Engineering and the Environment

H500 MEng Ship Science / Naval Engineering (4 yrs)

A four-year course, focusing on the analysis and specification of marine engineering systems used onboard ships and other marine structures.

Programme Overview

The programme focuses on the analysis and specification of marine engineering systems used onboard ships and other marine structures. It has been designed in collaboration with the Royal Navy, enabling a career as a seagoing engineering officer or in the defence industry.

Years one and two are the same as for the MEng Ship Science (J641) and common to all Ship Science themed programmes. You will then specialise in years three and four. Core modules include: Marine Propulsion Engineering, Marine Hydrodynamics, Ship control systems, Marine craft concept design, Marine Safety and Environmental Engineering, Marine Law and Management.

The group design project in year four is discipline related and involves a detailed analytical and/or experimental study and design of a marine vehicle or artefact or one of its major features.

To Apply

All undergraduate applications should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Click on the How to Apply tab of the navigation menu on this page for detailed information on how to apply and further details about UCAS' website, phone and contact details. Specific application deadlines are available on the UCAS website.


This course is accredited by The Royal Institution of Naval Architects, The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology and The Institution of Mechanical Engineers on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer.

Programme Structure

The teaching is structured on a semester pattern. You study modules comprising 120 credits in each of Parts I (level C), II (level I) and III (level H), and 150 credits in Part IV (level M).

There are two degree possibilities in the programme of study:

  • Three years full-time, leading to a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng).
  • Four years full-time, leading to a Master of Engineering (MEng) in one of several specialist themes.

In addition there are the following exit points:

  • Certificate of Higher education, following successful completion of Part I.
  • Diploma of Higher education, following successful completion of Part II.
  • Ordinary Degree of Bachelor of Engineering BEng (Ordinary), following successful completion of at least 300 credit points, including 60 points at level H.

A University credit is the equivalent of 10 notional study hours. Each module is a self-contained part of the programme of study and carries a credit rating. The duration of all the programmes may be extended by one year through enrolment on the Engineering Foundation Year.

Key facts

  • One of the most respected marine design consultancies in the world, the Wolfson Unit, an Enterprise Unit based within the University has worked with clients including America’s Cup teams, Dame Ellen MacArthur and recently the designers of several yachts competing in round-the-world races in 2008 – the crewed Volvo Ocean Race and the single-handed Vendée Globe.

  • A significant feature of our work is the linking of teaching and fundamental research with industrial application. This is embodied in the Lloyd’s Register University Technology Centre and the Advanced Technology Partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution on Maritime Science and Engineering. These and other organisations offer summer placements and projects to
    our students.

  • Stephen Payne, one of our graduates, was the chief designer of the luxury cruise liner the Queen Mary 2.

“My reason for choosing Ship Science at University of Southampton is probably different from most other fellow students, who are into sailing sports. My hometown, Haugesund, on the south west coast of Norway, has strong shipping roots. I was fascinated by the enormous vessels sliding through the slipway, and decided that I wanted to learn everything needed to make such a vessel make such an entrance into the water. There is a good relationship between the students and lecturers in Ship Science, and staff are really helpful in answering any questions you may have about the course. I took up the opportunity to spend the summer at a ship design consultancy office and was pleased to discover that I could apply the knowledge I had gained from lectures. Although the course is quite tough, and requires a lot of dedication and strong will, it is very enjoyable and when I graduate it will be one of my greatest achievements!”

Jorunn Seglem, 4th year Ship Science Student

Entry requirements

Typical entry requirements


GCSE English Language, at Grade C or above


A Levels:

A-level AAA (including Mathematics and Physics) General Studies, Critical Thinking, Use of Maths, Thinking Skills are not accepted
Scottish Advanced Highers AAA, including Mathematics and Physics



International Baccalaureate 36 points overall, 18 at higher level including 6 in both Higher Mathematics and Higher Physics
European Baccalaureate 85% overall, minimum of 85% in Mathematics (level 5 or Advanced) and Physics
French Baccalaureate 15/20 overall, Minimum of 15/20 in Mathematics and Physics


English Language requirements

If your first language is not English, we need to ensure that your listening, written and spoken English skills would enable you to enjoy the full benefit of your studies. For entry onto our programmes, you will need an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.5 or an equivalent qualification.

