MEng (Hons) Structural Engineering with Architecture: all about our new degree

Published on 18 November 2020

The University of Dundee is launching a new degree in civil engineering to help meet the growing demand for structural engineers with understanding of the architectural role within construction.

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Our MEng Structural Engineering with Architecture will focus on the conceptualisation, design, analysis, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure.

We caught up with programme lead Dr Saverio Spadea to find out more about this course and what it can offer students.

Hi Saverio! Can you tell us more about the new degree?

We know that civil engineers have a visible impact on the built environment surrounding us, mainly managing the technical side of construction. There’s a demand for engineers who consider the aesthetics and understand how to best use space, while applying engineering applications to projects.

This new MEng degree will offer more choice for applicants to the University of Dundee who may have an interest in both engineering and architecture. Students will mainly be based within the School of Science and Engineering where they will study the key components of structural engineering, but also spend time within the School of Social Science’s architectural studios throughout the course.

The longstanding collaboration between Civil Engineering and Architecture, two leading disciplines within the University of Dundee include combined delivery of modules such as Professional Engineering Practice, and Conceptual Design and multidisciplinary projects. 

What’s different about this course compared with traditional civil engineering?

Civil engineering is a broad subject, which brings together the analysis, design, construction and maintenance of the built environment. The mission of contemporary civil engineers is driven by current environmental challenges including adapting to climate change, safeguarding of natural resources and providing clean energy resources.

Structural engineers, who are a subset of civil engineers, have the primary role in shaping the way building materials are quantitively and geometrically arranged in construction to produce functional structures, whilst being able to resist environmental loads and natural hazards.

In influencing the built environment, structural engineers have many common interests with architects and need to work closely with them.  This degree bridges the gap between by shaping professionals who have all the technical skills of a structural engineer as well as a fundamental knowledge of architectural design and application of its methods.

Why do you think it’s important to offer civil engineering students the opportunity to study modules in architecture?

The processes involved in major civil engineering projects often do not include architectural input. At the same time, an increasing part of the work of civil engineers involves working with ageing and historic structures, where skills in this area would be of value.  The construction industry is also undergoing changes influenced by the increasing role that digital systems and advanced technology at the design and fabrication stages are having.

There is, therefore, a growing need for professionals who combine skills in these areas and the new programme will make an important contribution to this.

Dr Saverio Spadea
“Graduates will be able to holistically influence structural, aesthetic and environmental aspects of the design of the built environment.”

Dr Saverio Spadea

Civil engineering at Dundee is focused on teaching students to finding solutions to environmental problems. Can you tell us a bit about sustainable practice in civil engineering at Dundee and how graduates can go on to make a difference?

The approach followed for sustainable construction should be multi-faceted and include using materials with reduced environmental impact, and harnessing efficiencies in design and construction.  The emphasis in embedding these themes throughout the various elements of the programme, is to ensure that they are central to how our students’ think and approach all the work they are involved in during their studies and once they graduate.

As an example, our design projects towards the end of the programme are open-ended and students will be free to select any construction material that is appropriate to the design they are undertaking and include a rigorous process of selection and evaluation.  This will cover embodied energy, local sourcing, mechanical and durability properties, whole cost and end-of-life reuse or recycling and how best to design buildings to minimise energy use. 

As graduates progress towards becoming chartered engineers after they graduate, they will have the chance to consolidate and further develop these attributes, towards enhancing the quality of people’s lives.

Who do you think will be interested in this course?

Students who want to work at the interface between the two disciplines or those who are driven by the creative design of structures from a technical standpoint. 

Students will acquire skills in the field of computational architecture, which is a growing area within both architecture and structural engineering. Using computational architecture at the conceptual design stage is becoming the norm in professional practice but this typically receives less coverage in higher education.  

Studying parametric modelling, analysis, and optimisation techniques, and their integration with modern methods of digital fabrication, will provide our graduates with specific transferable skills and attributes that the construction industry is keen to incorporate.

What careers will graduates go on to do?

Graduates will have opportunities for a career in structural engineering, working on architecturally innovative structures, or in multi-disciplinary contexts.  This could be either within a consulting engineers organisation or as an associated professional within an architectural practice.  They will also be qualified to work in civil engineering within the structures area.

Our civil engineering graduates have gone on to achieve high level positions with consulting engineers, contractors, and local government, for example. Others have joined research organisations to study for a higher degree. The skill set developed means a move into other sectors valuing a technical degree would also be possible.


Civil engineering was recently ranked 8th in the UK in Times and Sunday Times Good University 2021.


Press Office, University of Dundee

Story category Student experience