The course offers 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 five years part-time. PgDip :Up to 11 months full-time, Up to four years part-time. PgCert: Up to 11 months full-time. Up to 3 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, which include 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 it offers both part-time and full-time learning all with full access to an outstanding remote virtual learning environment and on-line 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.


This MSc 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) and The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

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

Course details

Part One of the MSc course contains an introductory period followed by academic instruction, which is in modular form. Students take ten core modules covering the main disciplines and choose two optional modules based upon their particular background, future requirements or research interests. 

Group project

To integrate module learning into an overall critical evaluation of new trends in EOE the 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 the 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 project phase is to give the 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.


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


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 modules and (where applicable) some elective modules affiliated with this programme which ran in the academic year 2018–2019. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2019 entry. All modules are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

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

Research Methodology


    To provide the tools to carry out a small research project on a topic pertinent to explosives ordnance engineering.

    This module will teach:

    library search techniques,
    web search techniques,
    technical writing,
    communication skills, 
    research methods.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

understand the essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to a specific and specialist area of explosive ordnance engineering,
understand the procedures and skills required to undertake a research project,
collect, collate and critically examine information from different sources (journals, internet, articles, Wikipedia),
identify and explain key issues and critically assess their value,
communicate scientific research, pitched at a level that is accessible to the non-specialist,
time management.

Introduction to Explosives

Module Leader
  • Dr Tracey Temple

    To provide a wide understanding of explosives and their effects.


    This module will teach:

    • principles of primary and secondary explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics and their application in commercial and military environments,
    • the importance of safety, legislation, reliability, testing, storage and environmental impact of explosives,
    • theories of thermodynamics of explosive reactions and perform calculations for enthalpy, free energy and gas equilibria,
    • mechanisms for initiation and appreciate the differences between deflagration and detonation and the classification of explosives.



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

discuss and apply the essential facts and concepts relating to Explosive Ordnance and Engineering, 
appraise the principals and theories relating to Explosive Ordnance Engineering.

Future Developments: Scanning the Horizon in EOE


    To integrate module learning into an overall critical evaluation of new trends 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.
    It will teach current ‘Hot Topics in EOE’, including, for example:
    • nanotechnology,
    • insensitive munitions,
    • analysis and detection,
    • environmental initiatives.

Intended learning outcomes

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


apply anticipatory, backcasting, simulation, and visioning techniques to anticipate the continually changing needs of the military, 
conceptually demonstrate and understand the meaning of ‘scanning the horizon’ in an EOE context.,
outline the procedures and challenges associated with peer review and grading and prioritisation of presented work against a clear assessment framework.


critically appraise the facts, principles, concepts, and theories relating to a specific area of EOE,
present scientific ideas in a clear and concise manner,
evaluate the value of funding / non-funding of research,
work effectively in teams and manage their own.

Manufacture and Material Properties of Explosives

Module Leader
  • Dr Licia Dossi

    To provide a critical understanding of the important properties of explosive materials and their methods of synthesis and manufacture.


    This module will teach: 

    Chemistry of the Synthesis of Explosive Molecules

    basic chemistry of nitration,
    synthesis examples of LA/LS, TNT, RDX, NC, NG,
    basic stability/ compatibility (to be extended in testing module).

    Material Science of Explosive Materials

    basic hazard/performance properties,
    crystal properties,
    binder properties,
    mechanical properties. Damage mechanism, vibration, shock.

    Engineering of the Manufacture of Explosives and Propellants

    filling processes of explosive and propellants,
    plant design, safety,
    quality control.



Intended learning outcomes

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

describe the principles involved in the introduction of nitro groups into molecules,
compare the current manufacturing processes for common primary, secondary explosives,
discuss the principles of ordnance formulation,
evaluate and predict the material science characteristics of explosives and explosive formulations,
work effectively in a team,
present aurally and texturally, in a coherent fashion, an authoritative précis pertaining to a particular area of explosives manufacture.



Munitions and Target Response


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

     This module teaches:

    an introduction to warheads and ammunition,
    an 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 the module a diligent student will be able to:

understand and apply the principles in designing appropriate armour systems,
establish the critical factors in warhead design for fragmentation,
appraise the design and performance of directed energy weapons,
assess the loading characteristics from blast,
investigate the penetration characteristics for armour defeat,
review the efficiency of alternative protection systems.

Ammunition Systems 2 (Delivery Systems)

    To enable an understanding of the ways in which a lethality mechanism (warhead) may be delivered to a selected target.

