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Operations Excellence MSc


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Operations Excellence is a world-leading programme developed by Cranfield University through a unique partnership with Rolls-Royce and the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge. The course has been designed to enhance the skills of professionals leading the development of the operations supply chain, both internally and externally. It develops skills and knowledge required to lead the implementation of change in business. It covers all aspects of the supply chain, from introducing new products, operating effective factories, through to managing new technologies and working with suppliers. This course addresses the need for highly trained operations professionals required to transform operations into a world-class business in all sectors of manufacturing business.

Students learn from other cohort members, from guest lecturers and from developing solutions to individual issues through group and individual projects. The courses are regularly scrutinised by an advisory panel of leading professionals from industry to ensure the content is up-to-date and meets the needs of employers.

In order to undertake this programme you will need the support of your employer or sponsoring company.

  • Course overview

    The Operations Excellence course is structured to allow maximum benefit from learning with minimum time away from the working environment. This course comprises a series of eight taught modules, a group project and an individual thesis project. The eight modules develop skills to deliver real benefits to the students' companies.

  • Group project

    Industrially supported and relevant project work undertaken represents 60% of the total study time.  It enables delegates to apply the knowledge and skills gained from the taught element of the course and put them into practice. Projects are particularly designed and chosen to ensure delegates are able to relate the content directly to the performance of the business and its future success.

    Benefits to the organisation are:

    • Drive organisational performance improvement
    • Develop business leaders
    • Develop new leadership capabilities
    • Contribute to the transformation of businesses into world class organisations
    • Develop a new strategic perspective
    • Develop skills in implementing innovation.

    Group projects have been sponsored by:

    • Bombardier
    • Meggitt
    • Ministry of Defence
    • Rolls-Royce plc
    • Thales
    • Weetabix.
  • Individual project

    The individual project allows each student to demonstrate their independent learning ability and interest in advancing their knowledge through the pursuit of independent research and/or development work in an industrially relevant area and communicate their ideas, analysis and conclusions in written and oral formats. The subject of the thesis is agreed between the delegate and the supervisor and will normally be based around part of the taught material and/or a company problem. The project will be carried out at a company and/or at Cranfield University depending on the nature of the project.

  • Modules

    The course comprises eight assessed modules.


    • Business and Manufacturing Strategy

      To provide students with an overview of the main, established business and functional strategy frameworks, with their advantages and disadvantages.  Also to provide critical capability in analysing and developing strategies.

      • The main business strategy frameworks; Porter, Mintzberg, Boston Consulting
      • Harvard manufacturing strategy frameworks; Skinner, Hayes and Wheelwright, Garvin
      • New and developing frameworks and research including resource and competency based strategy
      • High performance strategies
      • Issues of Risk, Governance and Servicisation
      • Strategy process and implementation methods
      • Case studies.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Demonstrate knowledge of the appropriate strategy frameworks and tools to use in building business and manufacturing strategies
      • Apply these frameworks and tools to the development of strategy in industrial situations
      • Assess critically the coherence and appropriateness of business and functional strategies.
    • Effective Factories
      Module LeaderDr Peter Ball - Reader

      To provide students with the knowledge of and skills needed to design effective manufacturing systems.

      • Group Technology/Cellular Manufacturing
      • Lean Enterprise Systems
      • Modelling techniques
      • Analytical tools eg. PFA, VSM
      • Equipment Specification
      • Workdesign
      • Productivity improvement and cost reduction techniques, eg. Kaizen, SMED.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Demonstrate an understanding of the tools and techniques required for the design of effective manufacturing systems
      • Understand the procedures needed to specify and/or design production equipment and workstations
      • Demonstrate awareness of lean concepts as applied to manufacturing organisations.
    • Innovation Management
      Module LeaderDr Patrick McLaughlin - Senior Lecturer

      To develop student understanding of new product introduction (NPI) practice. Focusing on NPI implementation within industry and introducing current tools and techniques used for improving NPI performance.


      The content of this module is based around the practice of New Product Introduction (NPI) across many sectors with emphasis on the role of cooperation and communication. A lecture approach will be used to present theory and practice, with emphasis on pragmatic techniques. Cases will be used to explore interaction between the taught concepts and to develop understanding further. Specific areas that will be covered include:

      • Best practice NPI processes and tools
      • The role of teamwork and communication
      • The team leadership role
      • The value and challenges of early involvement
      • Change management strategies for NPI
      • Co-development and performance measurement in NPI.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Explain the concept of NPI, the role of Innovation and its use to improve new product development performance
      • Describe the challenges organisations face when implementing improvements in NPI and innovation capabilities
      • Describe the basic principles of performance measurement as it relates to NPI and innovation
      • Demonstrate a practical understanding of techniques to diagnose change NPI environments
      • Develop and explain how to implement a plan to improve NPI innovation capability performance
      • Assess the effectiveness of a revised NPI system.
    • Management Accounting and Human Resource Management
      Module LeaderDr Jorn Mehnen - Reader in Computational Manufacturing

      To provide students with an understanding of management accounting principles and cost engineering methods and to provide a practical understanding of different management styles, team roles and different cultures.

