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Going the distance


With UK qualifications recognised and respected throughout the world, and 3,000 of the country's educational institutions now welcoming international students, the UK can provide a vibrant and creative environment in which students can develop their potential.

Newcastle University runs MSc courses in geotechnical engineering and engineering geology with a focus on the UK state of practice in the industry, says senior lecturer Stephanie Glenndinning.

Sheffield University's traditional market for MSc courses has also always been overseas students, says professor of vibration engineering Aleksandar Pavic.

From this October, all Sheffield's taught postgraduate courses leading to an MSc degree or postgraduate certificate or diploma, will be blocktaught. Pavic notes a particularly strong interest in its new earthquake and civil engineering dynamics courses.

Sheffield's one year MSc courses also constitute a first or 'warming up' year of a New Route PhD - a programme lasting four instead of the traditional three years. The New Route PhD is a major development involving over 20 UK universities and supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the British Council.

'Responding to requests from our international partners for a doctoral programme with a greater taught component, the New Route PhD will also provide students with skills for the world of work and so enhance their employability, ' Pavic explains.

Imperial College offers what it refers to as a 'suite' of 25 MSc courses grouped into four main technical clusters: environment, geotechnics, structures and transport. Each encompasses a range of technical choices.

Under structures, for example, comes either steel or concrete structures, earthquake engineering or a general structures course.

Imperial also offers quarter degree options in business management or sustainable development, which can be attached to any of the available 'technical cores'. Courses are taught by a group of 45 specialist staff supported by other departments - including Imperial's business school - and external experts from industry.

'The student mix at Imperial is highly international, ' says Richard Jardine, professor of geomechanics, 'which brings a real range of experiences, from the rigorous training in mechanics and maths, through to civil engineering in parts of the world that are developing their infrastructure very rapidly.'

Students are often selffunded, he adds, but many come with support from the British Council in the form of Chevening awards, from their own governments, or with help from charitable trusts, such as the Onassis Foundation.

Cardiff University's MSc in geoenvironmental engineering is multi-disciplinary and is open to all 'good' graduates with a background in civil engineering or related subjects. Cardiff also offers MSc courses in civil engineering, structural engineering and water engineering.

All four schemes already attract overseas applications, says MSc tutor Steve Rees. And Cardiff offers 'considerable support' via its International Office (www. cardiff. ac. uk/for/ prospective/inter/index. html).

The university also provides English language courses 'to help applicants meet the entry requirements'.

Portsmouth University offers MSc courses in project management and civil engineering. Its programme enables students to specialise in civil engineering with either construction management, earthquake technology, environmental engineering or structural engineering.

Portsmouth's courses are 'very heavily' linked to industry, says senior lecturer David Grant.

Teaching of most courses includes site visits and guest lecturers from industry.

Bath University's MSc in construction management is constantly evolving in line with industry changes and the input of external industrial advisers.

'About 25% of our students are UK based, the rest are from overseas, ' says Stephanie Lake, marketing administrator for construction management by distance learning.

Bath also runs centres in Canada, Hong Kong and South Africa. 'As our course is a distance learning one, students are only required to attend 14 days at Bath (or the other centres), ' Lake says. 'The rest of the MSc you study in your own time.'

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