Frequently Asked Questions

Engineering FAQ

General Enquiries



Mature-aged applications
Assumed and recommended knowledge

Commencing Students


General Enquiries

I’m interested in engineering but I’m not sure what program to choose. Do you have any advice?

Flexible first year allows you to try out a couple of different areas and choose where you want to go at the end of first year. If you have an idea of which area you’d like to go into, sign up for it, then in your second year you can always apply for an internal transfer into another program. A good starting point would be to come along and check out our on campus events, career markets, talk to the academics in charge of the courses, look at school websites and the handbook. 

What sort of career options do engineering graduates have?
A Bachelor of Engineering (BE) will open more doors and give you more options than you can possibly imagine, and lead to a wider range of career paths than any other degree.  Our BE grads progress to senior management and consulting positions, which is why engineering is considered a springboard into the wider corporate world.  Engineers work in every area of society, and the following list is just a brief snapshot of some possible careers:

  • Aerospace/Aeronautical engineers help fly people across the globe and even to the moon. They make flying as normal as possible, like riding a bike.
  • Biomedical engineers seek to improve existing medical and technical equipment. They are focussed on developing solutions which will improve the quality of people’s lives.
  • Chemical engineers are interested in investigating the science of chemistry to discover new ways of doing things.
  • Civil engineers are involved in the construction of roads, buildings, bridges, dams, tunnels, sewage systems and airports. They design and supervise the creation of structures.
  • Computer/Software engineers apply scientific theory and engineering design to use and develop new computer hardware or software.
  • Consulting engineering is a broad industry which incorporates research, planning, design and the development of engineering solutions.
  • Electrical engineers work with the most important and versatile type of power, electricity. They use technology to design new products, construct, operate and maintain a variety of systems and equipment.
  • Environmental engineers look at how people and projects interact with the environment. They might be developing water solutions, restoring mine sites or improving air quality.
  • Food engineers develop and manage the production of food by working with the equipment or the food itself to improve the production process, flavour, nutritional value or shelf life.
  • Geospatial engineers map the world and design tools such as GPS, google maps etc.
  • Manufacturing engineers manage the development, manufacture and distribution of all types of products.
  • Materials engineers do exciting things such as figuring out how to get a non-stick surface stick to the pan. They work with materials with outstanding combinations of mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties that make other advances possible.
  • Mechanical engineers work on cars, factory systems and other machines.
  • Mechatronics engineers work on robotics systems. They build the robots that are then programmed by software engineers.
  • Minerals engineers or mining engineers work to extract raw materials from the ground, they often work in the design and management of mines.
  • Naval architects design, construct and maintain boats from small sailing boats, to naval destroyers and giant cruise ships.
  • Nuclear engineers work on nuclear reactors, power plants or weapons.
  • Petroleum engineers work out how to get oil and gas from the earth to be used for petrol and natural gas.
  • Renewable energy engineers try to work out the best ways to create energy through things such as solar power, wind farms, biomass and many more.
  • Surveyors map buildings and land to determine boundaries and building requirements.
  • Telecommunications engineers design, build and manage systems that carry out the transmission, processing and storage of information as electrical or optical signals.
  • Transport engineers determine how to most effectively transport people and products between points.
  • Water engineers look at rainfall and run-off, irrigation and drought, flood predictions, and water supply and treatment

For more exciting options visit Engineer Your Career.

Is engineering right for me?
Engineering is about so much more than just hard hats, overalls, bridges and engines (although these are all great!). Engineering may be what you're looking for, if you:

  • have an innate curiosity about how things work
  • are good at maths and science
  • like to tackle a challenging problem
  • enjoy working as part of a team
  • want to make a difference to the lives of individuals and society as a whole.

What engineering degrees do you offer?
UNSW offers a wide range of undergraduate engineering degrees, many of which can be completed as part of a dual degree. See our undergraduate degrees page for more details.

Can I go on exchange with an engineering degree?                 
Yes. UNSW has over 200 exchange partners all over the world, many of which offer engineering subjects. The majority of engineering students enrolled in a single degree program go on exchange in their third year. See student exchange for more details.

What dual degree programs are available with engineering?
Most undergraduate engineering programs can be combined with undergraduate degrees in science, commerce, arts and law. Exceptions include:

  • Flexible first year: commerce only
  • Bioinformatics: science, commerce and arts only (not law)

Civil Engineering can also be combined with, environmental engineering and mining engineering

Masters in Biomedical Engineering can be combined with: Bioinformatics, Chemical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronic Engineering, Software Engineering, and Telecommunications.

Bachelors of Engineering (Electrical) is also offered concurrently with a Masters of Engineering in Electrical Engineering. 


