The Guided Weapon Systems MSc is a flagship Cranfield course and has an outstanding reputation within the Guided Weapons community. The course meets the requirements of all three UK armed services and is also open to students from NATO countries, Commonwealth forces, selected non-NATO countries, the scientific civil service and industry.


  • 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
  • DeliveryThis varies from module to module but comprises a mixture of oral examinations, written examinations, informal tests, assignments, syndicate presentations and an individual thesis
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield University at Shrivenham

Who is it for?

This course is an essential prerequisite for many specific weapons postings in the UK and overseas forces. It also offers an ideal opportunity for anyone working in the Guided Weapons industry to get a comprehensive overall understanding of all the main elements of guided weapons systems.

It typically attracts 12 students per year, mainly from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Chile, Brazil and those from several European forces.

Why this course?

The main objective of the Guided Weapon Systems course is to bring together the wide variety of disciplines constituting guided weapon systems technology and to present them in an integrated manner. It takes you on to an understanding of the principles of guided weapon systems technology and all interrelated and multi-disciplinary facets involved with the complete systems design process.

The course structure is modular in nature with each module conducted at a postgraduate level. The interactions between modules are emphasised throughout. A comprehensive suite of visits to industrial and services establishments consolidates the learning process, ensuring the taught subject matter is directly relevant and current.

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

Informed by industry

The industry advisory panel consists of the main services customers:

  • Royal Navy,
  • Royal Air Force,
  • Army,

and a variety of industry contacts:

  • Dstl,
  • Roxel,
  • Thales,
  • MBDA.

Course details

The course comprises a taught phase and an individual project. The taught phase is split into three main phases: Part One (Theory), Part Two (Applications), Part Three (Systems).

Course delivery

This varies from module to module but comprises a mixture of oral examinations, written examinations, informal tests, assignments, syndicate presentations and an individual thesis

Individual project

Each student has to undertake an research project on a subject related to an aspect of guided weapon systems technology. It will usually commence around January and finish with a dissertation submission and oral presentation in mid-July.


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.

Introductory and Foundation Studies

Module Leader
  • Dr Derek Bray

    To provide you with the necessary background knowledge and information to be able to successfully complete the remainder of the course.

    • Introduction to GW. Terminology, fundamental technology and examples,
    • Introduction to missiles as part of a system-of-systems and its implications,
    • Library Induction. Library services,
    • IT, Computer & FLSC Services. Email accounts, Moodle, Turnitin, etc,
    • Maths. Differentiation, integration, complex numbers, matrices, differential equations, Laplace transforms,
    • Matlab & Simulink. Introduction and worked examples.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Be familiar with the Library, IT and FLSC services at Shrivenham,
  • Understand the basic terminology involved with the wide variety of GW systems in service today,
  • Be acquainted with some of the mathematical and dynamic modelling methods and techniques used in many of the later modules,
  • Be familiar with the analysis tools used to carry out investigations and analysis throughout the course,
  • Be aware of the course structure and assessment requirements of the MSc and be able to write and submit a technical report based upon a simple technical investigation.

GW Propulsion


    To provide you with an understanding of the principles, concepts and techniques of GW propulsion.

    • Introduction: General features of missile propulsion systems and definitions/classifications,
    • Thermodynamics: Definitions, thermodynamic properties, 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics,
    • Gas Dynamics: Conservation laws, isentropic flow relationships, duct flows (convergent and convergent-divergent nozzles), Mach number; normal and oblique shock wave properties,
    • Performance Parameters: Thrust, specific impulse, effective exhaust velocity, specific propellant consumption, specific fuel consumption, efficiency (overall, thermal and propulsive),
    • Flight Mechanics: Range and velocity equations,
    • Introduction to Air-Breathers: Operating principles and design features of gas turbines (turbojets and turbofans), pulsejets, ramjets and scramjets; missile applications,
    • Gas Turbine Engines: jet propulsion principles; specific thrust and specific fuel consumption; efficiency (propulsive, thermal, overall) and thrust power; non-dimensional performance parameters; thermodynamic (Brayton) cycle analysis; turbojet and turbofan component design; gas turbine running line; worked design examples,
    • Rockets: Description and features, history, military applications, criteria of performance (thrust, specific impulse, total impulse, thrust coefficient, characteristic velocity, internal ballistics (combustion), burn rate, self-regulation, sensitivity, grain shapes (radial and end-burners),
    • Rocket Design: Mechanical design, rocket components (body, igniter, nozzle, inhibitors, insulators), thrust vector control methods
    • Introduction to Rocket Propellants: Introduction to Liquid propellants (cryogenic and hypergolic), solid propellants (double base and composite), modifiers and additives,
    • Ramjets: Introduction and history, operating principles, component design, thermodynamic cycle, engine performance.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Apply the underlying principles of thermodynamics and gas dynamics to thermomechanical jet propulsion for rockets and ramjet propulsion,
  • Critically analyse and compare and evaluate the performance of GW rocket motor systems using the parameters that are governed by their operating features,
  • Analyse, using thermodynamics and gas dynamics theory, the performance of a GW powerplant (rocket motor, gas turbine or ramjet),
  • Design propulsion systems by calculating the necessary parameters of individual subsystem components to meet specified overall requirements.

