Two petrochemical contractors in front of an oil refinary

BEngChemical Engineering (distance learning)

Why this course?

This course is the perfect way to progress your career into chemical engineering. You can study to Honours level without leaving your job!

It's ideal if you're already working as a technician and want to become an engineer. Or, if you're an engineer or scientist working in another discipline, and want to move into chemical engineering.

If you're successful in getting into the course, you'll receive half of your credits:

  • in recognition of prior study 
  • in recognition of your current industry experience 

You'll get the from studying the course part-time over three or four years, distance learning.

What you’ll study

You’ll learn about the core fundamentals of chemical engineering such as:

  • thermodynamics
  • process analysis
  • fluid flow
  • heat transfer and reactors

You'll then learn about advanced separations and process control. In your final semester, you'll complete a chemical engineering design project. This project will bring together everything you've learned. 

Major projects

Project work is core to your chemical engineering education. It develops your ability to apply technical knowledge, manage your time, communicate and negotiate within a team, make decisions and judgements and write and present reports.

The BEng and MEng chemical engineering degrees incorporate a range of major design projects enabling you to practice your skills in chemical engineering, whether technical or related skills such as teamwork and management.

Year 2 of the degree features a mini design project where you work in student teams on aspects of plant and process design. In Year 3 the detailed and conceptual design projects cover a full semester, involving independent work in teams. It demands skills ranging from technical calculation to decision making, communicating and reporting to research and innovation.

The final year of the MEng degree includes a major industry project which is carried out in your own workplace.


You'll be based in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering. We have state-of-the-art research laboratories that feature a comprehensive suite of experimental facilities including:

  • light scattering
  • spectroscopy
  • adsorption measurements
  • High-pressure viscometry

As a distance learning student, you'll have access to the University library online. You can borrow online books and download academic papers and journals. The library also offers a postal service for distance learning students.

Postgraduate study

When you complete the course, you'll have the option to progress onto postgraduate study. You can advance to the:

This course is also taught part-time, distance learning.

Another option is our taught masters course in Process Technology & Management (MSc).

You can also take a look at our postgraduate research degree programme(s):

Course awards

Our staff have been nominated in the annual University of Strathclyde Teaching Excellence Awards, voted for by Strathclyde’s students. Our staff have also received external awards from organisations like the IChemE and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Student competitions

There's a certificate and prize for the top performing distance learning student on the BEng Honours course.


Accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer.

Course content

Below is the curriculum for the three year programme, There's also a four year programme option available which includes the same modules spread over a longer timeframe.

Year 1

Professional Engineering & Project Management

This module aims to give an introduction to various professional engineering skills including project and time management, effective communication, group working, and a consideration of ethics and professional registration.

The module is designed specifically for distance learning students currently working in chemical engineering related industries and following the BEng honours chemical engineering degree. It requires them to develop skills that will help them to be successful in both the degree and their career in engineering.

Chemical Principles & Thermodynamics

Chemical Principles

You'll learn to calculate molar quantities and flowrates commonly used in chemical engineering environments. You'll learn how to calculate heats of reaction and apply the knowledge to elevated temperatures. This knowledge will be applied to mass and energy balances for simple unit operations.


You'll learn how thermodynamics underpins many chemical engineering classes as well as domestic phenomena and societal issues. The principles will be developed firstly with single-component systems followed by binary systems.

Chemical Engineering Safety

This module will cover:

  • introduction to Hazard Identification and Quantification as applicable to process plant
  • fault/event outcome trees
  • emission
  • dispersion
  • fires/radiation
  • blast and effects
  • risk assessment & consequence analysis
  • industry standards and procedures for Permit to Work (as a procedure)
  • general legal framework
  • toxicology and design for safety - including layout, relief systems, safety reviews (in general terms)
Process Analysis & Statistics

This module aims to provide the essential skills for chemical engineers in analysing chemical and physical processes through material and energy balances, and vapour/liquid behaviour, and to analyse process data using statistical techniques.

Year 2

Fluid Flow & Heat Transfer

The module will cover:

  • material and energy balances of systems involving fluids in motion
  • visualisation of fluid flow patterns and perform calculations on fluid flow in pipework
  • principles of fluid flow measurement
  • fluids in motion sufficient to determine the power requirements of different types of pumps and their applications
  • Fourier’s Law for both plane and radial situations
  • standard convection equation, which includes the heat-transfer coefficient (h)
  • construction of the double-pipe heat exchanger for both co-current and counter current
  • flow paths in a multi-pass heat exchanger
  • simple condensers where a saturated vapour is the inlet flow, and a mixture of saturated vapour/liquid is the outlet flow
  • difference between boiling and evaporation
  • plate-and-frame and finned-tube heat exchangers
  • other cases of unsteady-state heat transfer
Mass Transfer & Separation Processes

The module will teach the following:

  • material and energy balances for separation processes
  • binary fluid vapour-liquid equilibria including construction of x-y diagrams
  • principles of mass transfer (diffusion, including diffusion through varying cross-sectional area and path length, and across a vapour-liquid interface
  • principles of binary distillation in staged and packed towers, including the McCabe-Thiele model and batch processes
  • principles of gas absorption and stripping in staged and packed towers
  • an introduction to evaporator processes
  • gas adsorption in porous materials, including basic thermodynamics of adsorption, gas-solid equilibria for pure gases, and the Ideal Adsorbed Solution Theory for mixed gases
  • introduction to gas adsorption processes and scale-up
Process Design & Simulation

This module aims to build your competence in the analysis of existing processes and preliminary process design. An element of the module involves the use of computer packages for the purpose of process calculation and design.


