About the Department

Civil Engineering is one of six departments in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol with a total of 30 academic teaching staff. Within the Faculty there are more than 2900 students, of whom around 360 undergraduates and 115 postgraduates are in the Department of Civil Engineering.

There is a long history of civil engineering within the University and past professors include such well-known people as Hele-Shaw – one of the originators of experimental fluid mechanics; Pippard – who introduced strain energy methods into Britain; Baker – renowned for his leading work in modern approaches to design of steel structures; and Pugsley – for his pioneering work in the field of risk and structural safety and design of suspension bridges.

The Department is one of the top civil engineering departments in the country and this is reflected across a range of quality indicators. We were awarded 22 points out of a maximum of 24 in the most recent Teaching Quality Assessment (TQA) by independent inspectors from HEFCE. The Department is also recognised as internationally excellent in its research activities through the RAE2008 Research Assessment Exercise with 80% of our research falling within this category. The Department also consistently appears at or near the top of national surveys and league tables. The Department focuses on first-class undergraduate teaching and world-class research.

Civil engineering touches the lives of everyone and has an intimate relationship with our natural environment.

Structure Design class

What is civil engineering?

Civil engineering is the business of working creatively and co-operatively with the natural world to deliver a sustainable constructed environment to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations.

It requires practical rigour based on an appropriate use of science and practical experience with clear values to deliver quality for all of the stakeholders including the natural environment.

Originally non military engineering it now includes most aspects of the designing, building and maintaining of the built environment including airports, aqueducts, basements, bridges, canals, car parks, coastal protection, dams, docks, foundations, geotechnics, harbours, hotels, houses, jetties, lighthouses, offices, off shore structures, power stations, railways, reservoirs, river management, roads, sewage treatment, shops, soil mechanics, stadia, structures, traffic, transmission towers, tunnels, warehouses, waste disposal, water supply etc.

A civil engineer is a chartered engineer, incorporated engineer or professional engineer, registered and licensed as appropriate within the country concerned, who designs or builds civil engineering works.

Our purpose

Our purpose is to help civil engineers make a difference because civil engineering touches the lives of everyone and has an intimate relationship with our natural environment.

We aim to make a difference in three ways, through teaching, research and professional work.

  • Our primary teaching aim is provide a context in which undergraduates become life long independent learners. Our courses are all accredited by the professional institutions through the JBM (Joint Board of Moderators).
  • Our primary research aim is to work with industry and academics from many disciplines to develop and test new ideas and techniques in the areas of earthquake and geotechnical engineeing, structures and dynamics, systems and water and environment.
  • Our primary aim in professional work is to engage with industry and the public in promoting a deeper understanding of the value of civil engineering. We do this through professional institutions, consulting work, and work in schools.