This course meets the requirements of the Level 7 Ordnance Munitions and Explosives Specialist and can therefore be taken as an Apprenticeship. Eligible organisations will be able to use their Apprenticeship Levy to cover the cost of the course tuition fees. View Fees and Funding information, or find out more about Master's Apprenticeships.

We see, hear and use thousands of explosives around the world every day, from the military and defence sector to mining and other industrial operations. This means the requirement for expertise in explosives and their engineering is crucial. 

The Explosives Ordnance Engineering MSc will teach you the necessary understanding behind explosives engineering, munitions and target response and look to the future in explosives development. 

This course allows you to take several elective modules to suit your career path. The choice can be made to focus on the likes of commercial explosives, safety or rocket propulsion. It becomes critical for those in careers in civilian and non-civilian roles which use, handle or engineer explosives or explosive materials. 

The course provides the advanced academic background necessary for students to contribute effectively to technically demanding projects in the field of explosives and explosives ordnance engineering (EOE).


  • Start dateSeptember
  • DurationMSc: 11 months full-time, up to three years part-time; PgDip: up to 11 months full-time, up to two years part-time; PgCert: up to 11 months full-time, up to two years part-time
  • DeliveryCoursework, examination, group project and individual thesis (MSc only)
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield University at Shrivenham

Who is it for?

This course has been designed specifically to provide an opportunity to a wide range of attendees, including military officers, defence industry staff, government servants and civilian students, to provide knowledge and transferable skills that will enhance employment potential in this field, problem solving, self-direction and informed communication skills.

Students can learn in a flexible manner as the course offers both part-time and full-time learning with full access to an outstanding remote virtual learning environment and online literature through our extensive library facilities.

Why this course?

This course specialises in explosive ordnance and engineering and is world class in teaching and research. We have a diverse student body drawn mainly from personnel linked to the military from numerous industries and institutions in the UK as well as overseas, providing a rich educational experience.

Students are introduced to up-to-date and current research, which enables them to obtain a critical awareness to problem solving and capability to evaluate both military and commercial best practice in the field of EOE.

Some visits are restricted to Five Eyes nations only (i.e. Aus/Can/UK/US/NZ). Please contact us for more information.


Course details

Part one of the MSc course contains an introductory period followed by academic instruction, which is in modular form. Students take four core modules covering the main disciplines and choose a number of elective modules equating to 60 credits based upon their particular background, future requirements or research interests. 

Course delivery

Coursework, examination, group project and individual thesis (MSc only)

Group project

To integrate module learning into an overall critical evaluation of new trends in EOE, students undertake a group project, which considers current ‘Hot Topics in EOE’ - for example, nanotechnology, insensitive munitions, analysis and detection and environmental initiatives. The group project involves students working together to research these hot topics and to critically appraise the facts, principles, concepts, and theories relating to a specific area of EOE. They do this as a group and then individually prepare elements of a presentation that they feedback in groups to their peers in an open forum. The presentation is then graded from an individual and group perspective.  

The group project enables the students to work as a team, enhances their communication skills and encourages the ability to present scientific ideas in a clear and concise manner. It also gives the students an understanding of the procedures and challenges associated with peer review and grading, and prioritisation of presented work against a clear assessment framework.

Individual project

The aim of the individual project phase is to give students an opportunity to apply the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired on the taught phase of the course to a practical problem in EOE. A list of available project titles is produced in the first few months of the course so that a student can make an early choice and begin planning their programmes well before the project phase begins. Suggestions for projects may come from a variety of sources, for example, an individual student’s sponsor, a member of staff or the wider EOE community.


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.

Research Tools part 1 and 2


    Select appropriate tools to undertake research in EOE. To provide the tools to successfully undertake M-Level studies in EOE.


    This module will cover:

    • Scientific search techniques,
    • Critical evaluation,
    • Written and oral communication skills,
    • Experimental design for EOE related projects, including basic project planning skills resource management and statistical analysis and data display,
    • Health, safety and project ethics,
    • A selection of computer modelling programmes in EOE, e.g. blast, detonation, terminal ballistics and risk,
    • Positive and negative aspects of using computer codes versus laboratory experiments.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Critique scientific research by collating relevant information from a range of sources to address specific questions relating to EOE,
  • Critically evaluating EOE challenges with computer modelling tools by considering the advantages and disadvantages of their applicability,
  • Justify when to use computer modelling tools, experimental work or both to solve a problem or carry out research in EOE,
  • Select appropriate techniques and academic skills required to complete M-level study.

