Application information and FAQ
Making Your Application Through UCAS
All applications for the MEng in Design Engineering must be made solely through UCAS, and we are unable to accept any additional personal statements alongside these applications. We welcome applications from candidates across a wide variety of academic backgrounds, including sciences and arts qualifications, provided a high level in mathematics (A* at A-Level or equivalent) is achieved.
UCAS personal statements will be assessed for evidence that applicants have an aptitude and interest in developing both their fundamental design engineering and creativity skills and in applying these skills in combination to generate new products, systems or services through their projects. Previous coursework, academic studies, personal projects, and work experience may all be relevant, depending upon the applicant. Selected applicants will be invited to an online interview based on the strength of their application. Interviews run from November to March.
Each candidate shall complete a 25-minute online interview, during which their interest and aptitude will be assessed via a range of questions and problems, hosted by a member of the School's academic staff. Candidates are encouraged to present examples of their work during the interview; however, only two minutes will be allotted to this, so careful selection is advised. When considering the selection of work to present, we would suggest candidates consider how such work adapts to the online medium, and to select examples accordingly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is A Level Maths your only compulsory subject?
Yes; although lots of other engineering courses ask for Physics and/or Further Maths at A Level, we are looking for a diverse cohort with a wide-ranging academic background, reflective of the combination of technical and creative skills we see in Design Engineering.
Some subjects are more obviously relevant to Design Engineering than others; Further Maths, Design Technology, Computing, and Art, for example, will all help to strengthen your application. Other relevant subjects include:
Does Imperial College provide any additional learning resources for A Level Maths students?
We know that attainment in A Level Maths and Further Maths can be a barrier for some students to gain a place at university to study STEM. With the expert support of the Department of Mathematics, we are running a massive open online course (MOOC) for Further Maths A Level students to complement our existing A Level Maths MOOC and raise attainment in advanced mathematics among young people from underrepresented backgrounds.
In partnership with Woodhouse College, we have also developed the Imperial College Mathematics School, a new maths school that intends to target underrepresented groups.
I’m doing an extended project/AS level/STEP/another qualification, will this enhance my application or count towards the academic requirements?
Our offers are not based on UCAS points but specific qualifications, therefore additional qualifications will not exempt you from meeting our A*AA (A* in Mathematics) minimum offer.
However, if the additional qualification demonstrates skills and interests that are relevant to Design Engineering, this will strengthen your application.
I’m not predicted A*AA, can I still apply?
Yes, we may still consider your application under the following circumstances:
Students who meet our ‘widening participation’ criteria* will be guaranteed an interview if their predicted grades meet the College minimum entry standard of AAA at A Level (or an equivalent qualification). If they have shown significant potential in their application, we may also consider candidates who meet our ‘widening participation’ criteria with predicted grades below AAA. Please note, this is at the department’s discretion and shortlisting decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
If you are predicted AAA and do not meet our ‘widening participation’ criteria, the other parts of your application will need to be very strong for you to be shortlisted to interview. Our minimum offer is A*AA (with A* in Maths), so in such instances you would need to perform better than your predicted grades to meet our offer conditions.
*You can view the College’s ‘widening participation’ criteria here.
I have retaken some of my A Levels/modules, is that ok?
We don’t mind if it takes you longer than the usual two years to achieve your A Levels. As long as your predicted grades at the time of your application are at least AAA, we will view your application on an equal footing with those who have completed their A Levels in one sitting.
Do you look at my GCSE results?
Other than your English Language grade, we do not look at your GCSE grades. We look at your predicted grades at A Level or equivalent.
We may look at the GCSE subjects you have studied, if they are relevant, such as Art or Design Technology.
I speak English as a first language, will I need an English Language qualification?
Yes. All our students need to have a GCSE grade 6 (GCSE B grade, pre 2017) or equivalent in English Language. If you do not have a grade 6, this will not affect whether or not you receive an offer, but you will have to obtain an alternative English language qualification or retake the GCSE to meet your offer conditions.
Accepted English Language qualifications can be found here:
Do you accept university foundation year courses?
We accept Warwick’s International Foundation Programme in Science & Engineering (IFP) and UCL's Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPCSE). For further information, such as required modules and pass rates, please refer to our prospectus.
We are unable to accept other foundation courses and Imperial does not run its own foundation course.
If you have taken a foundation year in Art, this will strengthen your application, but you will still need to have met our A Level (or equivalent) requirements.
What are you looking for in my personal statement?
