Dr Richard Butterfield Chemical Engineering



We asked Dr. Richard Butterfield, our Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, some frequently asked questions:

What is Chemical Engineering?

Chemical Engineering is involved in everything and it can always be found behind the scenes. It involves using science and engineering concepts to design efficient processes, turning raw materials into valuable products for human use. Chemical Engineers optimise these processes, creating and manufacturing materials and products that we use every day, such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, petrochemicals, agrochemicals, biomaterials and cement.

What is the course at Swansea famous for ?

We deliver pioneering solutions to meet our modern-day needs, including finding solutions to the world’s water shortages, water treatment and desalination.  Some of the notable work that originated from Swansea University includes the world-wide manuals of ‘Chemical Engineering’, written by J.M Coulson and J.F Richardson. As a student on our innovative course, you will often learn about new concepts before they are even published, creating an exciting and stimulating environment to study in

How do I know if it's right for me?

If you have an interest in maths and science, combined with a passion for problem-solving, then Chemical Engineering is right for you. Chemical Engineers love a challenge and they have the ability to work behind the scenes, as well on the front line as a strong team leader due to their broad knowledge in a multitude of areas.

What will the course look like?

In Year 1 and 2, you are introduced to core concepts such as mass and energy balance which are key to Chemical Engineering. You will then see your knowledge build up to working on Separation Processes, Reactor Designs and Control Systems. All of this leads up to your Design Project in Year 3 where everything you have learned is pulled together in executing this full package from Design to Project Management. It’s a valuable experience as it will be a snapshot of what it will be like as a professional Chemical Engineer.

Although it varies, you can expect to have between 21 to 30 hours per week of direct contact time depending on the lab work. You are also expected to do approximately 6 hours per week of independent study to achieve your best on the course.

There are times to work as an individual in order to find your strengths, as well as tutorials and practical lab work which is done in pairs or groups. Chemical Engineering is a team sport and this provides a reflection of working as a professional in industry. 

What jobs can I do when I graduate?

Chemical Engineering has one of the broadest base of job opportunities and is therefore in a sense ‘recession proof’. Not only do Chemical Engineers (also sometimes known as a Process Engineer) have transferable skills, they have knowledge in a multitude of areas and tend to become team leaders.  Our graduates have gone on to find careers in various industries such as energy/power stations, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, oil and gas, brewing, food, water treatment, environmental, and for companies such as Tata Steel, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Phillips 66 and Pepsi Co.