      • Objective, principles, terminology and systems of management accounting
      • Inter-relationships between functional responsibilities within a company
      • Business game
      • Cost engineering
      • Personal style and team contribution
      • Interpersonal dynamics, leadership, human and cultural diversity.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Understand the objectives, principles, terminology and systems of management accounting
      • Demonstrate an appreciation of inter-relationships between functional responsibilities in a company
      • Demonstrate a practical understanding of different management styles, team roles, different cultures, and how the management of human diversity can impact organisational performance
      • Understand the principles of cost engineering.
    • Manufacturing Assessment and Improvement
      Module LeaderDr Konstantinos Salonitis - Lecturer in Manufacturing Systems

      To provide students with knowledge and techniques needed for the assessment and improvement of manufacturing systems.

      • Performance measurement
      • EFQM  
      • Best Factory Award
      • OEE, TPM and FMEA  
      • Statistical Process Control
      • Business Process Re-engineering
      • Lean Aerospace Initiative.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Demonstrate knowledge of tools and techniques to assess and measure manufacturing performance
      • Apply process capability assessment techniques
      • Apply maintenance measurement and management tools
      • Demonstrate awareness of re-engineering tools.
    • Production Planning and Control

      To provide students with an introduction to the fundamental concepts and methodologies of production management.

      • Capacity management
      • Scheduling
      • Inventory Management
      • Manufacturing Information Systems (MRP, MRP11, ERP)
      • Just-in-Time systems.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Understand the determinants of capacity, the concept of the key determinant, and the issue of the order/size mix
      • Appreciate the complexity of scheduling, and be aware of simple scheduling rules
      • Understand independent and dependent demand, and the resulting impact on the design and management of manufacturing inventory systems
      • Understand the basic logic of an MRP system and data accuracy requirements, the basic elements of MRP11 and ERP systems, and issues surrounding successful implementation
      • Understand the basic characteristics of Just-in-Time manufacturing systems, including the operation of a Kanban system, and the Toyota Production System
      • Analyse a manufacturing system involving capacity constraints, inventory objectives and scheduling rules.
    • Realising Competitive Manufacture
      Module LeaderDr Patrick McLaughlin - Senior Lecturer

      To raise the students’ understanding of the role of the manufacturing function within the wider business context, and to develop skills in the design and realisation of competitive manufacturing strategy.

      • Competitive manufacturing strategy concepts
      • Benchmarking of manufacturing system performance  
      • Manufacturing strategy in business success
      • Strategy formation and formulation, leading on to system design
      • Structured strategy formulation and system design methodologies
      • Approaches to strategy formulation in differing business contexts
      • Realisation of new strategies/system designs, including approaches to implementation
      • Case study on design of competitive manufacturing strategy.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Describe the role of manufacturing within business strategy
      • Define and explain manufacturing strategy process and content, emergent and intended strategy, competitive edge criteria and decision areas
      • Explain how the various approaches to manufacturing strategy formation complement different business circumstances
      • Demonstrate manufacturing strategy formulation
      • Apply a structured methodology for manufacturing strategy formulation
      • Assess the impact of a proposed manufacturing strategy on business performance.
    • Technology Management

      To provide students with the principles and practice of Technology Management.

      • Technology in business context
      • Technology management processes
      • Technology strategy and planning (including road mapping, foresight, scenarios, etc)
      • R&D portfolio management, IPR management, valuation
      • New venture creation and entrepreneurship
      • Make versus Buy/strategic alliances and partnerships
      • Technology management in applications.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Understand the broad issues that link technology, business and industry evolution
      • Demonstrate the use and value of a process framework for supporting effective technology management
      • Demonstrate the use of various core tools and techniques encompassed by technology management
      • Understand how to plan for different future scenarios
      • Understand how pipelines of sources of technology are managed to create sustainable business growth
      • Understand how technology can be applied to market opportunities through new venture creation
      • Understand how internal and external resources/capabilities can be balanced to achieve business goals
      • Understand how technology is managed within your company.
  • Assessment

    Taught modules: 40% Group project or dissertation: 20% Individual project: 40%

  • Start date, duration and location

    Start date: Part-time: October and April

    Duration: Part-time: two years

    Teaching location: Cranfield

  • Overview

    Management in the manufacturing sector requires specialised skills. In a competitive environment, companies seek out streamlined processes to enable them to be more efficient, improve quality and be more cost effective.  Cranfield University brings together expertise across several disciplines to inform industry and help companies stay ahead of their competitors. Many lecturers have worked in industry themselves, some at Managing Director level, and have actual experience of leading productivity improvements.

