This part-time course meets the requirements of the Level 7 System Engineering Master's Apprenticeship Programme. Eligible organisations will be able to use up to £21,000 of 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

This course will develop knowledge and skills in understanding the wider context of defence capability and guiding the development of operational, support and enabling business solutions which both deliver cost effective outcomes and contribute to the attributes of defence as a whole.


  • Start dateSeptember and January
  • 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 three years part-time
  • DeliveryCoursework, written examinations, oral examinations, portfolio and, for the MSc only, an individual thesis
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield University at Shrivenham

Who is it for?

We have a diverse student body drawn from numerous industries and institutions in the UK as well as overseas providing a rich educational experience. Our class size is normally between 10 and 20, comprising a combination of full- and part-time students.

Why this course?

The Centre for Systems Engineering has been at the forefront of developing systems engineering education for the past 15 years, blending the breadth of systems thinking with the rigour of systems engineering, and closely integrating this within acquisition management.

All those involved in the wider defence enterprise, across government, military, industry, science and technology have changing needs and aspirations for defence. Agility, resilience, continuity of supply, skills and innovation now complement the continuing need to balance cost, time and performance in everything we do.

The course covers the wider context of defence capability and guiding the development of operational, support and enabling business solutions.

Informed by industry

The course's Industrial Advisory Board meets once a year to discuss the course structure and content. Members include Cranfield University and Defence Academy staff with industrial representatives from, for example: 

  • AWE,
  • MoD's Defence Equipment and Support,
  • MBDA UK Limited,
  • Thales,
  • QinetiQ,
  • MoD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

Course details

The course is modular and you will accumulate credits for each module you successfully complete - 10 credits per module. The Advanced Systems Engineering Workshop is worth 20 credits. 

The course structure has been devised to give the maximum amount of flexibility for you to create your own learning pathway whilst ensuring that the fundamental principles of systems engineering are compulsory. 

Course delivery

Coursework, written examinations, oral examinations, portfolio and, for the MSc only, an individual thesis

Individual project

The Individual Project provides you with an opportunity to undertake an in-depth study of an area of particular interest to you or your sponsor which is written up as a thesis or dissertation. The study might include, for example: 

  • Application of systems engineering tools and techniques to a real-world problem,
  • Analysis of underpinning systems engineering theory and practice,
  • Development of new or tailored systems engineering processes.


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

Advanced Systems Engineering Workshop

Module Leader
  • Jeremy Smith

    The aim of this workshop is to consolidate the material in the taught phase of the Systems Engineering for Defence Capability, providing an opportunity to assess the student’s ability to apply this knowledge to a realistic systems problem.


    The module uses learning from all core and some optional modules to allow the implementation, practice and use of learning together in an evolving, example case study

Intended learning outcomes

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


Demonstrate a systematic and critical knowledge and appropriate use of advanced Systems Engineering techniques


Analyse a real-world problem using Systems Engineering approaches and tools as part of a through-life acquisition approach
Evaluate the application of advanced Systems Engineering techniques to real-world systems problems
Demonstrate the ability to work as part of a team in tackling a realistic systems problem



Applied Systems Thinking

Module Leader
  • Dr Steve Barker

    The aim of this module is to differentiate between a range of systems approaches relevant to systems engineering and their applicability across the systems engineering lifecycle. It explores complex adaptive systems, such as organisations and large-scale engineered solutions, and provides concepts, methods and ways of thinking that can deal with such complexity. In particular, it will present different ways of looking at the systems engineering requirements of defence and will consider the characteristics of methodologies appropriate for modelling defence problems and capability needs.


    Indicative module content:

    Systems Thinking

     why systems thinking?
     the philosophy behind systems thinking,
     unravelling complexity,
     map of methods,
     systems challenges.

    Systems Methods and Techniques 

     types of systems,
     representing systems with models,
     overview of a relevant set of systems methods and techniques,
     use of multiple methods.

    Application of Systems Methods

     practical application of methods and techniques,
     discussion on systems, methods and techniques.

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


• differentiate systems concepts,
• assess the underlying principles of systems methods,
• consider how Systems Engineering information may be elicited using soft and hard systems methods.


