Department of Engineering and Design

Teaching methods

We constantly review our teaching and learning methods following student feedback so each degree contains a balanced and dynamic mix of different methods throughout your time at Sussex.

The lecture, workshop, and laboratory class approach is most commonly used for the foundation year (otherwise known as Year 0) and Year 1 modules. The learning methods in subsequent years are more varied and include computer-based coursework, small group seminars and projects, as well as lectures and laboratory sessions. 


Lectures are an invaluable way of conveying key information about a topic and they are designed to be a productive learning experience involving demonstrations, videos and discussions. In product design, in particular, the distinction between lecture and practical session is quite blurred. 


Practical workshops are valuable for developing hands-on skills in all engineering and product design disciplines and provide key opportunities for collaborative group working. 


Throughout Year 0, and Year 1, you meet regularly with your academic advisors in groups of four or five students. This high level of contact with tutors helps you settle quickly into university life. Tutorials are used to provide academic support and also to back up the development of key skills and continue into Years 2, 3 and 4 - focussing on individual projects in the later years.

Web-based learning and Canvas

For some modules, such as Key Skills, formal lectures are not appropriate and we have introduced web-based learning schemes to allow you to tackle such modules at your own pace, with online support from tutors. In addition, all modules use the University’s virtual learning environment Canvas to provide online module teaching material, useful internet links and even online discussion forums, feedback questionnaires and quizzes.

Industrial visits

In addition to the more traditional teaching methods outlined above, students are also given the opportunity to visit industrial locations. For example, Product Design students often travel up to London to engage with the Design Museum and to participate in live projects and events such as the London Design Festival while Mechanical Engineering students visit project specific locations, such as the Shoreham Power Station.

Project-based learning

Project work is a key feature through all our of Engineering and Product Design degrees at Sussex and takes many different forms across each year, from industry supported, tutor brief led and self-initiated (see the Formula  and Robogals student societies). They culminate in group presentations, demonstrations and reports. Below are some examples:

First year projects

We provide every first year undergraduate studying Electrical, Electronic or Computer Engineering with the resources to be able to explore electronics and try their own mini-projects outside of laboratory time. This takes the form of a National Instruments myDAQ, designed specifically for students, to provide them with the technology to experience hands-on learning anytime, anywhere.

Global Design Challenge
Every year during intersession week, the students school-wide work on the Global Design Challenge. They work collaboratively on a sustainable design project, acquiring collaboration, leadership and project management skills.

Second year projects

Second year Product Design students have the chance to build a full-sized, functioning prototype model of their individual projects. Examples of such projects include a lighting project

Final year projects

Design show

Every year, product design students put together a degree show to exhibit their final year projects to the public, trade professionals, potential employers and the media.

Final year individual projects

This, for many students, is the high point of their degree. In undertaking a project, you draw together all the understanding and skills you have acquired and apply them to a real engineering or design problem. Over 20 weeks, you progress from planning your project through testing, where appropriate, to implementation and demonstration. You present the results of your work to other students and faculty in a colloquium, and write an extended report.

MEng group projects

Previous group projects have included:

Formula Student: The design and completion of a racecar for entry into the Formula Student competition. For more detailed information, visit Formula Student.

Remote-controlled home automation system: A variety of everyday home functions such as temperature control, lighting and plant watering were controlled remotely using wireless communication and embedded microprocessor systems.

Aerial Vehicle for Video Reconnaissance: The team purchased and modified a ‘quadcopter’ - a hovering aerial multi-rotor vehicle of the type that can be easily flown over variable terrain. They added a light geodesic frame structure to protect it during landings and mounted a video camera which was set up to transmit live video to a ground station.

Gas turbine car: The installation of a Gem gas turbine in a Jaguar and the design of the associated drive shaft, exhaust system, brake vacuum system and cockpit engine controls.

Mechanical fish: A bionic underwater surveillance system that simulates the motion of a fish in its propulsion method.

Multiplexer: A system for the multiplexed acquisition and processing of data from 64 thermocouples mounted on a gas turbine, operating at high temperature and 3000 g's.

Vision assessment: A portable vision assessment system was designed and constructed. This has now been adopted as a standard for assessing a pilot's vision.

Design of an evaporative cooler: In collaboration with Daewoo, an evaporative cooler for passenger compartments was designed and tested.


Debo's student perspective 

"I thought the course was well structured and well taught. The first year programme for all engineering students is the same, which develops the fundamental knowledge and practical skills required. The most important thing I gained from the course was the ability to teach myself to learn. As simple as it sounds, this transferable skill placed me in good stead, in my academic studies and professional development, and continuously allows me to work on my own accord towards a goal or objective. Instilled within the course were strong engineering principles which prepared me for the engineering industry."

Debo Gbakinro - Mechanical Engineering BEng (Hons)