Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc


Advanced Motorsport Engineering

Motorsport is an exacting world that demands total commitment from the designers and engineers who form the backbone of the companies and teams competing in series around the world. Without their skills and expertise drivers and riders don't even get onto the grid.

Cranfield University's Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc has been developed in collaboration with leading motorsport companies, in response to the sector's need for postgraduate level engineers. The Cranfield Masters programme will hone your skills and expertise in relation to motorsport and high performance engineering.

Established in 2000 with support from the motorsport community, this postgraduate programme prepares graduates for a career in motorsport or high performance engineering through the development of a combination of applied research and practical skills, specialist expertise and business management tailored towards a career in motorsport. 

Motorsport practitioners such as Pat Symonds, Adrian Reynard, Andrew McFarlan, Stefan Strahnz, Mike Pilbeam and Daniele Casanova contribute valuable sessions on the course.

Course overview

The MSc course consists of eight one-week assessed modules, a group design project and an individual thesis project.

A number of external lecturers from the world of motorsport will deliver sessions during modules as well as contributing to the group design project phase. Our official visiting academics include:

  • Dr Adrian Reynard, Motorsport Visiting Professor
  • Dr Matthew Harrison, Motorsport Visiting Professor
  • Mr Ricardo Divila, Motorsport Technical Visiting Fellow
  • Mr Joe Saward, Motorsport Business Visiting Fellow
  • Mr Karl Ludvigsen, Motorsport History Visiting Fellow.

Group project

Group Design Projects are usually sponsored by industry partners and provide students with experience of working on real challenges in the work place along with skills in team working, managing resources and developing reporting and presentation skills. Experience gained is highly valued by both students and prospective employers.

The Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc group design project forms an important element of the education and assessment process for our Masters students. The group design project is an applied, multidisciplinary team-based activity, providing students with the opportunity to apply principles taught during their MSc course. It is an important component of the MSc which is accredited by the IMechE, IET and RAeS. The Presentation Day provides the students with an opportunity to present their work to an audience of industry representatives, academics and their peers.

Our group design projects have proven very successful in developing new conceptual designs which are now implemented in competition vehicles and have even influenced sporting regulations. The nature of the work is very much applied with the students accessing facilities and equipment here at Cranfield together with support from the academic team and motorsport practitioners.

Group Design Project (GDP) 2015-2016

The Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc Group Design Project (GDP) 2016 focuses on Land Speed Record (LSR) motorcycle concept designs. The four student teams' presentations will be held on 12 May 2016 along with other sessions. You will need to register for this daytime (8:30-2:30) event.

Group Design Project (GDP) 2014-2015

Cranfield Formula Electric Series (CFES) [view Press Release]
Supported by Williams Advanced Engineering, Virgin Racing Formula-E Team, the National College for Motorsport (NC4M), Cranfield Motorsport Simulation (CMS), Altair Hyperworks, AVL, ChassisSim with various prizes awarded by Altair, the MSA and Racecar Engineering.

Five teams of Motorsport MSc students competed against each other in true motorsport fashion. Each CFES race team conceptually designed the thermal management system for an electric version of a Formula BMW, with the aim of achieving maximum performance and safe operation throughout a twenty minute race on the Donington Park GP circuit. To achieve the best design, teams carried out simulated FEA crash studies, heat exchanger and air duct testing, heat transfer coefficient validation of materials, optimisation, thermal performance analysis and aerodynamic testing to name a few. The final design concepts were presented and virtually raced in front of some of motorsport’s leading figures on 14 May during the Motorsport MSc Group Design Project Presentation Day. In addition to the presentations and posters, each group submitted detailed technical reports to the academic GDP review panel.

Group 5 – Volta Motorsport received the MSA prize for best presentation on the day as voted by the audience and LiON GP, group 3, was awarded the Racecar Engineering prize for best poster by Sam Collins, Deputy Editor. The Altair Optimum prize for the best technical report and presentation will be awarded at Graduation in 2016.

Telsa Verde


Lion GP

Galvanic Racing

Volta Motorsport

Previous Group Design Projects

2014: Hydrogen-powered Sports Racing Car for the Future
Supported by Radical Sportscars, Aerocom Metals and several other organisations

The project was designed in anticipation of the hydrogen economy and in relation to the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) Technology Road Map. The students were tasked with designing a 2-seat, low-cost hydrogen-powered sports-racing prototype. They focused on the brand new Radical RXC as an example of best current practice and investigated chassis and powertrain options for a future world where hydrogen may be the fuel of choice.

