Attend our upcoming webinar and explore our Automotive course portfolio and find the perfect course for you. Hear from our Automotive Engineering MSc Course Director, and learn more about the course structure and gain an insight into some of the modules and content that will be covered. Register now.
Established for over 50 years with excellent industrial links and an outstanding record for the employment of its graduates, this course has been developed to provide the industry with high calibre engineers that are equipped with the necessary skills to advance vehicle technology to meet the demands of the future.


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

Who is it for?

The MSc in Automotive Engineering is suitable for graduates in engineering, physics or mathematics, and will prepare you for a career in this exciting field, from engine design to hybrid and electric vehicles, chassis and braking operations, and much more.

Why this course?

This course aims to provide graduates with the technical qualities, transferable skills and independent learning ability to make them effective in organisations that design and develop automotive products. Our strategic links with industry ensure that all of the course material is relevant, timely and meets the needs of organisations competing within the automotive sector. This industry-led education makes Cranfield graduates some of the most desirable in the world for automotive companies to recruit.

We offer students the opportunity to study in a postgraduate only environment where Masters' graduates can go onto secure positions in full-time employment in their chosen field, or undertake academic research. You will be taught by leading academics as well as industrial practitioners, and work alongside a strong research team at Cranfield University. Industry placements are on offer during research work.

Informed by Industry

The MSc in Automotive Engineering is directed by an Industrial Advisory Panel comprising senior engineers from the automotive sector. This maintains course relevancy and ensures that graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge required by leading employers. You will have the opportunity to meet this panel and present your individual research project to them at an annual event held in July. Panel members include:

  • Mr Rod J Calvert OBE (Chair), Automotive Management Consultant
  • Mr Steve Miles, Blacksmiths
  • Mr Clive Crewe, AVL
  • Mr Peter Stoker, Millbrook Proving Ground Ltd
  • Mr Stefan Strahnz, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One
  • Mr Chris Haines, Millbrook Proving Ground Ltd
  • Mr Paul McCarthy, JCB Power Systems
  • Mr Steve Swift, Polestar Automotive UK Ltd
  • Mr Doug Cross, Leadfoot Limited Balance Batteries
  • Mr Stephen Henson, Barclays UK Retail and Business Bank
  • Dr Leon Rosario, Ricardo Global Automotive Group
  • Mr David Hudson, Tata Motors European Technology Centre
  • Professor Iain Bomphray, Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, NMIS, Williams Advanced Engineering
  • Mr Keith Benjamin, Jaguar Land Rover
  • Mr Tobias Knichel, Punch Flybrid Limited  
  • Dr Charlie Wartnaby, Applus IDIADA 

Course details

This course comprises eight compulsory taught modules that are assessed via a combination of written exams and individual coursework assignments, a group project and an individual research project.

Course delivery

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

Group project

You will undertake a substantial group project between October and March, which focuses on designing and optimising a particular vehicle system/assembly. This is designed to prepare you for the project-based working environment within the majority of the automotive industry.

As a group, you will be required to present your findings, market the product and demonstrate technical expertise in the form of a written submission and a presentation to the Industrial Advisory Board, academic staff and fellow students. This presentation provides the opportunity to develop presentation skills and effectively handle questions about complex issues in a professional manner.

For more information on previous Group Design Projects click here

Individual project

The individual research project is the largest single component of the course taking place between April and August. It allows you to develop specialist skills in an area of your choice by taking the theory from the taught modules and joining it with practical application, usually involving a design feasibility assessment, systems analysis or facility development. Most of the projects are initiated by industrial contacts or associated with current research programmes.

In recent years, some industry sponsors have given students the opportunity to be based on site. Thesis topics will often become the basis of an employment opportunity or PhD research topic.


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.

