There are no other courses that provide dedicated specialist training in crashworthiness and impact, which can be tailored to your career aspirations. Delivered with a unique focus on application, this course will equip you with strong analytical skills in structural behaviour and failure in order for you to practically apply this knowledge to real engineering problems whilst using the latest industrial-standard numerical tools.

At a glance

  • Start dateOctober
  • DurationMSc: one year; PgDip: up to one year; PgCert: up to one year
  • DeliveryTaught modules 40%, Group project 20%, Individual research project 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time

Who is it for?

Students who enrol come from a variety of different backgrounds. Many have specific careers in mind, such as working in automotive or aerospace disciplines (structural design or crash protection), materials development for defence applications, or to work in the field of numerical code developments/consultancy.

Why this course?

Designing advanced structures through novel, lightweight materials is one of the key enabling technologies for both aerospace and automotive sectors to align with national targets for reduction of carbon. In reducing inherent structural weight, it is essential not to compromise safety, as structural integrity and designing for crashworthiness become key design drivers. 

Understanding how aluminium or composite structures and materials perform over their life cycles under static and dynamic loading, including crash and bird strike, requires expertise in a range of areas. As new simulation and material technologies emerge, there is a continuing need for talented employees with a strong, applied understanding in structural analysis, together with competent technical skills in numerical simulation.

Informed by Industry

Established in 2003, this course is supported by close ties with industry, through student projects, specialist lectures and more importantly, by employing our graduates.

The MSc in Advanced Lightweight Structures and Impact is directed by an Industrial Advisory Panel comprising senior engineers from aerospace sectors. This maintains course relevancy and ensures that graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge required by leading employers.

The Industry Advisory Panel includes representatives from:

  • Airbus
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Aero Optimal Ltd
  • Zodiac Seats UK.

Your teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield’s University academic staff within the Centre of Structures, Assembly and Intelligent Automation including:

  • Dr Hessam Ghasemnejad, Course Director - main research activities are focused on experimental, analytical and numerical aspects of structural stability in fibre-reinforced composites under various loading conditions such as buckling, post-buckling, fatigue, impact damage, blast and crash.

  • Dr Yigeng Xu - extensive knowledge and experience in the field of integrity and durability of lightweight materials and structures. His research activities include fatigue and damage tolerance analysis of metallic and composite structures, damage characterisation of composite structures under low velocity impact, computational method development for structural health monitoring, and design of lightweight materials and structures.

  •  Dr Mehdi Yasaee - expert in fracture and damage analysis of composite materials. He specialises in developing new technologies to enhance the strength and damage integrity of fibre reinforced composites when subjected to high velocity impact.

  • Dr Iman Dayyani - Expert in morphing structures, advanced composites and smart materials, homogenization and equivalent modelling techniques, finite element analysis, fluid structure interaction, multi-objective optimization and multidisciplinary design

Externals

  • Professor J Loaghlan - Professor Emeritus of Aerospace Structures, Editor in Chief of International Journal of Thin-Walled Structures, and Regional Editor of International Journal of Science and Technology, Scientia Iranica.
  • Mr J Brown - considerable industrial experience in aerospace and automotive industries and provides research and CPD teaching in structural analysis, design of thin walled structures, finite elements and crashworthiness.
Our teaching team work closely with business and have academic and industrial experience. Knowledge gained working with our clients is continually fed back into the teaching programme, to ensure that you benefit from the very latest knowledge and techniques affecting industry.

Accreditation

Reaccreditation is being sought for the MSc in Advanced Lightweight Structures and Impact from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) & Royal Aeronautical Society (RAes) 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.

Course details

You will complete eight compulsory modules.

 The course employs a wide range of teaching methods designed to create a demanding and varied learning environment including structured lecture programmes, tutorials, case studies, hands-on computing, individual projects, and guest lectures.

Group project

The group project aims to address one of the greatest challenges graduates face, which is the lack of experience in dealing with the complexities of working within a design team. This part of the course takes place from March to May. It is student-led and consolidates the taught material which develops both technical and project management skills on an industrially relevant project.