2013: Active aerodynamics for the Reynard Inverter 
Supported by Reynard

Working in four teams, the Cranfield students designed active aerodynamic features for the Reynard Inverter car and quantified their performance benefits. Their brief:

  • Focus on drag reduction while maintaining downforce
  • Active aerodynamics – flaps, fans, tabs
  • Performance improvement to be assessed by:  
    • L/d ratio
    • Mass
    • Cost and complexity.

The students:

  • Established a CFD workflow
  • Validated their CFD models against existing wind tunnel data
  • Generated conceptual devices
  • Designed and manufactured tunnel parts that were rapid prototyped by Williams F1
  • Designed a wind tunnel experiment and then undertook this in the Cranfield wind tunnel using the wind tunnel model supplied by the Automotive Research Centre in Indianapolis
  • Specified instrumentation for full size validation on the Reynard Inverter race car that was tested at Silverstone.

Individual Project

Students select the individual project in consultation with the Course Director. The individual project provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to carry out independent research, think and work in an original way, contribute to knowledge, and overcome genuine problems.

Cranfield Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc thesis projects have been supported by many motorsport companies, some of which we cannot name because of confidentiality. Previous thesis project supporters have included; Williams F1, McLaren Racing, Red Bull Technology, Force India, Cosworth, Pilbeam Racing Designs, Carlin, Wirth Research, ART Grand Prix, Reynard, RML, Silverstone Circuits, Epsilon Euskadi, The FIA, OptimumG, Swindon Racing Engines, Litespeed, Multimatic, ATL, ChassisSim, Xtrac, Alto Performance, Audisport North America, Prodrive, Stack, DAMS and Lola. Thesis projects can form the basis of technical articles in magazines such as Racecar Engineering and Race Tech.

The day before going to Goodwood, I was at Cranfield University attending the Thesis Project Exhibition Day which included presentations for the Motorsport MSc programme, in other words, the bright young minds that will hopefully be coming into motorsport in the near future. With students from around the world, it really was inspirational talking to many of them and learning from them what they had been researching and their conclusions. As long as the sanctioning bodies embrace new technologies and not be afraid of them and go down the spec series route, then motor racing’s future looks exceptionally bright.

William Kimberley, Editor, Race Tech Magazine


The MSc course consists of eight one-week assessed modules, a group design project and an individual thesis project.


  • Composite structures for motorsport
    Module LeaderDr Veronica Marchante Rodriguez - Research Fellow in Thermoplastic Nanocomposites
    • Materials forms, performance and selection
    • Composites application of in the motorsport industry through case studies
    • Manufacturing technology and joining techniques, including manufacturing technique training
    • Composite structures design, analysis and optimisation techniques
    • Design of safety structures.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module, you should:

    • Understand the principles of composite material selection and performance and their areas of application in motorsport
    • Be aware of upcoming materials/structural technologies and their possible applications
    • Be aware of the techniques used for the design, processing, assembly and testing of motorsport structural components
    • Understand crashworthiness concepts and the influence of motorsport regulations on the structure design.
  • Computational fluid dynamics for motorsport
    Module LeaderDr Laszlo Konozsy - Lecturer
    • Introduction to CFD
    • Fluid dynamics - governing equations
    • Computational fluid dynamics - numerical methods
    • Grid generation, techniques and application
    • Practical hands-on experience of commercial codes (e.g. ICEM/FLUENT/Paraview)
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

    • Differentiate between CFD approaches for different flow regimes
    • Formulate a solution strategy for a given fluid dynamics problem in motorsports
    • Demonstrate an ability to apply commercial CFD software to a given fluid dynamics problem.
  • Introduction to motorsport
    Module LeaderMr Clive Temple - Senior Lecturer
    SyllabusThis module sets the scene for the MSc programme placing it in the context of motorsport. Including the preceding Friday's course specific induction, the module covers:

