Frequently asked questions

Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions from prospective applicants. If you cannot find the answer to your question below, email, and we will be happy to help.

On this page:

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)


Who is eligible to apply for SELSA?

All students in their first year of any Engineering/Computer Science Undergraduate degree programme in the Faculty of Engineering.

SELSA runs alongside the 2nd and 3rd year of that degree programme. In some circumstances, it might be possible for students to start the programme later, but we prefer that students are not undertaking this programme whilst also completing their final year.

Do I have to be in the first year of my course to apply?

Yes. SELSA runs alongside the 2nd and 3rd year of any Engineering/Computer Science degree programme in the Faculty of Engineering.

If you do not apply during the 1st year, or your application is unsuccessful, it is not possible to reapply in future years due to the shape of the programme.

Does it matter if I am on a bachelors or a masters programme?

No - applications are welcome from students on both routes.

Historically, SELSA has been aimed more towards MEng students. However, this has simply been to avoid students doing the 2nd year of SELSA along their final year of study. If you are on a BEng route rather than MEng, please just be aware you will need to manage your time effectively and think it through carefully before you apply.

Is SELSA open to international students?

Yes, all 1st year undergraduate students in the Faculty of Engineering are eligible to apply.

I’m studying Computer Science – can I still apply?

Yes. Computer Science in Sheffield is within the Faculty of Engineering, and all first-year undergraduate students in the Faculty are eligible to apply.

I’m doing a year in industry or a year abroad. Would I still be able to join SELSA?

Yes. If your study abroad or year in industry falls during your time in SELSA, it is possible to pause SELSA for a year and then rejoin when you return.

For example, if you are going on a year in industry in the 2023-24 academic year, you would complete the first year of SELA in 2022-23, then go on the year in industry and return to SELSA when your studies resume in September 2024.

My career aspirations are in academia and not industry. Should I still apply?

Yes - a key aim is to develop leaders for both industry and academia.

Students meet and work with research and industry leaders through the programme, and can opt to undertake one of the ‘high impact’ activities in an academic context. For instance, research and/or teaching.

Applications and selection

How many students join SELA each year?

The Faculty is currently able to accommodate up to 60 students each year. This is an increase of around 50% on previous cohorts and may expand further.

How do I apply?

Visit the SELSA website and click the “Apply Now” button on the homepage. Note that applications open in January and the “Apply Now” button will not be visible until this date.

Is there an application or registration fee?

No. SELSA is mainly funded by sponsorship from industry, with support from the Faculty of Engineering.

Do I need to have achieved particular academic grades in order to apply?

The expectation is that students will maintain a cumulative grade of 60%+. Any exceptions to this will be at the discretion of the SELSA board.

What are the types of things SELSA is looking for when selecting members?

SELSA is structured around 8 attributes for Leadership. The selection process considers the extent to which candidates demonstrate these, through the application form and interview.

  • My impact

    • Interpersonal skills

    • Working with others

    • Equality and inclusion

    • Ethics and sustainability

  • My self

    • Positive wellbeing

    • Purpose

    • Personal development

    • Enterprising

There is no expectation for candidates to perfectly meet all of these attributes. These can be further developed through the programme.

The SELSA programme and commitment

What is the time commitment for SELSA?

SELSA has an average weekly commitment of 3 to 4 hours (including mentoring 1st year students in the second year). This includes time that you would be expected to work on projects which you have selected.

Additionally, students commit one hour a month to mentoring 2nd year students after graduation from the programme.

Is it possible to do SELSA alongside other extra-curricular activities?

Yes, this is possible. These extra-curricular activities may also count towards 1 of the high impact projects SELSA students are required to carry out.

Is SELSA supported by industry?

Yes, industry and national institutions are closely involved in shaping SELSA and developing students as a leader in a range of ways. For example:

  • mentoring students through activities

  • offering guest talks

  • hosting industry visits

  • setting and supporting integrative projects

  • hosting internships

  • providing financial sponsorship

One of the benefits of membership is being able to access and learn from this network during the programme, and as a graduate of it.

Are there networking opportunities with industry and employers?

Yes, this is a fundamental part of the programme. Students meet industry and research partners from the first day in the programme. Industry and employers continue to work with students to help them develop skills and contextualise learning. There is also networking training to help students make the most of those opportunities.

Following successful completion of the programme, students graduate with a professional network of people who are experts in a range of different fields.

Is the programme delivered online or in person?

