River and Coastal Engineering

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About this course

Entry year:
Course code:
Tariff points:
Geography and Environmental Management
Two years
Year one - full time, Year two - sponsoring workplace/part-time block release
Programme leader:
Trevor Goodhew BSc MBA CEng MICE
Key fact:
Developed in partnership with the Environment Agency, this foundation degree offers a sponsored route into a career in river and coastal engineering. On graduation, you can continue learning part-time on our BSc Hons course.

Page last updated 2 August 2016


Why study FdSc River and Coastal Engineering?

Flooding is a natural phenomenon affecting millions worldwide. It ruins homes, destroys farmland and threatens lives. Policy focuses on risk reduction through flood warning and defence systems. With research showing that floods will become more frequent, there is a shortage of professionals who can manage the associated risks.

Why study our course?

This two-year foundation degree has been developed in partnership with the Environment Agency (EA) to address the shortage of flood professionals. The course is sponsored by the EA, DEFRA and Local Authorities across the UK. These cover tuition fees and provide work placements for up to 30 students.

During your first year, you will study full-time at UWE Bristol. You will develop a solid understanding of engineering science and mathematics. You will also study geological processes and hydraulics associated with rivers and coasts.

Real world experience

To help you see flood warning and defence systems in action, we arrange regular field trips during your first year. In your second year, you will be assigned a sponsored workplace where you will continue study through online, residential and work-based learning.

Where it can take you

Sponsors often offer graduates jobs so there are opportunities with these and industry consulting and contracting firms. You can also go onto our BSc(Hons) top-up in River and Coastal Engineering, particularly if you wish to progress to Incorporated Engineer (IEng) status.

Accreditations and partnerships:



The course takes two years. The first year gives you a background in geological processes, hydraulics associated with rivers and coasts, engineering science and mathematics. The second year develops engineering science and the application of that knowledge to engineering in the water environment.

Year 1

  • Environmental Engineering Field Study
  • Engineering and Environmental Materials
  • Mathematics and Engineering Principles
  • River and Coastal Science for Engineering
  • Surveying, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Drawing and Computer-Aided Design (CAD)

Year 2

  • Structural Design and Soil Mechanics
  • Project Management, Health and Safety Risk Management
  • Environmental Hydraulics and Design
  • Hydrological Modelling and Flood Estimation

Plus one of the following:

  • Natural River Channel Design Project
  • Coastal Management Design Project

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Through the first academic year (9 months), you study full-time at UWE. In the second year you are based in your selected workplace and continue your studies through online learning, four intensive residential block-weeks at UWE and work-based learning. In between block-weeks, you will study through online learning, supported by telephone and e-mail support from tutors at UWE. Sponsored students will receive £1,000 per month whilst working at the Environment Agency or a Local Authority.

It is this combination of learning methods that makes this foundation degree unique - you will gain practical experience with guidance from a mentor in your office, as well as attending teaching at UWE.

First academic year at UWE

You will study on as a traditional full-time student, attending lectures, tutorials and laboratories on UWE's Frenchay campus, whilst completing study and coursework in between.

Online learning

Before each of the residential block-weeks of teaching at UWE, you will need to complete a number of online topics. That means working through online materials and submitting your work via 'Blackboard' (UWE's Virtual Learning Environment). You will have all the equipment you need to do your work, as you'll take your study days in your workplace office. You will also need to spend some of your own time to complete your studies.

Residential block-weeks

Your sponsoring organisation will pay for travel and accommodation for you to attend these intensive periods of study at UWE. You'll be recapping on completed work, exploring new material and taking part in laboratory and field work. It's also a chance for you to get extra support, if you need it.

Work-based learning

Training on the job is a very important aspect of this course. You will be guided by a mentor and assisted by coaches for specific aspects of your work. You will also gain a good knowledge of health and safety practice, project management and report writing skills.

For more details see our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.


Students are assessed through a variety of coursework, assignments and examination: laboratory experimental practicals and reports; group work; field exercises and presentations; essays; oral presentations and examinations under controlled conditions.

For more details see our full glossary of assessment terms.


Professional accreditation

This qualification is accredited by:

  • Institution of Civil Engineers
  • The Institution of Structural Engineers
  • The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation
  • Institute of Highway Engineers
  • The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

It is approved as:

  • Fully satisfying the educational base for an Engineering Technician (EngTech).
  • Partially satisfying the educational base for an Incorporated Engineer (IEng). A programme of accredited Further Learning is required to complete the educational base for IEng.

Please see Joint Board of Moderators for further information and details of further learning programmes for IEng.


We arrange a series of field trips in your first year so you can review and assess flood defence systems.

During a three-day residential trip to Dawlish and Dartmoor, you will:

• Record and assess existing coast defences.

• Look at the geology in the valley around the River Dart and discuss suitability for reservoir and hydropower projects after taking a series of river measurements.

