This course aims to provide students with a sound understanding of the fundamental scientific, engineering and managerial principles involved in motorsport. The focus is on the “mechatronics” aspect of the discipline, which is the engineering of advanced control systems, multi-domain computer modelling, in-vehicle communication networks, electromechanical and embedded systems, hardware-in-the-loop validation and systems integration. 

Overview

  • Start dateSeptember
  • DurationOne year full-time
  • DeliveryTaught modules 40%, Group project 20%, Individual project 40%
  • QualificationMSc
  • Study typeFull-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

This course aims to provide students with a sound understanding of the fundamental scientific, engineering and managerial principles involved in motorsport. A combination of mechanics, electronics and computer systems, this postgraduate programme prepares graduates for a career in motorsport or high performance engineering.


Why this course?

This course aims to provide you with a sound understanding of the fundamental scientific, engineering and managerial principles involved in motorsport, and their implementation within a high performance technology context.

Students will cover design, testing and operation of competition vehicles, and related aspects of control engineering, computer modelling, embedded systems, alongside vehicle dynamics, vehicle systems, and management techniques related to motorsport.

You will be taught the skills required for the planning, execution and reporting of motorsport projects and to prepare them for a variety of roles in motorsport.

Cranfield University has undertaken research, consultancy and testing for the motorsport sector since the 1970s. The University is home to the FIA approved Cranfield Impact Centre and Cranfield Motorsport Simulation which work with F1 and leading motorsport companies. We have an international reputation for our expertise in aerodynamics, CFD, materials technology, including composites, safety of motorsport vehicle structures, power-train development, vehicle dynamics, simulation, data acquisition and electronics, tyre characterisation and modelling. This track record ensures the course is highly respected by the motorsport industry.

  • Practical sessions using Cranfield's facilities and equipment
  • Engagement with motorsport practitioners
  • Motorsport related project work.


Informed by Industry

As of February 2020 the following are members of Cranfield University Motorsport MSc Steering Committee:

  • Adrian Reynard: Director – ARC, Cranfield University Honorary Doctorate and Motorsport Visiting Professor to Cranfield University (Chair of the Committee) 
  • Paul Crofts: Chief Technologist Process and Vertical Integration – Integral Powertrain Ltd (Deputy Chair of the Committee) 
  • Chris Aylett: Chief Executive – The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA)
  • Owen Carless: Head of Stress, Rear of Car – Red Bull Technology 
  • Jane Gilham: Head of Human Resources – Xtrac Ltd  
  • Ian Goddard: Head of Technical Partnerships – Renault Sport Formula One Team 
  • John Grant: Chairman – British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) 
  • Sylvain Filippi: Managing Director – Virgin Racing Formula E Team 
  • Ron Harvelt: Managing Director – One Group Engineering 
  • Gerry Hughes: Principal - Gx2 Consulting Ltd 
  • Dr Pete James: CEO - Lyra Electronics
  • Rob Kirk: Head of Motorsport Electronics – Cosworth  
  • David Lapworth: Technical Director – Prodrive 
  • Dr Cristiana Pace: Motorsport Consultant 
  • Mike Pilbeam: Director – Pilbeam Racing Designs 
  • Stuart Robertson: Head of Circuit and Rally Safety – FIA  
  • John Ryan: Technical Director - Motorsport UK
  • Isaac Sanchez: Director Direzione Gestione Sportiva, UT Innovation & Special Projects – Ferrari Spa
  • Neil Spalding: Director - Sigma Performance and Technical Consultant Moto GP 
  • Stefan Strahnz: Chief Engineer  - Business Process Transformation, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Motorsport 
  • Pat Symonds: Chief Technical Officer – Formula One and Visiting Professor to Cranfield University
  • Christopher Tate: Motorsport Consultant 
  • Iain Wight: Business Development Director – Williams Advanced Engineering 


Course details

The MSc course consists of nine one-week taught modules, a motorsport mechatronics group design project and an individual thesis project.

Course delivery

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

Group project

Group design projects (GDPs) are an important element within our Motorsport MSc courses. GDPs run from February to May. The GDP is an applied, multidisciplinary, team-based activity, providing students with the opportunity to apply principles taught during their MSc courses. With support from the Motorsport Steering Committee and wider industry community, Cranfield’s GDPs provide MSc students with experience of working on real challenges which the motorsport sector faces now and in the future.

The GDPs have been described as being very close to real-world working. In addition to the technical challenges, students develop their skills during a phase of group working that culminates in the submission of technical reports, group presentations to academics and then to "industry", team meeting minutes that reflect individual contributions and individual reflective reports. Team working experience, which students develop during the GDP phase, is highly valued by students and prospective employers, alike. A key aspect is the student’s own evaluation of their skills at the onset of the GDP and how these develop. Their fellow team members provide peer assessment which forms part of a discussion with academic staff. The students then focus on two areas based on the feedback which their peers support. Cranfield’s GDPs have proven very successful in developing new conceptual designs and systems which have been implemented in competition vehicles and have even influenced technical and sporting regulations.

