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Past Questions

  1. Hello Mr Petros. I am from Ethiopia and I am going to apply for a Chevening scholarship. The University of Birmingham is my first choice for Structural Engineering. Is it easy to get a conditional or unconditional offer for this course? Do you have any advice on how to get these offers? And are you aware of any other scholarship opportunities? Regards.

    Hello, Many thanks for your message. The University of Birmingham is certainly one of the best in the UK for Structural & Geotechnical Engineering. As you are interested in Structures, I suggest you get in touch with Dr. Marios Theofanous (m.theofanous@bham.ac.uk) who is a lecturer in Structural Engineering. Dr. Marios will be able to assist and provide guidance in terms of requirements and scholarships. You can tell him that I suggested to you to contact him. Good luck, hope it all works out. If I can help you with anything else, let me know! Regards, Petros

  2. Hello, I am a British citizen and I would like to study Civil and Structural Engineering. I have 5 GCSE: Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Can I ask, what are the requirements to study Civil and Structural Engineering? Thank you.

    Hi, apologies for not replying to you earlier. If you go to this page, you will see all available courses within the Civil Engineering Department: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/engineering/civil-engineering/undergraduate/index.aspx If you pick/click on the course you are interested in, you will see the entry requirements. Hope this helps a bit but let me know if it is not clear.

    Regards, Petros

  3. Hi, I have got admission for my Masters in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. I wanted to know about the current job opportunities in the UK after studying this course, can you help?

    Hi there, I can safely say that this course is very popular in the UK. This is one of the oldest courses in Geotechnical Engineering and certainly one of the best. I can guarantee that when you graduate, you will be invited in many interviews. Good luck, feel free to get in touch if you need anything else.

    Regards, Petros

  4. Hi sir, I am from India, I have completed my bachelors in Civil Engineering and got 93% in 2020. I have now applied to the Uni of Birmingham, I am confused about how to choose my Masters, should I do Geotechnical or Structural Engineering? Could you please help me choose either by looking at future demand, job opportunities or a PhD? Thanks in advance.

    Hi, thanks for your message. Congratulations on getting your Bachelors Civil Engineering Degree. I can appreciate that you may have some doubts as to whether you should go for Geotechnical or Structural Engineering. I am probably a bit biased towards Ground Engineering as this is the path I chose. Geotechnical work can be so varied as you can imagine because, regardless of the nature of a project, ground engineering will always be required. However, I believe this must be your decision. Job as well as research opportunities are available in both disciplines, it just depends what you're mostly interested in. Perhaps apply for both, see what offers you get and then you can weigh in with all the pros and cons. I can honestly tell you that the MSc in Geotechnics from the University of Birmingham is very well known and highly regarded in the industry. Hope this helps a little bit!

    Regards, Petros

  5. Greetings, I am from India. I am planning to do an MSc in Geotechnical Engineering in the UK. Can you please help me find out about this university and the employability of this course in UK? Eagerly awaiting your help.

    Many thanks for your message. First of all The University of Birmingham is one of the best educational institutions in the UK. It has been providing a Masters course in Geotechnical Engineering since 1956, which has developed an excellent reputation and as a result, job prospects after graduation are excellent. There are only a few MSc courses in Geotechnical Engineering in the UK and I can assure you that this is one of the very best. Many companies, Consultants, Contractors and other Specialist companies are always looking to recruit graduates from this MSc Course. I am sure that after completion you will be invited to many interviews. The University itself has strong links with many companies and there are also frequent career fairs held on campus. A number of graduate can also secure employment before they even graduate! I would strongly suggest you apply for the course and I am fairly confident that you will be able to get in touch with many Employers in the UK. I hope this reassures you to some degree. Trust this helps a bit, if I can help you with anything else, please let me know! Regards, Petros

  6. Dear Petros, I am really passionate about geotechnical engineering and it is my dream to establish myself as a successful geotechnical engineer. I wanted to know about the current scenario of the job sector in the UK. As I am from India (Non-EU), what will be the main factors to be hired in a company in the UK apart from MSc score?