Introduction to Explosives Engineering


    To provide a through life perspective of explosives ordnance engineering.


    This module will cover:

    • Introduction to achieving desired target effects,
    • Initiation mechanism and the differences between deflagration and detonation,
    • Introduction to primary and secondary explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics and their application in military environments,
    • Relevance of safety, legislation, and environmental requirements,
    • Introduction to properties of explosions,
    • Workshops that focus on explosive ordnance engineering to support learning.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the systems context within which explosives are developed, owned and used,
  • Discuss energetic materials and their application through life for use in a military context,
  • Explain the functioning of a military explosive system from trigger sequence to terminal effects,
  • Achieve through life compliance for military explosive systems.

Munitions and Target Response


    The aim of the module is to provide you with the skills and knowledge to analyse targets and defeat mechanisms.


     This module covers:

    • Introduction to warheads and ammunition,
    • Introduction to armour design,
    • Wound ballistics and human vulnerability,
    • Fragmentation theory and warheads,
    • Small arms and cannon ammunition,
    • Shell and projectile design,
    • Target penetration and shock events covering subsonic to hydrodynamic regimes,
    • Shaped charge and EFP warhead design,
    • KE ammunition and penetrator design,
    • Mine threat and damage mechanisms,
    • Complex armour, spacing, obliquity, disposition and failure mechanisms,
    • Characterisation and testing of materials for high strain rate loading,
    • Blast effects, blast-structure interactions including internal detonations,
    • Terminal ballistics demonstration.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Appraise the characteristics of the target and mechanisms for defeat,
  • Establish the critical factors in munition design,
  • Evaluate the performance of munitions for target defeat,
  • Assess the design principles and critically review the efficiency of protective systems.

Future Developments: Scanning the Horizon in EOE


    To provide a capstone module for the EOE MSc, by integrating the learning from the taught phase with a critical evaluation of new trends and technologies in EOE.

    • Part-time students should only undertake this module when they have completed 50% of the taught phase unless agreed with the EOE Course Director,
    • The group work consists of a mix of part-time and full-time students. It will be necessary for the groups to communicate regularly between each other and meet with the group supervisor at least 3 times during the year,
    • The launch of the module is one full day (see separate timetable for dates),
    • The assessments require one day in January for a poster session and two days in March/April for Oral vivas,
    • There will be additional tutorials throughput the academic year and all students should attend in their groups unless agreed with the Course Director,
    • Present scientific ideas in a clear and concise manner,
    • Evaluate the value of funding / non-funding of research,
    • Work effectively in teams and manage own time,
    • The compulsory taught modules from the EOE MSc,
    • Current ‘Hot Topics in EOE’, including, for example:
      • Nanotechnology,
      • Insensitive munitions,
      • Analysis and detection,
      • Environmental initiatives.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Define the user requirements for a military capability.
  • Critically evaluate the key drivers and technologies that have historically influenced military capability,
  • Create an assessment rubric for peer review. Apply the rubric and justify feedback and mark scheme,
  • Convincingly debate future science and engineering solutions and evaluate them against changing requirements of EOE.

Elective modules
One of the modules from the following list need to be taken as part of this course

Introductory Studies

    The aim of Introductory Studies is to prepare students for their subsequent programme of study on the assessed modules. The module is designed to enable students to revise, consolidate and expand their skill and knowledge base so that they can derive maximum benefit from their course of study. It is an optional module and carries a formal credit rating of zero, although a student’s understanding of the materials covered may be tested as part of the assessment for subsequent course modules.
    • Chemistry,
    • IT, Computing Services and Library Briefing,
    • Materials and Materials Engineering,
    • Mathematics,
    • Physics,
    • Stress Analysis,
    • Study Skills.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
  • Demonstrate sufficient command of fundamental principles to be able to study successfully for subsequent modules.

Gun Propellants

    To 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.
    • 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,
    • Future development of gun propellants,
    • Manufacturing of propellants,
    • Ballistic parameters and their measurement by a Closed Vessel,
    • Low vulnerability ammunition propellants (LOVA) and new developments,
    • 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,
    • Theory of gun barrel erosion,
    • Self-ignition of propellants and explosives.
Intended learning outcomes

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 ballistic, storage and mechanical properties of propellants,
  • Demonstrate the role of heat transfer on safety and performance of gun propellants,
  • Critically evaluate the vulnerability of current and novel propellants.