Equivalent Qualifications

We are always happy to receive applications from candidates with equivalent qualifications. If you are unsure about our entry criteria, please contact our admissions staff who would be happy to provide advice in advance of your application.

Selection process:

Intake: Intake 40-45 (total part 1 Ship Science cohort)
Average applicants per place: 3

While the average level entry onto our degree programmes is among the highest in the UK, we always look carefully at each individual application. In addition to your examination grades, we also take into account your personal statement and references. These give us an indication of your personal attributes and your enthusiasm for your chosen area of study.

All individuals are selected and treated on their relative merits and abilities in line with the University’s Equal Opportunities Policy. Disabled applicants will be treated according to the same procedures as any other applicant with the added involvement of the Disability Office to assess their needs. The programme may require adaptation for students with disabilities (e.g. hearing impairment, visual impairment, mobility difficulties, dyslexia), particularly the practical laboratory sessions, and we will attempt to accommodate students wherever possible.

Visit our International Office website or the NARIC website for further information on qualifications.


Typical course content

Whichever programme you choose, you will study a number of core subjects during the first two years. These provide sound preparation for the final part of the degree. You will concentrate on the fundamentals of engineering and gain the skills and understanding required to use information technology in an engineering context.

In Year 3, you will have the opportunity to specialise or retain a broad-based study path through a wide selection of subject modules. You will also undertake an individual project that usually takes the form of a design or research exercise and involves significant literature reviews, experimentation, mathematical modelling or computation, and the production of a formal report.

In Years 3 and 4, students select options from discipline-specific core subjects such as advanced naval architecture and high performance craft. Students can also choose from more general engineering and non-discipline specific subjects such as finite element analysis, control, languages and industrial law.

In Year 4, MEng students participate in a Group Design Project (GDP). These projects are often linked to current research activities or topics that have practical relevance to industry.

Special Requirements - All Courses

Visits to industry and research establishments are organised for Part I and Part II candidates in the summer term. Candidates are required to attend the Part I Workshop Training Course unless exemption is given by the School.

Candidates are required to attend the Part II course in Library Search Techniques. This is normally held after the Semester 2 examinations. Assignments set in this course will be formally assessed as part of their examination requirements.

Year 1

In year one, physical principles are translated by mathematical application into engineering science and design practice, providing the basics of ship science and a broad base in engineering. Computing and CAD are emphasised as important features of the course. A total of 120 credits across two semesters.

We have an award winning induction programme during which teams of new students work together to design, build and test a bulk carrier. This exciting introduction provides the opportunity to get to know fellow students, gain hands-on experience and compete in a sea trial based in the University Jubilee swimming pool. It sets the context for the first year, and provides a preview of the Ship Science course that follows.

Semester One

All modules below are compulsory. No optional modules to be undertaken in Year 1


Semester Two

All modules below are compulsory. No optional modules to be undertaken in Year 1


Year 2

In year two you will study the behaviour of structures in a fluid, the propulsion power needed for marine vehicles, ship behaviour in both calm water and in waves, and Management. A total of 120 credits across two semesters.

Semester One

All modules below are compulsory. No optional modules to be undertaken in Year 2


Semester Two

All modules below are compulsory. No optional modules to be undertaken in Year 2


Year 3

In the third year the course includes an individual project.

Semester Two


Year 4

In the fourth year the course includes a Group Design Project, a Multidisciplinary Project, and allows students to undertake between Semester 1 and Semester 2 up to 45 credits from our wide range of optional modules.

Learning and assessment

Educational aims of the programme

The Ship Science Programme provides a flexible structure that allows you to choose a specialist theme yet at the same time providing a common framework that ensures that all core aspects of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering are covered. The programme is aimed to provide you with the necessary academic background for a career that covers the design, construction, maintenance and operation of marine vessels and structures. The first two years provide the fundamentals in basic engineering and Ship Science as well as the skills and understanding necessary for using information technology in an engineering context. There is an increasing emphasis on discipline specific subjects as progress is made through the programme. Wherever possible in Parts I and II attention will be drawn to the application of the common framework as it relates for instance to yachts, powercraft, deep ocean structures, naval vessels and so forth. Maritime design related work permeates the programme and ensures that you can apply your theoretical understanding to real design problems.