Personal statements should reflect your interests, achievements, and experience, as relevant to Design Engineering.
You may wish to talk about a school project of which you are particularly proud, extra-curricular/personal projects, work experience, volunteering, competitions or any other relevant activities you have engaged in. It is important to include specific examples and demonstrate the skills that you personally have gained throughout your experiences.
We are keen to see whether an application is aligned to the type of degree we are offering. Our degree has a mix of design, manufacture, analysis, creativity, innovation and design engineering. We do not expect students to arrive with all these skills; instead, we expect to be able to gauge their level of interest and aptitude from the personal statement.
For further guidance, see our 10 Do's and Don'ts of Personal Statements.
Your course is different to my other choices, can I submit a separate personal statement?
We are unable to accept additional personal statements.
We recommend that, without explicitly stating a course title, you include the skills, qualities and experience that you feel are relevant to Design Engineering. These are skills that will make you a strong applicant for any similar or related course.
Do I need to have work experience?
We do not expect our applicants to have professional work experience. However, it is worth telling us about any relevant volunteering/projects/research you may have participated in.
Do I need to be able to sketch?
Being able to sketch will put you at an advantage, but sketching is a fundamental skill, such as Electronics or Mechanics, that we will be teaching in our First Year to ensure that everyone has the knowledge and skills necessary for the course.
That said, if you drew one quick sketch per week between now and the course start date, you'll find that you improve significantly and will be more comfortable studying the course.
What can I do to improve my application now?
Our course is extremely hands-on so all making is strongly encouraged. Depending on where you live and your family’s financial means, there are various activities you may want to explore such as:
- Learning coding online at codeacademy.com (free)
- Developing your maths skills with www.khanacademy.org (free)
- Building prototypes out of cardboard etc.
- Taking apart broken appliances
- CAD modelling on a computer
- Laser cutting/wood working
- Lego robotics (and the possibly more advanced robotics)
- 3D printing
- Online lectures and courses provided by the BBC and universities, such as MIT
- Follow us on Twitter/X for information on news, events and opportunities related to Design Engineering (@ImperialDyson)
- Check out our YouTube Channel for further inspiration: Design Engineering YouTube Channel
- Explore Imperial College's Outreach pages for engineering-related activities for students of all ages.
Design Engineering covers a wide range of areas, so you should pursue whatever area interests you most.
Do you do interviews?
Yes, we do hold interviews and every successful candidate will have been interviewed.
When will I hear if I have an interview invite?
Interviews take place between the beginning of November mid-March. Interview invitations are sent via email and you will be given around a week’s notice of any interview date (please ensure you check your junk email folder from time to time after you apply, as occasionally our emails can be auto-filtered).
Do you interview everyone?
No, we only interview the strongest applicants based on their UCAS applications.
What if I can’t make it to an interview?
All interviews are conducted remotely via Microsoft Teams. This should hopefully make it easier, logistically, for candidates to attend. However, if for any reason you are unable to attend your interview, please do get in touch so that we can rearrange this for a mutually convenient time.
What will happen in the interview?
Pre-interview exercise - Just before your interview, you will be emailed a pre-interview exercise to work on. This is not a test; it is a chance for you to prepare for some of the interview questions without the pressure of the interviewer in your presence. You will be given full details in advance of your interview and do not need to prepare anything, although it is advisable to have paper and pencils/pens to hand, as you may be asked to do some sketching. This is not a test of artistic ability and is merely to help communicate your thoughts and assist discussion during the interview.
During the interview - The interview will test you on your design, technical, and mathematics skills as well as your motivation for applying to Design Engineering. The interview will be largely discussion-based although, as with the pre-interview exercise, you are welcome to have paper on hand to work out any problems if you wish and you may of course refer to any of your notes/sketches from the pre-interview exercise.
Do I need a portfolio for my interview?
It is not a mandatory requirement to bring a portfolio to your interview; however, if you have an existing one, you are very welcome to present examples of your work. These may be either fully resolved, works in progress or, for instance, preliminary sketches of ideas. Please note a maximum of two minutes will be allotted to this, so careful selection is advised. Given that all interviews shall take place remotely, when considering the selection of work to present, we would suggest you consider how such work adapts to the online medium and select examples accordingly (screen-sharing will be enabled for all interviews - alternatively, you may prefer to hold your work up to the camera).
When will I hear if I have received an offer?
Most offers will be made after the UCAS application deadline in mid-January, and the majority of applicants will receive their application outcomes after the interview process has concluded (mid-March). You will receive the final decision on your application by the end of March at the latest.