Automotive Engineering Induction

    To introduce the programme and the courses and the facilities available at Cranfield.
    • Team working
    • Project management
    • Various interpersonal skills: report writing and presentation skills 
    • Various MS Office training packages
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Have an appreciation of the Automotive Engineering Masters programme and course philosophy, structure, content, teaching methods, staff and administration.
  2. Be familiar with key facilities (internal and external to Cranfield) and resources such as the library, computer network and careers service.
  3. Have essential, fundamental knowledge prior to the study including a range of computing-related skills.
  4. Have experienced team building and other interpersonal skills including written and verbal communication skills.
  5. Appreciate the importance of time/project management throughout the study.
  6. Appreciate the importance of health and safety at workplace.

Vehicle Design Powertrain and Performance

    • Provide deep understanding of vehicle concepts and designs, including major systems, assemblies and components.
    • Establish approaches and procedures to analysing and predicting vehicle performance.
    • Develop methodologies to predicting critical loading cases, selecting materials and manufacturing methods, dimensioning and fully specifying vehicle systems, assemblies and components.
    • Critically evaluate the integration of different alternative powertrain options and be able to select appropriate solutions within the context of realistic constraints on performance, efficiency, and drivability.
    • Qualify students to generate novel automotive vehicle concepts and designs that are passenger friendly, structurally sound, safe, fuel efficient, environmentally friendly, refined and comply with legislation.

    Basic vehicle characteristics: Vehicle concepts, centre of gravity position, static and dynamic loads and weight distributions, front, rear and all wheel drive. Adhesion coefficient and influencing factors. Traction, braking and resistance to motion.

    Vehicle performance: Maximum speed, hill start and climbing. Over and under gearing. Fixed and variable gear ratios: number and distribution of gear ratios. Methods for determining acceleration through the gears.

    Fuel consumption: Engine characteristics & fuel maps. Determination of fuel consumption. Energy aspects. Legislative Drive Cycles.

    Braking performance: Influence of resistances and inertia. Brake force distribution. ECE 13 legislation. Calculation of required braking characteristics. Stopping distance.

    Vehicle as a complex system: Understanding conceptual and compatibility issues regarding vehicle structure, engine, transmission, suspension, packaging and influence on vehicle performance.

    Ergonomics & Packaging: Seating layout, door accessibility, mechanical layout: engine/transmission positions, drivelines, influence of suspensions on space and structure, ground clearance, front and rear approach angles.

    Safety: Principles of passenger restraints, elastic/plastic restraints, energy dissipation, rebound energy (whiplash). Vehicle restraint systems and safety features. Hybrid and electric vehicle safety considerations.

    Legislation: Introduction to regulations, European directories, USA federal motor vehicle safety standards. Understanding the influence of relevant legislation on vehicle systems design.

    Driveline components: Friction clutches, dry and wet. Final drives, spiral, bevel, hypoid and helical gears. Differentials, description of open, viscous, Torsen and other limited slip differentials. Design characteristics and principles. Velocity ratios of Hooke’s joints, design characteristics of various constant velocity joints.

    Manual & automatic transmissions: Description of gearbox layout and gear change mechanisms. Gearbox loads & design principles. Synchromesh mechanisms, theory of synchronisation. Epicyclic gears, torque converter, gear combinations & configurations. Automated manual & dual clutch transmissions. Continuously variable transmissions. Actuation, system operation & performance characteristics.

    Hybrid and electric vehicles: Basic definitions, HEV and EV architectures, advantages and disadvantages. Electrical and mechanical energy storage technologies including battery management considerations.

    Brakes and braking systems: Disc and drum brakes, braking systems – design, dimensioning and evaluation. Materials, manufacturing methods and testing.

    Vehicle refinement: Basic details of noise vibration and harshness and attributes for vehicle refinement.

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module you should be able to:
1. Assess and critically evaluate various vehicle concepts, determine their characteristics, advantages and limitations. Analyse various vehicle, system and assembly designs; compare their characteristics, advantages and limitations using valid criteria.
2. Interpret and apply legislative requirements in generating vehicle concepts and designs.
3. Predict resistances to motion, determine powertrain system characteristics, calculate vehicle performance (max. speed, acceleration, gradient, fuel economy etc).
4. Generate novel vehicle concepts, match characteristics of powertrain systems and components; optimise vehicle performance characteristics for the selected criteria / benchmarks.
5. Generate new vehicle, system, assembly and component designs, dimension and optimise them for the specified critical load cases, materials and manufacturing methods. Perform necessary activities in order to ensure the vehicles and systems are efficient, safe, and comply with regulations.