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Set objectives, plan and manage projects
  • Evaluate a project brief set by a client
  • Develop a set of project objectives appropriate to the client’s brief
  • Plan and execute a work programme with reference to key project management processes (e.g. time management; risk management; contingency planning; resource allocation).

The projects are designed to integrate knowledge, understanding and skills from the taught modules in a real-life situation. This module is typically delivered through collaboration with an industrial sponsor.

Past Group Projects include:

  • Redesign of a crashworthy helicopter troop seat
  • Improved crash protection for a low volume sports car
  • Martian hard surface landing system
  • Design of a one-stage gas gun
  • Investigation of injuries caused by Unmanned Aircraft (UAV) collision
  • Structural design of a light duty modular electric vehicle
  • Aircraft ditching onto water.

Individual project

Individual research project topics can vary greatly, allowing you to develop your own areas of interest. It is common for our industrial partners to put forward real-life practical problems or areas of development as potential research topics. This section of the course takes place from April to August.

The research projects are devised to provide a research challenge allowing you to; define the problem, perform appropriate analysis and research, draw conclusions from your work, communicate your findings and conclusions and enhance your skills and expertise. This will enable you to plan a research project, demonstrate a thorough understanding of your chosen topic area, including a critical evaluation of existing work, design appropriate analysis, plan an independent learning ability and manage a well-argued thesis report demonstrating original thought.

Past individual research projects:

  • Bird strike assessment of composite jet engine fan blade
  • Topology optimisation of automotive engine rail/crush can
  • Crash and impact assessment of automotive batteries (HEV)
  • Bonded joint failure between metal and composites
  • Impact damage in composite sandwich structures
  • Full-scale aircraft ditching.

Cranfield University is a member of the European SOCRATES Mobility Programme and students may apply to undertake their Individual Research Project at other member institutions within Europe.

Assessment

Taught modules 40%, Group project 20%, Individual research project 40%

Core modules

Advanced Composite Analysis and Simulation

Module Leader
  • Dr Hessammaddin Ghasemnejad
Aim

    To provide a synthesis of the principles of composite and high performance materials design and selection under linear and non-linear dynamic loading, including the evaluation of those materials in impact and energy absorbing structures. The module also includes an introduction to damage mechanics, fatigue and fracture/failure modelling in advanced CAE tools, together with practical issues related to numerical modelling.

Syllabus


Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

Design advanced composite structures based on theoretical approach
  • Evaluate stresses and deformations of composite structures under various loading conditions
  • Assess the failure modes of composite structures
  • Design laminated structures based on stiffness and failure criteria.

Finite Element Methods

Module Leader
Aim

    The course is aimed at giving potential Finite Element users a basic understanding of the inner workings of the method. The objective is to introduce users to the terminology, basic numerical and mathematical aspects of the method. This should help students to avoid some of the more common and important user errors, many of which stem from a "black box" approach to this technique. Some basic guidelines are also given on how to approach the modelling of structures using the Finite Element Method.

Syllabus
    • Background to Finite Element Methods (FEM) and applicability to different situations (e.g. structures, heat flow, fluids, electrics, magnetics etc.).  
    • Illustration of basics of FEM using the Direct Stiffness method to define both terminology and theoretical approach.   
    • Introduction to FE modelling: idealisation, discretisation, meshing.  ‘Dos and don’ts’ of modelling. Potential Energy methods for structures and their use in Finite Elements.    
    • FE method for continua illustrated with membrane and shell elements.
    • Accuracy considerations: higher order elements, isoparametric elements.
    • The role of numerical integration and methods used in FE.
    • Problems of large systems of equations for FE and solution methods. Substructuring.
    • The SAFESA approach for tracking and controlling errors in a finite element analysis.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Analyse finite element models for structural analysis based on structural and continuum elements
  • Create FE models based on the SAFESA approach
  • Interpret results of the analyses and assess error levels
  • Create and solve mathematical finite element models
  • Critically evaluate the constraints and implications imposed by the finite element.

