This unique MSc course covers the essential technology required for the participants to take a lead role within their organisation on the specification, design and development of gun systems.

Overview

  • Start dateSeptember
  • DurationMSc: 11 months full-time, up to three years part-time; PgDip: up to 11 months full-time, up to two years part-time; PgCert: up to 11 months full-time, up to two years part-time
  • DeliveryContinuous assessment, examinations and thesis (MSc only); approximately 10-15% of the assessment is by examination
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield University at Shrivenham

Who is it for?

The course is intended for officers of the armed forces and for scientists and technical officers in government defence establishments and the defence industry. It is particularly suitable for those who, in their subsequent careers, will be involved with the specification, analysis, development, technical management or operation of weapons systems.

Why this course?

The Gun System Design MSc is part of the Weapon and Vehicle Systems Engineering Programme. This course offers the underpinning knowledge and education to enhance the student’s suitability for senior positions within their organisation. 

This course provides education and training in selected weapons systems and provides students with the depth of knowledge to undertake engineering analysis or the evaluation of relevant subsystems.

Informed by industry

The Industrial Advisory Panel is made up of experienced engineers from within the MoD, and the UK and international defence industry.

Course details

Each individual module is designed and offered as a standalone course which allows an individual to understand the fundamental technology required to efficiently perform the relevant, specific job responsibilities.

This MSc course is made up of two essential components: the equivalent of 12 taught modules (including some double modules, typically of a two-week duration), and an individual project.

MSc and PgDip students take 11 compulsory modules and one optional module. PgCert students take four compulsory modules and two optional modules.

Course delivery

Continuous assessment, examinations and thesis (MSc only); approximately 10-15% of the assessment is by examination

Group project

Armoured Fighting Vehicle and Weapon Systems Study: To develop the technical requirements and characteristics of armoured fighting vehicles and weapon systems, and to examine the interactions between the various sub-systems and consequential compromises and trade-offs.

Individual project

In addition to the taught part of the course, students can opt either to undertake an individual project or participate in a group design project. The aim of the project phase is to enable students to develop expertise in engineering research, design or development. The project phase requires a thesis to be submitted and is worth 80 credit points.

Modules

Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.


Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

Armoured Fighting Vehicle and Weapon Systems Study

Aim
    To develop the technical requirements and characteristics of armoured fighting vehicles and weapon systems, and to examine the interactions between the various sub-systems and consequential compromises and trade-offs.
Syllabus
    • Application of systems engineering practice to an armoured fighting vehicle and weapon system,
    • Practical aspects of concept development and system integration,
    • Ammunition stowage, handling, replenishment and their effects on crew performance and safety,
    • Applications of power, data and video bus technology to next generation armoured fighting vehicles,
    • Packaging and design of armoured vehicles.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the engineering principles involved in matching elements of the vehicle and weapon system together,
  • Propose concepts for a vehicle and weapon system, taking into account incomplete and conflicting user requirements, as well as the legal and military standards framework,
  • Working effectively as a team, communicating the outcome of the design study by written report, solid modelling and orally to a critical audience.

Element Design

Aim
    To develop an ability and experience in designing mechanical components and subsystems.
Syllabus
    • Product design methodologies, phases of product design, product portfolio planning, concept engineering methodologies such as QFD and TRIZ,
    • Theories of fatigue and creep, fatigue/endurance strength, calculation of modified fatigue / endurance strength,
    • Design of machine elements; shafts, springs, cams, gears, clutches and brakes, threads and threaded joints,
    • Engineering tolerance design.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the importance of good detail design in achieving customer satisfaction, especially in respect of reliability,
  • Propose novel solutions to problem,
  • Demonstrate the design of a system element or elements to meet an ill-defined or general requirement,
  • Apply solid modelling techniques to effectively communicate conceptual and detailed designs,
  • Appraise designs critically for fitness-for-purpose and cost-effectiveness in relation to customer/user requirements,
  • Produce clear and concise engineering reports on the design produced,
  • Demonstrate the use of correct tolerancing to the design of an engineering component(s).