    The theory and extensive practical application of the Operations Excellence course puts business leaders in a position where they can implement change to achieve:

    • Revenue Growth
    • Increased Profits
    • Increased Market Share
    • Innovation Capability.
  • Accreditation and partnerships

    The MSc Operation Excellence is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) for meeting the 'further learning requirements' for Chartered Engineer registration.

  • Informed by industry

    Our courses are designed to meet the training needs of industry and have a strong input from experts in their sector. These include:

    • Bombardier
    • Babcock
    • P R Ganguly
    • Machan Consulting
    • SAP
    • Holsim Energy
    • BAe Systems
    • Tata Steel
    • SAS (EUR)
    • Visteon Engineering Services
    • Redmantle
    • Volvo
    • Subsea 7
    • Tulip UK Ltd & Independent Lean Manufacturing Specialist
    • Atos Origin
    • Rolls-Royce
    • Alamo Group Europe Limited (USA)
    • Say One Media
    • Saipem
    • Ford
    • Bernard Matthews
    • Factura
    • BT
    • Price Systems.

    Students who have excelled have their performances recognised through course awards. The awards are provided by high profile organisations and individuals, and are often sponsored by our industrial partners. Awards are presented on Graduation Day. View the 2014 Prize Winners booklet.

  • Your teaching team

    You will be taught by leaders in their field within the Manufacturing and Materials Department and external lecturers from companies including:

    • Rolls Royce
    • Primary People
    • Alan Roberson Associates
    • Global Closure systems
    • Nissan
  • Facilities and resources

    The School of Applied Sciences operates facilities and associated equipment which are often unique to Cranfield. Students on the Operations Excellence course benefit from this infrastructure which also supports our work with industrial partners. Students have access to computing facilities and laboratories suitable for general purpose, and engineering applications. A vast range of specialist software applications are available including Witness, SAP and CAD IDEAS.

  • Entry Requirements

    Candidates must possess, or be expected to achieve, a First or Second class UK Honours degree in a relevant science, engineering or related discipline, or the international equivalent of these UK qualifications. Other relevant qualifications, together with significant experience, may be considered

    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.  The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

    IELTS - 6.5

    TOEFL - 92 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    TOEIC - 800 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    Pearson PTE Academic - 65

    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 if 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 will also need to meet the UKBA Tier 4 General Visa English language requirements.  The UK Home Office are not currently accepting TOEFL or TOEIC tests for Tier 4 (General) visa applications. Other restrictions from the UK Home Office may apply from time to time and we will advise applicants of these restrictions where appropriate.

  • Fees

    Home/EU student


    This is the total fee charged for the award and a payment plan system is offered.

    MSc Part-time - £18,000 *

    Overseas student

    MSc Part-time - £18,000 *

    Fee notes:

    • Fees are payable annually for each year of study unless otherwise indicated.
    • The fees outlined here apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 and the University reserves the right to amend fees without notice.
    • All students pay the annual tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
    • Additional fees for extensions to registration may be charged.
    • 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 the Isle of Man) pay international fees.
  • Funding

    Students are usually supported by their employer. RAES funding may be available. Please check with the Royal Society of Aeronautical Engineers.

    Aerospace MSc Bursary Scheme - Course List

    Aerospace MSc Bursary Scheme - List of eligible courses available to study at Cranfield University.

  • 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

    Individuals selected to participate in this programme will be able to deliver significant business benefits to their employer/sponsoring company immediately. In addition, the greater depth and breadth of skills gained will enable graduates to progress to more senior roles in the future.

    Students who have excelled in the course have their performance recognised through course awards, sponsored by Rolls-Royce, Arthur Corfe and Professor John Kay. These are presented to the winners when they Graduate.

  • Alex Cosgrove

    Keen to do a specialist degree which would underpin his experience, Alex Cosgrove found the Operations Excellence MSc at Cranfield to be greatly rewarding.

  • Wayne Thornton

    Wayne Thornton praises the relevance to operations in the real world, with the course providing a positive and sustainable connection between operations and the larger business and corporate levels.

  • Marc Smoczyk

    With the course enabling a holistic view rather than simply focusing on day-to-day activities, Marc Smoczyk was able to change things for the better with a fresh perspective at work.