We offer an ECSA accredited Bachelor’s Degree programme in Chemical Engineering. It’s a professional degree, which means that it takes four years minimum to complete and you can apply to qualify as a Professional Engineer after acquiring the relevant experience in practice. This is not the case with all qualifications in this direction in South Africa. It also means that the level of qualification, according to the National Qualifications Framework of South Africa, falls under NQF 8 – equal to an honours-level BSc qualification (or similar).

ECSA is a Washington Accord signatory, which means that our professional Bachelor’s degree is recognised world-wide in such countries as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, to name a few. Read the sections below for more information on our programme offering, the admission criteria for our programme, how to apply, what chemical engineering entails, and what career prospects you can look forward to after studying Chemical Engineering.

Contact Gini van der Westhuizen, our departmental liaison for prospective undergraduate students, if you have any queries or need support.

Prospective Student Liaison & Marketing

Interested in our Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering at SU?

Applications for the 2025 intake open 1 April and close 31 July 2024

2024/07/31 12:59:59

The full admission requirements for our Bachelor’s (BEng) (Chemical Engineering) Degree Programme are explained here (English) and here (Afrikaans).

  • Current grade 12 students must apply with their final grade 11 results to obtain provisional acceptance. Final acceptance is offered upon receipt and evaluation of your final NSC results (which we draw automatically from the Department of Education’s database as soon as they become available).
  • Students who already completed grade 12 apply with their NSC results.
  • Completing NBTs is not a requirement for applying to any of SU’s Engineering programmes.

Your Grade 11 marks (or final NSC results) should meet the following thresholds to be considered for our Bachelor’s (BEng) (Chemical Engineering) Degree Programme:

  • Minimum selection score of 620 (calculation thereof is explained in the document linked above)
  • Minimum overall average of 70% (excluding LO)
  • Minimum mathematics mark of 75%
  • Minimum physical science mark of 65%

Please refer to the linked document above for the full explanation and details of the admission and selection requirements and process, as well as selection criteria and other details for the Extended Degree Programme (EDP).

If you do not currently meet the minimum criteria (but you are within reach), you can apply with your current results, be placed on our waiting list, and work towards improving your final marks for consideration of final acceptance. Contact undergradchem@sun.ac.za if you have enquiries about the options available to you.

You’re probably thinking “what will I actually be learning and doing if I decide to study Chemical Engineering?” and we’ve summarised it below.

This degree will equip you with the skills and knowledge to make a positive impact on South Africa and the world.

The Bachelor of Engineering (BEng Chemical Engineering) degree starts with a common first year; you and your fellow students will register for the same modules. Modules focus mainly on mathematics and fundamental natural sciences, such as physics and chemistry, applied to the engineering context. You will also learn about ethics, professionalism and effective technical communication.

Second- and third-year modules will equip you with a sound theoretical knowledge of key chemical engineering concepts.

You’ll learn how to best describe and model the behaviour of different phases of matter. You’ll understand the fundamental concepts that explain how heat is transferred, why chemicals react, what entropy means, and you’ll use mathematics to calculate how quickly and to what extent it all happens.

You will learn to design reactors, heat exchangers, transport equipment such as pipes, valves and pumps, and the required separation process units to obtain a pure product. You will develop coding and analytical skills, applicable in engineering and other fields. You will use these skills to design and optimise new processes, and to control the processes so they run smoothly, safely and sustainably.

Your training also includes laboratory-based practical experiments and vacation work where you will apply and test the theory you have learned to industry-based processes.

The fourth and final year is the final preparation to enter industry. You will be trained to manage large engineering projects as a member of a team of engineers from different disciplines. Your undergraduate studies will culminate in designing a chemical, biochemical or metallurgical plant through application of all the theory you have learned up to that point.

You will also do a final-year research project where you will investigate an engineering problem and arrive at a suitable solution through independent learning and application of chemical engineering principles.

The video and images below illustrate the progression of the Bachelor’s (BEng) (Chemical Engineering) Degree Programme.

At Stellenbosch University, all BEng degree programmes start out with a common first year, as indicated by the maroon block around some of the modules. This means that all first-year engineering students, regardless of their programme, will all register for those modules.

In the video below, Prof Tobi Louw (our Undergraduate Programme Coordinator) explains in detail how the curriculum is structured. Please watch the video for an in-depth understanding of our curriculum structure and progression.

Stellenbosch University boasts both the highest student success rate in the country and the highest weighted research output per full-time academic staff member in South Africa. It ranks among the top 300 universities in the world and the top 20 in BRICS countries (per the Times Higher Education World University rankings).

