Published: 18 May 2021

Meet our Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Thinking of studying civil engineering at Surrey? If so, take a look inside our Department of Civil and Environment Engineering and check out about some of the exciting experiences, great facilities and fascinating academics you’ll find here.

What’s special about the Department?

We’re a dynamic Department housed on the third floor of the Thomas Telford building: a friendly community of over 400 undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers and academics.

You’ll rub shoulders with people who are working at the forefront of global research in fields like air pollution, water treatment, and infrastructure management. Later this year we’re bringing together international experts for the 7th International Conference on Spatial Structures, while we’re also home to the Global Centre for Clean Air Research which leads local and international initiatives which are mitigating the effects of pollution.

Around 35 per cent of undergraduate students in the Department are on the Surrey/ICE (Institution of Civil Engineering) scholarship scheme. This unique scheme pairs students with a relevant industrial company early on in their course and shapes their experience. Not only do they spend their year-long Professional Training placement with the organisation, they also benefit from paid summer work placements and receive a generous scholarship bursary of £1,950 every year – usually being offered a full-time role when they graduate.

What’s it like to study here?

In the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering you’ll get an incredibly varied learning experience, and learn in an environment that’s been rated ‘Gold' in the Teaching Excellence Framework. Your average week will combine lectures, seminars, personal tutorials, industry talks, lab sessions and group work, amounting to around 19 contact hours every week for a first year student.

You’ll have a personal tutor who’ll support you throughout your time at Surrey, and you’ll be able to schedule an appointment with them whenever you want or need to, using our online booking system.


What highlights can I expect during my course?
DAD (Design, Assemble, Dismantle) project

As a first year student, you’ll be challenged to work as part of a group for our Surrey-designed DAD project where you work against the clock to design, assemble and dismantle a structure.

Project work

In your third year, you’ll take on an individual project which is connected to a real world industrial or research challenge. Depending on the topic you choose, you might work in our Centre for Infrastructure Systems Engineering, Geomechanics Research Group, Global Centre for Clean Air Research, or Centre for Environmental Health and Engineering. If you’re studying on our MEng course, you’ll also get to work on a multidisciplinary design project in your final year, often in collaboration with an industrial company, teaming up with students from other engineering disciplines.

Keynote talks

Along with everyone in the Department, you’ll be invited to attend our regular talks from industry leaders. Recently these have included Nick Prior of Deloitte, who spoke about global infrastructure challenges and opportunities in the post-pandemic period, and Professor Douglas Oakervee – one of the UK’s most distinguished civil engineers – who talked about the challenges of delivering High Speed 2 and other major infrastructure projects.

Professional Training

You can secure a year’s valuable work experience in a major engineering consultancy or contractor through our award-winning Professional Training placement programme. Recently our students have gone to over 30 leading civil and environmental engineering companies including Atkins, Bachy Soletanche, Balfour Beatty, Costain and Hewson.

Read about Emanuela Dyrma’s experience at Subsea7.

Who will teach me?

Our teaching staff are all passionate about their field area of civil engineering, and keen to inspire students by sharing their knowledge. They include:

  • Dr Liang Cui (Programme Leader) – whose research focuses on developing Discrete Element Method (DEM) for modelling granular materials
  • Dr Juan Sagaseta – a specialist in structural concrete and innovative methods of structural analysis and design
  • Dr Belen Marti-Cardona – whose research is in hydrological and hydraulic modelling and remote sensing
  • Dr Martin Walker – an expert in the mechanics of thin shells

“The best part of my course are the lecturers who teach us. An educational institution is only as good as the academics who enrich it, and I’ve always felt supported by the lecturers. Modules that initially seemed mundane sparked an interest when taught by academics who are specialists in their fields.” - Ramsha Saleem (MEng Civil Engineering, 2017-2022)

What are the facilities like?

You’ll work in a range of state-of-the-art laboratories and specialist facilities including our:

  • Materials and Structures laboratory for the manufacture and assessment of structural elements. 
  • Surrey Advanced Geotechnical Engineering (PDF) (SAGE) Lab, which carries out advanced laboratory testing of soils and scaled model tests of geotechnical problems. Our geotechnics and geology lab has recently undergone a £450,000 upgrade
  • Centre for Environmental Health and Engineering, which addresses water quality and associated health issues around the globe, and is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the protection of water quality and health
  • Wind tunnel facilities for pollution dispersion modelling and measurement.
  • Air Quality Lab, a world-class facility for monitoring air quality.
What do graduates go on to?

Armed with a Civil Engineering degree from Surrey, our graduates go on to achieve great things in industry and research. According to the 2021 Guardian University Guide, 97 per cent of our former students are in graduate-level employment or undertaking further education 15 months after graduation. Many of our graduates go on to become Chartered Engineers, taking on a high level of responsibility within leading companies. Recently they’ve gone on to roles at Atkins, GDC Partnership, Lendlease Group, Mott MacDonald and Walkers Construction.

Read about the success of two of our graduates who won the top prize in the 2020 Young Structural Engineering International Design Competition.


Find out more about our BEng (Hons)/MEng Civil Engineering degree programmes.

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