Crashworthiness

Module Leader
  • Dr Hessammaddin Ghasemnejad
Aim

    This module will provide the basic principles involved in the analysis and design of crashworthy structures.

Syllabus
    • Introduction to crashworthiness
    • Local collapse of structures: collapse of thick walled sections: axial, bending and torsion. Collapse of thin walled sections, energy absorption and failure modes
    • Global collapse of structures: virtual work approach to calculation, identification of collapse mechanism, geometric and large deformation effects
    • Crash energy management: modes of energy absorption, collapse mechanism control, dynamic effects
    • Crashworthiness design features: context of structural design in overall crashworthiness, relation to other design aspects.  Issues specific to individual applications, including aircraft, cars, trains
    • Occupant protection: injury mechanisms, crash dummies and injury criteria
    • Test and analysis methods: experimental crash tests, hybrid analysis methods

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Analyse the key issues of structural crashworthiness
  • Examine collapse of thick and thin walled sections
  • Evaluate global collapse of structures
  • Analyse structural collapse using hybrid methods and hand calculations
  • Critically evaluate the crashworthiness of structures.

Introduction to Continuum Mechanics

Module Leader
Syllabus
    • Introduction to vectors and tensors
    • Co-ordinate transformations of scalar, vector and tensor fields
    • Kinematics of deformation process in the reference and current configurations
    • Different strain measures, strain rate and rate of deformation
    • Quantification of stress undergoing finite deformation for initial and current configurations
    • Kirchhoff, Cauchy stress
    • Conservation equations of mass, momentum, energy in the local and integral forms in the various reference frames
    • Basic linear and non-linear constitutive relationships for isotropic and orthotropic materials




Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
  • Apply the physics of deformation of solids and structures ranging from isothermal to adiabatic (high strain rates)
  • Analyse nonlinear deformation of solids and structures  
  • Evaluate the response of components to complex stresses
  • Apply analytical methods to the design and analysis of structural components subjected to complex stress/strain fields.

Material Characterisation for Simulation

Module Leader
Aim

    This module will provide the basic principles involved in characterising material properties, by measuring the quantities required for numerical simulation purposes for metals, composites, rubber, etc.

Syllabus
    • Overview of different types of material testing (quasi-static, fatigue, dynamic)
    • Overview of different test machines available (functionality, capabilities, etc)
    • Material characterisation procedures (tensile, compression, shear, strain rate/temp loading)
    • Instrumentation required
    • Specimen/coupon preparation
    • Material characterisation of metals/composites
    • Numerical materials models and their requirements


Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Plan an understanding of the key issues/equipment required for material characterisation
  • Correctly evaluate experimental test data
  • Assess the relevance of the material parameters for inclusion in a numerical material model
  • Be able to judge accuracy, practicality, significance and limitations of the experimental procedures considered.

Simulation for Impact and Crashworthiness

Module Leader
Aim

    The aim of the module will be to provide a general understanding of the available numerical methods for analysis of solids and structures, including their strengths and weaknesses, covering both theoretical background and numerical implementation. This module will provide practical computational lab sessions using a range of commercial and in-house codes to simulate non-linear transient analysis codes.

Syllabus
    • Nature and treatment of geometric and material non-linearities
    • Space discretisation (semi-discretisation) methods, Lagrangian, Eulerian and hybrid approaches
    • Failure modelling including cohesive zone methods and strength based failure criterion
    • Solution procedures for static analyses and time integration procedures, dynamic analyses, formulation and implementation
    • Strain, strain rate and temperature dependent models
    • Contact algorithms
    • Smoothed particle hydrodynamics and meshless methods
    • Applications such as dynamic structural buckling and failure, ballistic and hypervelocity impact


Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module a diligent student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic underlying theory of explicit analysis codes and the numerical implementation of the theory
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the numerical methods available to an analyst
  • Construct correct damage and failure numerical models to assess common structural failure problems
  • Analyse and evaluate simple impact problems for applications to assess crashworthiness of structures using available software.

