Chemical Engineering


Prospective students

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What is Chemical Engineering?

Almost everything you use in your daily life - plastics, metals, textiles, paper, food and beverages, toiletries, costmetics and pharmaceuticals - has been made with the help of a chemical engineer. The process of converting raw (and sometimes recycled) materials into finished products is complex, involving research and development, design, construction, daily plant operation and management. And chemical engineers are there every step on the way.

Not only do chemical engineers have to design and operate cost-effective processes, they also have to ensure that these are accomplished in the most environmentally-friendly way. Often old processes need to be adapted to meet more stringent environmental standards. Environmental scientists are there to indicate what the impact of a process will be on the environment, but chemical engineers play the definitive role in being able to design processes to meet their specifications.

Here are two web sites where you can find out more about chemical engineering:
Why Not Chemeng
American Institute of Chemical Engineering

Job Opportunities in Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers work in many different and exciting workplaces - not only in the expected settings of petrochemical and mining industries, but also in a wide variety of other process-based industries such as food, beverage, paint and pharmaceutical industries. And because UCT-trained chemical engineers have excellent general problem-solving skills, they also end up in places where you wouldn't expect to see them: banking, marketing, computing, etc.

If you want to climb the corporate ladder, then chemical engineering can get you to the top: many CEOs of large companies started out with chemical engineering. The combination of a chemical engineering degree and a business-related qualification like an MBA is unbeatable. If you would rather work in a small consultancy or run your own business, chemical engineering also provides a great starting point. There are also endless opportunities in research and development for chemical engineers. Whatever your interest, a UCT chemical engineering degree will assure you of a rewarding career.

Studying Chemical Engineering at UCT

First year

Essential foundations are laid with the study of Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics, but students also do an Introduction to Engineering course in which key ideas in chemical engineering are introduced in a practical manner, with a number of project-based assignments. Engineering Drawing is also studied.

Second year

The major introduction to Chemical Engineering comes in three key second year courses, starting with material and energy balances, which are the fundamental tools of the chemical engineer. Alongside these theoretical courses students also do a laboratory course and two design courses which provide illustration and practice with the concepts. In this year students also study Mathematics 2 and Chemistry 2.

Third year

At this stage of the programme almost all the courses are chemical engineering courses, and project work is integrated with the theoretical courses. The major laboratory course takes place in this year, and students are also trained to communicate in a professional environment. In third year students also have to choose courses to do in other faculties, as well as some specialised chemical engineering options. At the end of third year students spend a period of vacation training in an industrial setting.

Fourth year

In the first semester, courses are presented that are specifically focused towards the work that chemical engineers do in practice. The second semester is the culmination of the chemical engineering degree, in which concepts and skills are drawn together in the final year design project and research project.

Why choose UCT?

Chemical Engineering Programme

The Department of Chemical Engineering at UCT is a vibrant and strong department in both undergraduate teaching and postgraduate research. With almost a third of South Africa's chemical engineering graduates coming from UCT and the largest national research programme, the Department rightfully deserves its recognition as the leading Department of Chemical Engineering on the continent. The undergraduate programme has been well structured to promote student learning and development, and the staff provide a caring and supportive environment. UCT chemical engineering graduates are highly sought after in the workplace, and occupy key positions in top companies. The degree is accredited both locally by the Engineering Council of South Africa and by the Institution of Chemical Engineers in the UK.

Entrance Requirements

Admission is based on a 'points' system calculated on your matric exam results. If you do not have a points table, request one from the admissions office list below. C's on higher grade Mathematics and Physical Science are normally a prerequisite for admission to the degree. Certain students who do not meet these requirements, but have the protential to succeed, may be considered for admission to the Academic Support Programme (ASPECT). This is an extended (five-year) degree programme which provided extra support in the first year, where a lighter load of courses is taken.

How to apply

Application forms and undergraduate financial assistance booklets should be requested from:
Admissions Officer
Recruitment and Enrolment Management Office (REMO)
University of Cape Town
Private Bag
South Africa
Tel: 021 650 2128 / 021 650 4199
Fax: 021 650 3736
Email: admissions

For more information about studying at the University of Cape Town visit the University's web site.

For more information contact the Chemical Engineering Department at:
Tel: 021 650 5518
Email: Belinda Davids

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