Engine Design and Performance

    • To equip students with the necessary skills to understand the mechanics of powertrain systems for automotive applications.
    • To equip students with knowledge to be able to evaluate the impact of powertrain systems on global emissions.

    The module includes a systems view of engine technology including:

    • Performance and emissions targets
    • Engine layouts and thermodynamic cycles
    • Combustion thermochemistry
    • Fuel types and properties 
    • Combustion in petrol and diesel engines
    • Ignition and ignition timing
    • Engine breathing
    • Fuel injection systems
    • Engine cooling 
    • Exhaust after treatment
    • Advanced and future engine technologies
    • Tribology of bearing design
    • Frictional losses
    • Lubrication
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  1.  Identify and critically assess different engines for automotive applications.
  2. Critically assess the main factors that result in global emissions from engines.
  3. Evaluate and critically assess global legislation of automotive emissions.
  4. Evaluate the contribution of engines as prime mover in vehicles within a political, economic, social, technological, legislative and environmental framework.
  5. Evaluate and critically assess the methods of emissions abatement for vehicles.
  6. Assess and critically evaluate the role of engine performance simulation packages within engine development.

Automotive Control and Simulation


    • To equip you with the skills needed to understand, design and assess single-variable feedback control algorithms using classical control techniques for use in automotive systems.
    • To introduce you to MATLAB and Simulink, industry-standard CAD tools for control system design.


    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.
    • Revision of key concepts (covered only in outline)
    o Representing mechanical and electrical systems using differential equations
    o Use of Laplace methods
    o Transfer functions, poles and transmission zeros, and frequency responses
    o Convolution and time-domain responses

    • Creating computer models in MATLAB and Simulink
    o Introduction to MATLAB programming
    o Introduction to modelling and simulation in Simulink
    o Linear system analysis in MATLAB
    o Finding operating points and linear models using MATLAB and Simulink

    • Classical control concepts
    o Key feedback concepts: stability, tracking performance, noise/disturbance rejection
    o Relationships between closed-loop functions S(s), T(s) and loop-gain L(s)
    o Nyquist stability criterion for stable systems, gain/phase margin and Bode diagram

    • Classical control design
    o Frequency-domain loop-shaping
    o PID design and its relationship to frequency-domain loop-shaping
    o Introduction to prefilter design and ‘feed-forward’
    o Actuator saturation, noise and integrator wind-up

    • Estimator (state observer) design
    o Introduction to linear state-space representations
    o Estimator design using pole-placement methods

Intended learning outcomes
  • On successful completion of this module you should be able to:
    1. Evaluate an automotive system (in terms of its performance, robustness, and sensitivity to noise and disturbances) using classical control concepts and methods.
    2. Design feedback control algorithms to meet specified performance requirements using frequency-domain ‘loop-shaping’ methods and PID techniques, and to understand trade-offs and limitations on what can be achieved.
    3. Create Simulink simulations of multi-domain automotive systems suitable for performance analysis and control system design, and assess control systems with these models.
    4. Evaluate operating points and construct linearized state-space and transfer function modules using MATLAB and Simulink.
    5. Construct a linear observer (state estimator) using pole-placement methods, and inspect its behaviour using MATLAB and Simulink.

Vehicle Structures

    The module aims to provide an introduction to the design and analysis of vehicle structures. Emphasis will be given to understanding and practical experience of the use of a range of materials in car structures including design, stress analysis and performance. 

    The module offers combination of fundamental concepts lectures, engineering theories, lab exercises, finite element modelling, simulations and tutorials.
    • Review and analysis of different types of vehicle structures.
    • Load paths and interaction with other vehicle systems.
    • Structural response and stiffness analyses.
    • Design of safety and crash structures.
    • Finite element modelling and simulations.


Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate fundamental properties of metallic and non-metallic material for automotive structures.
  2. Design metallic and non-metallic components and sub-systems.
  3. Construct and validate finite element models.
  4. Assess active and passive automotive safety and crashworthiness.

Vehicle Materials and Manufacturing

    The module aims to provide an introduction to the selection and processing, of materials for vehicle structures. Emphasis will be given to practical experience of the use of a range of materials for automotive structures focussing on manufacturing and assembly technology. The module is delivered with a combination of lectures, lab activities, and tutorials.
    • Physical properties and material models of high strength steels, stainless steels, metal matrix composites, aluminium and titanium alloys, rubbers, elastomers, plastics, honeycomb and polymer composites.
    • Manufacturing technology in the automotive industry.
    • Comparison of the most common joining techniques in the automotive industry.
    • Introduction to damage tolerance and failure mechanisms under static and dynamic load.
    • Case studies of different mechanical failures.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  1. Evaluate material selection and performance for the manufacturing of automotive structures.
  2. Assess the design, manufacturing, assembly and testing of composite components and sub-systems.
  3. Critically evaluate innovative materials and their application.
  4. Develop an understanding of relevant failure analysis.

Vehicle Dynamics

    • To provide a fundamental understanding of vehicle dynamics as applied to wheeled vehicles.

    • To introduce students to road vehicle ride and handling, from requirements to analytical modelling and practical viewpoints.

    • To link understanding of vehicle dynamics, ride and handling to the practical implications for suspension and steering system design.


    The module will provide knowledge in vehicle dynamics ride and handling from subjective and objective requirements to analytical methods in developing passive ride and handling models. 

    Core topics:

    1. Vehicle ride, ride modelling and terrain modelling 
    2. Vehicle handling, steady-state and transient handling
    3. Tyre characteristics and tyre modelling 
    4. Suspension system types, typical designs and practical implications
    5. Kinematics, wheel motion control, instantaneous centres of rotation
    6. Steering system, steering kinematics and compliance.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate understanding of vehicle dynamics models, including first principles, associated assumptions and implications to numerical simulations.
  2. Critically evaluate vehicle ride and handling performance and the role of tyre and suspension characteristics.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals and practical issues of vehicle suspension and steering systems and their influence on ride and handling. 
  4. Critically evaluate suspension and steering designs, including layout, geometry and materials.


Vehicle Electrification and Hybridisation


    The aim of this module is to empower the students with the capability to analysis, synthesis, and evaluate various technologies and integration challenges associated with the electric and hybrid vehicles. The module is structured to provide an in-depth knowledge and expertise for design and development of the main systems, components, architectures of the Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. The module includes case-studies of commercially available Hybrid and Electric vehicles and current research projects.

    Course content includes:
    • Introduction to Hybrid and Electric Vehicles systems and powertrain architectures.
    • Introduction to Electric Motors, Power Electronics and Electric Drives, and Motor Control.
    • High voltage electrical architectures and the integration of power electronics systems
    • Automotive energy storage systems:
      o Batteries, ultracapacitors, flywheels and hydraulic accumulators
      o System design, integration and energy management
    • The integration of electrical machines and their electric drive systems
      o Technology options
      o System design and sizing
    • The mechanical integration of the hybrid propulsion system including the use of split-path transmissions
    • Energy Management and supervisory control for CO2 reduction, fuel saving, vehicle performance and driveability
    • The role of energy recovery systems including regenerative brake strategies and vehicle integration challenges
    • Modelling, simulation and analysis of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles and its sub-systems, using model based approach, including Mil, SiL, and HiL
    • Recent Electric and Hybrid vehicle technologies case studies

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Evaluate the different Hybrid & Electric powertrain architecture options and be able to propose appropriate solutions within realistic performance, fuel economy, emission and commercial constraints.
2. Evaluate energy storage and energy management technology options for a hybrid or electric vehicle and be able to judge between different technologies relative to a given vehicle application and overall system design.
3. Demonstrate an ability to design and/or size different Hybrid and Electric Vehicle sub-systems, within the context of vehicle usage, weight, packaging, and range constraints.