• demonstrate the ability to think systemically and conceptually,
• apply a set of systems methods and techniques,
• construct relevant models of systems problems and analyse them appropriately to propose viable solutions,
• judge the practical application of systems methods and techniques.

Capability Context

Module Leader
  • Rick Adcock

    To enable students to develop potential solutions to capability level problems using Systems Engineering methods and techniques.


    This module considers how the life cycle and process approaches of SE are applied to Enterprise capability in general.  The Capability Management processes of UK defence are described and discussed in relation to this theoretical viewpoint.

     Detailed content covers:

    • Definitions of Enterprise, Service and Capability as systems.System of Systems concepts and how they have evolved
    • Overview of UK MoD Financial and Capability Management (FinMilCap)
    • Capability Challenges, how have changes in operation, delivery and technology changed how we think about capability across the enterprise.
    • Capability Integration
    • Introduction to MODAF and the System of Systems Approach (SoSA)

    A detailed defence example is used to illustrate the use of SE in Capability Management across the above content


Intended learning outcomes

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


• Interpret System Engineering Lifecycle in the context of capability
• Asses the trade-off and legacy issues which affect capability requirements
• Examine how capability requirements can be interpreted at the programme and project level
• Consider the purpose of architectures in a capability context.


• Apply Systems Engineering methods to allocate capability functional views to physical systems views
• Assess the implications for acquisition in using a system of systems approach to capability


Lifecycle Processes Introduction

Module Leader
  • Rick Adcock

    The aim of this module is to recognise how systems engineering processes can be used to support acquisition through a generic project life cycle. It will provide an overview of how systems engineering is applied to the delivery of system products and services in a generic project lifecycle. The main focus is on the early life cycle stages exploring problems, proposing and evaluating solution options and planning for subsequent life cycle stages. 

    Indicative module content:

    • introduction to systems modelling techniques (in particular SySML),
    • relationships between life cycle processes and principles of systems thinking, e.g. boundary, context, purpose, relationships, scenarios, etc.,
    • architecture and requirement definitions (views, viewpoints, frameworks, atomized requirements, levels of specification, measures of effectiveness and performance),
    • logical architecture (defining a system of interest); physical architecture (top down vs bottom up solution synthesis); analysis and trade-off,
    • nature of requirements (stakeholder and system) and the role of an intelligent customers,
    • anatomy of a requirement, pitfalls of writing and assessing good requirements, requirements management ,
    • through life approaches (basic introductions and discussion),
    • through life planning and life cycle tailoring,
    • relationships to defence acquisition (including individual and team competencies).

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


• discuss the relationship between lifecycle models and processes, and key systems principles, in the context of a generic project lifecycle, 
• apply the principles of requirements, architecture and analysis in a project context,
• explain the issues of integration, verification, acceptance and validation to a project context, 
• evaluate through-life management of systems engineering processes, including people and organizational issues, in a complex environment such as defence acquisition,
• explain the dependability topics and their interrelationships. 


• create system models to explore a complex problem, describe and bound a selected system-of-interest,
• propose atomised stakeholder requirements which are consistent with the problem context and can form the basis of validation, 
• create logical and physical architecture views appropriate to different levels of solution detail,
• propose atomised system requirements which are consistent with the system-of-interest context and can be verified, 
• judge the suitability of different approaches to the synthesis of solution option,
• compare the suitability of different integration and verification methods in relation to requirements and the lifecycle, 
• criticise the broad range of trade-offs necessary in the analysis of solution options (including issues of dependability and resilience), 
• evaluate the importance of individual and team competencies in the conduct of systems engineering activities.

Lifecycle Processes Advanced

Module Leader
  • Dr Tim Ferris

    The aim of this module is to examine the application of Systems Engineering Processes in detail and introduce more advanced lifecycle topics such as dependability and resilience.


    This module provides further depth on lifecycle processes from the Lifecycle Processes Introductory module (LPI) and expands to look at dependability and resilience, and the challenges of specialist domains from a lifecycle processes perspective.