    Hi there, Apologies for the slight delay in getting back to you. First of all, I am sure that, once you have the MSc, many companies will be looking to interview you. Apart from the MSc itself, there are also VISA implications. As far as I know, many employers will be willing to sort this out for you. If a company hires you and sorts out your visa, you may have to spend a certain time with them, probably around 2 to 3 years. I suggest you do the course and I a confident that you will be able to find employment here in the UK if that is what you are after. Hope that helps a bit but let me know if you need to know anything else. Regards, Petros

  7. Dear Petros, I am from India. I have completed my MTech in Geotechnical Engineering in 2017. I am really passionate about this subject and I want to pursue a career in this subject. Can you please tell me the current employability rate in Geotechnical Engineering after graduation?

    Apologies for the slight delay in getting back to you. There are only a few MSc courses in Geotechnical Engineering in the UK and I can assure you that this is one of the very best. Job prospects after graduation are excellent! I am absolutely certain that many companies will invite you for an interview as they are really after people with this qualification. Good luck, let me know if you need anything else! Regards, Petros

  8. Hello, I have applied for the MSc in Structural Engineering. Can you share your university experience as well as your experience with your professors?

    Hi, many thanks for your message.

    The University of Birmingham is one of the best educational institutions in the UK. If you do get an offer, I would strongly recommend that you accept it. I did my MSc in Geotechnical Engineering and can honestly say that I had a great time.

    The University has excellent facilities (engineering laboratories, accommodation, library, etc.) and a very nice campus. The faculty has world-leading experts in the field of Civil/Geotechnical Engineering who are very approachable and will be able to assist in the development of your analytical, technical and decision-making abilities. Every time I had a query, or when I wanted to speak to one of the Professors, their door was always open and they were always available for a discussion, course related or otherwise. I found that extremely important.

    I have no doubt that you will enjoy your time at the University of Birmingham. On top of everything else, when you graduate, job prospects are excellent!

    You can also see some videos by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5G3iPIJk_s7El-ck-BL1wA

    Hope this helps but please feel free to come back to you should you require any additional information - good luck and all the best!

    Regards, Petros

  9. Will you explain more details about the MSc in GT? Is it hard to understand a syllabus like the Structural MSc? Also, can you let me know about the type of job opportunities available?

    Hi there, Thanks for your message. In my view, whether you want to do a Structural or a Geotechnical postgraduate degree, you need to study. This MSc will improve your technical as well as your managerial skills. I think as long as you study, you will be able to follow syllabus. Some modules are more analytical of course. Please have a look at this link in order to get a better 'feel' for the syllabus of required modules https://program-and-modules-handbook.bham.ac.uk/webhandbooks/WebHandbooks-control-servlet?Action=getModuleSearchList&pgDspAllOpts=Y Companies are constantly looking for graduates who have completed this course, and often secure employment before they graduate. I believe that if you get an offer you should accept as this is a good postgraduate course, certainly one of the best in Ground Engineering in the UK. Hope this helps a bit, but please do get in touch should you want to discuss further. Regards, Petros

  10. How did your degree prepare you for what you are doing now?

    My degree provided an excellent foundation for a career in the civil engineering sector and put me in the right way of thinking.

  11. Hi Petros, I am interested in MSc Geotech, please could you guide me? I have 18+ years of professional experience being a civil graduate engineer.

    Hello,

    Happy New Year!

    Apologies for the delay in replying but I was out of the country since the middle of December.

    The Geotechnics MSc in Birmingham is one of the oldest MSc courses in the UK. I can strongly recommend it.

    Please let me know what you would like to know in particular and will get back to you!

    All the best for now!

    Petros

  12. Hello, I am from India and I am studying Civil Engineering, currently I am in my 3rd year. I am little bit confused about the choice of Masters degree courses in Civil Engineering. I would like to know what are the Masters degree courses that are in the area of Civil Engineering?

    Hello, thanks for your message. This below link (copy and paste it in your browser) will show you the available MSc course in Civil Engineering at the University of Birmingham.

    http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/civil-engineering/postgraduate/taught-degrees.aspx

    As you can see, MSc degrees in Structural, Geotechnical, Railway, Highway, Water and General Civil Engineering are available as well as Construction Management.

    I did the Geotechnical Engineering MSc 10 years ago, as I always liked ground engineering and the field has many opportunities. You need to think which aspect of Civil Engineering you enjoy most and decide accordingly.