• Observe river flows to assess flood risk, and get your hands wet measuring the flow and analysing the results in the field.

Study facilities

During your first year, you will study in our well-equipped facilities including our physical geography laboratories. In the second year, study is via distance learning, intensive residentials, and work-based learning. You will:

  • Map and measure angles, distances and topography, and carry out level surveys in our surveying lab.
  • Design structures and map ideas using CAD and GIS software in our computer labs. These are also equipped so you can model and test hydrological and surface water drainage.
  • Create and test structures in our concrete and physics labs.
  • Research and submit assignments using UWE Bristol's online portal with industry journals, software and resources.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE Bristol has to offer.

Learn new ideas

Hear about cutting edge research from UWE Bristol's Centre for Floods Communities and Resilience. The Centre arranges industry-focused conferences and conducts research into the diverse and broad range of interdisciplinary issues involved in developing resilient communities.


Careers / Further study

Usually our sponsors offer students jobs on graduation. As well as working with these organisations, careers are available in contracting or consulting jobs in the industry.

You can also continue study on our part-time BSc(Hons) top-up course in River and Coastal Engineering, particularly if you wish to progress to Incorporated Engineer (IEng) status.

Award-winning Careers Service

Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.

Creating employable students

UWE Bristol places strong emphasis on employability and skills development at every level. Through work placements, volunteering, study abroad and initiatives nurturing talent and innovation, you will have opportunities to gain valuable real world experience, allowing you to graduate with diverse career opportunities and a competitive place in the job market.

Visit our Employability pages to find out about careers, employers, real world experience and what our students are doing six months after graduating.


Indicative Additional Costs

FeesAmount (£)
Additional Course Costs - Full Time - Home/EU - Indicative Maximum Cost Over 2 Years300
Additional Course Costs - Full Time - Home/EU - Indicative Maximum Cost Per year150

Full time course

FeesAmount (£)
Home/EU-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee9000
Home/EU-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)1125
International - Full Time - Annual (Per Year) Fee11750
International - Full Time - Module Fee (15 Credit)1469
Offshore-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee9000
Offshore-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit) 1125

Supplementary fee information

Students successful in gaining sponsorship will have their tuition fees paid by their sponsoring organisation, but you will be expected to pay your own accommodation expenses (if necessary) and living costs during your nine months at UWE. UK students may be eligible for a maintenance loan to help with these expenses.

The additional costs listed are those that students could reasonably expect to incur during their studies and are for items not covered by the standard tuition fee. These could be materials, text books, travel, clothing, software or printing.

For information about funding for undergraduate courses see our funding pages.


Students starting this course in September 2016 should follow this link to view their joining instructions.

We automatically send a message via your Welcome website plus an email to notify you once your joining instructions are available. It is important that you regularly check your Welcome website for new messages about your Registration and Enrolment. If you have not received the email please contact our Applicant Experience Team by email at admissions@uwe.ac.uk so we may check that we have the correct address.

For more information about joining the University, please see our New Students pages.

Typical offers

  • Tariff points: 180
  • GCSE: Grade C or above in English Language, or equivalent. Please note the University does not accept Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Certificates in Adult Numeracy and Literacy as suitable alternatives to GCSEs.
  • A-level subjects: A pass in Mathematics required. Points from A Level General Studies and AS Level subjects (not taken onto full A Level) can be included towards overall tariff. You must have a minimum of one A Level, or equivalent.
  • Specific subjects: Maths requirement can also be met by the Cambridge Pre-U Mathematics at Merit 3
  • EDEXCEL (BTEC) Diploma: A minimum of MMP from the BTEC Diploma to include Pass in one of the following units: Further Mathematics for Engineering Technicians; Further Maths for Construction and the Built Environment.
    Please list the units that you are taking in your application.
  • Access: Achievement of the HE Diploma; to include 30 Level 3 credits in Mathematics (before you apply, ask us which Maths units you need to do); Level 2 credits giving GCSE equivalency (where appropriate) in English Language.
    Please list the units that you are taking in your application.
  • Baccalaureate IB: 21 points to include a pass in higher level Mathematics.

Entry requirements

All students must have, or expect to have, A level Mathematics or equivalent as a minimum requirement. You must be in a position to sign a training contract with the Environment Agency or a Local Authority for the two years of the course. If you are interested in this course and are working for any other organisation in the Flood Risk Management industry, please contact us to discuss your situation before applying.

If you have questions about the course, sponsorship and the traineeship, you can also contact the Course Administrator, by telephone on +44(0)117 32 83159.

Please read the general information about entry requirements.

How to apply

Please apply through UCAS.

UWE will check your academic qualifications and, if satisfactory, will pass your application to the Environment Agency (EA). EA will make a shortlist of interviewees and following interview, you may be offered sponsorship and a trainee contract, either with the EA or with a local authority.

For further information

Key information sets

UWE Main Campus

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