    Consideration of Lifecycle Processes for Specialist Domains

    Define the dependability topics and their interrelationships
    Discuss when the dependability topics should be considered within a lifecycle
    Explain the principles of requirements, architecture, integration, verification and validation and trade-offs in the context of the specialist domains
    Discuss the principles and practices which underpin lifecycle tailoring for specialist domains

    Problem Solving

    Applying Lifecycle tailoring and requirement capture to defence example from a specialist domain perspective



Intended learning outcomes

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


Define the dependability topics and their interrelationships.
Discuss when the dependability topics should be considered within a lifecycle.
Explain the principles of requirements, architecture, integration, verification and validation and trade-offs in the context of the specialist domains.
Discuss the principles and practices which underpin lifecycle tailoring for specialist domains.


Choose lifecycle process tailoring appropriate to specialist domains.
Evaluate trade-offs across the Lines of development with awareness of dependability topics.
Defend the selection of suitable verification and validation methods used throughout a lifecycle.
Develop a test and evaluation plan for the dependability topic requirements



Systems Approach to Engineering

Module Leader
  • Dr Tim Ferris

    Given the ever-changing nature of challenges facing defence procurement in the 21st century, this module defines a systems approach, introducing systems thinking and systems engineering, and illustrates their use across the acquisition lifecycle.

    Indicative module content:

    academic study skills,
    library study skills,
    the philosophy of thinking about systems,
    management of defence,
    the evolution of systems engineering,
    • introduction to systems and systems concepts,
    • systems methods and techniques ,
    ‘the systems lifecycle’,
    • lifecycle modelling workshop.
Intended learning outcomes

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


• explain personality types through Myers-Briggs type Indicator,
• outline the nature of systems philosophy,
• interpret and apply a systemic research process,
• interpret alternative ways and approaches to considering a problem,
• differentiate between systems concepts,
• illustrate a suitable approach to assessment,
• express principles of systems, viewpoints, lifecycles and processes within the context of systems engineering.


• apply the theory of systems approach to an appropriate defence example,
• demonstrate use of correctly referenced literature.

Thesis Selection Workshop


    To prepare students for their thesis by explaining the process, rules and regulations and identifying key members of staff.


    The Module runs over a period of one week and comprises a number of lectures, workshops, preparation time and a final presentation that will focus the student towards:

    1. The submission of their Thesis Proposal form 
    2. An end-of-week presentation.

    Introduction to Your Thesis
    The intent of this material is to:

    • Introduce the administration required to complete a Thesis Proposal form
    • Introduce the what, why and how of completing a Thesis.

    Formatting your Thesis
    This session, which is run by staff from the Academic Information Systems Group, will introduce the handling of complex documents in Microsoft Word to enable the write up of the thesis with as few IT problems as possible. This session is highly recommended.

    Study Skills
    The study skills material consists of lectures on how to use the library for research. The intent of the material is to enable the students to:

    • Understand the need to reference and carry out sound research
    • Analyse and store the large amount of data collected during the research process.

    Thesis Pitfalls
    During this discussion session the student will be introduced to the possible pitfalls and issues that could be encountered during the thesis period. These will include: 

    • General errors when writing the thesis
    • Ethics awareness
    • Common mistakes when presenting your thesis to the examiners
    • Common mistakes with communication skills. 
Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this un-assessed module the student will be able to:

  • Explain the purpose of a thesis
  • Discuss the desirable characteristics of self-directed research
  • State the University regulations and procedures which are applicable to their thesis
  • Write a thesis proposal
  • Identify the risks associated with undertaking a thesis
  • Locate information relevant to the creation of a thesis
  • Judge the value of information gathered in the course of research.


Module Leader
  • Professor Emma Sparks

    The aim of the thesis is to give students experience of applying the principles, practices and processes developed in the course to a real-world problem of interest to them. Students will normally conduct the thesis in the second half of their period of registration.

     Where possible, the title will be chosen in consultation with the sponsor to ensure that a topic of interest and relevance is selected. The student, in consultation with their Workplace Mentor, FEC and the Academic Mentor should select a thesis during the first half of the period of study. However, students will not normally start the thesis until they have completed the taught phase and at a minimum all compulsory modules have been successfully completed. Part-time students may produce their thesis over more than one academic year. 


