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Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

The subject at Selwyn

This new course concentrates on the scientific principles that underpin the discipline. These principles are essential to develop processes and products that address some of the problems currently facing humanity. These include the energy transition away from fossil fuels, the need for sustainable food and water supplies as climate change occurs, and the provision of improved global healthcare solutions and therapeutics.

The aim of our course is to produce graduates who meet the needs of today’s process and biotech industries by providing a thorough understanding of the subject, technical competence and transferable skills. The underlying theory is complemented by projects that teach process and product design for chemical engineering and biotechnology.

We have strong links with industry. The course is supported by a consortium of seven industrial companies which provide input on content and assist with teaching. These links also mean that there are opportunities for vacation placements with some of the world’s top companies.

The Teaching Fellows

The Director of Studies is Dr Thomas McCoy, whose research interests are in 2D carbon nanomaterials,
surfactant science and coatings applications..

Qualities we are looking for

We are looking for a genuine commitment to and interest in the subject; we are looking for people who are fascinated by the physical and natural worlds, and who want to find out and understand more about them.

We expect you to have a good track record in science, and not to be afraid of hard work.  Above all, we are looking for people who have the potential to think scientifically and critically about the world around them.

Admissions assessment - ESAT

As at other Colleges, applicants will be asked to take the ESAT (Engineering and Sciences Admissions Test).  You must take the first sitting of the test, between 14-17 October. You must be registered in advance (separately to your UCAS application) to take the assessment.   The test is taken at your local Pearson VUE test centre.  Please see the UAT-UK website for full and further details.


You will typically have one or two subject interview(s) of about 30 minutes, with a pair of subject Fellows.  The interview will aim to test your ability to reason logically and your mathematical ability and scientific understanding in a chemical engineering context.  We realise that it is a challenge to have to ‘think through’ problems under pressure so we do our best to make you feel as much at ease as possible – and provide hints if you run into difficulties, very much as we would for students in supervisions. 

You will also have a shorter general interview with an Admissions Tutor.  This interview is aimed at learning about your interests and activities outside the subject, your  motivation to study Chemical Engineering, and the maturity of your approach towards academic work.

Subject requirements

You will need A-Levels/IB Higher Levels (or equivalent) in:
Mathematics, Chemistry, and a third science/mathematics subject (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics or Further Mathematics).

We will require an A*/7 in Mathematics or Further Mathematics, and Chemistry.


February 2024

Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology on the Cambridge youtube channel