This module can be taken as a Short Course for Credit or a Standalone Short Course.

Please go to the 'Upgrade to a professional qualification' section for more information.

This course will help you develop a comprehensive knowledge and skills on various propellants, raw materials of gun propellants, their properties and function, vulnerability, requirement of novel propellants, internal ballistics, fundamentals of thermodynamics and heat transfer as applied to conventional guns.

At a glance

  • Dates
    • Please enquire for course dates
  • Duration5 days
  • LocationCranfield University at Shrivenham
  • Cost£2,350 - Short Course for Credit fee 

    £1,925 - Standalone Short Course fee Concessions available

Course structure

Divided between traditional lectures, computer aided thermodynamics tutorial and a practical session.

What you will learn

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

  • Recognise major types of propellants and predict their applications in current gun systems;
  • Evaluate the ballistics, storage and mechanical properties of propellants;
  • Appraise the tools and techniques for assessing heat transfer and assess the effects of heat transfer on a weapon system and propose mitigations;
  • Critically evaluate the vulnerability of current propellants, in order to develop novel propellants.

Core content

  • Nitrocellulose, its raw materials, single, double, triple and multi-base propellants and other ingredients;
  • Properties of propellants and their ingredients;
  • Oxygen balance and its significance in muzzle flash and gun barrel life;
  • Vulnerability assessment of conventional propellants;
  • Liquid propellants and their drawbacks;
  • Specific energy: balancing heat, gas production and performance parameters;
  • Ageing and storage properties of propellants;
  • Ballistic parameters and their measurement by a Closed Vessel;
  • Low vulnerability ammunition propellants (LOVA) and new developments;
  • Different manufacturing methods;
  • Pressure travel curves in a gun;
  • Resal’s energy equation;
  • Effect of grain size and shape on burning rate and gun performance;
  • Equation of motion of shot within a gun barrel;
  • Heat transfer equations;
  • Measurement and computer modelling of gun barrel temperature;
  • Theory of gun barrel erosion;
  • Self-ignition of propellants and explosives.

Upgrade to a professional qualification

When taken as a Short Course for Credit, 10 credit points can be put towards the Explosives Ordnance Engineering MSc.

Find out more about short course credit points.

Who should attend

Students must have successfully completed the Introduction to Explosives Engineering course or have relevant experience in order to take this as a Short Course for Credit.

There are no prerequisites if taken as a Standalone Short Course.



A limited number of MOD sponsored places are available. 

There are limited places on these modules. You may not receive an offer until places have been confirmed, usually 1 to 2 weeks before the start date.

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

Please complete the online application form.

Read our Professional development (CPD) booking conditions.