What ATAR do I need to get into engineering degrees at UNSW?
Cut-offs are determined by supply and demand, so we don’t know what the cut-off will be until the Main Round of offers are released in January. The cut-off may be higher, the same or lower than it was for the previous year – it depends on how many applicants apply and the strength of their academic qualifications.

Over the previous years, students have required an ATAR of 91 or higher for direct entry to UNSW Engineering programs.

What if I don’t get the ATAR?
Year 12 applicants who do not achieve an ATAR, which enables direct entry to their preferred degree, have a number of options:

  • Applying for a degree with a lower cut-off (at UNSW or another university) and then applying to transfer to Engineering at UNSW after one year of full time study.
  • Alternative pathways to Engineering such as the FEAS scheme.
  • Applying for TAFE studies or a private provider. The minimum qualification UNSW accepts is a completed AQF accredited Certificate IV with a credit average.
  • If you qualify for the UNSW ACCESS scheme then you can apply to complete the engineering stream of the UNSW Preparation Program (UNSW Prep) and transfer subject to satisfactory grades. It is a three semester pathway course to entry at UNSW. See UNSW Preparation Program for more details.

 What is the FEAS scheme?

  • FEAS is the Faculty of Engineering Admissions Scheme. FEAS is open to students who receive an ATAR (excluding bonus points) between 81.00 and 90.95.
  • This is an application based scheme, with applications being completed before ATARs are released.
  • The Faculty considers:
    • ATAR
    • Results of Science and Maths subjects
    • Information from your application and interview (carries least weight)
  • Students who are successful through FEAS will receive an offer in the main round in January.
  • FEAS will never disadvantage students: if a student doesn’t perform well at interview, it won’t be considered.
  • FEAS is not used for degree programs with a cut-off above 91. These include:
    • Combined Engineering with Commerce or Law
    • Civil with Architecture
  • FEAS applications open in August and close in October each year, with interviews in mid-November at the Kensington campus.
  • See the FEAS page for more details.

Does UNSW offer bonus points?
Applicants can receive bonus points for entry to UNSW through three schemes: HSC plus, Elite Athletes and Performers, and the ACCESS scheme. The details of these schemes are outlined below. 

HSC Plus 

  • Students automatically receive bonus points added to their ATAR based on their performance in relevant subjects.
  • For Engineering, these are Maths (2 unit, Ext 1, Ext 2) and Physics, plus Chemistry for Chemical/Photovoltaics/Renewable Engineering, Food Science & Technology, Industrial Chemistry, plus English Advanced for Engineering/Commerce.
  • Students receive a maximum of 5 bonus points through HSC plus.
  • These are added in automatically and UNSW sees the final ATAR plus points when assigning places.
  • Example: Mark gets an ATAR of 90, and receives a Band 6 in Physics. This gives him 2 bonus points, taking his entry rank for UNSW to 92, sufficient to get into most Engineering programs.


  • The ACCESS scheme is for students who have been disadvantaged during their school studies.
  • Access is done through UAC and gives additional points (called EAS points) to applicant’s ATAR based on disadvantage faced through medical issues, family circumstances etc.
  • UNSW does not release EAS bonus points to applicants. All EAS applicants will be sent a letter regarding their eligibility or not at each institution. If they are eligible they will receive between 1 and 10 EAS bonus points depending on the degree of their disadvantage.
  • ACCESS bonus points are in addition to HSC Plus points and EAP points.

Elite Athletes and Performers (EAP) Program 

  • The EAP Program awards up to five bonus points to high school leavers who have excelled in areas of sport, academia, performance, leadership, and/or music at an elite level.
  • Activities and/or commitments must have been undertaken in years 11 and/or 12.
  • Students must be either an Australian citizen, New Zealand citizen or hold a current Australian Permanent Resident or Humanitarian visa.
  • Students must complete an application to be considered. Applications open in August and close in late November each year.

How many bonus points can I get?

UNSW offers a maximum of 10 bonus points through all available schemes. It is important to note that ACCESS bonus points are considered to have been included in your ATAR and so do not count towards this maximum.

Can I enrol in another degree at UNSW and then transfer?

Yes, this is known as an internal program transfer (ITP). In most cases you do not have to apply through UAC and transfers are generally available for both Semesters 1 and 2 from one program to another, within the same faculty and between single and dual degree programs. Performance-based criteria apply and transfers are subject to availability. For more information, visit internal transfer.

What scholarships are available in engineering?

UNSW offers a number of scholarships each year for commencing engineering students. See scholarships for more details. UNSW also offers a number of general undergraduate scholarships such as the AAA award. Check the UNSW scholarships website regularly for more details.