    The Thesis forms a vital element of the programme of study and offers the opportunity for students to develop and apply their skulls as Systems Engineers. The identification and completion of a suitable Thesis is central to the successful outcome of the course. 

    Student Thesis topics may be selected from current programmes in the MOD and/or industry acquisition community, and students are encouraged to suggest possible topics which are in line with their career interests and/or personal experiences. However, a topic which is relevant to a student’s career will only be chosen when supervising staff are satisfied that it is academically suitable.         



Intended learning outcomes

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


Demonstrate an ability to acquire, organise, discuss and assess knowledge associated with complex problems
Apply acquired knowledge which is appropriate to the subject of the thesis


Plan, organise and undertake an individual, open-ended research activity with appropriate supervision
Work individually to agreed milestones, establishing clear objectives and specifications
Demonstrate an ability to gather and critically appraise data, and to utilise it within the appropriate academic and practical context
Critically apply appropriate methods, tools, techniques, processes and knowledge to a complex problem
• Communicate findings in the form of a written dissertation and oral presentation



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

Availability, Reliability, Maintainability and Support Strategy

Module Leader
  • Laura Lacey

    The aim of this module is to enable the students to understand the principles and application of Availability, Reliability and Maintainability (A,R&M) and to understand the influence and contribution of the strategies adopted for maintenance and logistic support on the mission effectiveness and availability of equipment.


    The concepts of function, failure, fault and defect in the context of reliability, maintenance, maintainability and availability
    The relationship between A, R & M and Systems Engineering
    Investigate Availability and the constituent parts that management can influence
    Contracting strategies for Availability including Contractor Logistic Support
    Contracting for Availability and for Capability
    Current and novel measures of reliability and maintainability
    Combining reliability and maintainability to achieve availability
    Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM) and its contribution to system effectiveness during the design process and subsequently once equipment has entered service
    Lifecycle reliability using e.g. the ‘bathtub’ curve
    Estimating system reliability using tools such as Fault Tree Analysis
    MOD’s methods and procedures for assured delivery of A,R & M
    Analysing redundancy using tools such as reliability block diagrams
    A brief introduction to design of maintenance and maintenance strategies – e.g. corrective and preventative maintenance and impacts on A, R & M
    Maintenance Strategies to provide equipment repair and overhaul and Through-Life Support (TLS)
    Logistic Support and the Support Chain, including strategies and initiatives to minimise delay
    The Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) process
    ILS tools: Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) and Level of Repair Analysis (LORA)
    Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) and prognostics – the contribution to maintenance and TLS



Intended learning outcomes

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

Explain the terms Availability, Reliability, Maintainability, Integrated Logistic Support and Supportability (A,R,M, ILS and S) and give supporting examples of each
Appraise how the terms A,R,M, ILS and S are interrelated, including any trade-off and impact on a support strategy 
Plan the application of A,R,M, ILS and S methods to existing and future military systems and summarize their influence on equipment availability
Defend the R,M, ILS and S techniques selected during concept, design, development, demonstration, production and trials
Assess the relationship of A,R,M, ILS and S when applying a systems engineering approach
Present a case for a critical audience on the A,R,M, ILS & S issues applied to a new or existing piece of military equipment



Decision Analysis, Modelling and Support

Module Leader
  • Dr Ken McNaught

    The aim of the module is to provide students with an awareness and understanding of a wide range of modern analytical methods to support and enhance their decision making for complex systems engineering problems.


    Dealing with Uncertainty and Risk

     Pay-off Matrices: Structuring decision problems using a pay-off matrix to represent the value or utility of each option for each possible state of nature.  Analysing the pay-off matrix under conditions -of uncertainty and risk; sensitivity/robustness of decisions to the inputs.
     Decision Trees: Structuring and analysing decision problems using a decision tree to represent sequential decision making under conditions of risk and uncertainty; the application of Bayes' Theorem to update probabilities in the light of new information.  The calculation of the value of perfect and imperfect information.
     Bayesian Networks and Influence Diagram Decision Networks: These modern tools are examples of probabilistic graphical models which offer a powerful framework for reasoning and decision-making under risk and uncertainty.  Structuring and analysing decision problems using Bayesian networks and decision networks.
     Game Theory: Application of classical zero-sum game theory and some of its extensions to decision-making under conditions of competition or conflict.
     Judgement Methods: Elicitation and analysis of individual judgments as part of the decision-making process.  Cognitive biases which affect human judgment, problems of group decision-making.


