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What are the different specialisations within civil engineering?

This article discusses the various specialisations that students can look into within the field of civil engineering

Antony Chacko

There is a definite advantage to studying civil engineering abroad. You will be exposed to new methods of problem solving and learn about varied approaches to design and development of projects.

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Importance of civil engineers

Ever looked at London’s Olympic stadium, the Messina Bridge in Sicily or even the Dynamic Tower of Dubai - and wished you could have been part of the team that put it together? 

Maybe it’s not too late to grab your chance of building the next stadium for the Olympics! A career in civil engineering could well be the way forward for you!

Civil engineering is a professional discipline of engineering dealing with designing, constructing, and maintaining the natural and physically built environment. Civil engineers are responsible for the building of bridges, roads, skyscrapers, canals, dams, and other such big structures. Civil engineering not only creates the environment we live in but improves and protects our lives.  Civil engineers are responsible for sustainable energy, in this era of fast depleting fuel and resources, and even the supply of clean water; a world without them would be unimaginable.

Civil engineering is one of the oldest branches of engineering and is further divided into numerous other sub-disciplines:

  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Urban Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Coastal Engineering
  • Construction Engineering
  • Structural Engineering

Undergraduate civil engineering programmes abroad generally last for four years and their qualifications are highly valued and recognised internationally. Students are given a solid foundation in engineering science and technology for the first two years. Students will acquire skills in communication, team work, critical thinking, sketching, and drawing. Year one takes them through general subjects like fluid mechanics, geotechnics, energy and infrastructure, environmental engineering science, professional engineering practice, mathematics and so on.  

They are also given field courses in practical land surveying. Year two of the degree take students through structural mechanics, soil mechanics, engineering geology and makes student involve themselves design projects and gives students a deeper look into the construction industry. By the time students progress on to years three and four, they will begin to tailor their interests and preferences in the field. Year three is all about the core subjects and year four is for students to take up a project with numerous optional modules. On the completion of the UG program, the students can go on to an MEng degree in the field.
Browse our site to check out listed civil engineering programs available across UK, USA, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and many other countries! 

Why study civil engineering abroad?

An increasing number of Indian students are opting to study Civil Engineering abroad in countries such as the U.S, Australia and U.K. The primary benefits of studying the course abroad would be the exposure you will gain to different methods of problem solving, and varied approaches to design and development of civil engineering projects. This international experience will work in your favour, in whichever country you decide to live and work.

With the increasing globalisation of engineering practice and the massive growth of multi-national construction companies, there is a huge need for qualified graduates who are tuned in to the latest technologies and international trends, and also possess good language skills.

As a civil engineer, you will find plenty of opportunities to build and design roads, railways, airports, conserve energy, and create water supplies for people living in drought-hit areas. Graduates can find employment in either private or government organisations.

Areas of specialisation

There are many areas within civil engineering you could specialise in:

  • Coastal - Protect costal areas against erosion and flooding
  • Earthquake - Test structures to ensure they are earthquake-resistant
  • Environmental - Finding new ways to protect our environment; create wind farms, work on water purification, waste water treatment and solid waste treatment, etc.
  • Structural - Design and build bridges, towers, flyovers, tunnels, and off-shore structures like oil and gas fields in the sea.
  • Transport - Work on building and maintaining roads, canals, highways, rail systems, airports, and ports.
  • Urban - Primarily focuses on designing, constructing, and maintaining the roads, water supply networks, sewers, municipal solid waste management and disposal, public parks, etc.
  • Water resources - Design and construct water resources such as pipelines, drainage facilities (including dams, channels, culverts, storm sewers), and canals.

The study of maths and science at high school/ foundation level is key to gaining admission into a university abroad for a civil engineering course. The specific course pre-requites will depend on the university and country you choose.

A course in civil engineering lasts anywhere from 3 to 5 years, depending on the level of study. Subjects that are usually covered include mathematics, physics, materials science, design, geonetics, project management, sustainability, environmental studies, and construction management. The Institution of Civil Engineers, located in Scotland monitors the quality of the civil engineering courses provides by institutions worldwide.


Worried about choosing the right course?

Lavanya Madhanraj Lavanya Madhanraj,
Study abroad expert.
Our experts can help you find the right course from our comprehensive database. Request a call from us now! Or call 1800 103 2581 / 1800 103 9634 (toll-free) today!