    This module will teach:

    guns, cannons and mortars; build-up, charge systems, cartridge case design, external ballistics,
    torpedoes; underwater ballistics, under water propulsion, guidance and control,
    air stores: air carriage and release, sub-munition dispensing, 
    detection: IR and optical sensing, radar systems,
    guided weapon design: propulsion, aerodynamics, control, guidance.

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of the module a diligent student will be able to:

explain the operational features and principles of a wide variety of ammunition launch methods, including light and heavy guns, cannons, mortars and small arms, underpinned by a detailed knowledge of their sub-systems and design methodologies,
analyse the external ballistics phenomena related to various classes of munitions, especially related to low-drag designs, gyroscopic and fin-stabilisation techniques and trajectory modelling methods,
appraise and assess the performance of guided weapons and torpedoes, based upon a knowledge of their detail ed sub-system design features and associated trade-offs,
perform detailed calculations related to the performance (i.e. range and velocity) of complete guided weapon and torpedo designs using informed aerodynamic, propulsion and mass data,
calculate detailed design information for appropriate spin rates and stability criteria for various projectiles.

Gun Propellants

    To develop comprehensive knowledge and skills on various raw materials for nitrocellulose, propellants, their properties and function, internal ballistics and the fundamentals of thermodynamics and heat transfer as applied to conventional guns.
    This module will teach:

    nitrocellulose and single, double, triple and multi-base propellants,
    oxygen balance and its effects – barrel erosion and flash,
    specific energy: balancing heat and gas production,
    ageing and storage properties,
    ballistic parameters and their measurement by a closed vessel,
    low vulnerability ammunition propellants and other new developments,
    pressure travel curves in a gun,
    Resal’s energy equation,
    effect of grain size and shape on gun performance,
    equation of motion of shot within a gun barrel,
    alternatives to solid propellants,
    heat transfer equations,
    measurement and computer modelling of gun barrel temperature,
    theory of gun barrel erosion,
    self-ignition of propellants and explosive,
    liquid propellants and their drawbacks,
    different manufacturing methods.
Intended learning outcomes

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

illustrate properties of cellulose for manufacturing military grade nitrocellulose,
recognise major types of propellants and predict their applications in current gun systems,
critically evaluate the vulnerability of current propellants and justify the requirement for LOVA propellants,
evaluate the ballistics, storage and mechanical properties of propellants,
appraise the tools and techniques for assessing heat transfer,
assess the effects of heat transfer on a weapon system and propose mitigations.



Transitions To Detonation (Half Module)


    To demonstrate how initiation of a reaction in a potentially detonable substance or composition can escalate to full detonation.


    This module includes:

    advanced thermodynamics of mixed explosive compositions and how equilibrium reactions can be used in non-equilibrium states,
    chemical kinetics of explosions,
    thermal and isothermal explosion theories including fuel/air explosions and gaseous detonations,
    response of munitions to abnormal thermal and impact environments,
    initiation of deflagration and detonation; mechanisms of initiation including the ‘hot spot’ theory of initiation,
    detonics theory: thermohydrodynamic theory of steady state detonation; the Chapman-Jouguet postulate,
    equations of state for liquid and solid explosive products; hard sphere perturbation theories; method and characteristics; ZND model of detonation and thermal explosion theory; Semenov and Franck-Kaminetsky models.





Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of the module a diligent student will be able to:

explain the fundamental principles of detonics theory, detonation modelling, explosions and initiation mechanisms
calculate parameters based on the principles of detonics theory
evaluate published scientific literature to produce a coherent summary of one aspect of detonations, explosions and their initiation mechanisms.

Testing and Evaluation of Explosives (Half Module)


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

    This module will teach:


    Powder tests
    Charge tests
    System tests
    Environmental tests (shake, rattle, roll)
    Stability and compatibility of energetic components.


    Instrumentation and techniques for measuring output from explosives and their articles


    Legislation and case studies.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

demonstrate an understanding of the principles for accelerated aging and its application to life-ing of systems,
demonstrate an understanding and rationale of the legislation and associated documentation in the testing and approval of explosives and their articles (AOP, STANAG, UN Test Book),
critique the principles for measuring explosives, performance and properties,
apply elements of the taught phase in a controlled experimental test environment,
apply statistics appropriately within materials assessment.

Computer Modelling Tools in Explosives Ordnance Engineering (Half Module)

Module Leader
  • Dr Clare Knock
    To enable the student to be able to assess the advantages and disadvantages of using computer modelling tools to solve issues in EOE and to appraise the accuracy of the results from computer modelling tools.
    By running EOE computer codes that model topics such as:

    explosive blast, 
    terminal ballistics,
    • risk.