Finite Elements in Engineering

Aim
    To introduce the elementary skills and knowledge required to perform engineering finite-element (FE) and hydrocode analyses with an industry standard package and to be able to critically assess such analysis in terms of modelling and numerical error.
Syllabus
    • Numerical Solution Techniques for ODE’s: initial value problems, explicit vs. Implicit methods, stability, and order of accuracy.
    • Trusses: element and global geometries.
    • Mathematical Foundations: overview of finite-elements in one-dimension, weighted residuals, Galerkin method and weak form, shape and weight functions, one-dimensional elements, time-dependent problems, applications to heat transfer and mechanics.
    • Two-dimensional Problems: review of 2D heat transfer and mechanics, 2D elements, linear and quadratic, rectangular and triangular elements, practical - 2D heat flow.
    • Three-dimensional problems: review of 3D mechanics, 3D elements, grid generation, solution singularities, modelling failure, practical – 3D mechanics.
    • Hydrocodes: background, Lagrangian and Eulerian approaches, time-integration, artificial viscosity, methods for material contact and large deformations, overview of material and explosive modelling, applications, practical – impact problem.
    • Material modelling: stress-strain relations, equations of state, case studies.
    • Dynamic Problems: finite element methods to determine natural frequencies.
    • Design Optimisation: introduction to design optimisation, sensitivity analysis, parametric studies, practical – design optimisation.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Perform a FE or hydrocode analysis of a simple engineering problem in structures, heat transfer or impact using a standard package,
  • Critically assess their analysis by using knowledge of the underlying physics, numerics and their engineering judgement,
  • Produce a clear and concise report detailing their analysis.

Fundamentals of Ballistics

Aim
    To provide a fundamental understanding of internal, intermediate and external ballistics and ammunition system design.
Syllabus
    Internal ballistics, intermediate ballistics, external ballistics, rocket propulsion, sabot design, charge and shell design, shell blast and fragmentation, fuses and terminal guidance, smart ammunition, KE ammunition and cannon ammunition.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Critically analyse the key points of the internal ballistic including the significance of the travel-pressure curve and how a gun’s performance is affected by the propellant’s size and composition, 
  • Identify the forces and moments acting on a propulsion, sabot design, charge and shell design, shell blast and fragmentation, fuses and terminal guidance, smart ammunition, KE ammunition and cannon ammunition,
  • Assess the main types of ammunition and their modes of operation.

Military Vehicle Propulsion and Dynamics

Aim
    To provide a fundamental understanding of vehicle performance, terramechanics, power- train technology and vehicle dynamics (ride and handling) applied to both wheeled and tracked military vehicles.
Syllabus

    Topics to be covered are;

    • Terramechanics,
    • Drivelines for wheeled vehicles,
    • Gearboxes,
    • Tracked vehicle transmissions,
    • Engines and powerpacks for military vehicles,
    • Vehicle performance and its prediction,
    • Terrain accessibility and cross country performance
    • Gear ratio and transmission matching,
    • Launch performance,
    • Hybrid technologies for military vehicles,
    • Vehicle performance simulation,
    • Design trade-offs,
    • Human Response to Vibration (HRV),
    • Steering, tyres, suspension types and components, ride and handling.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the elements and systems that form the vehicle powertrain and chassis, giving typical examples for military vehicles,
  • Understand the fundamentals of engine and transmission design and explain why the majority of military systems rely on the diesel engine,
  • Analyse the interaction between the vehicle and different ground types and interpret the results in relation to its mobility and performance,
  • Demonstrate using simplified vehicle dynamic models a fundamental understanding of ride and handling,
  • Evaluate the requirements for a military vehicle in relation to its means of propulsion, ride and handling and produce a clear and concise report on the outcome.

Modelling Simulation and Control

Aim
    To give an introduction to mathematical modelling, control and the simulation environment Matlab/Simulink and introduce students to critical evaluation.
Syllabus
    Application of Newton’s Laws of Motion to the modelling of dynamics systems and the formation of transfer function and state space models. Dynamic response, effect of damping, natural frequency and time constant in both the time and frequency domains. Concepts of control, block and simulation diagrams, introduction to control system design and performance specification. Introduction to Matlab and Simulink for simulating dynamic systems. Development of graduate skills through introduction to peer assessment and through applying critical evaluation techniques to the literature and sources of information.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Recognise the implications of the assumptions made in forming a model of an engineering system,
  • Demonstrate how to perform modelling and simulation studies using Matlab and Simulink,
  • Judge the results of a simulation as to whether they and the model used are useful in relation to experimental results or engineering experience, 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of control systems and how they may be modelled and designed, 
  • Develop further their skill and knowledge of modelling and simulation in an engineering context,
  • Construct an effective search strategy and employ evaluation techniques to critically assess the literature.