This module aims to introduce the students to the principles of chemical reactors. On completion of the module you're expected to be able to understand the basis of chemical reactor design in terms of mass balances, kinetics, energy balances and stoichiometry. You'll also know how to take into account multiple reactions (parallel and series reactions), and multiple reactors operating series in the design and analysis of reactors.

Biochemical Engineering

This module aims to introduce the students to the principles of biochemical engineering. On completion of the module you're expected to be able to understand the basics of biological processes such as:

  • anabolic and catabolic processes
  • processes involved in the central dogma of biology, organisms and groups of biochemical substances that are important in biochemical engineering and produce simple models for enzyme kinetics and perform simple analysis of batch, fed-batch and continuous fermenters

Year 3

Process Control & Environmental Technology

This modules aims to introduce you to:

  • the basic principles of water pollution, waste water treatment and effluent treatment plant design
  • the basic principles of air pollution and air pollution control technology
  • process control
Advanced Separations & Problem Solving

Advanced Separations

This module aims to instil in students the principles of advanced unit processes relating to separation: multicomponent distillation, membrane technology and drying.

Problem Solving

The module strives to strengthen and deepen problem solving skills in the students through applying their knowledge from previous modules (eg mass/energy balances, chemical kinetics, fluid flow, etc) to practical examples with chemical engineering themes. This will reinforce and integrate the learning outcomes from previous modules and prepare them for the Design Portfolio in the second semester of Year 4 and their future careers.

Chemical Engineering Design

This module aims to allow you to apply your knowledge to more practical and less well-defined situations. You'll have the opportunity to gain experience in considering a process as an overall entity rather than just a series of different unit operations.


You'll be assessed using online tests and assignments. Your major project will be assessed by a written project report. You will also be required to attend written exams.

Students from the UK

Students from the UK will attend exams on campus, here in Glasgow. We will make the odd exception, on occasion, in compelling circumstances. This includes staff working in offshore installations. In these circumstances,  a suitable examination arrangement can be agreed with the University.

Students from outside the UK

If you're from outside of the UK, you can take the exam at an approved international centre.

Learning & teaching

The course is delivered from our Virtual Learning Environment MyPlace.

Your lecturers will provide support through:

  • online tutorials
  • webinars
  • forums
  • email
  • telephone

Classes are taught by our academic staff, external consultants, and industry specialists.

You're also welcome to attend full-time lectures and tutorials and use the facilities on campus.


Entry requirements

Experience and prior education

Your work experience and prior education must be be equal to 240 credits. This is the equivalent of Years 1 & 2 of the full-time Chemical Engineering (BEng) course.

In the past, we've admitted students with:

  • Higher National Diploma (HND), or international equivalent, in chemical engineering with some chemical engineering-related industrial experience
  • Higher National Certificate (HNC) (or international equivalent) in chemical engineering with significant related industrial experience
  • Similar qualifications to HND or HNC, or higher, in a related discipline, eg applied chemistry, mechanical engineering etc. You may need to complete some bridging courses
  • Other combinations (like the above) that's given you enough relevant background information to enter the degree at the equivalent to Year 3 in the full-time programme

We offer a chemical engineering bridging programme. It's for any potential student from other related disciplines. It's also for any students who would benefit from revision before joining the degree.

If you're not sure if you're eligible to apply for this course, just get in touch and we'll be happy to advise. 

Fees & funding


All fees quoted are per academic year and are subject to change.

All students (Scotland/EU, Rest of UK & International)

Per year, as a graduating student undertaking the full degree
  • Year 1 - £4,500 (60 credits)
  • Year 2 - £6,000 (80 credits)
  • Year 3 - £7,500 (100 credits)

Students can follow a three or four-year programme pathway. The fees quoted above are for the three-year pathway only, studying the number of credits indicated in each year. Fees for undertaking the programme over four years will be proportionate to the number of credits taken in each year based on the class price indicated below.

Per 10 credit class, as a non-graduating student
  • £750 per 10 credits

How can I fund my studies?

Students from Scotland and the EU

If you're a Scottish or EU student, you may be able to apply to the Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) for a Part-Time Fee Grant (PTFG) help towards your tuition fees.

Students from England

If you’re a student from England, you may be able to apply to Student Finance England for a tuition fee loan and depending on your circumstances a living cost loan.

Visit the Student Room for more information on Part-Time Funding from Student Finance England.

Students from Wales

If you’re a student from Wales, you may be able to apply to Student Finance Wales for a tuition fee loan and depending on your circumstances a living cost loan.

Visit the Student Finance Wales website for more information on Part-Time Funding from Student Finance Wales.

Students from Northern Ireland

If you’re a student from Northern Ireland, you may be able to apply to Student Finance NI for a tuition fee loan and/or grant, and depending on your circumstances a living cost grant.

Visit the Student Finance NI website for more information on Part-Time Funding from Student Finance NI.

Available scholarships

We have a wide range of scholarships available. Have a look at our scholarship search to find a scholarship.

Please note: All fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my studies?

International Students (Non UK, EEA)

We have a number of scholarships available to international students. Take a look at our scholarship search to find out more.

Available scholarships

We have a wide range of scholarships available. Have a look at our scholarship search to find a scholarship.


Chemical engineers are among the best rewarded engineers globally, and work across all sectors of industry from energy and foods to pharmaceuticals and medicine, as well as branching out into other areas such as finance and management.

The department works closely with the University Careers Service through every year of our course, to support students in building excellent employability skills and portfolios of experience.

Where are they now?

Recent job titles include:*

  • Facilities Engineer
  • Lecturer
  • Operations Specialist
  • Process Chemical Engineer
  • Site Technical Manager

Recent employers include:*

  • BOC
  • BP
  • Cp Chem Eng Ltd
  • Essar Oil
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Glenmorangie
  • Marathon Oil Corporation
  • Sabic

* Based on the results of the national Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (2010/11 and 2011/12).

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