Do you ever make offers below A*AA?
Do you ever make offers above A*AA?
Yes. Depending on various factors, including your interview performance, we may make you a higher offer of A*A*A or equivalent.
If I’m doing more than 3 A-Levels, will you offer on more than 3 A-Levels?
Our standard offer is A*AA or equivalent. In some circumstances, we might make slightly higher offers, but this would usually involve asking for higher grades on three A-Levels, rather than asking for four.
If you are not confident that you can achieve A*AA as part of four A-Levels, you should drop down to three; we do not consider AAAA to be the same as A*AA.
A significant number of our successful applicants have only studied 3 A-Levels.
Deferrals and Gap Years
Deferrals and Gap Years
Can I apply now and defer a year?
Yes - you can apply for deferred entry via UCAS. If you do not mention the reasons for applying for deferred entry in your personal statement, we may contact you for more details on what you plan to do with your year out of education.
Maths skills atrophy very quickly when they are not in regular use, therefore you will need to demonstrate strong maths skills in your interview and your school qualifications.
If you plan on spending your gap year working on Design Engineering-related projects, we strongly recommend that you apply during your gap year, if possible, as writing about your gap year activities will strengthen your application.
Will taking a gap year count against my application?
Taking a gap year will not necessarily count against your application. However, as with many engineering courses, we do have concerns that your maths skills may atrophy over the break. You should continue doing weekly maths revision throughout the year, and expect to be rigorously tested at interview. If you do not maintain your A Level Maths skills, you may struggle to succeed during your first year. There are many excellent, free online resources to help you practice, such as KhanAcademy.com.
As well as Maths, there are certain activities you can do in your gap year that will strengthen your application (see the FAQ titled 'What can I do to improve my application now?' for more information). If you participate in activities that demonstrate a continuing interest in design or engineering, this will count in your favour and you should include them in your personal statement.
There are Mitigating Circumstances affecting my current qualifications, what should I do?
If there are extenuating circumstances that you believe will affect your A Level performance, you must do two things as soon as possible:
- Notify your school - your school will notify the relevant exam board/s, who may adjust your grades as they see fit (we are unable to assess the impact extenuating circumstances have had on your A Levels; that can only be done by your school and exam board).
- Notify us of your extenuating circumstances before your results are released, so we may make a note of them on your application record
As a general rule, we will not accept you with lower results because of mitigating circumstances. However, in some instances we may consider your application in the light of mitigating circumstances, such as if we have space for ‘near-miss’ candidates on results day, or when assessing your interview performance. Such information will also help us support you if you do come to study with us.
Please note, we may request formal proof of your circumstances from you or your school.
Transfers from other courses or universities
Transfers from other courses of universities
I am currently studying at a different university/different course at Imperial, can I transfer to your course?
If you have studied for a year at another university or course at Imperial College London, you are welcome to apply to start our course from the first year (we are unable to accept transfers into later years of the course).
The academic entry requirement is a pass all modules and the equivalent of 65% in a UK degree during your existing year at university. Please note, If there are any mitigating circumstances affecting your existing studies, you must raise these with your existing university as we are not in a position to assess the impact of such circumstances on your current studies.
Transferring from another university
To transfer from another university, please apply via UCAS.com. The deadline to apply for entry in 2024 is 18:00 (UK time), 31 January 2024. If your application is successful, you will be shortlisted to attend an interview with a member of Design Engineering academic staff (see related FAQs above for more information on our interview process).
Transferring from another Imperial College course
To transfer from a different department at Imperial College, please send a one-page personal statement to email@example.com from your ICL email address, including your motivations for switching courses and any relevant Design Engineering experience. Your email should include:
- Your full name
- Your current department
- Your A Level results and CID number.
You will need to ask someone from your current department to email a reference directly to the email above from their ICL email address.
Your application will be considered in line with all other applications for the same year of entry. If your application is successful, you will be shortlisted to attend an interview with a member of Design Engineering academic staff (see related FAQs above for more information on our interview process).
The deadline for ICL applications is the last day of the Easter holidays (1 April 2024). Applications received after this deadline will be considered only in exceptional circumstances and provided there is space within the department.
Visiting the School
Visiting the School
Do you offer tours?
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer individual tours to prospective students. However, we have a lot of information for prospective applicants on the Dyson School of Design Engineering web pages, including the latest news from the department and opportunities to connect with us.