Thin-walled Structures

Module Leader
Aim

    To provide student with a fundamental knowledge and understanding of structural thin walled structures.

Syllabus
    • Introduction to structural mechanics
    • Engineering bending and torsion theories
    • Analysis and design implications of statistically indeterminate structure
    • Stress analysis of thin walled structures under torsion
    • Idealisation of thin walled structures
    • Stress analysis of thin walled structures under bending and shear
    • Warping and warping restraint effects
    • Shear lag


Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Apply basic structural elements to design structures to meet design requirements
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyse simple structures using hand calculations
  • Assess load paths in structures and demonstrate a knowledge of thin-walled structural behaviour
  • Analyse the stresses within a thin-walled structural component.

Structural Stability

Module Leader
Aim

    Provide a fundamental understanding of the buckling of thin walled structures and the ability to calculate the buckling load of a component.

Syllabus
    • Buckling of thin-walled structures: columns, plates and shells
    • Stable and unstable equilibrium: principle of minimum potential energy, the Rayleigh-Ritz method and alternative methods for buckling analysis
    • Analysis of columns and plates: elastic buckling, shear buckling of plates, torsional buckling, combined buckling
    • Post-buckling behaviour of plates
    • Buckling of stiffened plates
    • Use of ESDU sheets for buckling analysis

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the buckling of thin walled structures and structural components
  • Assess buckling behaviour using hand calculation techniques
  • Analyse the buckling and post-buckling behaviour of simple thin walled structures
  • Relate data sheets to buckling analysis of real structural components.

Fees and funding

European Union students applying for university places in the 2017 to 2018 academic year will still have access to student funding support.

Please see the UK Government’s Department of Education press release for more information

Cranfield University welcomes applications from students from all over the world for our postgraduate programmes. The Home/EU student fees listed continue to apply to EU students.

MSc Full-time £9,000
PgDip Full-time £7,200
PgCert Full-time £4,000

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

MSc Full-time £18,500
PgDip Full-time £15,000
PgCert Full-time £7,500

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.

For further information regarding tuition fees, please refer to our fee notes.

Funding Opportunities

To help students in finding and securing appropriate funding we have created a funding finder where you can search for suitable sources of funding by filtering the results to suit your needs. Visit the funding finder.

Bursaries may be available and are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Entry requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree or equivalent in mathematics, physics, computing or an engineering discipline. Candidates with a degree in a less applicable discipline, or mature applicants with alternative qualifications may be accepted subject to the discretion of the course director.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. Our minimum requirements are as follows:


IELTS - 6.5

TOEFL - 92 

Pearson PTE Academic - 65

Cambridge English Scale - 180

Cambridge English: Advanced - C

Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.

Your career

Industry driven research makes our graduates some of the most desirable in the world for recruitment by companies competing in the structural engineering sector, which forms a large worldwide industry.

Students who enrol come from a variety of different backgrounds. Many have specific careers in mind, such as working in automotive or aerospace disciplines (structural design, or crash protection), materials development for defence applications, or to work in the field of numerical code developments/consultancy. Others decide to continue their education through PhD studies available within the University.

This course provides graduates with the necessary skills to pursue a successful career in automotive, aerospace, maritime and defence sectors. This approach offers you a wide range of career choices as a structural engineer at graduation and in the future.

Companies that have recruited graduates of this course include:

  • Airbus
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Aston Martin.

2016 ManufacturingThemeImage Teaser 01

The library is also one of the best places on the campus; very modern and equipped with meeting rooms with computers and the staff are very kind and helpful with any requests. On top of that the teaching staff were great. Most of the time they are available during the course, the teachers are highly skilled and know how to to sort out problems.

Ludwig Biadalla,

Applying

Online application form. Applicants may be invited to attend an interview. Applicants based outside of the UK may be interviewed either by telephone or video conference.


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