    Dealing with Conflicting Objectives and Trade-Offs

    • Approaches used in multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA) where several, often conflicting, criteria are important to a decision-maker: structuring and analysing MCDA problems using the Simple Multi-Attribute Rating Technique with Swing weights (SMARTS).

    • Coverage of the Analytic Hierarchy Process and the portfolio optimization approach; scenario planning approaches.


    Practical Exercises 

    • Model building and analysis using decision tree software
    • Model building and analysis using Bayesian network and decision network software
    • Questionnaire-based judgement elicitation exercise
    • Model building and analysis using MCDA software
    • Game theory exercise

Intended learning outcomes

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


• Explain the need for different types of decisions across the system life cycle
• Demonstrate how decisions are made under conditions of risk and uncertainty and where conflicting objectives must be dealt with
• Describe cognitive biases which are relevant to decision making and their effects


• Construct a range of models to represent decision situations and support decision making
• Analyse a range of models to represent decision situations and support decision making
• Organise preferences and trade-offs to arrive at an objective decision

Human Centric Systems Engineering


    This module considers the importance of people across the systems engineering life-cycle, both within the context of organisations and how they function and the production of physically engineered systems for a range of stakeholders.


    The module considers people as a capability and within a capability context. The main themes are independent and interdependent:

    Organisational Design

    • Socio- technical considerations
    • Enterprise modelling and architecture
    • Competency (tasks and roles)

    Engineering Design

    • Human factors • Human factors integration • Requirements • Model based Systems Engineering

Intended learning outcomes

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


• Explain the relationship between humans and systems
• Differentiate between organisational design and engineering design
• Assess the impact of organisational design on engineering design
• Propose the role of HF competency in an organisational context



• Extend the application of Systems Engineering methods to embrace human considerations
• Interpret specialised HF methods
• Generate valid and verifiable requirements that incorporate human considerations


Model Based Systems Engineering


    The module will enable students to evaluate the role of Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) within the defence context and to construct models within the framework of MBSE.  The module will build on the introduction provided by Systems Approach to Engineering (SAE).


    MBSE Theory

    • Value of MBSE

    • Advanced MBSE concepts

    • MBSE Ontology

    • Links to Architectural Frameworks

    • Competencies

    • Processes, Practices & Methods.

    Analysis of Tools & Technology

    • Tool evaluation and selection

    • How to build support for using a tool

    • Tools for system design & simulation.

    Applied MBSE

    • Scenario-based application of MBSE and model building techniques

    • Systems of Systems MBSE

    • Model Based Requirements.

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion the module you will be able to:

  • Explain the principles of MBSE and modelling concepts
  • Explain the MBSE ontology, competencies and processes
  • Asses how MBSE could be appropriately applied to aid system design and integration
  • Explain MBSE application to Systems of Systems problems
  • Describe MBSE from different stakeholders value systems
  • Describe the role MBSE has in through-life system design and development
  • Critically evaluate a number of modelling tools and select the most appropriate for a given application
  • Defend tool selection for MBSE application
  • Construct a coherent systems model using multiple interacting and composite views, using a representative case study.

Simulation and Synthetic Environments

Module Leader
  • John Hoggard

    To allow students to develop a critical but broad awareness of the roles, concepts, utility and applications of modelling and simulation in defence Systems Engineering and to understand how to construct simple models.


    Modelling and Simulation

     Principles of modelling and simulation
    • Simulation methods and tools
    • Simulation technology
    • Distributed simulation and synthetic environments
    • Validation and Verification of simulations
    • Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) simulations.

    Modelling and Simulation in Defence Systems Engineering

     Applications for modelling and simulation from analysis to training
    • Application of modelling and simulation through a system life cycle
    • Defence Synthetic Environments and Systems Engineering based Acquisition

Intended learning outcomes

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


• Demonstrate a systematic knowledge of the utility of modelling and simulation on defence systems acquisition. Including:
• The verification and validation of defence models and simulations.
• The acquisition, operation and evolution of defence models and simulations.
• Hard and soft approaches to modelling.
• Deterministic and stochastic models.
• Monte Carlo simulation.
• The role of modelling and simulation in supporting defence decision-making.



