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.

The module introduces the principles, concepts and techniques of key features of guided weapons, namely warheads, explosives and materials.

At a glance

  • Dates
    • Please enquire for course dates
  • Duration5 days
  • LocationCranfield University at Shrivenham
  • Cost

    £2,070 - Short Course for Credit fee

    £1,750 - Standalone Short Course fee

    Concessions available

Course structure

This 5-day course is delivered via a mixture of short lectures, analytical practicals and demonstration of warheads at the range. All delegates receive a course folder containing all the materials presented in the course.

What you will learn

On completion, you will be able to: 

  • Understand the importance of warheads and explosives within the context of guided weapon systems,
  • Gain knowledge in materials, material properties and specific failure modes for guided weapon systems,
  • Critically select the warhead, explosive and materials for a specific guided weapon design.

Core content


  • blast – air/underwater effects; Hopkinson scaling,
  • fragmentation –fragment types; velocity (Gurney approach); penetration (Milne-de Marre),
  • shaped charges – penetration; performance; effects of cone shape and thickness,
  • safety and arming/fuzing systems,
  • warheads for attack for armour, ships, hard targets.


  • burning and detonation – gun/rocket propellants; burning/detonation process of propellants and explosives,
  • initiation of explosives – to burning by direct heat, electrical, percussion, stabbing; to detonation by shock, burning,
  • military high explosives – insensitive high explosives; shockwave in explosives.


  • composites – components; effects of fibre orientation; manufacturing processes,
  • high-temperature materials – for airframes, nozzles; insulation in rocket motors,
  • corrosion and stress corrosion cracking. Material’s failure principles – fracture toughness, fatigue, creep.

Upgrade to a professional qualification

When taken as a Short Course for Credit, 10 credit points can be put towards the Guided Weapon Systems MSc.

Find out more about short course credit points.

Who should attend

Those from the military or defence environment who want to learn about the principles of military guided weapon systems in the areas of warheads, explosives and materials.


This Guided Weapon Systems MSc is fully accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Aeronautical Society.


 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.