    Keep in touch! Petros

  13. Hello sir, I am going to study at the University of Birmingham for an MSc in Mechanical Engineering. This programme is going to be full-time programme and I have a question about it. Hypothetically, if I won't be able to pass one class, is there any chance to take it again? Also the programme is 1 year but if something goes wrong, is there any chance to prolong the course time?

    Hello, as far as I know, in case you fail to pass an exam, you will be allowed to give it once more. Same applies if you fail more than one exam, i.e. you still have a second chance. However, I believe that if the second time (per module) it does not go well, then there may be a problem.

    Assuming you fail an exam, you will be able to re-sit within a few months. So yes, there is some chance to prolong the course time. If you find yourself in such a situation, you could potentially discuss and arrange the best solution with the Mechanical Engineering staff and your mentor.

    The MSc courses in Birmingham are pretty good and respected. There is going to be support throughout the year which helps, but I appreciate things may not always be very simple.

    Good luck, if I can help you, let me know!

    Regards, Petros Isidorou

  14. I really like Geotechnical Engineering, but I've heard that a bachelors degree is enough to work as a geotechnical engineer. Also, I've heard that a structural engineer could do the job of geotechnics. So I want to ask is it really worth it to go for a Masters in geotech?

    Hello,

    A bachelors degree in Civil Engineering is good and does provide the basic knowledge for Structures, Geotechnics, Hydraulics and so on. Not everybody chooses to do postgraduate study for many reasons!

    However, having an MSc in a subject provides more depth in knowledge. Employers like that and its more likely to employ somebody with an MSc rather than just a BEng.

    Sometimes, Structural Engineers can do some basic foundation engineering calculations (for example some spread foundations or gravity walls). Even in these cases, they will still need some geotechnical opinion about the ground. In most scenarios, a geotechnical engineer is required as it is he/she who understands ground and ground parameters better, is able to carry out soil/structure interaction.

    You can also choose to do an MSc part time!

    In my personal opinion, its worth doing an MSc in geotechnics! You get much extra knowledge that BEng and like I said, employers are always looking for people with MSc in Geotechnics.

    If I can help you, please let me know!

    Regards, Petros

  15. Thanks for your replies - all of which were very informative. If a student gets the chance of pursuing a Masters immediately after finishing undergrad, would you advise doing that? Or might it be better to go for industry first then continue with a Masters?

    Hello,

    There is no right of wrong as to when is better to do the MSc.

    When I finished my BEng, I thought it would be better to continue with my studies and therefore I did the MSc straight after. At the time, I thought (in my opinion) it would be better to complete all studies and then start working. Thats fine! To be honest, after working for say 5 years, I realised that if I had started the MSc after 5 years of work, I would have understood some of the university modules/syllabus much better. There are also people who decide to do the MSc part time, i.e. complete BEng, then get a job and do the MSc at the same time over 2-3 years. Some people may find it difficult to go to work, and then find the time to study for university. In some other cases, people will get a job, work for a company for a few years (say 3-4) and then the company may be willing to fund the MSc (or contribute a percentage). In that case, companies can contribute but then you have to stay with them for as few more years after completing the MSc (as you can understand if they pay for your MSc, they want to use the new skills/knowldge that the individual got!)

    I honestly cannot say what is better. Its really up to the individual (up to you!). Having an MSc will increase your chances of getting a job when applying; companies in most times will prefer somebody with an MSc in geotechnics rather than just a BEng if this individual was to be a part of the geotechnical/gournd engineering team.

    Hope this helps a bit but, ultimately, the decision is yours!

    Regards, Petros

  16. Hello Petros, I'd appreciate if you could clarify some of my doubts about the Geotechnics Masters programme. I'm going to enrol on the 2016/2017 academic year and I'd like to know if a full time student has the time and opportunity to pursue a internship in the area at some point of the course or even along with it? With the UK infrastructure development plan on going, I'm looking forward to acquiring some more practical experience to bring this knowledge back to Brazil. I'm interested in tunnels and underground space and its relation with infrastructure development and the impact on economy and society. So, I'd like to know if you think that the course will give me a good glimpse on the tunnelling subject area? Also, I'd like to know if a postgraduate student would be able to attend other classes other than the core modules of the course (as a listener student, for example)? Thank you for your time.

    Hi,

    Many thanks for your message!

