BEng Robotic Engineering (Including Foundation Year)

Overview

Our BEng Robotic Engineering (including foundation year) is open to Home and EU students. It will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your English language and academic skills.

This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study four academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory English language and academic skills module.

You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.

After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

Robots are increasingly important in our society. They are used in autonomous driving, domestic assistance, health care, industrial manufacturing, search and rescue operations, and hazardous environment exploration and monitoring.

Our BEng Robotic Engineering will equip you with the knowledge and skills to contribute to this rapidly-changing and innovative industry, or to academic research in the area. The course uniquely combines electrical engineering and computer science, allowing you to gain both theoretical and practical knowledge in areas such as navigation, motion control, sensory perception, autonomous decision making, and machine learning, so that you can develop your own robotic systems.

High programming skills are developed on this course, as well as essential knowledge of areas of robotics and artificial intelligence. Your course therefore covers areas including:

  • Java and C++ programming
  • Sensors, motion control algorithms, and high level cognition in robotic systems
  • Computer vision and digital signal processing
  • Artificial intelligence and intelligent agents
  • Computer games modules

Based in our world-class research lab facilities, you will be able to obtain hands on experience, test your inventions, and engage in the state-of-the-art robotic research.

Our School is a community of scholars leading the way in technological research and development. Today’s robotics engineers are creative people who are focused and committed, yet restless and experimental. We are home to many of the world’s top engineers, and our work is driven by creativity and imagination as well as technical excellence.

Programming at Essex

Teaching someone to programme is about opening a door. In Year 1 at Essex you will study a module that introduces you to programming using Python. We assess your ability to think in a programmatic way in the very first week of term and if you require additional support, we offer classes which will boost your skills and confidence with programming.

Our expert staff

We have been one of the leading electronics departments in the country throughout our history, and in recent years, our prolific research staff have contributed to some major breakthroughs.

Our robotics and embedded systems research group works on interdisciplinary research that combines artificial intelligence, embedded systems architecture and technology, sensors and data fusion, autonomous navigation, planning and human-machine interaction.

We research a wide variety of areas, from new drone technology, environment and pollution monitoring to healthcare aids (such as the wheelchair robot and robotic prosthetics). Students will have the opportunity to be involved with current research in their final year projects.

Specialist facilities

By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our Academy to support you:

  • We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
  • Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
  • Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends

Our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering also offers excellent on-campus facilities:

Our new unique Robotics Gaming Laboratory offers dedicated space for indoor robots and has 24 VICON cameras for racing car tracking. Our Robot Arena is one hundred square metres in area and has a six metre high ceiling to accommodate flying robots. It has one of the world’s largest powered lab floors for long-duration experiments with mobile robots.

We have invested over £1 million in equipping this state-of-the-art facility with robotic systems which include:

  • thirty wheeled mobile robots
  • eight flying robots
  • three robotic fish
  • three intelligent wheelchairs
  • one robotic arm
  • one robotic hand with five fingers

We also have six laboratories that are exclusively for computer science and electronic engineering students. Three are open 24/7, and you have free access to the labs except when there is a scheduled practical class in progress.

All computers run either Windows 10 or are dual boot with Linux, and software includes Java, Prolog, C++, Perl, Mysql, Matlab, DB2, Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, and Project.

Your future

Prepare for your future. Robotics and autonomous systems was recognised as one of the eight great technologies by the UK government in 2013. It was estimated the market for both industrial and service robots will be worth more than $66bn by 2025.

As a graduate of our BEng Robotic Engineering, you will be well-placed to take advantage of the growing demand in this area. This is a broad and ever-changing field of study; you will always be learning throughout your career, through following research and trade journals, attending conferences, and working on new research yourself as you create the robots of the future. An incredible 92% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).

Being a robotics engineer means that you could be working on humanoid robotic toys, animatronics equipment for amusement parks, robotic equipment for defusing landmines in war-stricken countries, or robots for space and deep sea exploration. Read more about computer science and electronic engineering career destinations here.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:

  • National Instruments
  • Circad Design Ltd
  • McLaren Formula One Team
  • B&W Group
  • BT
  • IBM
  • Visa
  • Google
  • Microsoft

Our department has a large pool of external contacts, ranging from companies providing robots for the media industry, through vehicle diagnostics, to electronic system design and circuit design and manufacture, who work with us and our students to provide advice, placements and eventually graduate opportunities.

We also work with our University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.


Why we’re great

  • Develop your own robotics systems, using our world-class robot arena to test your inventions.
  • We are ranked 27th in the UK for Computer Science and Information Systems in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2021).
  • 92% of our School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering students are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2020).

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Teaching

  • A typical timetable includes around eight to fourteen one-hour lectures per week with associated classes or laboratories
  • Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
  • Courses are taught by a combination of lectures, laboratory work, assignments, and individual and group project activities
  • Group work
  • A significant amount of practical lab work will need to be undertaken for written assignments and as part of your learning

Assessment

  • In your first year, you will have exams before the start of term in January
  • Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects
  • All credit-bearing modules will involve a final exam, which will be either essay-based or in the form of a test

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