The Department of Civil Engineering delivered world class civil engineers since its establishment in 1944, who play a significant role in the development of our country, but who is also in great demand internationally. Training in water, structures, paving, geotechnical, transport, construction and coastal engineering are presented.

Where do civil engineers find employment and what do they actually do?

A civil engineer can be employed as:
An owner:
You own the civil engineering facility and/or manage and maintain it. This includes infrastructure (services such as water, sewer, roads, bridges…) manged by municipalities; provincial government; national departments, such as the Departments of Water and Sanitation, and Public Works and Infrastructure; agencies such as the South African National Roads Agency; port authorities; Rand Water and Transnet. You can also be a property developer responsible for the development of offices, hotels and houses, to name a few.
A consultant:
You are responsible for the conceptualisation and design (preparation of drawings and specifications) of a project to meet the needs of a great variety of clients. This may involve design and computer modelling of buildings, earthquakes, rivers, dams, stormwater systems, construction progress, harbours, railways, transport systems and much more. Technology is key in the advancement of our profession.
A contractor:
You are the party responsible for the execution of the project. This may range from small construction projects to multi-billion rand/dollar projects, such as the Guatrain and Lesotho Highlands water projects.
The civil engineer always works as part of a team, involving representatives from each of the above parties as well as many other disciplines, including architects, quantity surveyors, environmentalists and geologists. Depending on the party you work for, you may be involved to a greater or lesser extent in feasibility studies, maintenance, calculations and managing people and processes, but will always require logical thinking and problem-solving skills. A strong background in mathematics is essential, but the profession also requires skill to collaborate with and manage people.
Depending on the size of projects, an engineer will most often be involved in several projects at a time, especially if you work as an owner or consultant.
It is also important to take note that there are many opportunities not directly related to civil engineering, which are available due to your training and logical thinking and problem-solving abilities. CEOs of large financial institutions and top officials in the insurance industry are frequently also civil engineers.

Are there sufficient job opportunities for civil engineers?

Job opportunities for civil engineers all over the world are cyclical, following the developmental status of the country or region. Civil engineering boomed in South Africa over a sustained period, starting with the highly successful Gautrain and the FIFA World Cup. At present, all industries have been influenced by economic challenges and COVID-19, including civil engineering, but graduate civil engineers are in high demand and a shortage of civil engineers persists in South Africa. Now is an exciting time to enrol for the BEng (Civil) degree, because your career over the next 30 to 40 years will be telling in the design and construction of millions of houses, renewable/sustainable electricity generation plants, water supplies, smart roads, bridges, transportation systems, etc. All of this will be based on the 4IR (4th Industrial Revolution), because Stellenbosch University is a leading role player in developing these technologies, and we have 4IR thought leaders among our civil engineering practitioners.
While we hope and trust that all our civil engineers will remain in South Africa after graduation, it is also true that our degree is internationally accepted in terms of international accords, such as the Washington Accord, which is why our engineers, unfortunately for our country, are in high demand internationally.

Will I be able to have a balanced student life?

To be a successful student, you must! And it certainly is possible. This is something you must actively plan, starting in your very first term as you gauge the work load. We can only confirm that BEng (Civil) is a challenging programme, but the trick is to work consistently and efficiently, rather than all the time. Study every day to ensure that you do not fall behind, but find your rhythm of breaks for socialising, recreation, sport or other activities among the many Stellenbosch offers.

Does Civil Engineering offer a blend of practical and academic components? Is this an advantage or disadvantage for career opportunities?

Within the Faculty of Engineering, Civil Engineering is probably the department that offers the most practical opportunities for study and practice. Civil Engineering includes practical sessions in the four years of study, with facets covering all fields, namely structures, water, transportation, geotechnics and management.
The practical sessions include indoor (laboratory) and outdoor (investigations, evaluations and inspections) activities with elements of material testing and analysis, building scaled models of infrastructure, performance evaluation, etc. Throughout your degree you will also be required to used software packages, programming languages and technology during your modules.
The practical activities will invariably be linked to other analytical and digital possibilities. This is particularly applicable to the fourth-year research project. The blend of practical, technology and theoretical inputs will to some degree be influenced by the individual student.
A practical inclination can have a profound influence on career opportunities. Especially in the realm of construction engineering and management, large projects, planning, logistics and innovative solutions, applied knowledge is a sought-after attribute in civil engineering.