    •     Introductions by the core course team
    •     student introductions
    •     overview to the MSc programme
    •     the thesis project
    •     getting the most out of the MSc
    •     motorsport course specific health and safety
    •     the Cranfield University Student Motorsport Club
    •     overview and visit to see Cranfield's F1 cars and other motorsport related equipment and facilities
    •     history of motorsport and competition vehicle development
    •     competition vehicle design
    •     Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 presentation
    •     overview of the motorsport sector - the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA)
    •     motorsport careers with Anderson Gothard
    •     motorsport simulators with Cranfield Motorsport Simulation (CMS)*
    •     optimising the race driver with iZone
    •     race engineer-race driver communication with Motorsport Consulting
    •     computing and simulation software including FEA
    •     social event with staff and alumni

    * Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc students undertake sessions in the Cranfield Motorsport Simulator later in the month.
  • Motorsport aerodynamics
    Module LeaderProfessor Kevin Garry - Head of Applied Aerodynamics Group/MSc Course Di
    • Basic flow concepts and governing equations
    • A review of the fundamental aerodynamic characteristics of streamlined and bluff bodies
    • The application of aerodynamic design principles to motorsport wings and diffusers
    • Mechanisms for controlling aerodynamic lift and drag generation
    • An introduction to aerodynamic issues related to cooling and ventilation flows
    • An introduction to wheel aerodynamics
    • An overview of open-wheel, sports car and touring car aerodynamics
    • Experimental methods for motorsport aerodynamics including the use of a moving ground wind tunnel.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this study the student should:

    • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the essential facts, concepts and principles of incompressible flows including vortices and viscous effects, boundary layers, wing and diffuser aerodynamic characteristics.
    • Demonstrate understanding of how aerodynamics affects the motorsport vehicle design and operation.
    • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the wind tunnel techniques used to analyse motorsport aerodynamic problems and apply these techniques and concepts to develop solution strategies for  relevant wind tunnel simulations.
    • Demonstrate competence in analysing and evaluating the low speed aerodynamic characteristics of representative vehicles and components using acquired wind tunnel data, data sheets and fundamental principles.
  • Motorsport electronics and data acquisition
    • An overview of competition data collection systems and their packaging
    • Sensors, signal conditioning and information technology
    • Data collection, collation and analysis.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student should:

    • Have an awareness of the role of electrical and data acquisition systems in a competition vehicle
    • Have an overview of sensor technology, signal conditioning and information technology as applied in motorsport
    • Gain an initial insight into data collection, organisation and analysis for motorsport applications.
  • Motorsport power train design
    Module LeaderMr Clive Temple - Senior Lecturer
    • Gasoline engine performance characteristics: performance indices
    • Idealised thermodynamic cycles and the limits to ideal behaviour
    • Maximising power output using high engine speeds: thermo-fluid implications
    • Maximising the air/fuel charge in every cylinder: intake system design, supercharging & turbo-charging
    • Fuel systems, combustion control and engine management systems
    • Mechanical design of high performance two and four stroke automotive engines
    • The matching of engine, transmission and vehicle
    • The design of vehicle transmission systems.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

    • Demonstrate through success with an end of module assignment, knowledge and understanding of the physical processes at work during the preparation of the fuel and air mixture and its eventual combustion and emission
    • Discuss with engineering practitioners the implications of high engine speeds on the mechanical and thermo-fluid behaviour of engines
    • Describe the matching of engine, transmission and vehicle chassis for motorsport applications
    • Describe the operation of high performance vehicle transmission systems.

    This module uses AVL Boost supported through the AVL –Universities Partnership Programme.

  • Motorsport structural analysis
    Module LeaderDr Hrushikesh Abhyankar - Lecturer - Lightweight Structures
    • The physical and metallurgical properties of high strength steels, stainless steels, metal matrix composites and aluminium, and titanium alloys.
    • Structural responses and stiffness analyses
    • An introduction into finite element modelling and simulations
    • An introduction into shape optimisation
    • Identification of failure modes and non-destructive test methods.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successfully completing the module the student will be able to:

    • Define metallic materials selection criteria, select metallic materials to specifications and relate the metallic material properties and structural properties.
    • Design metallic alloy products (e.g. vehicle chassis, wheels, suspension etc), develop finite element model of a metallic product using modelling and simulation tools, define relevant structural properties for product models, validate models (with respect to shape, mesh, contacts, materials  law,  etc) using modelling and simulation tools, analyse modelling and simulation results with respect to structural responses behaviour and compare finite element modelling results with experimental results.
    • Assemble the designed product, optimise the designed product (with respect to lightweight, cost, performance,  and safety margins properties) using modelling and simulation tools and relate designed models and implementations.
  • Motorsport vehicle dynamics
    Module LeaderDr James Brighton - Senior Lecturer
    • Minimum time optimisation
    • Tyre shear force development, measurement and characterisation
    • Suspension geometry description and analysis - important properties
    • Steady turning equilibrium states; suspension/chassis interactions; roll angles, load transfers, jacking
    • Yaw/sideslip handling dynamics; steady turn responses, understeer and oversteer; stability and controllability (a) small perturbations from straight running (b) small perturbations from cornering trim
    • Limit behaviour and design aspects; differentials and brake balancing
    • Simulation tools and model building - special reference to RaceSim
    • Vibration behaviour of car and wheels; springs; dampers; track roughness and the use of electro-hydraulic shaker rigs for setup.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of the performance limits of a race car and the sources of such limitations
    • Describe the interactions of car and driver and discuss intelligently the requirements on the car from a controllability point of view
    • Demonstrate a knowledge of the complex relationships between car design aspects and vehicle performance
    • Show some familiarity with simulation and optimisation methods for improving design and performance.
  • The business of motorsport
    Module LeaderMr Clive Temple - Senior Lecturer
    • The business environment for motorsport organisations
    • The nature and dynamics of business environments
    • Determining drivers for future change
    • Managing motorsport businesses strategically
    • Creating and sustaining competitive advantage
    • Commercial aspects of motorsport management
    • Marketing plans and positioning for sponsorship
    • Brand strategies
    • Media relations
    • Raising capital for motorsport businesses
    • Managing technical knowledge and expertise
    • Knowledge management, creating, codifying and diffusing knowledge
    • Managing innovation and expertise
    • Integration of management principles through assessment and evaluation of a series of motorsport case studies.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student should:

    • Understand the specific management challenges of the motorsport sector
    • Characterise the motorsport environment and the influences on its development
    • Appreciate the potential sources of competitive advantage for an organisation in the motorsport sector and the steps needed to both create and sustain such an advantage
    • Understand the particular issues relating to the commercial aspects of motorsport management. These would include raising and sustaining sponsorship, media relations and raising capital
    • Understand the particular issues relating to the management of technical expertise and knowledge in motorsport.


Taught modules 40%, Group project 20%, Individual project 40%.

Start date, duration and location

Start date: Full-time: October

Duration: Full-time MSc - one year

Teaching location: Cranfield


  • Study in a postgraduate-only environment where Masters' graduates can secure positions in full-time employment in their chosen field, or undertake academic research
  • 35 places available
  • Teaching by leading academics as well as industrial practitioners
  • Dedicated support including extensive information resources managed by Cranfield University's library
  • Multi-cultural environment
  • Excellent career paths.

Accreditation and partnerships

The course is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for fulfilling further learning requirements for CEng, and the PgDip course for IEng. Cranfield University also holds the approval 'Motorsport Academy UK Recognised Educator (Post-Graduate)' through the Motorsport Academy’s Employer Recognition Scheme for educators and trainers. Cranfield University is a member of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) and is a Motor Sports Association (MSA) Recognised Organisation. The Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc programme operates a partnership with iZone Driver Performance.

At the British F1 Grand Prix and Moto GP our students support the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) by driving BRDC members and their guests to locations on the circuit.

Cranfield University is a partner with AVL through AVL's university scheme and our students use AVL's Boost software.

Students who excel on the Masters course have their performance recognised through prizes presented at the Motorsport MSc Winning Post Graduation PartyBritish Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) Prize for their interaction with the motorsport sector Sir Jackie Stewart OBE Prize for the student who puts in the best overall performance on the taught element of the course Professor Adrian Reynard Prize for the student who offers the best thesis project. Altair Prize for the Best Group Design Project report.

  • British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) Trophy and Prize for the leading British student on their performance in relation to the three elements of the course (taught modules, thesis project, and design project) and their interaction with the motorsport sector
  • Sir Jackie Stewart Trophy and Prize for the student who puts in the best overall performance on the taught element of the course, the group design project and the individual thesis project
  • Professor Adrian Reynard Prize for the best student who offers the best thesis project. The winner receives a trophy and cheque
  • Prize for the Best Group Design Project.

"Cranfield University is working very closely with Altair where the MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering is concerned. Altair's contribution is really benefitting the students and the academic team delivering the programme. With many points of engagement throughout the academic year the partnership is ensuring our students are conversant with state-of-the-art software and its application. The Altair prize is testimony to Altair's commitment to the Motorsport MSc."