Testing and Evaluation of Explosives


    To furnish you with critical understanding and practical experience of testing methods, regimes and requirements for explosives and explosive articles.


    This module will cover:

    • Introduction to current safety testing regimes with examples of the required tests,
    • Discussions on the complexity of legislation applied to the testing protocol within the UK,
    • Practical demonstration of testing methods and analyse of the data obtained.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Identify key contents of UK MoD standards and associated test documentation relevant to the approval of explosives, and articles containing explosives,
  • Critique the main test methods to classify explosives performance (detonation velocity, pressure, critical diameter) and other properties of energetic materials,
  • Critically review the importance, relevance and limitations of different instrumentation techniques, and their selection and applicability to experimental research and test data gathering,
  • Interpret, draw and critically review conclusions from given experimental data.

Rocket Motors and Propellants


    To develop an understanding of the principles of rocket propulsion and of rocket propellant composition and performance.


    Rocket Propulsion:

    • Principles of reaction propulsion,
    • Fundamental principles of applied thermodynamics and gas dynamics,
    • Mach number, flow function, flow area relationship,
    • Convergent-divergent nozzles,
    • Definitions of propulsion performance criteria,
    • Internal ballistics of solid propellant rocket motors,
    • Charge design for particular applications,
    • Rocket motor components,
    • Thrust vector control methods,
    • Velocity and range equations for accelerating and cruising projectiles.


    • Principles of rocket propellant composition.
    • Properties and applications of cast and extruded double base propellants.
    • Properties and applications of rubbery composite propellants.
    • Properties and applications of liquid monopropellants and bipropellants.
    • New developments in propellant composition and formulation.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Apply the principles of thermodynamics and gas dynamics to rocket propulsion, demonstrating that a solid rocket motor is a self-regulating device.
  • Critically evaluate the principle of charge design applied to examples in the defence and commercial sectors.
  • Evaluate the design of a propellant formulation against the key user requirements of safety, performance and combustion signature.
  • Analyse the latest developments and drivers in the manufacture and design of future rocket propellant formulations.



    To provide an understanding of basic pyrotechnic reactions, the concept of required effects, physical properties of pyrotechnic compositions, simple examples and the associated hazards. This leads to more complex applications of pyrotechnics; provide an understanding of how pyrotechnics and pyrotechnic munitions are manufactured and work, advanced electromagnetic effects, current pyrotechnic advances and research, hands on experience of laboratory manufacture and the demonstration of the manufactured devices.

    • Differences between pyrotechnics and explosives/propellants,
    • The combustion reaction; heats of reaction, rates of reaction, heat flow in reacting body,
    • Required effect, heat, light, smoke, gas,
    • Pyrotechnic mixtures, selection of ingredients, laboratory manufacture and hazards,
    • Practical – manufacture of pyrotechnics and demonstration,
    • Pyrotechnic munition design,
    • Industrial production of pyrotechnics,
    • Storage and ageing of pyrotechnics,
    • Current topics in pyrotechnics.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe chemical reactions which are used to produce the required pyrotechnic effect and factors which can affect these reactions,
  • Undertake small scale laboratory manufacture of pyrotechnic devices and relate that to their performance,
  • Explain how pyrotechnic munitions work, their advantages and problems,
  • Appraise current areas of pyrotechnic research.

Explosives and the Environment


    To provide a comprehensive overview of the behaviour of explosives in the environment and their pollutant linkages.

    • The use of explosives in the environment,
    • The effects on the environment,
    • Environmental risk assessment of explosives,
    • Contaminated air, land and water,
    • Soil systems and sampling techniques,
    • Environmental issues through life of explosives.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Explain the chemical and physical behavior of explosives in the environment,
  • Defend decisions made on environmental grounds that can be balanced with operational capabilities and cost effectiveness over the whole life cycle of a product/project (CADMID),
  • Evaluate potential pollutant linkages between explosive sources and environmental receptors,
  • Select appropriate mitigation, remediation and management solutions for explosives contamination.

Maritime Underwater Munitions


    To provide insight into the principles of maritime and underwater warfare.