    Regarding a potential internship: I believe this may be possible. Of course you will need quite some time to study and revise for your exams so obviously it will not be easy to have a job as well. Having said that, there may be opportunities to work with a company for your dissertation/thesis. You can check what possibilities are available for next year. This is a good way to combine the academic with a more practical environment. After the May/June exams, you could potentially work in a consultant/contractor for say one month and get a flavour of geotechnical/tunnelling work! This MSc is quite respected in the industry so if you are willing to spend say 2 years post graduation, that will help you get a good feel for ground engineering and build up confidence and experience which you could take back in Brazil! Regarding tunnelling: The MSc will certainly give a good introduction to tunnelling and underground works, but also other aspects such as trenchless technology, rock engineering and I believe also a brief introduction to finite element works. I suppose that if you are particularly interested in tunnelling, you could also choose a suitable topic for your dissertation! Bear in mind that the MSc is Geotechnical Engineering so tunnelling is part of it, but you will not go to great detail. I've been working for 10 years now since my MSc and I spent roughly 3-4 years working on tunnelling projects such as Crossrail, Stockholm Bypass and Kuala Lumpur Metro and I've always felt that the university introduced me nicely into the tunnelling field. Regarding attending other classes: I don't see this being a particular problem. I don't have to tell you that you will need to focus on your core modules as I am sure you know this! I believe you can always learn many things when you are in a university environment. Also, for example, University of Birmingham holds various afternoon/evening meetings such as monthly lectures of the Midlands Geotechnical Society (http://www.midlandgeotechnicalsociety.org.uk/).

    I hope the above help you a little bit. By all means, get back to me if you want to discuss anything more or if I can help you with anything else, that will be my pleasure!

    All the best for now! Petros

  17. Hi Petros, It is encouraging to see that you have done so well and progressed! I am to enrol in 2016 for the PGCert in Geotechnical Engineering. I have been made aware that it encompasses of 3 modules but I still haven't been told what modules these are! I am also working in a geotechnical department already. Also, I wanted to know what your thoughts are on working from a PGCert to an MSc gradually? And how difficult are the exams/modules are to pass: are they solid exam based or assignment based too?

    Hello,

    As you are already working in a geotechnical department, the syllabus should in theory be easier to follow.

    Most modules have exams - perhaps with a 20-25% coursework a 75-80% exam. Some modules are of course easier than others. I have a first degree in Civil Engineering so modules such as soil mechanics were perhaps easier for me than some other classmates who had a first degree in geology. In any case though, actual work experience will certainly help you no matter what!

    Taking the PGCert first and gradually working to get the MSc sounds good. This may take longer and may not be a good idea if you are working full time. Then again, its up to you! If you want to get the MSc, you could potentially do the MSc part time. But as you said, you will enrol to the PGCert so take that first, get a feel of the other modules (for MSc) and decide accordingly!

    Hope this helps a bit, but if you need anything else, please do get in touch!

    All the best for now and good luck! Petros

  18. Hi Petros, I'm starting the MSc in Geotechnical Engineering and Management on a part time basis for 2016-2017. I'm coming in to the Masters from a physical geography background rather than civil engineering, however I do have ~3 years industry experience - would it be wise to do some pre-reading on any particular part of the course prior to September, given that I'm not from a civil engineering background? Were there any particular challenges for your course mates who were taking the course part time (e.g. time management)?

    Hi,

    I think part-time is fine, inevitably there will be challenges along the way but if you maintain a good rhythm with your studies, it should be ok! Remain optimistic!

    I suspect you may want to become familiar with soil mechanics. Once you become familiar with some soil mechanics principles (apologies if you are familiar already!), you will find that other modules where analytical/mathematical input is required (such as  foundations, retaining structures and slopes), will be easier to follow and understand!

    By following the link below, you will be able to find details of programme modules. There are various standard textbooks you can get if you want to have a 'feel' of what the syllabus will contain!

    https://program-and-modules-handbook.bham.ac.uk/webhandbooks/WebHandbooks-control-servlet?Action=getModuleSearchList&pgDspAllOpts=Y

    Trust this helps a bit, if I can help you, please let me know!

    All the best and good luck!