Ordnance Design

Aim

    In-depth analysis, design and manufacture of a gun system including its ammunition, integration and the integrity of various sub-systems based upon the ammunition, gun, propellants, ballistics and the thermodynamics.

     

Syllabus
    • Gun Design Pressure (GDP) and Maximum Safe Pressure (MSP) curves. Barrel material and heat treatment,
    • Ordnance Design (strength), pre-stressing, autofrettage stresses (hydraulic and shrink fit). Ordnance design (fatigue).,
    • Barrel thermodynamics. Breech design; load analysis, stress evaluation in both sliding and screw breech mechanism, supported by a tutorial. Recoil system design; buffer assembly, recuperator and control to run-out and muzzle brake design. Gun mounting; general problems of fitting guns into vehicles, spatial and interference considerations, swept volume, recoil constraints, gun and turret location, tactical and strategic mobility implications, ammunition stowage and replenishment, saddle and cradle design,
    • Ammunition handling; need for mechanised loading system, advantages and disadvantages, ammunition handling chain, design consideration, influence of ammunition configuration, typical stowage configurations, autoloader concepts (artillery and tank), features and examples of autoloaders,
    • Introduction to fatigue and fracture mechanics for gun barrels, real life effects in gun barrels, realistic fatigue life calculations, failure mechanisms and implications for wear and erosion.

    Case study,

    • (Ordnance design exercise): Ammunition design, gun design pressure, barrel and breech configuration including autofrettage stresses and fatigue life, rate of fire and operating temperature, Recoil system and cradle design, CAD modelling and engineering drawings, material and manufacturing specifications.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module the students should be able to:

  • Compute the forces, pressures and stresses generated in a gun system during firing,
  •  Demonstrate an understanding of the engineering and physical limits of gun systems in relation to their installation and performance,
  • Analyse the design of a gun system in relation to current standards and practice. Understand the conceptual design of an ordnance system,
  • Evaluate the system requirements and recognise the practical issues related to meeting them,
  • Design a gun system and critically evaluate the integration of subsystems and their effect on the system performance,
  • Recognise and predict the effect of; stress, fatigue, wear and thermal loading on a gun system,
  • Communicate effectively the design of a gun using detailed engineering drawings.

Solid Modelling and CAD

Aim

    To develop an understanding of the main concepts and methods used in solid modelling for engineering applications using PTC Creo in preparation for the Element Design module

Syllabus
    Parts generation, sketching and drawing, relations within models, assembly generation, 2D engineering drawings, performing kinematic and dynamic studies, structural analysis.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Translate engineering components, by reducing them to their fundamental solid geometries, into solid models using a variety of constructional methods, 
  • Generate working drawings suitable for manufacturing and assembly from a solid model using engineering judgement, 
  • Demonstrate the use of a solid modelling tool to perform stress and dynamic investigations and judge whether the outputs are sensible,
  • Understand and explain the benefits of using solid modelling to engineers involved in development and manufacture.

Survivability

Aim
    To provide a fundamental understanding of armour systems and approaches to integrated survivability.
Syllabus
    • Extent and constraints on survivability and the requirements of survivability on different theatres,
    • Terminal ballistics and armour materials, hydrodynamic and sub-hydrodynamic penetration,
    • Penetration mechanisms and design against penetration,
    • Choice of materials against protection and fabrication criteria,
    • Armour systems including complex armour, body armour and protection against mine threats. prediction of armour performance including analytical and numerical methods survival in depth and the Layered approach,
    • Electronic systems for protection including battlefield ID, defensive aids suites and electro optic protection,
    • Human vulnerability and the mitigation of threats,
    • Integrated survivability and its analysis including analytical methods, modelling and simulation,
    • Force level and platform simulation,
    • Survivability against Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear threats including typical threats, detection, individual protection and collective protection,
    • An appreciation of of the influence of autonomy in the survivability domain.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the layered approach to survivability and identify the engineering and operational approaches that may be used at each level to enhance the chance of surviving,
  • Describe the mechanisms of armour penetration and differentiate between hydrodynamic and sub-hydrodynamic regimes, and employ the correct terminology in describing terminal ballistic events,
  • Evaluate the relative merits of various penetration prediction methods and select and implement the appropriate methodology successfully,
  • Apply engineering judgement to balancing the trade-offs between protection, performance and mobility, producing clear and concise reports detailing their recommendations,
  • Discuss with practitioners the fundamentals of survivability in relation to buildings, vehicles and personnel,
  • Have developed an autonomous approach to learning in this rapidly changing field of knowledge.

