International Study Centre

What are STEM subjects?

Student working in lab

STEM subjects underpin the world we live in and impact many areas of society. Data scientists, marine biologists, civil engineers, artificial intelligence professionals, software developers and food technologists all work in STEM disciplines. But what does STEM stand for?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Working in STEM can be highly rewarding with the opportunity to be part of cutting-edge developments and research projects. If you are looking into STEM courses for your university degree, there are a range of subjects that can match your interests, skills and career goals.

Science-related degrees

Pursuing a scientific route could involve working in research, crime investigations, factories or hospitals, spanning a range of industries and roles. STEM courses you could study related to science include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Science
  • Ecology
  • Neuroscience
  • Genetics.

Technology-related degrees

The fast-moving world of technology has brought us augmented reality, VR, artificial intelligence, blockchain and chat bots, making it an exciting industry to be a part of. Technology-related courses in STEM include:

  • Computing
  • Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
  • Computing for Digital Media
  • Games and Multimedia Environments.

Engineering-related degrees

Engineering is a broad subject covering a range of fields and specialisms, from bioscience and aerospace to military and energy. Engineering-related courses you could study at university include:

  • Civil engineering
  • Electronics 
  • Electrical engineering 
  • Mechanical engineering 
  • Robotics.

Watch this video to hear from staff and students talking about the benefits of studying at the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Sussex:

Why study Engineering?

Maths-related degrees

Everyone studies mathematics at school, but it may be surprising to learn how much it relates to everything we do. Airports, mobile phones, banks and data analysts all use mathematical problem-solving to provide solutions to society’s needs. Maths-related courses include:

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Economics and Finance
  • Mathematics 
  • Mathematics with Economics
  • Mathematics with Finance.

Why study STEM?

STEM courses are exciting, fast-moving and impact society on many levels. You could be part of the next technological innovation, using your skills to research medical solutions or creating machinery for a range of sectors. 

Advantages of STEM education


With the rise of new technologies, STEM graduates are in high demand. Computer scientists, engineers and data analysts are all seeing an increase in job opportunities as the industries evolve. A report from Engineering UK highlighted that the country will need 1.8 million new engineers and technicians by 2025. 

At the University of Sussex, we spoke to the Head of Department of Engineering and Design Dr Romeo Glovnea about graduate opportunities. He said: 

“In engineering we put the skills and knowledge of our students at the forefront. We try to make our students competitive in the job market…they go and work in various industries, from automotive and rail to food and aerospace. We have about 90% of students in a graduate job, soon after graduation.”


STEM courses give you the opportunity to find solutions to problems across a range of industries. Technical skills, innovation and creativity are all important skills to help you consider different perspectives. For example, the development of self-driving cars has started an interesting debate on the morals and ethics of autonomous vehicles. 

Transferable skills 

A STEM education encourages teamwork and problem-solving, which are valuable skills that can be applied to any career. For example, every year students at the University of Sussex work on building a racing car. Collaborating across departments on projects prepares you for the working world and develops essential teamworking skills.

Another key advantage of studying a STEM subject is that your skills are in high demand and can really make a difference to the world. 

Why is STEM important?

  • Discover new medical breakthroughs to cure diseases.
  • Protect wildlife as an environmental engineer.
  • Improve community infrastructure.
  • Revolutionise the food industry with robots

Another reason why STEM is important is thanks to emerging opportunities in organisations and the industry to address the lack of ethnic and gender diversity. Events such as the Robogals Conference, hosted earlier this year at the University of Sussex, are designed to encourage more women and girls into engineering.

Prepare to study a STEM degree

The University of Sussex International Study Centre offers university courses to prepare international students for their university degree. After successfully completing your course you will be prepared for a wide range of STEM courses at the University.

Students in class

International Foundation Year

The International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering will prepare you for an undergraduate degree in Engineering at the University of Sussex. It will give you the academic and English language skills needed to succeed at university.

Undergraduate Computing

This pathway leads to the second year of a computing-related degree at the University of Sussex.

Sussex student smiling in class

International Year One

Studying the International Year One in Engineering is equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree. It will prepare you for direct entry to the second year of an automotive, electrical or mechanical Engineering degree at Sussex.

International student at graduation

Pre-Masters Programme

The Pre-Masters Programme in Science and Engineering aims to prepare you for a postgraduate degree in engineering at the University of Sussex. Postgraduate study is a great way to build on your knowledge and stand out in the graduate employment market.