When will I find out if I get an offer?
UNSW makes the vast majority of offers in the Main Round (January 2014). The only offers UNSW makes in UAC’s early round are those to international students undertaking an Australian Year 12 qualification, the IB or NZ NCEA in 2013 and offers to ADFA.

How should I order my preferences?
As UNSW staff we can’t tell you how to order your preferences. Naturally we’d like you to come to UNSW but it’s your application for admission to university and you need to decide what you’d like to study and order your preferences accordingly – you get to list nine preferences. You are able to change your preferences multiple times until midnight on 5 January 2014 so can revise the order once you know what your ATAR is.

How do I accept my offer and enrol?
This is a two part process. Once you have received your offer via post from UNSW you need to accept it online via myUNSW. You will then be able to enrol in courses online via myUNSW. Information on how to do this is sent out with your offer of admission from UNSW. For more details go to


Can I defer?
Yes for 12 months to commence your program in Semester 1 2015. Your deferment will lapse if you undertake any post-secondary study in 2014 at the level of Cert IV or above. Students who defer will be able to take up their deferred place via myUNSW (they don’t need to apply via UAC).

How do I defer?
Information will be included in the acceptance and enrolment offer letter. When offers are made applicants are required to log into ‘Accept Online’ via myUNSW by dates stipulated in their acceptance and enrolment information. The online process asks applicants whether they wish to accept, defer or decline the offer.

Those who choose the defer option are required to print off a written confirmation of their deferment from UNSW. Deferred UNSW students can take up their deferred place online via myUNSW and do not have to reapply via UAC.

If I defer can I start in Semester 2 2014?
It may be possible to take up the deferred place in Semester 2 (mid-year) 2014 but only if the degree is available.

Mature-aged applications

Does UNSW have mature aged entry?
Age does not matter at UNSW. Admission is based on academic merit so all applicants must have a qualification which UNSW accepts for admission. If an applicant has undertaken tertiary studies this will be considered as will their secondary studies if completed within the last 5 years. Eligible applicants can also complete the University Preparation Program (UPP) as a pathway option.

What is the University Preparation Program (UPP)
The UPP is a pathway course for mature aged students for entry into UNSW. It is completed part time over 3 semesters (1.5 years). Students who perform well in the Engineering stream of the UPP can then be accepted into a Bachelor of Engineering program.

To go into the UPP applicants must:

  • be 20 years or older on 1 March in the year of starting the program.
  • be an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or hold a current Australian Permanent Resident visa.
  • Meet the English language requirements for UNSW.
  • Not already meet the minimum entry requirements for university.
  • Not be enrolled in another program of study at the same time.

See University Preparation Program for more details.

Does UNSW accept STAT?
UNSW is currently piloting acceptance of STAT for Science or Arts only. It is possible to use your marks from your first year of either of these degrees to gain entry to engineering. Please contact us for more information.

If I don’t have any qualifications or only have an HSC with a low ATAR how can I get in to UNSW?
There are a number of alternative pathways for older students which are listed in detail on the UNSW Non-high school students page.

These include:

  • HSC Studies – TAFE Statement (Limited ATAR)
    • This is a reduced program of HSC (5-9 units including 2 units of English), for older students that gives them a limited ATAR for entry to university.
    • TAFE website
  • Tertiary Preparation Certificate (TPC)
    • Offered by TAFE. This course can be done earlier at 18 years old. To be eligible for admission on the basis of TPC you must be 18 years old at 1 March in the year of university admission.


Assumed and recommended knowledge

UNSW doesn’t have hard prerequisites, only assumed knowledge for its courses. However, without having completed the appropriate level of assumed knowledge many students struggle. It is recommended that students without the assumed knowledge complete an appropriate bridging course.

What is assumed knowledge for engineering at UNSW?
The assumed knowledge varies slightly from program to program, but in general HSC Mathematics Extension 1 and Physics are assumed.

Exceptions include:

  • Bioinformatics: HSC Mathematics Extension 1 and Chemistry
  • Software Engineering: HSC Mathematics 1
  • Industrial Chemistry : HSC Mathematics Extension 1, Physics, Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering: HSC Mathematics Extension 1, Physics, and year 11 HSC Chemistry
  • Environmental Engineering: HSC Mathematics Extension 1, Physics, and year 11 HSC Chemistry
  • Computer Science: HSC Mathematics Extension 1
  • Food Science & Technology: HSC Mathematics & Chemistry

It is expected that you have achieved a band 4 or higher in these subjects

What is recommended knowledge for engineering at UNSW?
It is recommended that you will have studied some of the following HSC subjects: Mathematics Extension 2, Chemistry, Engineering Studies, Software Design and Development, Information Processes and Technology, and/or Biology.