Vehicle Systems Integration

Aim
    To provide an introduction to the integration of electrical, electronic, mechanical, computing and electro-optic systems into new and legacy fighting vehicles.
Syllabus

    A Systems Engineering approach is used to consider:

    • Power generation and storage
    • Motor and actuator technologies
    • Power budgeting electronic subsystem
    • Vetronics and the digital battlefield
    • Current and future civilian and military databus standards and operation
    • Radio communications equipment.
    • Electro-optic subsystem,
    • Thermal imaging and image intensifying electro-optic systems,
    • Laser designators.
    • HUMS,
    • Systems assessment,
    • Ergonomics and the man-machine interface,
    • The Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) is discussed.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Define the electrical, electronic, software, and mechanical architecture needed for a modern fighting vehicle,
  • Select and assess electrical, electronic, electro-optic and mechanical systems required to upgrade legacy military vehicles,
  • Assess human factors and man-machine interface aspects of military systems.

Elective modules
One of the modules from the following list need to be taken as part of this course

Guided Weapons

Module Leader
  • Dr Derek Bray
Aim

    The aim of this module is to: provide a general overview of guided weapon systems and technology; introduce students to the theoretical design of guided weapon subsystems; demonstrate how these subsystems form the overall guided weapon system.

Syllabus
    Indicative module content:

    missile and the system; constituent parts of the missile and how they integrate into the complete system; the threat and how it can be countered,
    airframe materials and structures; factors affecting aerodynamic lift and drag,
    polar, Cartesian and roll control; aerodynamic and thrust vector control; actuation systems; instrumentation; accelerometers; rate and position gyroscopes; acceleration and velocity control; roll rate and position, latex and altitude autopilots,
    principles of millimetric wave (mmW) seekers,
    principles of infra-red seeker technology,
    the need for guidance; types of trajectory; system characteristics and classification; command, homing and navigational guidance coverage diagrams,
    reaction to thrust, propellants, jet propulsion, rocket and air-breathing engines,
    principles of homing and surveillance radar,
    overview of warheads for guided weapons for attack of armour, airborne targets and ground installations; safety and arming; types of fuze, matching and countermeasures.
     
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

describe the elements that make up a guided weapon system,
discuss the principles involved and the design constraints on guided weapon airframe, propulsion, warhead, control and guidance systems and how these subsystems interact with one another,
explain the principles of radar, IR and mmW technology and how these technologies are used in guided weapon systems,
develop a preliminary guided weapon design.
 

Light Weapon Design

Aim
    To provide the information and experience to understand the principles of operation and analysis required in designing a light weapon and its components.
Syllabus
    • Operation and safety,
    • Ballistics,
    • Hit probability,
    • Operating mechanisms of rifles and machine guns,
    • Firing mechanisms,
    • Gun springs,
    • Extractor design,
    • Sighting systems,
    • Introduction to grenades and introduction to less lethal weapons systems.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Describe the component mechanisms and systems that make up a light weapon,
  •  Explain the operating principles of small arms and assess their applicability to system requirements,
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the design of a light weapon system and the detail design of its critical components,
  • Critically assess the function of light weapon systems using engineering principles, report and discuss the findings with a weapons engineer.

Reliability and Systems Effectiveness

Aim
    To examine the fundamental factors that influence the Availability, Reliability, Maintainability and Support (A,R,M&S) of Defence Equipment
Syllabus
    • Availability,
    • Effectiveness and user requirements,
    • Supportability effectiveness and user requirements,
    • Supportability concepts and logistics,
    • Quantitative requirements,
    • R,M&S analysis techniques, strengths, weaknesses and alternatives,
    • Testing and evaluation,
    • System operation and support.

