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Work-based Professional Engineering degrees

A work-based pathway to professional registration

Flexible work-based MSc and Bachelors programmes in Professional Engineering are available at a range of universities.

Individually tailored programmes integrate learning in the workplace with supervised work-based professional development. They enable working engineers to gain the necessary academic qualifications, whilst developing the required competence for professional registration, without leaving employment. All programmes are based on the UK-SPEC requirements for professional registration as an Incorporated Engineer (Bachelors) or Chartered Engineer (MSc).

There may be potential to complete one of these programmes as part of a degree apprenticeship, which may in turn enable employer access to levy funding to help with the cost of university fees. 

The framework for this route was developed as part of a government-funded initiative 'Gateways to the Professions'. The Engineering Council led the work in partnership with universities, professional engineering institutions and employer representatives.

If you are interested in enrolling on one of the programmes or you are an employer interested in developing a route for your employees, you should contact one of the participating universities . 

Each learner should also speak to their professional engineering institution at the beginning of the process, noting that some professional engineering institutions may not yet be engaged with the scheme, and others may have documentation that they require individuals to complete to plan and document their learning. 

A Learning Contract approach is used and successful completion leads to the award of an appropriate academic qualification (MSc or Bachelors degree) and eligibility to apply for a Professional Review Interview with a participating PEI.

The bespoke nature of the learning means that it is not always possible for Engineering Gateways degrees to be accredited, so they may not be included on the Engineering Council database. They are recognised by participating professional engineering institutions and the Engineering Council as a planned pathway towards registration.

Not all programmes with a Professional Engineering title are part of this work-based pathways scheme, and many more degrees are available that help individuals on their route to professional registration, including those accredited by professional engineering institutions and listed on the Engineering Council database.

More information for professional engineering institutions on our Partner Portal.

Information for employers and employees

Value to the employer

These degree programmes provide:

  • A flexible and cost-effective way to meet company and employee aspirations, without losing engineers from the workplace.
  • A structured learning programme, tailored to your needs, regardless of the size of your business.
  • An increased number of in-company professionally registered engineers.
  • A close working relationship with a university, and the potential for knowledge exchange.

Employing registered engineers can bring a lot of value to your organisation.

Value to the employee

These degree programmes provide:

  • A work-based pathway designed to help working engineers achieve an academic qualification, which will help you towards Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng) registration. Information about the benefits of registration to individuals is available here.
  • Learning and development of professional competence linked to your own workplace activities.
  • An opportunity to learn whilst earning.
  • Support and mentoring.
  • Enhanced career prospects.
  • Increased job satisfaction.

The employer’s role

The employer's role is to:

  • Contribute to development of the Learning Contract/learning programme.
  • Provide suitable workplace activity at a level to enable participating employee(s) to meet their aims.
  • Provide mentoring support by professionally qualified staff.

Employers may wish to cover or contribute towards costs on behalf of their staff.

Employers can get involved by contacting one of the participating universities and asking about the Professional Engineering MSc or Bachelors(Hons).

Information for universities

The model integrates work-based learning at either Bachelors or Masters level with supervised development of professional competence. It is for those in the workplace who do not currently hold an underpinning qualification for registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng) and who are unable to commit to full-time study.

The Engineering Gateways programmes lead to either a Bachelors or MSc Professional Engineering Degree, and graduates who demonstrate the required competences are also eligible to apply for professional review.

The approach used involves:

  • a Learning Contract or equivalent drawn up with the involvement of the individual and their employer
  • a Professional Development Audit to identify competences and determine how the individual intends to meet the required competences

Further details about the roles and responsibilities of university staff are set out in a Protocol that participating universities agree to, the process map, the Guide for Universities and the guidance on mentoring and assessment.

The model is particularly appropriate for universities that have experience of offering work-based learning programmes at Bachelor or Masters level and have links with employers. Participating universities are listed below.

Universities wishing to offer a programme are encouraged to read the supporting documentation on this site and email for guidance.