    The students will study:

    accuracy of computer codes,
    effects of time-step size and mesh size,
    errors that can occur in computer codes,
    issues in setting up and running computer codes.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

justify when to use computational tools, experimental work or both to solve a problem or carry out research in EOE,
assess the accuracy, relevance, advantages and disadvantages of using computer modelling tools in EOE,
evaluate different computer Modelling Tools and assess which is the best to use to solve an EOE issue.

Introduction to Pyrotechnics


    To provide an understanding of basic pyrotechnic reactions, the concept of required effects, physical properties of pyrotechnic compositions, simple examples and the hazards associated with pyrotechnics.

    •  Differences between pyrotechnics and explosives/propellants.
    •  Pyrotechnic mixtures, selection of ingredients, laboratory manufacture and hazards.
    •  The combustion reaction; heats of reaction, rates of reaction, heat flow in reacting body.
    •  Hazards of pyrotechnics.
    •  Production and utilisation of heat; thermites, delays.
    •  Production and utilisation of radiation; signals, illumination, decoys.
    •  Production of smoke and the design of obscurant systems.
    •  Practical - manufacture of simple pyrotechnics and demonstration.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module a student should be able to: 


 describe simple chemical reactions which are used to produce the special effects and simple factors which can affect these reactions,
 appreciate the processes by which electromagnetic radiation (visible light and infrared) may be produced by pyrotechnic compositions and understand how such radiation may be attenuated by screening smokes,
 understand how heat is produced and how it can be used as part of a pyrotechnic train.


 recognise simple pyrotechnic compositions used in munitions

Project Phase


    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 explosive ordnance engineering.

    • Critically review established explosives ordnance engineering practice in a particular field by academic literature.
    • Develop and set-up experimental equipment for laboratory or field work.
    • Conduct analytical procedures and present clear results of a particular EOE project.
    • Present clear project results in an oral manner to an open forum of experts.
    • Produce an academic report that is of a standard to be peer reviewed by academic leaders in a specific field.
Intended learning outcomes

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

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Understand the principles of explosive ordnance engineering and apply these principles in a research environment.


  • Plan and execute a detailed research project and present the outcomes and conclusions in an oral format to a variety of audiences
  • Write a research dissertation that includes:
    • A critical review of established explosive ordnance engineering practice in a particular field
    • A clear explanation of experimental/analytical procedures and the presentation of results by appropriate means
    • Self-critical discussion of experimental/analytical results with conclusions that place the research in the context of the professional practice of explosive ordnance engineering.

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

Design for Munitions Safety


    The current push for safer munitions is driven by requirements for Insensitive Munitions (IM) but the current definition of IM can be limiting in as much as there are many threats to munitions in service that are not covered by the IM test criteria.  There is also an assumption that the selection of the explosive is the most important factor in achieving munitions safety yet it is possible to achieve IM with traditional TNT based explosives.  The aim of this course it to take IM criteria as a starting point and develop the qualities needed for safe design through explosive formulation and design, warhead and rocket motor design and packaging design together with threat hazard assessment to develop a risk based approach to design for munitions safety.

    It is hoped that the student taking this course will develop a holistic approach to munitions safety balancing a sense of the possible against need.  This may allow the student (if within MOD) to approach industry with a greater insight into practical munitions design and testing.


    Methods to achieve greater munitions safety based on formulation and preparation of explosives.

    Understand the pertinent issues facing the formulator when developing from small scale assessment work to manufacturing quantities while maintaining the safety properties of explosive compositions.  Particular attention will be paid to mechanical problems.

    Methods to achieve greater munitions safety based on design of weapons systems.

    Materials selection and the role of design in mitigating threats either by defeating them or by designing in relatively benign failure modes.  The use of modelling heat flow and materials properties to direct design.

    Methods to achieve greater munitions safety based on mitigation of effects and packaging.

    Consideration of munitions safety as a through life and systems approach to include threat hazard analysis to highlight areas of greatest concern.

    AUR and Sub-component Testing

    Consideration of standard IM tests and other AUR and Sub-component testing that have implications for safer design.

Intended learning outcomes


The aim or this module is to allow the student to gain an insight into the totality of design for weapon safety by means of case studies and practical examples


The student should be able to propose design approaches which may lead to safer munitions following consideration of life cycle threat and the practicalities of testing

Risk Assessment for Explosives (Half Module)


    To demonstrate how General Risk Assessment methods are used with specific Hazard and Frequency data for Explosives.