The nature of the GDP work is very much applied with the Motorsport MSc students accessing facilities and equipment here at Cranfield together with support from the academic team and technicians.

There is a competitive dimension to the GPDs. On the "industry day" there are:

  • The Motorsport UK prize for the best team presentation on the day.
  • The Racecar Engineering prize for the best group poster.

Recent winners of the Racecar Engineering prize 

2019 - Falcon Hybrid

2018 - EVRAID

View more of our recent group design projects.

Individual project

Individual thesis projects allow the students to deepen their understanding through research work related to motorsport mechatronics. Students self-manage their thesis projects with support from their academic supervisor and industry contact, if part of their project. The conclusion of their research work is a concisely written thesis report and the presentation of a poster outlining their project.

On occasion, Cranfield theses have formed the basis of technical articles published in journals such as Racecar Engineering. Below is an example of a fully autonomous small-scale vehicle developed by one of our students in collaboration with a local motorsport company.



Modules

Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.


Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

Induction and Introduction to Motorsport

Module Leader
  • Clive Temple
Aim
    As an introductory non-assessed module it sets the scene for the Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc programme placing it in the context of motorsport engineering and the business behind it.
Syllabus
    • The Advanced Motorsport Engineering MSc programme with reference to the key elements of the taught modules, the group design project and the individual thesis projects.
    • History of motorsport and competition vehicle development.
    • Competition vehicle categories.
    • Sporting and technical regulations.
    • Design of competition vehicles.
    • Overview of the motorsport sector in the UK.
    • Introduction to software packages related to motorsport engineering.

Intended learning outcomes

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

1. Distinguish the MSc courses in the context of motorsport engineering and the industry sector which underpins it.
2. Appraise the historical development of motorsport and competition vehicle evolution.
3. Assess categorisation of competition vehicles.
4. Debate the criticality of the technical and sporting regulations and what these mean to motorsport engineers.
5. Provide an overview of the motorsport sector in the UK.
6. Relate the use of a range of software packages to the context of the course


Motorsport Electronics and Data Acquisition

Module Leader
  • Dr Kim Blackburn
Aim
    • Provides an understanding of the electronic and data acquisition systems that are integral to the modern motorsport vehicle.
    • Provides an appreciation of the principles of data acquisition, to "get good data" on track or in test environments.
    • Provides methodologies for the analysis and interpretation of the data acquired, and how this underpins all performance optimisation.

Syllabus
    • Electrical circuit issues, sensors, signal conditioning
    • Sampling issues in amplitude and frequency domain
    • Data communications on car and test cell
    • Data processing and analysis techniques
    • Introduction to realtime software
    • Practical system packaging
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Examine the fundamental role electronic systems and acquired data have on and off vehicle throughout motorsport.
  2. Design, evaluate and optimise data systems based on fundamental principles of electrical and digital information transfer.
  3. Propose and apply suitable data analysis techniques to tackle particular engineering questions in a motorsport context.
  4. Analyse data in the context of a chosen field, maximising the result from a particular test (vehicle dynamics used as an example with direct involvement in configuration and calibration of instrumentation on a vehicle for a track test). 
     





Motorsport Vehicle Dynamics

Module Leader
  • Professor James Brighton
Aim
    To provide students with fundamental information on vehicle dynamics focussing on limit behaviour with explanations and derivations from first principles, using simplified physical models. To provide experience of a computer based dynamics simulation package of industrial standard, and to provide experimental exercises to illustrate major physical concepts.
Syllabus
    • Minimum time optimisation
    • Tyre shear force development, measurement and characterisation
    • Suspension geometry description and analysis – important properties
    • Steady turning equilibrium states; suspension/chassis interactions; roll angles, load transfers, jacking
    • Yaw/sideslip handling dynamics; steady turn responses, understeer and oversteer; stability and controllability (a) small perturbations from straight running (b) small perturbations from cornering trim
    • Limit behaviour and design aspects; differentials and brake balancing
    • Simulation tools and model building
    • Vibration behaviour of car and wheels; springs; dampers; track roughness and the use of electro-hydraulic shaker rigs for setup.


Intended learning outcomes

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

1. Appraise the performance limits of a competition vehicle and the sources of such limitations.
2. Evaluate the interactions of competition vehicle and participant and discuss intelligently the requirements on the competition vehicle from a controllability point of view.
3. Distinguish the complex relationships between competition vehicle design aspects and competition vehicle performance.
4. Examine simulation and optimisation methods for improving design and performance.