Clive Temple, Programme Director, MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering

Informed by industry

The current composition of the Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc Steering Committee (Advisory Panel) is:

  • Adrian Reynard, Director - ARC and Motorsport Visiting Professor to Cranfield University (Chair of the Panel)
  • Paul Crofts, Head of Materials Engineering - Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (Deputy Chair of the Panel)
  • Chris Aylett, Chief Executive - The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA)
  • Simon Blunt, General Secretary - The Motor Sports Association (MSA)
  • Gillian Carr, Secretary - The British Racing Driver's Club (BRDC)
  • Owen Carless, Head of Stress, Rear of Car - Red Bull Technology
  • Jamie Dye, Managing Director – Fortec Motorsports
  • Jane Gilham, Head of Human Resources - Xtrac Ltd
  • Sylvain Filippi, Chief Technical Officer, Virgin Racing Formula E Team
  • Ian Goddard, Senior Engineer/Graduate Programme Manager - Renault Sport Formula One Team  Ron Hartvelt, Director of Delivery - RML Group Ltd
  • David Lapworth, Technical Director - Prodrive
  • Cristiana Pace, ADR Operations Manager (consultant engineer) - Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)
  • Mike Pilbeam, Director - Pilbeam Racing Designs
  • Julia Schumacher, High Performance Technologies (HPT) Business Growth Manager – Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP)
  • Neil Spalding, Director - Sigma Performance and Technical Consultant Moto GP
  • Stefan Strahnz, Engineering Group Manager – Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team
  • Pat Symonds, Chief Technical Officer - Williams F1
  • Christopher Tate, Managing Director - Donington Park Racing Ltd

 A number of external lecturers from the world of motorsport will deliver sessions during modules as well as contributing to the group design project phase and to the support of individual thesis projects. Our visiting academics include:

  •     Dr Adrian Reynard, Motorsport Visiting Professor
  •     Dr Matthew Harrison, Motorsport Visiting Professor
  •     Professor James 'Mac' Hulbert, Motorsport Visiting Fellow
  •     Mr Joe Saward, Motorsport Business Visiting Fellow
  •     Mr Karl Ludvigsen, Motorsport History Visiting Fellow.

Your teaching team

Facilities and resources

  • Composites manufacturing laboratory
  • Crash testing facilities at the FIA approved Cranfield Impact Centre
  • Off road vehicle dynamics facility
  • Vehicle articulation rig
  • Rolling road dynamometer
  • Moment of Inertia rig
  • Wind tunnels
  • 4 post vehicle dynamics rig at Shrivenham
  • Competition vehicles and equipment
  • Data logging equipment and associated software.

Entry Requirements

First or Upper Second class UK Honours graduates in engineering, aerospace, materials science and closely related disciplines who wish to gain knowledge of the engineering, management, science and technologies relevant to Motorsport.

Selected UK students are expected to attend a formal interview at Cranfield. Selected overseas and EU students will be interviewed by telephone.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. Our minimum requirements are as follows:


TOEFL - 100 

Pearson PTE Academic - 68

Cambridge English Scale - 190

Cambridge English: Advanced - C

Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.


Home EU Student Fees

MSc Full-time - £9,000

Overseas Fees

MSc Full-time - £17,500

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.


Application Process

Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at that time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

Career opportunities

Motorsport is a highly competitive sector. While we cannot guarantee you a job in motorsport, studying at Cranfield will immerse you in a highly focused motorsport engineering programme, providing you with access to motorsport companies and practitioners. You will find Cranfield alumni throughout the international motorsport sector. 

Former students are working for companies such as Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, Andretti Formula E, Abt Sportsline, Haas F1 Team, Race Logic,  McLaren GT, HWA AG - Mercedes-AMG DTM Team, JLR, Multimatic, Lotus Cars, FORTEC, Scuderia Ferrari, Van Amersfoort Racing, VW WRC, Renault Sport F1, Aston Martin, RML,  DS Virgin Racing Formula E,  Pirelli Motorsport, Ricardo UK STC., JRM, McLaren Automotive, ORECA, Titan Motorsport and Automotive, Bentley Cars, Honda R & D Europe,  Red Bull Racing Australia, Mahle, Manor Racing MRT,  Prodrive and Dunlop Motorsport.

Related areas