In the modern world we are living in – embedded in – a world of systems. Our daily lives rely on communications systems, transport systems, healthcare systems, financial systems and a myriad of others. Understanding the complex and often counterintuitive behaviour of systems and how they can be designed and adapted to meet our needs is the interest of the Systems Group at Cranfield University. Realising successful systems is the purpose of systems engineers. An education in systems engineering is an education in complex problem analysis and synthesis and robust, traceable decision making.

Systems engineers address some of the most complex challenges and problems that society faces. A systems engineer will address the root causes of a problem situation, 'questioning the question' and looking at it from multiple (possibly conflicting) viewpoints in order to arrive at a set of systems requirements that meet a variety of stakeholder needs. They will consider the issues that may arise throughout the lifetime of a system, from concept to retirement, and check robustly and rigorously that the system will meet user requirements throughout its lifecycle.

Who we are

We are one of the UK’s leading groups for research and education in systems thinking and systems engineering. Drawing our group members from industrial, academic and user backgrounds, our skills encompass the breadth of systems engineering as it is practised today across a range of domain areas. We are also a part of the Cranfield's Centre of Excellence for Complex Systems, which brings together pan-domain expertise from across the University to address broad and complex systems 'grand challenges', such as energy security, cyber-security, security of water supplies and others.

What we do

Our group is based around the three pillars of research, practice and teaching:


Our first pillar is an active and current research base which governs everything that we do in the group.

We are active in researching the practice, tools and methodology of systems thinking, systems engineering and supporting areas. We have particular research interests in the following areas:

  • The relationship between SE and ST
  • The foundations of SE
  • Model-based SE
  • Simulation in systems investigation
  • SE education
  • Systems resilience
  • Engineering autonomous systems


Our second pillar is the active practice of systems engineering on real-world problems.

We are fully engaged in a number of projects where systems thinking and engineering are used to investigate complex problem situations and inform robust, traceable decision making.

Additionally, as a key player in the Centre of Excellence for Complex Systems, we practise the application of systems engineering within the University, bringing together pan-domain expertise from across the University to address broad and complex systems 'grand challenges', such as energy security, cyber-security, security of water supplies and others.


Our third pillar is that delivery of world-class educational programmes driven by our research and practice activities.

We passionately believe that our educational offers should be practical, relevant and rooted in the real world.

Our primary offer is the MSc degree in Systems Engineering which aims to prepare students for the professional practice of systems engineering roles in multi-disciplinary teams across a range of industries. The Systems Engineering MSc gives students an advanced grounding in modern, team-based and distributed systems engineering as it is practiced in world-leading organisations.

Additionally, we offer this programme as a part of the master's-level apprenticeships programme, which combines a programme of academic study with personal development in the workplace.

Our people

Our staff have an unrivalled mix of experience spanning industry, the military and academia. Links to individual group members are below.