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Combined Degrees A New Paradigm In Engineering Education

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

New Approaches in Engineering Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.302.1 - 7.302.11



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Paper Authors

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David Wood

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David Shallcross

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 3460

Combined Degrees – A New Paradigm in Engineering Education

David C. Shallcross and David G. Wood

Faculty of Engineering, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia


Since the late 1980’s undergraduate students in Australia have been able to enrol simultaneously in two full undergraduate programs. Students are able to complete their engineering degree while at the same time completing degrees in arts, commerce, law or science. Currently nearly 60 % of all undergraduate engineering students at the University of Melbourne are enrolled in a combined degree program. By integrating the courses from the very first day of their studies students are able to complete their combined degrees in just five years for most combinations or six years for engineering and law. The engineering component of the combined degree programs is fully accredited with no core engineering material being lost. These combined degree programs provide a structural paradigm change in Engineering Education which enables significant flexibility in the undergraduate program and produces graduates having great appeal to employers. In addition the graduates have a wide range of skills and background which allow them to tackle the challenges of the future. For example consider the futures that await graduates with two full undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering and microbiology or civil engineering and geology. While demand for engineering courses have been falling away at many other institutions both within Australia and around the world demand for places in engineering combined degree programs has grown. The programs continue to attract students who might otherwise have been lost to other studies including commerce and law. In this paper the Combined Degree Programs at the University of Melbourne are described and its implementation discussed. The implications of the programs for the University, the profession and the wider community is discussed.


Up until the 1990’s the structures of the four-year undergraduate engineering degrees at the University of Melbourne were typical of most engineering degrees found around the world. They were very rigid. The subjects and the sequence in which they were to be studied were prescribed. All subjects were year long and a student who failed in one or more subjects were required to repeat the year. In their first year students studied the basic sciences of mathematics, chemistry and physics. They also received general engineering education across the major engineering disciplines. Then over the next three years they undertook studies in engineering science, practice and design. They also studied other subjects including economics, management and engineering law.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Wood, D., & Shallcross, D. (2002, June), Combined Degrees A New Paradigm In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11119

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