    • Relationship between risk and hazard and the public perception of risk
    • Quantity distance relationships
    • Qualitative and quantitative risk assessment methods
    • Models for effect on the human
    • Failure tree and failure modes effects analysis
    • Safety cases, HAZOPs and lines of defence
    • Consequence analysis
    • Protocols for small scale work
    • Discussion groups for assessment exercise.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Recognise the applicability of various risk assessment methods
  • Judge the appropriateness of tolerability and ALARP as applied to accidents involving explosives
  • Compose a simple qualitative Risk Assessment involving the hazards from explosives
  • Create an instructive article analysing an aspect of Risk Assessment as applied to explosives.

Rocket Motors and Propellants


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

    • 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 the student 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.  Define key terms such as impulse, specific impulse, thrust coefficient and characteristic velocity, recognising their significance for rocket motor design

    • Critically evaluate the principles of propellant charge design applied to examples in the defence and commercial sectors

    • Evaluate the design of a propellant formulation and their influence on the key user requirements of rocket motor safety, performance and combustion signature

    • Analyse the latest developments and key drivers of solid, liquid and hybrid motors for future rocket propellant formulations.

Advanced Pyrotechnics


    To provide an understanding of how pyrotechnics and pyrotechnic munitions are manufactured, how pyrotechnic munitions work, advanced electromagnetic effects, current pyrotechnic advances and research, hands on experience of laboratory manufacture and the demonstration of the manufactured devices.

    • Advanced topics in EMR and pyrotechnics, IR decoys
    • Advanced topics in Heat production
    • Advanced topics in smoke production
    • Pyrotechnic munition design
    • Industrial production of pyrotechnics
    • Current topics in pyrotechnics
    • Practical - manufacture of pyrotechnics and demonstration
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Appreciate the way in which pyrotechnic munitions work, their advantages and problems
  2. Understand the practicalities of manufacturing pyrotechnic devices
  3. Describe and assess the factors associated with advanced pyrotechnic EMR effects, such as decoys
  4. Appreciate the horizons of pyrotechnic research.

Explosives and the Environment (Half Module)


    To introduce the concept of the environmental effects associated with explosives from extraction to disposal.

    • The use of explosives in the environment
    • The effects on the environment
    • Environmental assessment of explosives
    • Contaminated land
    • Soil systems and sampling technique
    • Environmental issues through life of explosives
    • Addressing environmental problems/performance
    • Managing the environment
    • Design for reuse
    • Recycling technologies.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Understand the environmental principals which apply to explosives
  • Appreciate that decisions made on environmental grounds must be balanced with operational capabilities and cost effectiveness over the whole life cycle of a product/project (CADMID)
  • Recognise that defence activities and environmental protection are compatible
  • Identify activities that impact significantly on the environment
  • Identify the relevant environmental directives and regulations which apply to explosives
  • Assess and identify environmental issues surrounding the extraction, design manufacture, use and final disposal of explosives
  • Evaluate appropriate management processes to deliver improvements.

Commercial Explosives


    To develop and strengthen knowledge and skills of individuals from demolition, blasting, drilling, mining  and defence fields in the selection of blasting explosives, assessment of their performance, blast theories, detonation mechanism, blastholes loading and safety issues associated with storage and transportation.

    • Fundamentals and classification of blasting explosives
    • Properties of blasting explosives
    • Thermodynamics of explosives with respect to power and energy performance factors
    • Power factor and burden spacing
    • Application and problems of blasting explosives
    • Caking behaviour of ANFO
    • Shaped charge for mine and tunnel blasting
    • Detonation devices: theory and practices
    • Theory of blasts
    • Blast design and rationale
    • Rocks, tunnel, subsoil and underground blasting
    • Blast effect calculation
    • Various vibrations of blasting
    • Noise and blast regulation
    • Safety regulation for storage and transportation
    • Flyrock
    • Drilling: size of drilling holes, inclination, vertical, depth, subdrilling
    • Selection of explosives
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Identify blasting explosives and their performance in the context of their applications
  2. Identify a range of manufacturing methods
  3. Identify and address current problems in blasting environments
  4. Select appropriate detonators for blasting explosives
  5. Apply blast theories and detonation mechanism in blastholes
  6. Identify safety regulations for the storage and transportation of blasting explosives.

Your career

Many of the students are linked to military employment and as such are sponsored through this route. Therefore the majority of the 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.

How to apply

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