Postgraduate study
This course provides a comprehensive programme of civil engineering study across a range of subject areas.
MSc Civil Engineering
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Applicants need to have studied multiple courses in Structures, Geotechnics and Fluids
6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
£7,785 - Terms apply
International fees
£22,815 - Terms apply
This degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired a partial CEng accredited undergraduate first degree. See for further information.
University Park Campus



Civil engineering problems require the application of analytical, decision making and critical thinking skills, this course will provide students with the technical knowledge and experience needed to develop these skills. It will also equip students with a range of transferable skills; an ideal combination for a leading career in civil engineering. 

This course is also taught at The University of Nottingham's Malaysia Campus.

Key facts

  • We have recently invested over £3 million into upgrading our facilities.
  • The department has extensive links with industrial sponsors and other organisations, locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Our research is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), UK industrial and commercial companies, UK government departments, charities and the European Union.
  • This degree is accredited by the Joint Board of Moderators of the ICE, IStructE, CIHT and IHE.


Civil Engineering taught courses


Full course details

This MSc Civil Engineering provides a comprehensive programme of study across a range of subject areas. You may prefer to choose a more specialised approach by adopting a subject theme and choosing specific modules in the first two semesters with a research project related to the theme. However, it is possible to choose a more generalised programme of study across these subject areas for the award of MSc Civil Engineering.

Course content

The course is studied over one academic year of 12 months. Sixty credits of modules are studied in each of the Autumn and Spring Semesters. Any digression from this (for example 50:70 credit split) can only be with agreement of the course director. A research project is undertaken in the summer period. 

Teaching and learning takes place through a combination of lectures, seminars (both teacher- and student-led), individual consultations, literature study, practical work including laboratory work, group interaction and discussion and learning through self-directed study.

Assessment is by a combination of written examinations, coursework, oral presentations and a dissertation.

The compulsory Civil Engineering Research Project Preparation module taken on this course is designed to give a strong foundation in the skills and methodology necessary to successfully complete your research project over the summer period.  

In addition, you will be able to choose from a number of optional modules to create a more generalised path of study for the award of MSc Civil Engineering or to augment your degree with a specific theme.

Over the summer period, you will be required to complete a 60-credit dissertation/research project. The research project is a chance to carry out a major piece of independent research under the supervision of a suitable member of academic staff.


"UoN students have strong technical and academic background as well as practical project skills. In general the calibre of UoN students is very high, and they have the ability to implement their work into practice. I have hired 7 graduates/engineers for my team in the past couple of years.”

Dr Bachar Hakim, Head of Pavement Design and Asset Management, Transportation, AECOM


Academic English preparation and support

If you need additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

A specialist engineering course is available and you could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.




Core modules

Civil Engineering Research Project (summer): 60 credits

This module forms the major research project element for the selected MSc courses in the Department of Civil Engineering. It will normally take the form of a scientific investigation whether it involves experimentation or an extensive review of work already completed by others. Typically, but not exclusively, it will include the following:

  • Project definition and aim
  • Literature review
  • Practical experimentation / investigation
  • Presentation of results
  • Critical analysis of findings
  • The detailed technical content of the module will depend on the  the specific area under examination.

The project area is flexible and will be supervised by an academic member of staff.

Previous research projects have included:

  • Weather impact on construction schedules
  • Predicted future climate change trends
  • The use and abuse of GPS in current UK survey practices
  • The utilization of laser scanning system for examination and monitoring of tunnel deformation and structural integrity
  • Life cycle assessment of the M25 highway widening scheme
Civil Engineering Research Project Preparation (spring): 20 credits

This is a compulsory module for selected MSc courses in the Department of Civil Engineering. The module facilitates the development of critical review skills and exploration of the literature relating to the research project which they will undertake in the summer.

The form of assessment is a 5000-word report containing a literature review and including aims, objectives and methodology of their proposed summer project.  The output from this module will form the basis for appropriate sections in the final dissertation for the summer project.

The detailed technical content of the module will depend on the chosen area under investigation. Supervisors will be allocated dependent on the student's area of interest.