    • Principles of underwater warfare,
    • Engineering materials for underwater munitions,
    • Physics of underwater explosions,
    • Explosive materials used in underwater munitions,
    • Safe storage and carriage of munitions at sea,
    • Countering threats at sea,
    • Rendering safe procedures for underwater IEDs and mines,
    • History of sea dumped munitions,
    • Geopolitical impact of dumped munitions,
    • Environmental impact of underwater munitions,
    • Detection, monitoring and handling of sea dumping munitions,
    • Safety implications of munition clearance,
    • Remediation of sea dumped munitions,
    • Emerging threats against the future of underwater munition capability,
    • Group workshops and external visit to enhance student learning.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe physical and chemical properties of explosives to produce a desired target effect,
  • Selecting countermeasures for underwater threats - Assessing the associated risks of explosive munition clearance underwater,
  • Identify and evaluate emerging threats in the future of maritime and underwater munitions.

Manufacture and Material Properties of Explosives


    To provide a critical understanding of the requirements for a safe functional explosive train within munition systems by explaining the material properties of high explosives and the methods of manufacture.


    Chemistry of explosive molecules and associated materials

    • Basic chemistry of nitration,
    • Synthesis examples of Lead Azide/Styphnate, TNT, RDX, NC, NG,
    • Basic stability/compatibility (to be extended in testing module),
    • Polymer chemistry.

    Material science of explosive materials

    • Basic hazard/performance properties,
    • Crystal properties,
    • Binder properties,
    • Mechanical properties.

    Engineering of the manufacture of explosives

    • Filling process,
    • Plant design, safety, storage,
    • Quality control,
    • Melt cast compositions,
    • Polymer Bonded Explosives,
    • Materials Modelling.

    Manufacturing Health & Safety,

    • Toxicity & Health Effects,
    • Environmental Awareness,
    • Legislation.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Interpret the role of explosives and their formulations in the context as parts of an explosive train in a weapons system,
  • Evaluate and compare the chemico-physical properties of explosives materials and their formulations,
  • Explain how the manufacturing processes for explosives and their formulations affect their chemico-physical properties and ultimately their performance,
  • Illustrate the environmental and legislative requirements of munitions manufacture with reference to the whole lifecycle.

Delivery Systems

    To enable an understanding of the ways in which a lethality mechanism (warhead) may be delivered to a selected target.
    • Light and heavy guns, cannons and mortars and small arms; charge systems, external ballistics and relevant design features,
    • Torpedoes; underwater ballistics, underwater propulsion, guidance and control,
    • Detection: IR and optical sensing, radar systems,
    • Guided weapon design: Propulsion, aerodynamics, control, guidance.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Establish the operational features and principles of a wide variety of ammunition, launch and carriage methods, underpinned by a detailed knowledge of the sub-systems and design methodologies,
  • Assess the external ballistics and flight dynamics associated with the various classes of munitions,
  • Review and conduct calculations related to the performance (i.e. range and velocity) of munition systems using informed aerodynamic, propulsion and mass data,
  • Evaluate the relevance and performance of sensor and guidance technologies.

Introduction to Explosives Engineering


    To address knowledge gaps in military or industrial EOE capability by working in a team to design and conduct scientifically rigorous analytical procedures and present clear results of a particular EOE project.


    This module will cover:

    • Introduction to the module (1 day), regular updates with supervisors and relevant stakeholders,
    • Project selection based on group knowledge, skills and experience,
    • How to develop and set-up experimental equipment for laboratory or fieldwork,
    • Conducting analytical procedures and present clear results of a particular EOE project.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Apply team member’s experiences to address EOE capability gaps and challenges,
  • Execute sound project management principles,
  • Critically analyse literature to identify gaps in military and industrial EOE capability and results of practical experiments,
  • Evaluate and communicate experimental results and conclusions orally and in writing.

Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Capability


    The aim of the C-IED Capability course is to educate industry, military and civilian MoD C-IED and Counter Threat professionals in a system engineering & critical thinking approach to the Counter IED/Threat systems with emphasis on supporting capabilities and technology.