Do I need to complete a bridging course?
While you won’t be prevented from enrolling if you haven’t studied and excelled at the subjects we recommend, this may place you at a disadvantage. We strongly advise such students to do a UNSW bridging course in mathematics, physics and/or chemistry or to consider other preparation courses before starting their engineering studies. Our maths bridging courses are designed to cover the gap between HSC Maths (2 unit) and Extension 1 Maths.

For more information, visit

Commencing Students

For students who are about to begin an engineering program at UNSW

Assumed knowledge and first year subjects

How do I find out what subjects I am supposed to pick in my first year?
In general, first year engineering students complete two first year maths subjects, physics 1A, a computing subject, engineering design and innovation, and three electives. Program guides are available from

What level of maths is right for me?
All engineering students should have completed HSC Mathematics, and Mathematics Extension 1 is assumed knowledge. In general, most students should enrol in MATH1131 Mathematics 1A. Students who have performed well in Extension 2 Mathematics should consider completing MATH1141 Higher Mathematics 1A which covers the same material in greater depth. It is compulsory for all engineering students to complete one of these two courses.

If you have not completed HSC Maths Ext 1, you can look into bridging courses and other options. The best place to start is the Choosing Courses section of the School of Mathematics and Statistics.

Whilst students with HSC Maths and a bridging course generally cope with MATH1131, students who have only studied General Maths will struggle and should contact The Faculty of Engineering 

What level of physics is right for me?
Most engineering programs require the completion of at least one physics course. This starts out with completing PHYS1121 Physics 1A or PHYS1131 Higher Physics 1A. Students who have completed HSC Physics and Extension 1 Mathematics are recommended to enrol in PHYS1121 (or PHYS1131 if you want a challenge).

Students who have not completed physics in years 11 and 12 at high school should consider a bridging course and be prepared to devote extra time to physics in first semester. Alternatively you can do PHYS1111 Fundamentals of Physics in first semester, then complete PHYS1121 in second semester.

If you performed well in Extension 1 or 2 Mathematics, or studied physics in year 11 then dropped it, then a bridging course is likely to be enough to complete PHYS1121 successfully. 

What level of computing is right for me?

All engineering degrees require the completion of a computing subject. Generally this is done during your first semester. Importantly, there is now assumed knowledge for first year computing at UNSW. There are three options as outlined below:

  • ENGG1811 Computing for Engineers. This is the recommended course for most students, unless your degree specifically requires completion of Computing 1 or Computing 1A. This course has been tailored to be most useful for the majority of engineering students.
  • COMP1911 Computing 1A - Required for electrical engineering and mechatronic engineering. This is recommended for students whose degree requires completion of COMP1911 but do not have a strong interest in computing.
  • COMP1917 Computing 1 – Required for all degrees run by the School of Computer Science and Engineering (Bioinformatics, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Software Engineering). This is a very challenging and rewarding course, and is recommended for students who have a strong interest in computing. Students wishing to progress beyond first year computing should complete COMP1917.

If your degree allows for the completion of ENGG1811 then COMP1911 and COMP1917 are both acceptable alternatives. Similarly, COMP1917 is also an acceptable alternative to COMP1911.

Students interested in completing mechatronic engineering are advised that COMP1917 is preferred to COMP1911.

Which degrees require the completion of first year chemistry?

Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Engineering both require completion of one of the following combinations of chemistry subjects. The MATS1011/CEIC1001 is not the recommended option for Industrial Chemistry. Students can progress to complete CHEM1041 by completing CHEM1031 or obtaining a credit or above in CHEM1011.

Semester 1

Semester 2

CHEM1011 Chemistry 1A

CHEM1021 Chemistry 1B

CHEM1031 Higher Chemistry 1A

CHEM1041 Higher Chemistry 1B

MATS1011 Engineering Materials and Chemistry

CEIC1001 Engineering Chemistry


What level of chemistry is right for me?
CHEM1011 Chemistry A assumes a knowledge equivalent to year 11 HSC chemistry. CHEM1031 Higher Chemistry A assumes a knowledge equivalent to year 12 HSC chemistry. Either of CHEM1021 or CHEM1041 can then be completed (except CHEM1041 requires completion of CHEM1031 or a credit in CHEM1011).

If you have no knowledge of high school chemistry, MATS1011 and CEIC1001 assume no knowledge of high school chemistry. However, these are not the recommended combination for industrial chemistry.

Which first year electives should I choose?
Most students study their electives in second semester so it’s not something you need to worry too much about when you first enrol. Your engineering school will have a degree outline that shows exactly which electives you should, can and can’t do. You can also discuss this with your school office if you are uncertain.


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