Both. Following the general shift to hybrid working, SELSA adopts a combination of ‘in person’ and ‘online’ sessions.

SELSA projects

Are the projects SELSA members work on tailored to students’ specific disciplines?

SELSA is an interdisciplinary programme which means that students have the opportunity to work alongside engineers from all disciplines in the Faculty of Engineering.

Students contribute to the project based on their own disciplinary expertise, but also have the opportunity to learn how different engineering disciplines come together to solve problems.

What project options are there for students?

Students work together on group projects in their 1st year of the programme. The projects involve delivering real solutions to real stakeholders, and provide an opportunity to work collaboratively whilst practising and further enhancing skills.

The projects are designed to develop skills for leadership and a real engineering grand challenge. This challenge draws on the expertise of students from different engineering disciplines and allows members to practise their skills in an authentic engineering context.

2nd year students can choose to complete a 2nd project as part of their 3 high impact activities and take a leadership role in those projects.

What is a high impact experience?

A high impact experience is an opportunity for students to engage in experiential learning outside the classroom in a way that directly aligns with their individual goals. Students in their 2nd year need to complete 3 of these during their time in SELSA (in addition to their 1st year project). For more information, see SELSA Projects (above) and High Impact Experience (other) (below)

High Impact Experiences (Other)

Students are required to undertake a minimum of 3 additional high impact experiences that also give the opportunity to reflect on how these experiences impact their learning in preparation for life after University, such as graduate school or employment applications.

Each of the high impact experiences should be a minimum of 45 hours. Examples are provided below:

  • Leadership

    • For example resident advisor, department ambassador, student government, class rep, mentor, teaching assistant, volunteer service, etc.

    • A minimum of 45 hours with the same organisation or project over an academic year.

  • Non-course based undergraduate research

    • A minimum of 45 hours with the same lab or project over an academic year.

  • Professional development (including internships)

    • Developing skills that will prepare students for careers through internships, co-op experiences, and other career-related opportunities.

  • Participation and leadership in University clubs or charitable organisations.

    • For example performing in a band, sports team, organising events, any leadership role in a university club, or similar.

  • Achieving and completing notable (non academic) awards such as RAE leadership scholarship.

Completing an additional impact project, on a long thin, or short, fat basis to apply leadership skills e.g. CCA such as Robotics team, IForge.

I'm doing another Co Curricular Activity (CCA). Does this count towards a project?

Yes, another CCA can count as a high impact experience. Students complete 3 of these as part of their 2nd year of SELSA. See High Impact Experiences - Other (above)

Are projects run during term time?

Generally, yes. However, some of the high impact activities can be completed over vacation period. For instance, internships. SELSA time and project management training also helps identify busy periods (such as assessment) and plan around them. Workshops and guest speakers are not scheduled during the exam or vacation periods.

Can students explore their own interests?

The projects are intentionally based on broad, open-ended briefs. This means that there is wide scope for students to focus on particular areas of engineering that interest them the most. Students can pick a project from a selection of predetermined projects but in addition under the new model, they can also submit a project which will be considered by the board.

Are the projects real or fictional?

All of the projects are real – with real stakeholders, real budgets and real outcomes. Unlike projects within an Engineering degree programme, there are no grades. Students succeed or fail based on delivering value to their target ‘customer’ segment.

Summer placements

How long are the summer placements?

All SELSA members are encouraged to find, secure and complete summer placements, each for a minimum of six weeks.

Can I do a summer placement abroad?

Yes – placements can be in the UK or overseas.

What if I already have a summer placement lined up?

You can use this placement as part of your SELSA experience. You will simply need to give us the details of where you’ll be working, and the role you’ll be undertaking, about half way through your first year with us.

Does the Faculty organise the placement for students?

The Faculty provides lots of support and guidance to help students find and secure a placement themselves, in an area that interests them.

Increasingly, industry partners contact the Faculty to advertise opportunities, because they recognise the value of the additional skill set SELA members and graduates can bring.

SELSA outcomes

How do students benefit from SELA after they have completed the programme?

SELSA graduates have often referenced the skills and experiences they have developed during the programme as playing a key role in helping them secure graduate opportunities in a range of directions.

SELSA after graduation

What is the role and time commitment after graduating from SELSA?

Students commit one hour a month to mentoring 2nd year students after graduation from the programme.

Following graduation from the University, graduates are often invited back to support SELSA at events such as project launches, workshops, etc.