    Subjects covered will include:
    • The C-IED approach in accordance with JDP 3-65(AJP-3.15(C)) and other civilian and military approaches,
    • Understand the development of IED threats based on historical perspective and how these have been countered,
    • Technologies involved in C-IED across Detect, Neutralise, Mitigate and Exploit,
    • Incudes roles of ISTAR and ECM,
    • How to advise senior and specialist staff on C-Threat,
    • The importance of ‘Understand’ and information management to maintain effectiveness,
    • Application of influence activities to C-Threat,
    • Analysing adversary weapon systems and identifying points of influence and effect.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Evaluate the benefit of C-IED activities (Predict, Pursue, Prevent, Detect, Neutralise and Mitigate and Exploit) with respect to Prepare the Force, Attack the Network and Defeat the Device,
  • Predict the impact of new technologies on threat,
  • Analyse the development of IED threats,
  • Recommend a strategy to counter an adversary’s IED/Threat systems.

Design for Vulnerability


    Extreme but credible accidents and enemy action (EA)2 can cause munitions to react violently, with potentially severe consequences for people, equipment and infrastructure. Using a common scientific framework and set of evidence, Insensitive Munitions (IM) Policy drives the design of safer munitions; Hazard Classification (HC) controls their storage and transport; and Explosive Risk assessment builds on these to manage residual risks.

    The aim of the Design for Vulnerability module is to explore the policies and processes used to manage the consequences of such EA2 events throughout the munition lifecycle; the science underpinning the response of energetic materials and weapons systems to these EA2 events; design principles to minimise the responses; and tools and techniques to manage these responses.

    Taking the IM and HC criteria as a starting point, this module describes the reaction mechanisms that can lead to violent reactions and associated experimental and modelling techniques; and develops the qualities needed for safe design through explosive and propellant formulation; warhead, rocket motor packaging design; together with threat hazard assessment to develop a risk-based approach to accidents or actionEA2, through an holistic approach to munitions safety balancing a sense of the possible against need.

    • Policy & Rationale for IM, HC & ERA,
    • EA2 threats and examples,
    • Theory & experimental methods for Shock initiation, cook-off and deflagration to detonation transition.
    • Advances in formulation and processing for EA2 - understand the pertinent issues facing the formulator when optimising for performance and safety.
    • EA2 design principles for warheads, rocket motors and pyrotechnic devices – energetic materials structural design, mitigation features.
    • Consideration of munitions safety as a through life and systems approach, including threat hazard analysis, consequence modelling, and a warfighter perspective of operational imperatives balanced against safety.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Summarise the policy, strategy and operational context of EA2,
  • Evaluate the relationships between IM, HC & ERA and the scientific principles and mechanisms controlling the response of munitions to EA2,
  • Critique the state of the art and future direction of design solutions for EA2
  • Select tools and techniques available to evaluate, manage and mitigate the consequences of EA2.

You will be able to propose design approaches which may lead to safer munitions following consideration of life cycle threat and the practicalities of testing, whilst providing the user with an effective operational capability.

Safety Assurance in EOE


    To apply appropriate safety assurance for activities involving explosives and ordnance.

    • Introduction to key safety legislation and regulations,
    • Recognise the threats and failure modes of munitions,
    • Complete safety assessments that are in-line with real and theoretical scenarios,
    • Discuss and debate the complexity of safety protocols.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the evolution and importance of regulations and legal context for explosive safety,
  • Evaluate the body of evidence required to demonstrate a system is safe,
  • Discuss the key safety factors during the in-service phases of the CADMID cycle for a munition system and its components,
  • Produce safety advice for introducing a munition into service.


The MSc of this course meets the educational requirements for the Engineering Council UK register of Chartered Engineers (CEng); the course is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Accredited by 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. 

This course is CEng accredited and fulfils the educational requirements for registration as a Chartered Engineer when presented with a CEng accredited bachelor's programme.


Institution of Mechanical Engineers





Your career

Many of the students are linked to military employment and as such are sponsored through this route. Therefore, the majority of students continue to work for them on completion of the course. However, the course has the potential to take you on to enhanced career opportunities often at a more senior level across a range of roles corresponding with your experience.

Cranfield Careers and Employability Service

Cranfield’s Career Service is dedicated to helping you meet your career aspirations. You will have access to career coaching and advice, CV development, interview practice, access to hundreds of available jobs via our Symplicity platform and opportunities to meet recruiting employers at our careers fairs. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. Support continues after graduation and as a Cranfield alumnus, you have free life-long access to a range of career resources to help you continue your education and enhance your career.

How to apply

Click on the ‘Apply Now’ button to start your online application.

See our Application guide for information on our application process and entry requirements.