    Petros

  19. I have completed my BE(Civil) in 1988 and a Masters in construction Technology in 1991 from Karnataka, India. I have about 20 years of experience in various kinds of infrastructure works. I also have worked in Middle east for about 4 years and saved some money for my studies abroad. Though, there is a wide gap between what I studied and the current works, I am always trying to keep pace with the current trend of working. As underground and tunnelling works are gaining a lot of momentum and there is a lack of skills from engineers, to explain as well as to analyse the field situations effectively and to apply the solutions.

    I have enrolled for the MSc program in Geo-Technology at UoB. They have given me a conditional offer and I am trying to meet those requirements. I always work hard but I learn the subjects a bit slowly sometimes. Given the speed with which youngsters learn, I lag behind them and thus feel a little handicapped. Therefore, I need little more attention than other students. I wanted to know whether the teaching faculty would feel uneasy teaching me? Can I seek the help of assistants as and when I need to clarify my doubts so that I learn the subject more effectively? I am highly enthusiastic and never lose hope. Could you inform me on what kind of additional support there is available apart from classes and Library books for students to learn the subjects effectively? I am very much interested in carrying out lab tests to simulate the field work related to underground stations and Tunnels. Is there enough time devoted to gain the practical skills on these aspects of testing?

    Since I want to work back in India as a Geo technical engineer, could you brief me in detail about how far the skills that I acquire in this course will help me to fulfil my dreams to serve the construction Industry effectively, looking both at the cost and the time? What additional skills are required to register as a charted Engineer after completing this course at the university? If I wanted to carry on my research, can I take the filed problem back to India to pursue a PhD?

    Good afternoon,

    I understand your comment about feeling a little handicapped but in all honesty, having 20 years of experience is a really big advantage. I remember when I did my MSc straight after my BEng in Civil Engineering, I could not fully appreciate parts of the syllabus as I didn't have any practical experience and as a result, no actual feel for the numbers. When I started working, and say after 2-3 years, the whole MSc syllabus/modules were much more clear and made so much more sense. Therefore, with 20 or years of experience, you certainly have an advantage. Although new design and construction methods emerge, the soil mechanics principles remain the same! Same applies for foundations, retaining structures, earthworks and so on! There are different requirements nowadays in the industry, for instance the use of Eurocodes, but like I said, the engineering principles remain more or less the same. So, you can feel more optimistic!

    In all honesty, when I was a student and had a question, it was very easy to have an appointment with the lecturers and discuss areas of interest. I always found the whole faculty very friendly and very easy to talk to - just knock on their door and you can have a nice informal conversation. I think the faculty will be very keen to help you as they would do with any other student.

    Apart from studying and going to the library, you can potentially attend various seminars (some of them are held in the University of Birmingham) such as Midlands Geotechnical Society (http://www.midlandgeotechnicalsociety.org.uk/). At the end of the day, this is a university degree and you need to spend some time studying! I want to believe that having some experience in ground engineering, studying will be easier for you (although I appreciate we are not 20 years old anymore!).

    Part of the course requires laboratory testing. I believe you can also choose a lab based project/dissertation, where you can spend a few months undertaking these tests, discussing the methodology and results with your supervisor, so there will be enough time for you to develop a better understanding and gain some of the practical skills on these aspects of testing. If there is a suitable opportunity, you may be able to work with a real company and undertake testing which will could also be beneficial to them!

    The MSc will enhance your analytical skills, design skills and make you aware of different construction methods. In order to become Chartered Engineer, you will also need to develop abilities in project management, have experience of different contracts and various commercial and financial aspects of a business considering amongst other things quality, health and safety, sustainability, environmental issues etc. These are all things that come with experience but as you already have 20 years you may be well on your way towards Chartership. Best thing is to go to Institution of Civil Engineers website (www.ice.org.uk) and look at the requirements and become more familiar with different routes.

    In conclusion, I suggest that you try and meet the conditional offer and if that's done, then you can discuss with the faculty in greater detail. Of course, if you think I can assist you in one way or another, please get in touch!

    All the best and good luck! Petros Isidorou

  20. I have an unconditional offer to study MSc Geotechnical Engineering for the 2016/2017 intake, I want to know how reputable is the program and also regarding the midlands geotechnical society meetings monthly, how does it improve/help a student?

    Hello,

    This MSc is pretty well known! It started in the 1950s I believe and (together with the MSc in Soil Mechanics at Imperial) is one of the oldest MScs in Geotechnical/Ground Engineering. The program is quite well respected in the industry and job prospects are excellent.