List of participating universities

If you are interested in enrolling on one of the programmes or you are an employer interested in developing a route for your employees, you should contact one of the participating universities. Their programmes all adhere to the general model, but with their own particular variations.  When contacting universities ask about Professional Engineering degrees as this is the title applied to each of the degrees developed as part of the Engineering Gateways programme.

Aston University - MSc

Aston University - BEng

University of South Wales – MSc

Please note that other universities also offer engineering degrees through work-based or other study modes such as part time or distance learning.  Unless accredited other programmes will not necessarily help candidates towards professional registration.

If you are a university and need to update any of the links above, please email

Professional engineering institution support, membership and registration

The programmes are available in a range of engineering disciplines, and applicants will need to join a relevant professional engineering institution (PEI). Participating PEIs are able to provide individuals with feedback about their proposed learning and competence development plans, and some provide frameworks for professional development audits.

Individuals completing one of these programmes must speak to their professional engineering institution early in the planning of their learning if they want to ensure that their learning will help them on their journey towards registration  as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng).  Not all professional engineering institutions are signed up to support these programmes, as they may not sign up until they see demand, and not all professional engineering institution staff will be aware of the opportunity.

Professional Development Audit (PDA)

Each individual intending to follow one of these programmes works with an academic supervisor and a mentor to complete a PDA. This is a reflective examination and assessment of the individual's education, qualifications, experience and competences upon enrolment. This is then used to:

  • determine the difference between current competences and those of UK-SPEC
  • define the scope of their Learning Contract or other equivalent document
  • determine how the individual intends to meet the required competences.

The on-going development of competences should be carefully recorded by the individual. Some professional engineering institutions have published frameworks for this, and individuals seeking registration with one of those institutions can complete this alongside the record of learning.

It is important that an individual should be in a role that provides them with the opportunities to develop the necessary competences for the grade of registration that they are seeking.

The programme finishes with an overall evaluation of the individual's achievement of their learning and professional development goals.

Learning Contract

Each participant has a Learning Contract or equivalent that is drawn up at the start of their programme in discussion with their academic adviser and employer. It sets out how they will gain the required knowledge and competence whilst meeting company objectives.

It ensures that participants, assessors and reviewers understand:

  • what additional learning takes place and what credits are awarded
  • how it is to be achieved and assessed
  • how the activities meet the UK-SPEC competence statements
  • the estimated date of achievement when the participant can reasonably expect to be successful, subject to completion of the intended learning outcomes.

The professional engineering institution will review the document along with the Professional Development Audit (PDA) and confirm to the participant and the university whether they are acceptable. Alongside this, the participant will need to record the development of their competences. Some professional engineering institutions have their own forms for this and participants also need to be aware of any specific additional requirements of their intended institution.

Process map

A process map summarises the suggested and tested process. Participating organisations may agree to tailor the process.


Universities should be contacted directly for queries about the fees they charge for these programmes.  Individual learners will need to pay any fees (via loans if appropriate) unless their employer agrees to sponsor their studies. 

If the degree is completed as part of an apprenticeship the employer may be able to access funding to help with the costs. 

Membership and registration fees charged by professional engineering institutions vary, and queries about these fees should be directed to the professional engineering institution.  Some employers contribute all or some of the costs of membership and/or registration.

Access for those based outside the UK

The programmes are open to those based outside the UK, subject to agreement of the UK provider and professional engineering institution. An individual university, college or professional engineering institution may make specific requirements to cover particular features of the programme such as mentoring and assessment arrangements.

If you are based outside the UK and are interested in enrolling with one of the UK providers, you should contact them directly. You may also find it helpful to seek confirmation from the professional engineering institution you already belong to, or intend to join, about the support available for non-UK based programme participants.


Potentially Professional Engineering degrees could be included within or adapted to become apprenticeships (eg degree apprenticeships in England, graduate apprenticeships in Scotland).  Employers and universities would need to consider the suitability of an individual degree programme for this purpose, bearing in mind:

  • the current requirements for apprenticeships in the country where potential apprentices live and work
  • any relevant apprenticeships standards in England, or equivalent models elsewhere  
  • what learning is delivered and how is it assessed.

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