Automotive Engineering Design Project


    1. Plan and manage automotive projects at an advanced level, to time and budget.

    2. Work efficiently in a team, communicate professionally and make decisions; take a role of a leader/manager.

    3. Understand automotive technology, markets, IP and regulatory issues, standards, suppliers’ role, lead times and costs.

    4. Effectively use 3D CAD modelling, wider CEA technology, one-dimensional numerical modelling and virtual design methods within the automotive product development.

    5. Establish novel, original, competitive and realistic vehicle, assembly and system concepts and detailed designs at an advance stage, leading to prototype manufacture.


    The assignment, methods of delivery and course content are all aligned to achieve the module objectives.

    • Business simulation / game. Management of new product development in industry.
    • Managing projects – the Gantt chart, project dynamics, the project leader’s tasks, the PERT diagram, project.
    • Motivation and team building; Meetings and minutes.
    • Technology markets – product lifecycles, commoditisation and cost reduction over time, waves of technology, spotting winners, the changing roles of technology and marketing as a product develops.
    • Intellectual property – IP infringement and remedies, IP business models, understanding a patent document, patent validity, patent searching, other types of IP. Case studies of the role of patents in automotive business.
    • Personal Development Planning – principles of skills and competencies, self-assessment and review.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

1. Plan and manage projects, demonstrate awareness of time, resource and budgetary constraints. Interpret project briefs and demonstrate initiative in generating new designs, taking into consideration automotive markets.

2. Be an effective team member, undertake various roles, including that of a leader; adapt rapidly and make tangible, measurable contributions under pressure. Be assertive when communicating within the team, with potential suppliers and customers.

3. Exercise sound judgement based on modelling results, facts and trends. Act professionally and confidently in complex situations, when insufficient or conflicting data is available.

4. Appreciate Intellectual Property (IP) and regulatory aspects, as well as standards, and use/apply them effectively in vehicle/system development.

5. Effectively apply Computer Aided Engineering in conceptual and detailed design, at component, assembly, system and vehicle level. Evaluate 3D geometrical parts using underlying associativity and generate 2D drawings.

6. Perform necessary analyses to develop concepts into detailed designs, leading to prototype manufacture. Demonstrate appreciation for materials, manufacturing methods, lead times and associate costs.

7. Effectively use and combine the knowledge gained in other modules of the Course.



The Automotive Engineering MSc is accredited by:

on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for further learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng). Candidates must hold a CEng accredited BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree to show that they have satisfied the educational base for CEng registration.

The best part of the course is to meet lots of different people in different environments, and to do the Group Design Project. We had to do measurements, research, literature review and a really good project. To be here with people from the automotive industry – they know more than us for sure, so we can learn a lot and it is a great opportunity.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Automotive Engineering MSc. I was very interested in the engine modules – the engine modules and lubrication – and simulation performance. Vehicle dynamics and powertrain performance was also a very interesting module.

We’ve had quite a few guest lecturers – diesel emissions experts from Ford and one who was from VCA talking about legislation and vehicle regulations testing, so we’ve had a good amount of input from the industry.

Your career

Our postgraduate Automotive Engineering course provides you with the necessary skills for a career in the automotive industry. Cranfield’s automotive graduates have an excellent employment record and currently occupy positions of high responsibility in industry, such as managers of research establishments, chief engineers, engine and vehicle programme managers. Some of our graduates decide to continue their education through PhD studies with Cranfield University.

Companies that have recruited graduates of this course include:

  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Lotus
  • Millbrook Proving Ground
  • McLaren
  • Ricardo.

We also arrange company visits and career open days with key employers.

How to apply

Applications need to be made online. Click the 'Apply now' button at the top of this page. 

Once you have set up an account you will be able to create, save and amend your application form before submitting it.