Previous research projects have included:

  • Weather impact on construction schedules
  • Predicted future climate change trends
  • The use and abuse of GPS in current UK survey practices
  • The utilization of laser scanning system for examination and monitoring of tunnel deformation and structural integrity
  • Life cycle assessment of the M25 highway widening scheme

Optional modules

Students must take a minimum of 60 and a maximum of 70 credits from this group:

Advanced Structural Design: 20 credits

The module will look into the design of specialised structural systems such as composite beams and floors, portal frames, tubular trusses, and pre-stressed concrete beams and slabs. It will also look into connection behaviour, the design of steel moment connections and sway stability of buildings. A major group design exercise will illustrate the approach to the design of complete structures.

Geotechnical Modelling; 20 credits

This module will reinforce and advance some of the principles of soil mechanics previously learnt, and describe the principles of Critical State Soil Mechanics (CSSM), a model used to predict the behaviour of soils. The module will include revision of previous concepts, shear box and triaxial tests data analysis, critical state line, elasticity and plasticity, development of an elasto-plastic soil model, and constitutive model application in numerical simulations. Students will learn about and conduct their own triaxial tests on soil samples within the laboratory such that they can obtain constitutive model parameters for the soil. Students will learn to use a finite element method (FEM) software package that is popular for geotechnical analyses as well as the principles of physical modelling using a geotechnical centrifuge. The coursework element will require students to use constitutive model parameters obtained from triaxial testing within FEM analyses. The FEM analyses will include (i) the replication of the triaxial tests and verification of results against analytical predictions (using CSSM), and (ii) simulation of a boundary value problem (e.g. vertical loading of a foundation), for which they will compare numerical predictions against a centrifuge test data set provided to them.

Coastal Engineering: 20 credits

This module provides an introduction to coastal engineering. This includes:

  • Waves, tides and currents.
  • Sediment mobilisation and transport.
  • Wave and tidal energy.
Advanced Structural Analysis: 20 credits

The module will introduce concepts of linear and nonlinear finite element theory for structural engineering. Content will involve finite element formulation, i.e., bar, beam, plane stress, plane strain and plate/ shell elements as well as their implementation within the direct stiffness method. Aspects of material and geometrical nonlinearities will be examined and the particular cases of concentrated and distributed plasticity beam element formulations for skeletal structures will introduced. Load, displacement, and general control nonlinear static analysis schemes will also be examined and implemented for the solution of finite element problems. Concepts will be practiced through two individual pieces of coursework on linear and non-linear finite element theory respectively. Coursework will involve both a theory implementation and an analysis aspect using software.

Dynamics and Wind Engineering: 20 credits

For efficiency and clarity, the module will have complementary themes running in parallel at times, as shown below:

Wind Engineering Theme

Dynamics Theme

Basic meteorology

Global circulation; subtropical cyclones; gradient winds

Single degree of freedom (SDOF) systems

Equation of motion; damping cases; free and forced vibration

Wind characteristics

Wind spectra; parent winds; turbulence; atmospheric boundary layer

Multiple degrees of freedom (MDOF) systems


Bluff body aerodynamics

Flow around cylinders and buildings; pressure coefficients

Continuous systems


Wind Engineering Tools

Eurocode; wind tunnel modelling; computational wind engineering

Wind-structure interaction

Buffeting; vortex-induced vibration; galloping; flutter

The module will involve two pieces of individual courseworks in wind loading and buffeting.

Managing Infrastructure and Systems: 20 credits

This module considers some of the most commonly-used system reliability assessment techniques applied to support system management. The module covers the construction of reliability models that use basic component failure information to describe specific system failure modes, the qualitative and quantitative analyses of these models, and the critical evaluation of systems using the analytical results. In addition, the module covers strategies for constructing and analysing infrastructure asset degradation models and how to use optimisation techniques to enable the selection of optimal maintenance strategies. The models will be discussed in the context of their application to engineering systems and infrastructure assets

Satellite-Based Positioning and Practical: 20 credits

The module is a combination of theoretical and practical aspects of satellite-based positioning and its applications. For the practical aspects, students work in small groups on three projects involving the design, planning and carrying out of measurements, processing and analysis for different satellite-based positioning techniques (individuals and groups are responsible for management and organisation of their projects, with staff members available for consultation and guidance).  Subjects covered include:Satellite based positioning systems (GNSS)Coordinate reference systems, frames, datums, transformations and geoid modelsGNSS systematic biases and errorsGNSS observablesGNSS positioning techniquesFuture developments and related issues.

