The National University of Singapore's (NUS') civil and structural engineering course is the third best in the world, in the latest university ranking by the London-based education consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) out today.

This is an improvement of four places from last year, when the NUS course placed seventh. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is ranked first, followed by Netherlands' Delft University of Technology.

This places NUS ahead of the likes of Imperial College London, Cambridge and Stanford.

NUS had 10 other subjects, including chemical engineering, biological sciences and geography, that made the global top 10.

The varsity also ranked as Asia's best across 21 subjects - three more than last year.

This includes two of six new subjects the QS ranking introduced this year - architecture and built environment; and business and management studies.

The ranking, said NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan, "is a testament to the powerful commitment of our talented professors and graduates to excellence" and their contributions.

NUS also maintained its track record of being Asia's best performing since QS introduced rankings by subjects in 2011.

The ranking evaluates universities on 36 subjects including history and law. Results are based on research citations and responses from more than 126,000 academics and employers globally.

A total of 3,551 universities were evaluated and 835 institutions with at least one subject in the top 200 were ranked.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) kept last year's record of having three of its subjects ranked among the world's top 10.

The varsity's education programme, based at the National Institute of Education, is ranked 10th, up four places. This marks the first time it has cracked the global top 10.

NTU's electrical and electronic engineering course is ranked seventh (up three places) and its materials science course remains in eighth place.

University president Bertil Andersson said the engineering and education programmes "are undoubtedly among NTU's most established strengths".

"Academics and employers worldwide have clearly taken notice of the high quality of NTU graduates and programmes," he added.