 Explain and apply the general principles of modelling and simulation and to explain the importance of modelling and simulation in supporting defence decision-making
 Critically evaluate the current research and applications for defence modelling and simulation throughout a system life cycle
 Critically evaluate the role, and utility of simulations and synthetic environments in a Systems Engineering approach and in support of defence acquisition and decision making
 Apply the ideas of verification and validation to defence models and explain the issues involved
 Design simple simulation models using different approaches
 Explain the technologies of live, constructive and virtual simulation and their defence applications

System of Systems Engineering

Module Leader
  • Dr Steve Barker
    Given the ever-more complicated nature of challenges facing defence procurement in the 21st century, this module aims to explore systems-of-systems (SoS) and how their understanding and application can benefit the defence environment.


    Introduction to SOSE 

    Systems and SOS
    Integration and Interoperability

    Design and managing SOS across the lifecycle

    SOS lifecycle
    Writing requirements for SOS
    Design SOS - Enterprise Architecture 
    Verification and Validation of SOS

    Case Study workshop

    Use MODAF to capture SOS

Intended learning outcomes

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


Describe the differences between Systems and Systems of Systems
Recognise the challenges associated with Systems of Systems
Justify adopting a Systems of Systems Engineering approach to solve complex problems
Identify methods and tools to apply in a Systems of Systems context
Assess the use of Enterprise Architecture frameworks to design and manage Systems of Systems


Select appropriate methods and tools to solve Systems of Systems problems
Investigate a System of Systems using the MOD Architecture Framework (MODAF)
Apply models and tools (e.g. Enterprise Architect) to model Systems of Systems aspects

Systems Engineering and Software

Module Leader
  • Dr Pathmeswaran Raju

    The crucial role software plays in both development processes and systems functionality has made it an ever increasing part of projects involving complex systems. This makes it important for systems engineers to have knowledge of the relationship between Software Engineering and Systems Engineering, and to understand where they correlate, conflict, and complement each other.

    This module will provide this understanding by covering central principles, tools and techniques of Software Engineering and placing these in a Systems Engineering context.


    Software Engineering Principles

    • Software-intensive systems role in Systems Engineering
    • Software and Data
    • Processes and Life Cycle Models
    • Requirements
    • System Modularity, Architecture and Design


    Software development methodologies and their Systems Engineering counterpart

    • Project development plans
    • Software Engineering teams
    • Tools
    • Agile development, Continuous Integration DevOps


    Types of Software Systems

    • Embedded
    • Applications
    • Systems
    • Web and Web-services
    • Cloud computing


    Relationship between Systems Engineering and Software Engineering

    • Levels of abstraction
    • People and development approaches
    • Challenges in software development
    • Time and cost management
    • Types of software - Reuse, COTS, Open-Source, In-house, tailoring.


    Software Architectures and Development Methods

    • Component-Based Software Engineering
    • Distributed Software Engineering
    • Real-time Software Engineering
    • Service-oriented Software Engineering

    Software Systems Integration, Testing and Process Improvement

    • System Integration
    • Testing, Verification, Metrics and Reliability
    • Security and Safety
    • In-service and Disposal
    • Software Process Improvement

Intended learning outcomes

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


• Summarise the relationship between Systems Engineering and Software Engineering in terms of processes, levels of abstraction and the role of people
• Explain central software engineering principles used in the development life-cycle
• List different types of software systems and describe the differences between them
• Describe key software development methodologies and compare these to the methodologies of systems engineering
• Identify the root causes for delays in software intensive projects
• Summarise system architectures and project development plan for a software-intensive system


• Analyse the role of Software Engineering in Systems Engineering and identify where they correlate, conflict, and complement each other
• Critically evaluate how design decisions in Software Engineering and Systems Engineering processes affect each other
• Design a system architecture and project development plan for a software-intensive system with respect to the type of software system, use of software engineering principles and software development methodologies

Systems Engineering Workshop


    The aim is to consolidate and further develop systems skills through the application of systems engineering methods to a representative problem. Students will plan, design and build real systems, in order to gain practical experience and understanding of the impacts functional design, sub-system integration and through-life choices can have on projects.