Environmental Fluid Mechanics: 10 credits

This module introduces buoyancy driven fluid flows relevant to civil engineering. We will introduce the role of fluid density in determining stability in lakes, atmospheres and oceans and how density differences can drive flow. These principles underpin the dispersion of pollutants in waterways and in the atmosphere and also the extent of many natural hazard flows such as volcanic plumes or snow avalanches. On a smaller scale, fluid buoyancy can be exploited to naturally ventilate buildings. This content falls within 3 sections:

  • Convection – plumes and jets
  • Gravity currents
  • Natural ventilation

Each described through a series of lectures detailing the physical principles and modelling approaches culminating in an experiment to visualise the flows.

Railway Technology: 10 credits

This module will introduce the components of railway track structures, conventional and otherwise. It will include analysis of forces on a railway track and consequent deflections, stresses etc, alignment design principles, and an overview of the railway as a total system including construction issues, switches and crossings, deterioration modes and maintenance management.

Highway and Pavement Design: 10 credits

This module covers the design of highway alignments, including curvatures, gradients, number of lanes, junction design and drainage. It also includes analysis and design of pavement structures and surfaces using different techniques and materials together with the deterioration mechanisms involved.

Sustainable Construction and Life Cycle Assessment: 10 credits

This module is designed to deliver an understanding of sustainability principles and how, in particular, transport infrastructure engineering as well as the wider construction industry can contribute to sustainable development. The module will include the following themes:

  • Sustainability: an introduction to sustainability, sustainable development; sustainable construction; and how transport infrastructure engineering can contribute to sustainable construction.
  • Environmental impacts of infrastructure construction: a review of the positive and negative environmental impacts of construction including resources and waste and energy and climate change.
  • Social impacts of infrastructure construction: a review of the positive and negative social impacts of construction including; corporate social responsibility, responsible sourcing, poverty reduction and sustainable development goals.
  • Assessment: indicators, assessment systems, environmental life-cycle assessment, life-cycle cost analysis.
Mapping for Engineering Surveying and GIS Practical: 10 credits

A practical module in mapping for engineering surveying and GIS which complements the mapping for engineering surveying and GIS module lecture course. Students work individually and in small groups on projects involving the planning and the carrying out of observational and computational aspects of surveying for engineering and/or deformation applications. Individuals and groups are also responsible for management and organisation of their projects. Staff members are available for consultation and guidance. Reports will be produced giving a full assessment of the proposed observational scheme.

And a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 50 credits from the group below:

  • Engineering and Deformation Surveying and Practical: 20 credits
  • Highway infrastructure Evaluation and Maintenance: 10 credits
  • Infrastructure Asset Management: 10 credits
  • Bridge Engineering: 20 credits
  • Earthquake Engineering: 20 credits
  • Tall Building Group Design Project: 20 credits

Subject to approval and agreement with the Course Director, students may select up to 20 credits per year of modules at level 3. All other choices must be at level 4.

Please note that all module details are subject to change. Some module restrictions may apply for example due to timetabling or pre or co requisites.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide.

Please visit the faculty website for information on any scholarships currently available through the faculty.

Faculty of Engineering Postgraduate Scholarships

UK/EU Students

Funding information can be found on the Graduate School website.

Please visit the faculty website for information on any scholarships currently available through the faculty.

Government loans for masters courses

Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.


Careers and professional development

The blend of academic study and development of practical and professional skills that the course provides is an ideal preparation for the future challenges of working in a multidisciplinary environment. Graduates of this course are highly sought-after and enter a range of careers related to the field of civil engineering.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2017, 100% of postgraduates in the department who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £26,500.

*Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

*The Graduate Market 2013-2017, High Fliers Research.

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

Boost your earning potential

Which university courses boost graduate wages the most? Studying with us could help you to earn more.

  • We are second highest in the UK for female engineering graduate earnings, five years after graduation
  • We are second highest in the Midlands for male engineering graduate earnings, five years after graduation

(Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies data:



This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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