Having completed three exams at the end of May to finish off my first year of the Fire Engineering degree at UCLan, there is about a six-week wait for the results, which were published on 1 July. Depending on your results you’re then advised whether to continue with the course or whether you will need to retake any exams in August.
You need to get 40% in an exam to pass the module. During the summer period you get access to the next year’s modules online and you’re able to read module descriptors and get an overview of the course content in the coming academic year. There may also be some suggested books that you may find useful to read.
Beginning year 2 of the Fire Engineering degree is met with a lot less apprehension than year 1. You will now be familiar with and know your way around the campus and have made new friends on your course and know your lecturers, but you have four and a half new modules to get to grips with. The year 2 modules are Engineering Analysis 2, Fire and the Built Environment, Fluid Dynamics of Fires, Engineering Design Practice and the half module is Safety and Fire Law. Some of these do follow on from modules that you complete in year 1, for example in year 1 the maths module is called Engineering Analysis 1, and in year 2 the module is Engineering Analysis 2. UCLan have recently opened a new building dedicated to engineering called the Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC), which is where they have moved the fire labs to from another building. This is where you will be able to perform practical experiments and learn about things such as backdraught and flashover.
Engineering Analysis introduces you to the maths needed to be able to practically apply it to engineering problems. However, this comes later as you need a good foundation of knowledge for this. This module is made up of an assignment worth 40%, which you are given and able to complete after your first block, and an exam worth 60% of your total grade, which is to be completed in May, the same as the previous year. It’s important to note that if you struggle with maths, this shouldn’t put you off from considering this as a degree. The engineering analysis modules are taught slowly and step by step. You will be given notes and go through the theory and then follow examples before having a go and trying some questions by yourself. It is important to the lecturer, Khalid Khan, that nobody gets left behind and everybody understands the process of how to get from A to B.
Fire and the Built Environment is a full module that is all coursework and no exam needs to be completed at the end of the year, 80% is an assignment and 20% is a presentation. This module is very much what it says on the tin and looks at fire and the effects on the environment, climate change and sustainability. You will learn about BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and discuss how moving forward we can construct buildings sustainably and reduce emissions. UCLan have recently started building a new Student Centre Building (SCB) and part of the assignment will be to produce strategies to design the SCB as a sustainable building and how it could achieve BREEAM rating ‘Outstanding’.
Fluid Dynamics of Fires is another full module, and one that for me personally will be a challenge. It is very science based, consisting of chemistry and physics, which involves using and learning formula and understanding the theory behind it. The outcome for this module is to determine fluid flow rates, pressure drops, describe flow in ducts and corridors and understand the fire spread and burning rates for different conditions. Again, this module is made up of 40% coursework and 60% exam, and the beauty of this is that you can really apply yourself in your assignment and get a good mark and then if you struggle with exams, or the content, it really helps take the pressure off you for the final exam in May.
The last full module is Engineering Design Practice, and this is made up of two parts. The first part is a design assignment, looking at the Building Regulations Approved Document B, worth 40% of your total mark. This will require you to do some self study and familiarise yourself with the document and some of the standards within it. The second part is an Engineering Measurement Assignment worth 60% of your total mark. The 60% is based on a laboratory portfolio where you are put into groups and given several experiments to do, which you carry out in the fire labs within the EIC. You then complete and record your data and write up the process and results at the end. This is another module that is all based on assignments and there is no exam at the end of the year.
The half module for this year is Safety and Fire Law. There are no assignments for this half module and so the final grade you receive is based on one exam at the end of the year. When studying Safety and Fire Law you look at the history of law and the government, the legal framework, justice system and how the courts work, health and safety and fire safety at work law, common law obligations and trade unions. This helps give you a broader understanding of the industry as a whole and gives you some background knowledge on some regulations.
You are given all of this information for your course online with UCLan and can access all your lecture and study material through a portal called Blackboard. Here you also have all the contact information for your lecturers, which is great if you have questions or require help when distance learning. It’s very easy to email a lecturer and ask for help and get more information from them. This is useful for those that feel they may struggle with the distance learning or self study. At the end of year 2 you will complete the three exams – two of them for full modules and one for the half module. There is also a lot of support for international students who come to UCLan to study Fire Engineering full-time from abroad including module workshops and tutorials, as well as having an academic advisor (allocated in the first week of year 1) who you can contact for any help and advice at any time.