    Interactive or Directed Study:

    • Exercises, pre-reading and classroom or computer based exercise.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Explain the layered approach to survivability and identify the engineering and operational approaches that may be used at each level to enhance the chance of surviving,
  • Describe the mechanisms of armour penetration and differentiate between hydrodynamic and sub-hydrodynamic regimes, and employ the correct terminology in describing terminal ballistic events,
  • Evaluate the relative merits of various penetration prediction methods and select and implement the appropriate methodology successfully,
  • Apply engineering judgement to balancing the trade-offs between protection, performance and mobility, producing clear and concise reports detailing their recommendations,
  • Discuss with practitioners the fundamentals of survivability in relation to buildings, vehicles and personnel,
  • Have developed an autonomous approach to learning in this rapidly changing field of knowledge.

Rocket Motors and Propellants

Aim
    To develop an understanding of the principles of rocket propulsion and of rocket propellant composition and performance.
Syllabus

    Rocket Propulsion:

    • Principles of reaction propulsion,
    • Fundamental principles of applied thermodynamics and gas dynamics,
    • Mach number, flow function, flow area relationship,
    • Convergent-divergent nozzles,
    • Definitions of propulsion performance criteria,
    • Internal ballistics of solid propellant rocket motors,
    • Charge design for particular applications,
    • Rocket motor components,
    • Thrust vector control methods,
    •  Velocity and range equations for accelerating and cruising projectiles

    Chemistry:

    • Principles of rocket propellant composition,
    • Properties and applications of cast and extruded double base propellants,
    • Properties and applications of rubbery composite propellants,
    • Properties and applications of liquid monopropellants and bipropellants,
    • New developments in propellant composition and formulation.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Apply the principles of thermodynamics and gas dynamics to rocket propulsion, demonstrating that a solid rocket motor is a self-regulating device,
  • Critically evaluate the principle of charge design applied to examples in the defence and commercial sectors,
  • Evaluate the design of a propellant formulation against the key user requirements of safety, performance and combustion signature,
  • Analyse the latest developments and drivers in the manufacture and design of future rocket propellant formulations.

Uninhabited Military Vehicle Systems

Aim
    To provide an overview of the ongoing debate for the levels of autonomy in the defence and security arena
Syllabus
    • The various relevant technologies and real system demonstrators will assist towards building up student abilities in the area of autonomous military vehicles including the technological, human factor, security and defence challenges. In particular the following areas will be covered: Uninhabited Vehicle Taxonomy,
    • System sensors, Intelligent Propulsion, Communications, System Behaviour, Systems Integration.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Recognise and assess the on-going debate for the preferred levels of autonomy for defence and security for the three domains and the implications to the human and associated technologies. Synthesise and evaluate the sub-systems that make up a generic autonomous platform,
  • Determine and evaluate the fundamentals of military vehicle autonomous systems and assess them within the framework of system integration. Assess the key design issues when multiple criteria are used for performance and endurance within operating, environmental and other constraints,
  • Recognise and synthesize within the context of Uninhabited Vehicles the requirements for; sensors, intelligent propulsion technologies, propulsion graph theory, electrical thrusters, communication systems, mission planning, principles of data buses, radar based tracking, IR seekers, humans vehicles and autonomy and systems integration,
  • Evaluate and criticise the current technology and the implications it could have on missions and human factors. Evaluate the design principles for full, partial and selectable autonomy,
  • Evaluate and judge the operational mission behaviour of ground autonomous vehicles in an experimental laboratory environment. Be able to work in teams for group projects, reports and oral presentations.

Teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield's leading experts with capability expertise, industry knowledge and collective subject research, as well as external speakers from industry and defence. The Student Academic Support lead for the MSc in Gun Systems Design is Emily Harris and the Course Director is Dave Simner. The teaching team includes:

Accreditation

Accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer. Candidates must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to comply with full CEng registration requirements. 

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Your career

Many previous students have returned to their sponsor organisations to take up senior programme appointments and equivalent research and development roles in this technical area.

Cranfield Careers and Employability Service

Cranfield’s Career Service is dedicated to helping you meet your career aspirations. You will have access to career coaching and advice, CV development, interview practice, access to hundreds of available jobs via our Symplicity platform and opportunities to meet recruiting employers at our careers fairs. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. Support continues after graduation and as a Cranfield alumnus, you have free life-long access to a range of career resources to help you continue your education and enhance your career.

How to apply

Click on the ‘Apply now’ button below to start your online application.

See our Application guide for information on our application process and entry requirements.