    The Midlands Geotechnical Society (MGS) meetings are once every month (first Monday of every month actually). There are two main benefits from attending these a) improve understanding of ground engineering by listening to real case studies and b) networking! When I did the MSc, attending MGS meetings was compulsory - I am not sure if that's still the case!

    By following the link below, you will be able to find details of programme modules. There are various standard textbooks you can get if you want to have a 'feel' of what the syllabus will contain!

    https://program-and-modules-handbook.bham.ac.uk/webhandbooks/WebHandbooks-control-servlet?Action=getModuleSearchList&pgDspAllOpts=Y

    In my opinion, if you do get the offer, do the MSc. Trust this helps a bit!

    Regards,

    Petros

  21. How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

    I am currently a senior civil/geotechnical engineer working for global consultancy firm AECOM, gaining variable experience in the ground engineering aspects of multi-disciplinary projects.

    Since graduation, I have been heavily involved with the investigation, design and site supervision of a number of railway, highway and tunnelling schemes, as well as mining, coastal and offshore projects.

    I undertake geotechnical feasibility and desk studies, plan and manage ground investigations, and carry out various design calculations. I also develop ground models followed by advanced numerical analysis to establish cost-effective and sustainable design solutions. These services help our clients to manage ground-related risk on their projects.

  22. What is the best thing about the job you are doing now?

    One of the main things that attracted me to civil/ground engineering is the variability of the work. Since graduating in 2004, I can honestly say that I am still learning something new almost every day!

  23. What advice would you give to current students studying on the course?

    You need to work hard to get your degree! Read, study and learn to think correctly – it’s the main reason you are there.

    At the same time, the University years can be some of the best years in your life, so it’s important to have fun as well.

  24. What did you think were the best points of the course and the University?

    The University has excellent facilities (engineering laboratories, accommodation, library, etc.) and a very nice campus.

    The faculty has world-leading experts in the field of Civil/Geotechnical Engineering who are very approachable and will be able to assist in the development of your analytical, technical and decision-making abilities.

  25. How did you grow as a person by studying at university?  Did it change your life in any way?

    I recognised and appreciated diversity as I was exposed to various cultures.

  26. Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

    The University of Birmingham is one of the best educational institutions in the UK. It has been providing a Masters course in Geotechnical Engineering since 1956, which has developed an excellent reputation. Job prospects after graduation are excellent!

  27. What was the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

    Meeting so many interesting and bright people from all over the world and making great friends!

  28. What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

    After completing my BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering, I wanted to supplement my broad base of skills. I chose Geotechnical Engineering as it is diverse and not as prescribed as other disciplines within Civil Engineering.

    An MSc improves employment prospects and helps towards getting a professional qualification, e.g. Chartered Engineer status.

  29. Hi Petros, I have an offer to study the MSc in Geotechnical Engineering and was wondering what the course content would be like. I have a BSc in Geology and prefer the soil and rock mechanics component of the course as apposed to built structures. Will I be able to cope with the maths required in the course? Is the degree based on solving civil engineering problems using geology?

    Hello,

    Thanks for your message!

    When I did my MSc, many students had a first degree in Civil Engineering but also quite a few in geology. After all, this programme is aimed at Civil Engineers and Geologists who wish to widen their professional scope or to specialise in Geotechnical Engineering. Main modules typically include Soil Mechanics, Ground Investigation, Slopes & Retaining Structures, Foundations, Earthworks and Underground Construction.

    It is true that, some modules, like Soil Mechanics, require maths and will develop your analytical skills. I believe that you should be able to cope with this, even if it means that you may have to study a little bit more than some other students with a first degree in Engineering. I suggest you also contact the MSc co-ordinator to get a detailed module description and see what you think! The academic staff are very helpful and you will find that they are always willing to help.

    I understand that you may want to avoid some maths but in all honesty, once you appreciate the basic concept/principle, you will then be able to apply with confidence the maths in most situations.

    Although there are other MSc courses in Engineering Geology, I believe the MSc in Geotechnical Engineering is very good and respected in the industry. I suggest you apply - like I said at the beginning, many of the students every year have a Geology first degree.