I am aware that the first-year subjects for all engineering students are largely the same. Can I, after Year 1, change to another discipline?

Yes, it is possible, but this is a decision that needs to be evaluated very carefully, given the need for civil engineers in the various sectors of society. If you want to change, it is a decision that needs to be taken with the approval of both the host department (for which you have registered) and the receiving department, and both heads of department must agree to such a change. Your study record and the capacity of the discipline will be taken into consideration very strongly.

I am interested in technology and computers. How much technology is used in civil engineering, or is it all about water, concrete and roads?

As we go into the 4th industrial revolution technology is absolutely central in the daily activities of civil engineers. Engineers may use software to analyse a building for wind or earthquake loads. A designer can model a river, spillway or dam using computational fluid dynamic models. Construction managers use drones to inspect buildings and monitor progress. Intelligent transportation systems require the simulation of movement of people, cars, trains and other public transport to design infrastructure for cities. All our students are taught computer programming and various software packages throughout their degrees, and expected to use such skills to solve various complex problems.
While civil engineers often do not develop technology, they apply technology extensively in the execution of their work. They are involved in larger systems to solve infrastructure challenges which often require a holistic appreciation of all the variables which include technological, societal and financial demands.

What are the minimum admission requirements (for all four year engineering programs)?

1. A National Senior Certificate with admission to bachelor’s studies, or an exemption certificate issued by the Matriculation Board, and
2. A minimum average of at least 70% using the six best matric subjects (excluding Life Orientation and Mathematical Literacy, and
3. A minimum average of at least 70% for Mathematics, and
d) A minimum average of at least 60% for Physical Sciences, and
4. Language minima:
• English Home Language: At least 50%, with no Afrikaans requirement; or
• English First Additional Language: At least 60%, with no Afrikaans requirement; or
• English First Additional Language: At least 50%, together with Afrikaans Home Language of at least 50%; or
• English First Additional Language: At least 50%, together with Afrikaans 2nd Additional Language of at least 60%

How does the selection process work (for all four-year engineering programs)?

The selection score is the most important measure used by the Faculty for selecting students for BEng programmes. This score is calculated as follows:
Selection score = Mathematics mark + Physical Sciences mark + 6 x Matric average
1. The percentages you obtained in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, plus the average percentage of your six best matric subjects (excluding Life Orientation and Mathematical Literacy), are used for calculating the selection score.
2. This means that the selection score takes a broad group of matric subjects into account, and that, in effect, Mathematics and Physical Sciences each contribute twice.
3. The maximum score obtainable is therefore 800 if you achieve 100% for all your matric subjects (100 + 100 + (6 X 100) = 800)
4. The Faculty sets an admission threshold and a minimum selection score for each BEng programme. The admission threshold is a selection score based on:
• the number of applicants who meet the admission requirements, and
• the number of places available in the particular degree programme.
5. The minimum selection score is the lowest score that indicates that a student will be reasonably likely to complete the particular programme. This score is based on the Faculty’s experience with previous students.
6. You will be selected if you:
• meet the admission requirements and
• your selection score is equal to, or larger than, the admission threshold score for the particular degree programme that you want to follow.
7. Please note that:
• Being selected for one BEng programme does not mean that you have been selected for another BEng programme.
• You may apply for more than one BEng programme and you will be considered for each programme independently. If you are selected for more than one BEng programme, you will receive more than one offer to choose from.
• If your selection score is below the admission threshold, but above the minimum admission requirements for your preferred BEng programme(s), the following happens:
o you are placed on a waiting list, which means that you may still be admitted to a particular programme if places become available later; or
o you can apply to be admitted to another BEng programme if you meet the selection requirements for that particular programme. You must contact the Faculty Officer or the Faculty Administrator if you consider changing the programmes you applied for.

Where can I find more information?

Please visit our website at or click here.
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Or visit our Facebook page: Civil Engineering Stellenbosch
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More frequently asked questions can also be found here.


Please visit our website at or click here.
Or E-mail us:
Or visit our Facebook page: Civil Engineering Stellenbosch
Or Instagram: @CivilEngSU