The Department of Chemical Engineering is home to 20 full-time academic staff members. Besides being active researchers in their fields, the academics are also dedicated to continuously improving the teaching and learning environment. The Faculty of Engineering awarded the “Lecturer of the year” prize to Chemical Engineering staff members two years in a row (Prof Burger in 2015 and Prof Bradshaw in 2016), and a number of staff members frequently present educational research at the University’s annual “Scholarship of Teaching & Learning” conferences. Prof Robbie Pott was also recently honoured as one of the 12 winners in the SU Teaching Excellence Awards for 2019.

Of course, Stellenbosch is situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands. The historic town and the beautiful natural surroundings all combine to create an exceptional living environment. http://www.sun.ac.za/english/about-us/Why-SU”>Read more about the University and why we’re the best here.

For more information about study fees, please read here.

For more information about accommodation options in Stellenbosch, please read here.

For more information about SU residence fees, please read here.

Click here to create a personalised quotation for tuition fees at SU. An estimate amount for tuition is also listed here. After selecting the BEng (Chemical Engineering) programme, selected all the listed modules as you will be enrolling for all those modules in your first year of registration. If you need assistance with generating a quote, please send an email to undergradchem@sun.ac.za.

The are many bursaries available for aspiring Chemical Engineering students!

  • FYCEMA: The Department offers First-Year Chemical Engineering Merit Award (FYCEMA) bursaries to top achieving first-year students with a final grade 12 average of 88% and higher. Qualifying students are contacted directly by the Department with provisional offers after provisional acceptance has been offered to the prospective student, and final offers are presented when final acceptance is issued (after final grade 12 results are available). For more information, please send an e-mail to undergradchem@sun.ac.za.
  • First-Year Merit Bursaries: SU offers up to 40% rebate on tuition fees for students with a grade 12 average of 90% and higher. Read here for more information.
  • Visit the Stellenbosch University Centre for Undergraduate Bursaries and Loans (CUBL) website for more information about institutional bursaries and funding, NSFAS funding, and more.
  • Visit this website for links to industry bursaries available for undergraduate students planning to enroll for Chemical Engineering. Remember that mining-related bursaries can also be applied for if you plan on studying Chemical Engineering.
  • Other industry bursaries that the Department is aware of will be listed below as and when available.

Our facilities, current research projects, and students’ experiences

The Department of Chemical Engineering has excellent facilities for students studying chemical engineering. This video gives you a tour of our facilities, and showcases some of the research projects currently undertaken at the department. Students also share their student experiences studying chemical engineering at SU.

Watch this webinar Q&A for more information about our department and why you should study Chemical Engineering at SU! 

Our department recently hosted a Q&A for prospective students to share info about our chemical engineering in general, possible career paths, our degree and curriculum, and why you should study at SU.

Where do Chemical Engineers work?

Chemical engineers focus on ensuring safe and environmentally friendly processing while also taking economical aspects into consideration; they can specialise in many areas of expertise.

Some of the various sectors that our alumni work in include:

  • Biotechnology
  • Vaccine development
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Petrochemicals
  • Cosmetics
  • Mining and metallurgy
  • Water purification and technology
  • Fertilizers
  • Renewable energy
  • Nanotechnology
  • Explosives
  • Paper and pulp
  • Food and beverages
  • Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG)
  • Energy and environmental affairs
  • Cement and glass
  • Data science and machine learning
  • Business and financial services
  • Biomedical sector
  • Management consultancy

Typical job functions of chemical engineers include the following:

  • Designing processes for conversion of raw materials
  • Improvement and optimisation of existing processes
  • Coordination of production
  • Management of business units
  • Performing research for the development of novel processes and products

Should you wish to pursue postgraduate studies after your BEng degree, you could do research in one of our six research focus areas: bioresource engineering, extractive metallurgy, separation technology, waste valorisation, water technology, and machine learning. Pursuing research would enable you to enter the academia or become involved in research as a career path.

Chemical engineering relates to the design, management and optimization of processes used to produce valuable products from raw materials. These products are crucially important to almost every sphere of the modern society, be it in the form of basic consumables, commodities, or environmental services. The chemical engineer therefore plays a pivotal role in society and has the opportunity to improve the everyday lives of people!

There no difference between process engineering and chemical engineering. Process engineering is an alternative description used to define the broader group of engineers who apply chemical engineering principles in any category of chemical engineering such as petrochemical, biochemical, organic polymers, geopolymers, food and beverages, fertilisers, environmental engineering, mineral processing and many more. The titles “Chemical Engineer” and “Process Engineer” are also both found in industry.

Mineral processing refers to the application of chemical engineering in the mining and minerals industry. More specifically, it involves the design, management and optimization of processes used for the extraction of valuable minerals from ores.

Prof Tobi Louw explains our BEng (ChemEng) degree curriculum in detail

Kristin shares her experience in the Mineral Processing industry

Annerie shares her experience in the Mineral Processing industry

Watch this video to see our facilities, what we do and who we are