This, this is the question. The question that leads to arguments between friends; that rips divides in academia; that leads to keyboard warriors waging wars across Swanfess. Degrees in general are hard, and many engineers couldn’t type essays coherent enough to pass an exam in a humanitarian subject, so why do we as engineers rank our degrees so much harder than others. It’s pretty simple – coursework.

Now I am not saying that other subjects are not overloaded, I have lived with people who seemed to have essays due every other week. The issue is that due to the nature of an engineering piece of coursework, every coursework has multiple parts, which all seem to take an age to complete. Some believe that group work is the answer to this.

These people are wrong.

You’d think the work can just be split up between people, but work ethics and standards are divided, and someone will end up picking up a lot of the slack. If the groups are with chosen people, instead of random people, you might think “great, I can pick people who work to the same standard as me”. In many cases this works, and you smash the coursework and are happy and cheerful and everything is fine, but a lot of the time people work with friends. This leads to the issue that by the end of each coursework you want to strangle each other.

The other issue is after spending so much time on our coursework, which is only worth 20%, we neglect revision throughout the term, and suddenly have so little time to prepare that we lose hair and go grey during the 80% exams we have at the end of each term.

All this said, do we exaggerate and feel sorry for ourselves? Absolutely.

A lot of the time we sink so much time into understanding a piece of coursework, or some tiny piece of information that isn’t assessed in an exam, and doing our best to be a good engineer, and then someone smashes the coursework out the night before and gets the same sort of grade. A lot of the time this is because we have issues that we sort out along the way, so we can help the people that do it last minute. However, some of the time it is entirely our own fault. We pat ourselves on the back for making it to a lecture, then sit on our phone rather than pay attention. Or we spend a day in a computer room and congratulate ourselves on a day’s solid work when we spent half of it procrastinating by talking to each other about anything other than work, or writing blogs complaining about the work we are meant to be doing.


Written by Aidan Pridham-Beard / @aidan_beardless,
MEng Civil Engineering with a Year in Industry,
28th November 2019

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