The programme provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in areas listed below. The programme outcomes have been developed with reference to the Accrediting Institution guidelines and the UK-SPEC Degree Output Standards General and Specific Learning Outcomes.

The aims of the programme are to:

  • provide you, in Parts I and II, with a sound understanding of the fundamental principles, methods, analysis and synthesis in engineering design and applications appropriate to the discipline of Ship Science
  • provide you, in Parts III and IV, with a range of specialist modules integrated within the structured learning environment, reflecting the internationally renowned research expertise within Engineering Sciences, to broaden and deepen your educational experience
  • train you to enable you to become professional engineers that meet the requirements of the Engineering Council (ie UK spec) and to have a broad range of knowledge and skills (including IT and communication) capable of meeting the present and future demands of professional engineers working in the maritime field
  • offer you a degree structure that is relevant to industry and responsive to changes in technology and the needs of the community
  • provide you with a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment that encourages an attitude of independent learning and enquiry, and fosters an ethos of lifetime learning and professional development
  • offer you a range of individual and group projects and assignments which are supported by the research activities within Engineering Sciences and stimulate individual innovation, self-assessment and teamwork skills required in engineering design

Teaching and learning methods

Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and understanding is gained through a combination of formal and special lectures, tutorials (small group teaching), example classes, laboratory experiments, coursework and individual and group projects at all levels. Throughout the programme you are encouraged to use additional recommended reading material for private study to consolidate the formal learning process, and to broaden and deepen your understanding. You are encouraged to become student members of the professional institution, to use their libraries and resources, and attend meetings.

Intellectual skills

These are developed through the teaching and learning activities. Analysis and problem solving skills are further developed through regular problem sheets issued by module lecturers and through small group teaching. Experimental, research and design skills are further developed through coursework exercises, laboratory, and design and research projects. Individual feedback is provided on all work submitted. Appreciation of the practical applications of these skills is provided by interaction with industry through visiting lectures and industrial visits.

Assessment methods

Testing of the knowledge base is through a combination of unseen written examinations and assessed coursework in the form of problem solving exercises, laboratory reports, design exercises, essays, and individual and group projects.

Analysis and problem solving skills are assessed through unseen written examinations and problem based exercises. Experimental, research and design skills are assessed through laboratory reports, coursework exercises, project reports and oral presentations.

The tutorial system

Every student is assigned a personal tutor when they start their university degree. Your course tutor changes every semester, but your personal tutor will stay the same throughout your time here. Your personal tutor will meet you when you enrol, and you will see him/her three or four times a term in the first year, for academic as well as pastoral support. She or he is accessible throughout your time in Southampton.


Our research is relevant to your undergraduate course because you will be taught by people who are experts in their area of research. This is especially important for science subjects, where knowledge is advancing rapidly. This is particularly true for your final year. In your third year, you have the opportunity to do an individual research project.


We have our own team of administrators who act as a point of contact for day-to-day advice and information for undergraduate students. They are also responsible for collecting assignments and issuing the documents and forms which are required during your period of study.

Programme leader

Dr Dominic Hudson

Career Opportunities

Students completing our Ship Science programme have the best employment prospects of all the engineering disciplines, with graduates in high demand among employers at home and abroad.

Graduates have gone on to such careers as: boat builder, professional sailor, naval architect, graduate engineer, systems administrator, engineering consultant, marine surveyor, and boat designer. Stephen Payne, one of our graduates, was the chief designer of the luxury cruise liner the Queen Mary 2.

Among the organisations employing our Ship Science graduates are: BMT, BAE Systems, Babcock Marine, Carnival Ship Builders, Saipem, RNLI, Maersk, Lloyds Register, DML, IT Power, Vosper Thornycroft, and QinetiQ.

If you are considering a career in the armed forces, Southampton is one of the universities designated for the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme, which provides sponsored places to students on specific courses, and has active Army, Navy and Air Force units.

This course, designed in conjunction with the Royal Navy, is particularly suited to those seeking a career as a seagoing engineering officer or in the defence industry.