As the only course of its kind to run in the UK, the CBRN Defence Science course provides background technical knowledge to support staff in a wide range of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) appointments.

This two week course provides a good mixture of theoretical lectures, laboratory practicals, demonstrations and activities as well as site visits to the Defence CBRN Centre and to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) to study current development and research.

At a glance

  • Dates
    • 07 - 18 Oct 2024
    • 12 - 23 May 2025
  • Duration10 days
  • LocationCranfield University at Shrivenham
  • Cost£4,200 Concessions available

What you will learn

The aim of this 2-week course is to provide practising scientists, engineers, weapon staff officers and unit officers with an understanding of the science and technology underpinning CBRN Defence in order to enhance their effectiveness.

For scientists, the course is intended to widen the appreciation of the areas of science that are applied to CBRN Defence beyond their key specialism, and provide understanding of the military context in which scientific developments will find a practical application. In addition, a key aspect of the course is offered by the broad mix of Military and Civilian CBRN practitioners attending this course and so providing for an informal atmosphere enabling open exchange views and opportunity to establish contacts.

Learning outcomes

  • CBRN 1: Describe the chemical and physical properties of Chemical and Biological Agents, and be able to explain how and why they affect personnel and equipment.
  • CBRN 2:  Recognise and explain the physiological effects of Chemical and Biological Agents, and identify how and why they affect personnel (including psychological impact).     
  • CBRN 3:  Explain the science of radiation and radiation release mechanisms, the Nuclear Fuel cycle, radiation dispersal, measurement techniques, and the effects on personnel, equipment and structures.
  • CBRN 4: Relate the principles behind Chemical and Biological protection technologies, including Individual and collective CBRN protection and detection techniques for military and civil environment. Compare methods of decontamination and chemical hardening.
  • CBRN 5: Summarise how CBRN weaponisation is achieved, with considerations for dispersion and air movement. Identify the spread of disease in the population and the threat in a military and civil context and the civil and military defensive capabilities. 

Core content

  • Chemical Agents
  • Biological Agents
  • Radiological Hazards
  • Nuclear Hazards
  • Physical Protection (individual and collective)
  • Detection
  • Decontamination
  • Demilitarisation
  • International and national controls of CBRN
  • Chemical Hardening
  • Current science and future developments
  • CBRN Practitioners and their roles
  • Security Briefing
  • Historical Weapons and Atmospheric Dispersion.

Who should attend

The course is designed to cater both for students with some knowledge of the practical side of the subject matter and those who study one aspect of the area in greater detail. However, it should be noted that:

  • There are MOD funded places on each course for qualifying MOD staff.
  • The course content is classed to OFFICIAL - SENSITIVE, with two sessions classed to SECRET - "Five Eyes". Therefore students will require clearance to minimum of Security Check (SC) level to attend the course. Students who are citizens of countries other than the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia will not be able to attend any that are classed to SECRET-"Five Eyes" level. 


Course is monitored under MOD Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT) process.


External Speakers include members of the:

  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Former UN Weapons Inspectors and members of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Metropolitan Police Dedicated CBRN Unit
  • Defence Intelligence
  • UK equipment manufacturers
  • Public Health England
  • Home Office.

There are also visits to the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Centre (DCBRN) Winterbourne Gunner and DSTL Porton Down.


A limited number of MOD sponsored places are available.

Location and travel

Cranfield Defence and Security (CDS) is a Cranfield School based at the Ministry of Defence establishment on the Oxfordshire/Wiltshire borders.

Shrivenham itself lies in the picturesque Vale of the White Horse, close to the M4 motorway which links London and South Wales. It is 7 miles from Swindon, the nearest town, which lies off the M4 at the hub of Britain’s motorway network.

Bath, Cheltenham, Bristol and Oxford are all within an hour’s drive and London less than two hours away by car.

All visitors must be pre-booked in at reception by the person they are visiting on the campus.

For further location and travel details

How to apply

To apply for this course please use the online application form.

Read our Professional development (CPD) booking conditions.