    Good luck! Petros

  30. Hi Petros. (1) Would you advise for, or against studying the MSc programme without any prior work experience in the geotechnical industry? What are the pros and cons of each? (2) Which industry-standard software's did the MSc Geotechnical Engineering programme introduce you to? Could you please name a few? (3) In your opinion, would the MSc Geotechnical Engineering be of any advantage in securing or pursuing an engineering role in humanitarian, disaster-relief and international development programmes? Do you know anyone of a geotechnical background who has worked in that sector? Thank you for your time and replies. Much appreciated, Petros.

    Hi there,

    Thanks for your message!

    I did my MSc straight after my BEng in Civil Engineering, i.e. without any prior work experience. I wanted to complete all my studies and then start working. At the time, some other students had approximately 5 years experience before they entered the MSc programme. As you can imagine, having some experience can help you understand the whole syllabus better or shall I say understand some of the engineering principles better. Having said that, I was still fine without work experience. Another thing to consider if you are planning to work at the same time is that some people may find it challenging to work and study at the same time. Also, if your employer supports your MSc in terms of funding, you will not be able to leave that company for a few years after the course (employer will want you to use the skills/knowledge acquired).

    The course will introduce you to some software, for example finite element analysis and OASYS suite of software. In my opinion, what you need is to understand the engineering principles. Once this is achieved, there are various tools you can use to apply these principles. Some software which I regularly use in my everyday work include Plaxis, Wallap, Repute, OASYS (Frew/Alp/PDisp/XDisp), Slope-W.

    Regarding your last point, I believe that if you really want to pursue an engineering role in humanitarian and disaster-relief activities, you can do so, regardless of which MSC programme you enrol to. There are always opportunities to help and support communities. The University carries research in some areas such as Rural road networks in low-income countries and sustainable construction materials which you may find useful.

    In all honesty, this MSc is one of the oldest geotechnical postgraduate courses in the UK and is highly respectable with excellent career prospects post graduation. I trust the above answer your queries to some extent, but if you need anything else, please let me know!

    Best Regards & Good Luck!

    Petros

  31. Hello Petros, I've recently completed my undergraduate (Civils) degree where I received a 2.1. I also have 4 years experience working for a contractor. I'm really interested in the field of Geotechnics and this course in particular. I am a little concerned about whether I would cope. From what I understand for any given module, you receive the module content about 2-3 weeks before a week of lectures and then the exam 2 weeks after the lectures. How intense is the course and how do people cope? I'm not the most "bookish" but got very good results through application.

    Hello,

    I was away on holidays so apologies for the slight delay in getting back you you!

    First of all the fact that you do have a 2.1 is a good start demonstrating that you are academically capable. It tells me that you may be more 'bookish' that you think you are! Equally important is the experience you have. Having 4 years experience in the field will help you understand some of the course content better.

    This programme has developed an excellent reputation since its inception in 1956. If you can appreciate basic engineering principles you will manage. Its a postgraduate degree so you do need to study but I think you will be able to cope. University staff are very helpful and their door is always open for students who have queries or want to discuss various aspects of the course.

    I did the course full time - it sounds like you are thinking to do part time?

    By following the link below, you will be able to find details of programme modules.

    https://program-and-modules-handbook.bham.ac.uk/webhandbooks/WebHandbooks-control-servlet?Action=getModuleSearchList&pgDspAllOpts=Y

    In any case, I sincerely strongly recommend the course.

    Hope this helps a bit but please get back to me should you need to discuss anything further! Petros

  32. Hello, I want to study a Masters in Geotechnical Engineering and I wanted to ask, what do you think about the University of Birmingham compared to other universities that offer Masters in Geotechnical Engineering, for example Newcastle university and Imperial College London? Do you think that the modules offered by the University of Birmingham prepare you to outperform graduates from other universities?

    Hi there, apologies for the late reply!

    The University of Birmingham is one of the best educational institutions in the UK. It has been providing a Masters course in Geotechnical Engineering since 1956, which has developed an excellent reputation. Job prospects after graduation are excellent!

    I honestly believe that having this MSc will not only equip you with the necessary technical skills but will also enable you to find a job relatively easy.

    I strongly recommend that if you get an offer, accept it and you will not regret it!

    Trust this helps a bit but please do get in touch should you want to discuss further.

    All the best for now and good luck!

    Regards, Petros

  33. I am interested in the MSc in Civil Engineering and Management, I would be very happy if you could tell me your opinion about this programme?