Vehicle Control Applications

Module Leader
  • Dr Abbas Fotouhi
Aim

    The aim of this module is to cover a range of applications of control theory and machine learning techniques in different components of an advanced vehicle including engine, electric motor, energy storage, chassis, suspension, steering, advanced driver-assistance systems, etc. 

Syllabus
    • An introduction to automated driving and autonomous land vehicles
    • Functional safety within vehicle control systems
    • Vehicle steering control
    • Vehicle suspension and chassis control 
    • Electric and hybrid electric powertrain control systems
    • Engine control
    • Battery control and estimation for vehicle application
     
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Critically evaluate the physical configuration of a vehicle sub-system and be able to formulate new control design solutions appropriate for integration within a vehicle.
  2. Appraise a set of vehicle performance targets for higher levels of automation and safety, more energy conservation and less environmental impacts and be able to select the most appropriate control methods and design techniques to meet the vehicle specification.
  3. Analyse and evaluate different simulation models including vehicle control architectures.

The Business of Motorsport

Module Leader
  • Clive Temple
Aim

    To provide students with a series of learning activities during which they will acquire an understanding of how to apply management techniques to the context of motorsport and thus building an awareness of the specific management challenges faced in this sector. The course aims to encourage students to acquire skills in information gathering, the processing of information, analysis and communication and these skills will be assessed by group presentation and by written group assignment.



Syllabus
    • The business environment in general
    • The business context for motorsport organisations
    • Managing motorsport businesses strategically
    • Creating and sustaining competitive advantage in motorsport
    • Commercial aspects of motorsport management
    • Marketing and motorsport including branding, media and sponsorship
    • Financing motorsport businesses and their on-going financial management.
    • Project management and motorsport
    • Managing technical knowledge and expertise in motorsport
    • Technology transfer and opportunities for diversification.


Intended learning outcomes

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

1. Appraise the specific management challenges facing the motorsport sector.
2. Distinguish the motorsport environment and the influences on its development.
3. Assess the potential sources of competitive advantage for an organisation in the motorsport sector and the steps needed to both create and sustain such an advantage
4. Evaluate the particular issues relating to the commercial aspects of motorsport management. These would include raising and sustaining sponsorship, media relations, raising capital, diversification through technology transfer.
5. Examine the particular issues relating to the management of technical expertise and knowledge in motorsport and its exploitation.

Motorsport Powertrains

Module Leader
  • Clive Temple
Aim
    To provide students with a series of learning activities during which they will acquire an understanding of the engineering principles on which engine design and development depend. Some activities will be classroom based, some reliant on group work and some requiring active learning by the student. The course aims to encourage students to acquire skills in information gathering, the processing of information, analysis and communication and these skills will be tested by written assignments.
Syllabus
    • Gasoline engine performance characteristics: performance indices.
    • Idealised thermodynamic cycles and the limits to ideal behaviour.
    • Maximising power output using high engine speeds: thermo-fluid implications.
    • Maximising the air/fuel charge in every cylinder: intake system design, supercharging & turbo-charging.
    • Fuel systems, combustion control and engine management systems.
    • Mechanical design of high performance two and four stroke petrol and diesel motorsport engines.
    • The matching of engine, transmission and vehicle.
    • The design of high performance vehicle transmission systems.
    • Hybrid and electric powertrains as used in motorsport.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Understand what counts as excellent engine performance and how to use  engine simulation techniques to find such levels of performance.
  2. Test and evaluate the physical processes at work during the preparation of the fuel & air mixture and its eventual combustion and emission with particular reference to high engine speeds.
  3. Evaluate the matching of engine, transmission and vehicle chassis for motorsport applications.
  4. Appraise the operation of high performance vehicle transmission systems.
  5. Examine hybridisation and electrification of motorsport powertrains.

 

 

 

Mechatronics Modelling for Vehicle Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr Stefano Longo
Aim
    • To provide a fundamental understanding of physical modelling applied to vehicles mechatronic systems.
    • To introduce students to modelling techniques, from basic methodology to graphical modelling and practical viewpoints.
    • To illustrate the role of first principle and data-driven modelling.
Syllabus

    Course content includes:
    • Introduction to mathematical modelling
    • Modelling from first principle
    • Newtonian and Lagrangian modelling
    • Electric circuits and networks
    • Modelling from data and system identification
    • Modelling of delays
    • Block diagram reduction
    • Powertrain backward and forward modelling
    • Modelling for vehicle dynamics and tyre-surface interaction
    • Modelling with Matlab/Simulink

Intended learning outcomes

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

1. Compare and criticise the different analogies that can be made between all system dynamics.
2. Experiment with fundamental concepts of mechatronics systems to design simplified system dynamics models.
3. Evaluate and construct mechatronics models using state-space models derived from system identification, Newtonian equation and Lagrangian equations.
4. Construct state-space equations for the purpose of control system design.
5. Appraise mechatronics models and the simulations results obtained within the context of practical automotive design concepts, performance and constraints.

