that there are opportunities for vacation placements with some of the world’s top companies.

How You Learn

There is no such thing as a typical week for a Cambridge student, but there are patterns which do arise with noticeable regularity. A significant feature of student life at Cambridge is the relatively short length of the terms; there are two eight-week-long teaching terms (Michaelmas and Lent) separated by Christmas, followed by a seven–week–long term (Easter) featuring teaching followed by most University examinations.

Administrative arrangements are made before the lecturing period begins and project work often extends beyond the end of the lecturing period. A large amount of activity is concentrated into these periods and consequently few students spend weekends away.
You are taught primarily through lectures, which are supported by projects, laboratory classes, supervisions and coursework.

In a typical week students attend 10 lectures and have two supervisions. In the first two years there is significant laboratory work, while the amount of project work increases each year.
Assessment is by a combination of written examinations and coursework. In the light of the course’s new structure for 2023 entry, please visit the Department website for more details.
It’s possible to graduate with a BA degree after three years. However, virtually all students stay for the fourth year leading to the BA and MEng degrees (progression to the fourth year is dependent on satisfactory performance). The four-year course is accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers, meaning that after graduation you can apply for Chartered Engineer status once you have four years of relevant experience, without taking further exams.

Typical Offer Conditions




41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level


See the University’s Entrance Requirements page

Subject Requirements


A-Level Mathematics and Chemistry/IB Higher Level Chemistry and Higher Level Mathematics (Analysis and Approaches)


A third maths or science subject.

Written Work


Admissions Assessment

All applicants for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology are required to take a written assessment, the NSAA, at an authorised assessment centre (usually their school or college), for which they must be registered in advance. The registration deadline is 29 September 2023. Please note that open centres may set an earlier deadline for accepting entries, and it is your responsibility to check if this applies at your centre. The NSAA will take place on 18 October 2023.

Please see the Cambridge Admissions Testing website for further information about dates and registration deadlines, and check admission assessments for further details.