    Hi, thanks for your email.

    The MSc in Civil Engineering and Management is certainly one of the 'best' construction management programmes in the UK. This is obviously not a specialist MSc but it covers a range of subjects. Having said that, I like the flexibility of this degree, i.e. other than the core modules, you can still follow a specialist route by choosing your specialist modules accordingly. You may still choose to cover a bit of everything but in my opinion it may be better to focus on a certain technical area (Structural Engineering / Gorund Engineering / Water Engineering(?)). This is just my opinion, there is no right or wrong.

    Some friends of mine attended this course. I can tell you that they felt that their overall knowledge and understanding on various aspects of Civil Engineering management was improved. An important benefit is also understanding risk management techniques.

    On successful completion there will be various employment opportunities from consultancies, contractors and government agencies.

    A degree from the University of Birmingham will always be good and will help you with your career. The department facilities are superb, staff are very friendly and always keen to help! The campus is really nice with lots of possible activities. Birmingham city centre is also great!

    In my opinion, if you get an offer from the University, go for it!

    Hope this helps a bit!

    Regards, Petros

  34. Hello Mr Isidorou, I would like you to tell me your opinion on the MSc Diploma in Geotechnical Engineering, or Geotechnical Engineering and Management? I would also love to know the perspectives of those MScs? Looking forward to your reply!

    Hi there,

    The University of Birmingham is one of the best educational institutions in the UK. It has been providing a Masters course in Geotechnical Engineering since 1956, which has developed an excellent reputation. I did the MSc in Geotechnical Engineering myself and I can guarantee you that it is very well known in the industry. Nowadays, there is the option of combining this with Management covering managerial skills for the construction industry, including groundworks and risk management, BIM in infrastructure and infrastructure planning process.

    This MSc will enhance your analytical skills, design skills and make you aware of different construction methods. I honestly believe that after you complete this course, you will most likely find a job relatively easy. Its a good solid technical programme.

    The University has excellent facilities (engineering laboratories, accommodation, library, etc.) and a very nice campus. The faculty has world-leading experts in the field of Civil/Geotechnical Engineering who are very approachable and will be able to assist in the development of your analytical, technical and decision-making abilities.

    In my personal opinion, assuming you want to have some management aspects in the MSc, I would rather do Geotechnics with Management instead of Civil Engineering with Management. Having said that, I need to highlight that there is no right or wrong - this is just my own view!

    I strongly recommend that if you get an offer from the University, accept it!

    Hope this helps but please feel free to come back to you should you require any additional information!

    Regards, Petros

  35. Hello Mr Isidorou, I've accepted an offer to study MSc Civil Engineering at Birmingham University. I have a background in geology and was wondering if you could recommend some pre-course reading? Also, could you recommend what Mathematical skills I should brush up on? Many thanks.

    Hi, thanks for your email!

    Its good that you got an offer to do this MSc. Many students have a geology background so do not worry much about it. In terms of  pre-course reading:

    Craig, R. F. (1997) “Soil Mechanics.” 6th Edition, E & FN Spon, UK. ISBN 0 419 22450 5. This book probably covers a range of modules. Atkinson, J.H (2007). “ The Mechanics of Soils and Foundations.” 2nd Ed., Taylor & Francis, London. Whitlow R (2000) “Basic Soil Mechanics” (4th Edition) Prentice Hall Bolton, M. D. (2003). A Guide to Soil Mechanics. Macmillan Press Ltd, London ISBN 8173714258 https://ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=st&chap_sec=04.5&page=theory www.mathsbox.org.uk/revisionnotes/AQA%20Mechanics%201%20Revision%20Notes.pd

    In terms of Maths required, it will be mostly A-Level maths (algebra / calculus / trigonometry). You should also familiarise yourself with the concepts of Soil Mechanics as this is the module where you will mostly need maths (see above bullet points for key books).

    If you are struggling with maths, then the A-Level boards (EdExcel, AQA, OCR, etc.),offer excellent course books and revision books which go through the types of maths presented in a step by step process, for instance:

    Edexcel (2012) “A-Level Mathematics: M1 the complete course for Edexcel” CGC Printing, UK. ISBN 9781847628091.

    Hope this helps a bit but please get back to me should you require any additional information. Good luck with everything!

    Regards,

    Petros