    Indicative module content:

    application of the system engineering principles and methods on a representative problem in a group working scenario,
    this week will comprise aspects across the lifecycle, such as problem scoping, requirements and system logical and physical design,
    students will be expected to construct a real system and evaluate the impacts of their analysis and decisions,
    through-life trade-offs and dependency considerations will drive system design,
    the workshop will culminate in a final demonstration,
    practice in planning individual contributions and dividing effort amongst the members of a team working on a systems problem.

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

interpret a systems problem and context,
explain the relationship between systems models and constructed system,
consider the external impacts upon a system performance and recognise constraints on systems design,
defend the selection of methods used to solve problems associated with complex systems,
plan a logical systems engineering approach to a given problem and be able to evaluate the selection of methods, tools and processes,
apply systems engineering methods and techniques to given problem in order to design and build a real system,
demonstrate the ability to work effectively as part of a systems engineering team,
critically evaluate the impacts of decisions on the performance and through-life management of a real system.

Networked and Distributed Simulation Exercise

Module Leader
  • Jonathan Searle
    The module will allow students who have completed the Networked and Distributed Simulation (NDS) module to design, setup and conduct a basic battlespace Synthetic Environment (SE) exercise employing local- and wide-area network (LAN and WAN) distributed simulation technology.
    • A group project to design, set up and conduct a basic distributed battlespace exercise using both Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) and High Level Architecture (HLA) systems.
    • An individual written report on the project including a detailed description of the Synthetic Environment (SE) and the experiments that were conducted, an explanation and analysis of the results obtained and a critical technical appraisal of the project.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

  • Apply the principles of modelling and simulation and the technologies of networked and distributed simulation in the context of a specific project
  • Design, set up and conduct a basic battlespace exercise using a DIS/HLA based synthetic environment
  • Communicate and discuss the results of their experimentation orally and in writing.

The International Dimensions of Defence Acquisition

Module Leader
  • Dr Pete Ito

    The module will give students a clear understanding of the implications and impact of international dimensions of defence acquisition, using concepts and theories from the disciplines of International Relations and Politics as well as relevant management fields.

    Indicative module content:

    •  key concepts from politics and international relations; sovereignty, dependence, inter-dependence, national interest, linkage politics, regimes, and globalisation,
    •  key theories from politics and international relations; political realism, Utopianism, regional integration theory, and constructivism,
    •  the place of national cultural consideration,
    •  international dimensions,
    •  international trade, co-operation and cross-border supply and support chains,
    •  collaboration as a corporate and governmental activity,
    •  national and international export control regimes, and arms control treaties
    •  Europe: the European Union, the European Defence Agency, OCCAR and the Letter of Intent Framework countries and defence acquisition,
    •  NATO and the transatlantic dimension of defence acquisition,
    •  working with others and learning from others: selected national acquisition 
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

understand the differences between the realist, the Utopian and the constructivist approaches in international relations, and their implications for defence acquisition,
demonstrate awareness of the place of national and international regulation regarding defence acquisition,
appreciate the key elements in debates about the dynamics of co-operation and regional integration in Europe, including the place of spillover processes, in so far as they concern defence,
manifest critical understanding of the place of inter-governmental co-operation and collaboration in contemporary defence acquisition,
appreciate the operation of the defence acquisition systems of key partners and allies of the United Kingdom,
apply concepts and theories from politics and international relations to acquisition issues,
present reasoned and evidenced responses to empirical problems in a written form,
analyse the key dimensions of any state’s defence acquisition system,
compare and contrast the guiding concepts, structures and processes of the United Kingdom defence acquisition system with those of key partners and allies of the United Kingdom.

Knowledge in Defence


    The aim of this module is to engage its participants in an evaluation of knowledge, its creation, acquisition, storage and diffusion within a defence organisational context.

