BlogUniversityWhat It’s Like Studying Chemical Engineering at UNSW

What It’s Like Studying Chemical Engineering at UNSW

Chemical Engineering UNSW - Fact Sheet

Are you thinking of studying UNSW Chemical Engineering but don’t know where to start? 

Look no further! We have all the information you need including societies, internships, assessments and more! 

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What is Chemical Engineering at UNSW?
Core Units for this Major
How to Get into Chemical Engineering at UNSW
What’s the Teaching Format?
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

What is Chemical Engineering at UNSW?

Chemical Engineering at UNSW, a major that can be completed under the Bachelor of Engineering, allows students to study the conversion and repurposing of raw materials to create innovative and new products. This major will have students trained in the realms of management, quality control, critical analysis and even economics! 

Within Chemical Engineering, students will learn how to design and develop chemical processors, as well as equipment to combat humanity’s environmental impact. It is great for forward thinking innovators who not only want to see the best in the world, but to be able to create it. 


Studying a Bachelor of Engineering with a major in Chemical Engineering is presented alongside an honours year. This means that the fourth year of study for the degree requires research and a thesis to be created by students at the conclusion of their tertiary studies.

To remain in the honours program, students must not let their Weighted Average Mark (WAM) become less than 50 and they also cannot fail more than twice on any given course. The honours year is supervised by a professor, so don’t worry — you won’t be left to your own devices completely!

Can this degree be studied in conjunction with another?

The Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) can also be studied as a double degree! This means that students are able to add on another qualification — though this does mean your degree will take longer to complete! 

Popular additions to the Bachelor of Chemical Engineering Include:

    • Advanced Mathematics 
    • Arts 
    • Computer Science 
    • Laws

Career Paths

The career paths for this degree are extremely varied and depend on the direction in which students wish to take their learnings. Even though all the careers for Chemical Engineer majors can be extremely different, they all possess a zest for learning and a curiosity of how they can impact the world!

UNSW Chemical Engineering - Student Quote

Careers include:

    • Chemical and Plant System Operator
    • Manufacturing Production Technician 
    • Food Scientist 
    • Biotechnician 
    • Consultant
    • Processor 

Check out what a Chemical Engineer does in our article here!

Core Units for this Major

Thermodynamics, separation principles, and material and energy balances are three main key components of the core units. As you go from year to year, and course to course, UNSW provides students with the steps they need to continue to excel and prosper with the knowledge they are given.

For example, first year Physics 1A leads onto second year Material and Energy Balances that pivots into third year Advanced Thermodynamics and Separation.

Some of the other core units you may study include:


You can choose disciplinary electives in the direction of your interest within the major of Chemical Engineering. Students can pick up to three specialisation subjects to hone into.

Chemical Engineer majors may choose from units on Process Control, Advanced Polymers, Data-driven Decision Making, Advanced Reaction Engineering and more!

Check out the handbook here!

Industrial Training

During this degree Industrial Training is a requirement to obtain your degree within Engineering and it involves 60 days of training. It is up to you to organise and find your placement, however, UNSW and societies such as CEUS (more on CEUS later!) advertise opportunities and placements.

Students will have to apply on their own volition, but Student Academic and Career Success (SACS), a program by UNSW, helps students with resume and application writing by giving critiques and pointers into the right direction.


How to Get into Chemical Engineering at UNSW

The ATAR cut off for guaranteed entry for the Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) at UNSW is 91. This shouldn’t dishearten you if you have not achieved this ATAR — there is another way into this course!

Faculty of Engineering Admissions Scheme

This program is a pathway for potential students wanting to study at UNSW but did not achieve the guaranteed entry ATAR of 91. If your ATAR is within 10 points below, but you still wish to pursue the degree, a team will evaluate your application!

All you need to do is include a personal statement, send an attachment of your Year 12 report and upload a short video explaining why you are suited to study engineering of some discipline at UNSW here!  

Want to work and get sponsored to study Chemical Engineering at UNSW? Check out how to apply to the UNSW Co-op program here!

Assumed Knowledge

There are no prerequisite subjects for studying Chemical Engineering, but there is however, assumed knowledge for the subjects Extension Mathematics 1 and Physics. This means that the degree will cover things at a higher level than a beginner as it is assumed students know the HSC level of those subjects! 

If you have not completed these courses for your HSC, don’t fret! UNSW offers bridging courses to help students to catch up and obtain the knowledge required to feel comfortable and ready for the degree. Both Mathematics and Physics bridging courses are offered as bridging courses at UNSW.


UNSW offers a large range of scholarships! There are scholarships offered for broad and differing circumstances and achievements.