Advanced Control and Optimisation

Module Leader
  • Dr Daniel Auger
Aim
    • To provide knowledge of advanced control engineering theory and techniques and their application to automotive control.
    • To introduce students to the tools and methodology associated with multivariable control design techniques.
    • To provide students with practical experience in designing and simulating advanced modern controllers within the context of multi-domain automotive systems.
Syllabus

    The module will provide knowledge in advanced control design tools and techniques and advance analytical methods in designing multivariable controllers with applications in the automotive engineering area. The theory of the multivariable controls will be introduced and then their use will be illustrated and developed by example applications. The theory and applications will be interleaved with selected associated topics (listed below) as appropriate through the module.

    The material will be addressed theoretically and practically: all lecture-based teaching will be supported by practical exercises using MATLAB and Simulink.

    • Modelling multivariable systems
    o Describing multivariable systems using state-space representations
    o Using norms to describe the sizes and behaviours of signals and systems
    o Modelling uncertainty, noise and nonlinearities
    o The Nyquist stability criterion and robustness

    • Using optimisation in multivariable control
    o Representing feedback using state-space techniques
    o Pole-placement techniques
    o Optimal control using the Linear-Quadratic Regulator (LQR)
    o Introduction to Model-Predictive Control (MPC)

    • Estimator design
    o Multivariable estimator design using pole-placement techniques
    o Optimal estimator design for linear systems using the Kalman Filter
    o Introduction to optimal control using Linear-Quadratic-Gaussian (LQG) techniques
    o Introduction to nonlinear Kalman filtering techniques

    • Neoclassical control
    o SISO design using the Youla parameter technique
    o Direct shaping of S(s) and T(s) and the associated stability criteria

    • Robust control
    o H∞ control methods: ‘mixed sensitivity’ and ‘H∞ loop-shaping’
    o Estimating robust performance using the v-gap metric

    • Reference conditioning using prefilters and two degree-of-freedom compensators (covered in outline only)

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Create theoretical and computer models of multivariable automotive systems suitable for use in control design.
2. Apply different advanced control techniques to automotive control problems.
3. Design control algorithms for automotive systems using MATLAB and Simulink (commercial software packages).
4. Design state estimators for multivariable automotive control systems using established techniques.
5. Judge the suitability of a given control technique to a particular application in the context of automotive control.

Embedded Vehicle Control Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr Stefano Longo
Aim

    Within the context of modern automotive control system, the aim of this module is for students to critically evaluate the different technologies and methods required for the efficient vehicle implementation, validation and verification of the automotive mechatronic system.

Syllabus

    Course content includes:

    • A review of modern automotive control hardware requirements and architectures
    • The evaluation of current and future vehicle networking technologies including, CAN, LIN, MOST and Flex-ray
    • The evaluation of control rapid prototyping techniques to design and calibrate the control algorithm
    • The use of modern validation and verification methods, such as software-in-the-loop, and hardware-in-the-loop techniques
    • The role of Functional Safety and ISO26262 within the overall control system life-cycle
    • The evaluation of the interdependency between software engineering and control system design within the automotive industry including the use of software auto-coding techniques for production and the use of advanced test methods for the validation of safety-critical systems


Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Analyze the components of an automotive control systems and its implementation.
2. Design and implement a digital controller.
3. Evaluate the effect of sampling times, communication delays and quantization errors in a feedback loop.
4. Write efficient Matlab code for data coding/decoding and control algorithm implementation.
5. Interpret the purpose of the ISO26262 functional safety standard and the AUTOSAR standardized automotive software design.

Accreditation

Accreditation is being sought for  MSc in Advanced Motorsport Mechatronics from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) 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. 




Your career

Motorsport is a highly competitive sector. Studying at Cranfield will immerse you in a highly focused motorsport engineering learning experience, providing you with access to motorsport companies and practitioners. Securing employment is ultimately down to the student who completes the job applications and attends the interviews.  Successful students go on to be part of a network of engineers. You will find Cranfield alumni working across motorsport and the high performance engineering sector. 

Jess Harris

I feel that the MSc in Advanced Motorsport Engineering at Cranfield was an incredible experience I would not have been able to have anywhere else. I completed my thesis project with Mercedes AMG F1 which has further progressed into a full time job as a Test and Development Engineer.

Jessica Harris, Structural System Engineer