    Indicative module content:

    understanding knowledge and what it is- how we think and how we learn,
    concept of organisational learning and knowledge management practice,
    knowledge (information) management strategies,
    impediments to learning,
    communities of practice,
    research practice.
Intended learning outcomes On completion of this module students will be able to:

understand the theory of knowledge; critically examine general classifications of knowledge, and associated organisational typologies,
identify thinking and learning styles,
evaluate organisational learning concepts,
evaluate knowledge management concepts and practice,
evaluate knowledge management strategies and their development.

Programme and Project Management


    This module aims to establish a baseline of student knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of project, programme management and portfolio management. It will introduce key principles, processes, tools and the techniques underpinning project and programme management and will raise awareness of associated issues, with particular emphasis on leadership challenges in defence.

    Indicative module content:

    •  the strategic context of project and programme management,
    •  portfolio management and application in defence reform,
    •  programme management and managing successful programmes (MSP),
    •  project management BoKs and methods,
    •  project life cycle,
    •  multi-cultural management,
    •  scheduling,
    •  budget and cash flow,
    •  estimating and risk.
Intended learning outcomes On completion of this module students will be able to: 

describe the basic theoretical concepts that underpin effective project management and its links to programme management and portfolio management,
critically assess the relationship between business strategy, portfolios, programmes and projects,
apply the lexicon or project, programme and portfolio management,
evaluate project management tools and techniques, and be aware of their intelligent application and limitations,
assess appropriate use of a range of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills to a variety of project scenarios,
recognise what is meant by appropriate governance (including leadership) in project and programme management and be able to define the responsibilities of key players,
be aware of published guidance on project (APM, OGC, PMI), programme (MSP) and portfolio (MoP) management.

Supply Network Management in Defence and the Commercial Environment


    The module will enable students to analyse critically key logistics and supply network models, theories, and approaches, and be able to analyse their utilities and applicability to delivering more effective and efficient logistics and supply network management in defence.


    Indicative module content: 

    Logistics and Supply Networks - Context, Design, Functions and Purpose

    • strategic context and challenges,
    • efficient and effective supply networks; agile, lean, and hybrid models in defence and in the commercial environment,
    • value chain analysis,
    • comparative logistics and supply networks - commercial and defence,
    • trade-offs in the defence logistics and supply systems,
    • operational logistics and supply network implications of differing support contracting approaches.

    Managing the Inventory Function in Defence

    • the nature of the defence inventory in comparison with that found in commerce and industry and the resultant challenges,
    • the costs and risks of different inventory management strategies (e.g., stockpile versus surge),
    • inventory management to achieve desired service levels and availability.

    Achieving and Assuring an Integrated Defence Supply Network

    • differing approaches to analysing supply networks,
    • managing risk in the supply network,
    • operational coherence and assurance
    • supply network performance management.,

    Information and Knowledge Management in Logistics and Supply Network Management

    • the role of data, information, and knowledge in logistics and supply network management decision making; its critical contribution to established management models,
    • operational logistics information in defence; current and developing systems,
    • business-to-business, business-to-customer, customer-to-customer networks; asset tracking, consignment visibility, FID, barcoding.

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

demonstrate an understanding of the broad direction of academic research in logistics and supply network management,
contrast the underlying similarities and differences between supply networks within the commercial and defence environments,
critically evaluate the utility and applicability of logistics and supply network management theories, models, and approaches to defence,
critically evaluate and apply risk models to supply networks,
critically analyse and identify the added value of the logistics process in defence and the commercial environment,
analyse and evaluate the potential for improvement in the logistics and supply network management in defence.


The MSc of this course is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

This programme is accredited as a programme of further learning for CEng registration. When presented together with a CEng accredited bachelor's programme the educational requirements for CEng registration will be met in full. Students who do not have a first degree should contact the relevant institute directly for further details on whether they meet the requirements.


   Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Your career

Takes you on to impressive career prospects across a range of roles commensurate with your experience. This includes membership of multidisciplinary teams in acquisition, supply or research organisations. This could be in both general systems engineering roles or as a focal point for specific skills such as availability, reliability and maintenance (ARM), human factors, requirements, architecture test and evaluation etc. It is also applicable to key roles in MoD acquisition such as project team leader, capability manager and requirements manager.

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.