To have a look and see if you’re eligible, check out the UNSW Scholarships Calculator tool here!

What’s the Teaching Format?

Are there semesters or trimesters?

UNSW follows the trimester teaching pattern. This means that subjects each year will be taught over three sessions of 10 week increments with breaks in between.

Students must take on three subjects each trimester to complete a full-time study load. However, students also have the option to complete two subjects for one trimester each year and still be set to complete their degree on time.

Class Structure

The teaching format for each unit depends on the course. In first year students do a lot of general courses — a course such as Mathematics 1A is a subject that all engineering students will take and it is taught through lectures and tutorials.

Chemical Engineering UNSW - Class Structure

Chemical Engineering only subjects have smaller lectures with around 100 people and tend to go for two hours. You’ll be taught a lot of theories and concepts, but there isn’t a lot of room to actively engage with the content like in a tutorial.

Within your tutorials, you’ll normally be taught by a PHD student who’s well-acquainted with Chemical Engineering! These usually go for an hour and you’ll be in a class of 30, so it’s much more intimate and you have greater opportunities to ask questions and interact with the content.

Lab courses, such as first year Chemical Engineering Lab A have 100% of this class (30 students) in the lab using process equipment and being given a brief on what you’re meant to do with it — it’s up to you to write an experimental report and a plan. 

How much time do you spend at university?

First years have more contact hours with 20 to 25 hours a week, but this gradually decreases by third year where students will have 10 to 20 contact hours and by fourth year it’s under 10 hours on campus. By the time students hit fourth year, they will know all the ins and outs of UNSW!  


The way students are assessed within the Bachelor of Chemical Engineering at UNSW varies from course to course, however these are some of the assessment formats you will definitely encounter:

    • Exams and Quizzes: This is the way first year students are predominantly assessed with the assessments and quizzes covering topics discussed within that class. 
    • Project and Assignments: These projects and assignments can vary from practical projects to report writing to even group reports. 

Skills That You Refine and Learn

Chemical Engineering at UNSW creates well-rounded and fresh thinking leaders of tomorrow, by developing many different skills. You can expect to have the following skills when you graduate from this degree!
Chemical Engineering UNSW - SkillsThe ability to zoom out and get the bigger picture for problems, to be able to tackle it step-by-step, is a skill you’ll come to know very well. This quality of problem solving is imperative and developed quickly within Chemical Engineering.

Through the study of Chemical Engineering, students quickly learn the need for efficient communication as well as collaboration. Students work together on projects, but also need to follow specific briefs and instructions from stakeholders and professors. 

Through the Bachelor of Engineering at UNSW students gain an advanced wealth of scientific knowledge — this helps them to become expert hypotheses and advisors in future careers!

What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?

UNSW hosts passionate, professional and personable professors and lecturers — no question is too small! If you need to hit them up via email with a question, you will be responded to promptly with a solution to your request. 

Students in the Chemical Engineering cohort are extremely close and bonded, so they are able to work in a proficient manner while also having fun. You’ll find that Chemical Engineering students are very switched on and engaged. 


There are many clubs and societies you can delve into at UNSW that are relevant to the Engineering Faculty! Being part of a society or club really allows you to collaborate, network, and socialise with so many others.

Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Society (CEUS)

This society’s president is interviewee Tomas Beak! The group is aimed towards undergraduate Chemical Engineers at UNSW and it provides students with lots of fun and interesting activities including networking, social events, discussions, camps, balls, industry events and more.

The aim of CEUS is to help students make friends and connections with each other throughout their degree. 

Girls In Engineering Club (GIE) 

The GIE’s purpose and aim is to give girls in high school, who are interested in STEM, the opportunity to explore engineering. Through fun activities, info days and events, GIE creates a chance to network and make friends before commencing study!  

Mentoring Program

If you’re finding it harder to settle into uni, there’s no need to worry — UNSW has a program just for you.

The UNSW Engineering Society Peer Mentoring Program is a tailor-made peer support program which aims to help first year engineers with all of their budding questions. This program helps students feel at home within their university and discipline with student mentors!

Other Types of Engineering

There are quite a number of majors that UNSW offers for Engineering. If you’re not sure that Chemical Engineering is your cup of tea, you can check out our articles on some of the other majors:

Interested in the pros and cons of this degree? Check out our article here!

Matilda Elliott is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and a Communication graduate with a major in Journalism at Western Sydney University. You can find some of her published work in a range of platforms including SBS World News, The Music Network and within her own creative exploits with her twin sister. Matilda is a lover of listening, helping people to tell their stories, making genuine connections, clowning around in her circus troupe and dancing like no one is watching at live music shows!


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