GW Aerodynamics


    To provide you with an understanding of the principles, concepts and techniques of GW aerodynamics.

    • Fundamental Definitions: Fluids, fluid properties, basic equations, ISA,
    • Basic Fluid Dynamics: Streamlines and streamtubes, continuity equation, Bernoulli’s equation, pressure coefficient, airspeed measurement, isentropic flow,
    • Basic Aerodynamics: Viscous flow, Reynolds number, boundary layers, lift and drag, force and moment coefficients, wind tunnel testing,
    • Origins of Lift: Aerofoil section and wing geometry, physical theory, circulation theory, pressure distributions, lift curves, 3-D lift, centre of pressure, aerodynamic centre,
    • Subsonic Drag: Profile drag, downwash, induced drag, drag reduction, winglets,
    • Compressible Flow: Subsonic and supersonic propagation of disturbances, von Karman’s rules of supersonic flow, sound waves, flows around convex and concave corners, Prandtl-Mayer expansion fans,
    • Transonic Flow: Prandtl-Glauert theory, sound barrier problems, supercritical wing sections,
    • Supersonic Flow: Ackeret theory, supersonic wing sections, drag breakdown, unswept supersonic wings, Subsonic,
    • GW Aerodynamics Applications: Weapon aerodynamics, aerofoil sections, swept wing, slender delta wings, bodies (axial and normal force), wing/body combinations, controls, missile trim and stability, aerodynamic derivatives, aerodynamic interactions, high angle of attack aerodynamics, aerodynamic heating and heat transfer,
    • General Aerodynamics: Supporting tutorials,
    • Weapon Aerodynamics: Supporting tutorials.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Apply the fundamental laws of fluid mechanics and aerodynamics to subsonic and supersonic missile systems,
  • Estimate the aerodynamic characteristics of typical missile systems, as needed for subsequent stability and control analysis,
  • Evaluate the trade-offs involved between missile aerodynamic design and other disciplines.

GW Control Theory

Module Leader
  • Professor John Economou

    To provide you with an understanding of fundamentals of classical/modern control theory with emphasis on how the principles can be applied as part of a GW control and guidance subsystem.

    • Introduction: introduction to feedback control, control states and outputs of a dynamical system, control objectives,
    • Modelling: Laplace transform, open-loop transfer function, closed-loop transfer function, state-space modelling, block diagram algebra,
    • S-plane Analysis and Time Response: pole-zeros, properties of transfer functions, inverse Laplace transform, time response, steady-state error, Ruth-Hurwitz stability criterion,
    • Frequency Response: Bode diagrams, polar plots, Nyquist and inverse Nyquist diagram, Nyquist stability criterion, closed loop frequency response, relative stability: gain and phase margins, sensitivity analysis in the frequency domain,
    • Frequency Response – Case Study: loop analysis of feedback systems, frequency response performance criteria,
    • Root Locus: root loci plots, construction of root-locus, root locus design,
    • Compensation: lead compensation design, lag compensation design, lag-lead compensation design, PID compensation, compensation using Bode plots, pole placement,
    • Compensation – Case Study: performance specification and design approach, control design and analysis,
    • State Space: canonical transformations, controllability and observability, state feedback design.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will understand the control system fundamentals relevant to guided weapon systems. A successful student will be able to:

  • Construct Ordinary Differential Equations for dynamic system modelling of guided weapon subsystems and validate the results,
  • Formulate the Laplace transform and State-Space representations of dynamic systems for Control Analysis,
  • Numerically analyse the dynamic response of guided weapon subsystems with the application of time and frequency response methods,
  • Apply the frequency and root-loci methodologies for the design of guided weapon appropriate compensators,
  • Design feedback compensators to improve dynamic system response and critically analyse and evaluate control system performance with relation to guided weapon systems.

GW Electro-optics and Infrared Technology

    To provide you with an understanding of the principles, design and analysis of EO/IR and laser technologies. This is in the context of STA and homing and beam-riding methods for GW applications. Students will then be able to relate this to the design and analysis of a GWS.
    • EO/IR Theory: Radiometry and power calculations, signature generation (solid and gaseous) contrast, minimum resolvable temperature difference, atmospheric effects, detector type (thermal, photon, two dimensional arrays, fibre sensors), cooling requirements, simple electronic processing, modulation transfer function, minimum resolvable temperature difference, fundamentals of optical systems, fundamentals of digital image processing, detector performance characteristics, modulation transfer function, laser systems (principles and applications).
    • EO/IR Application: EO/IR seeker systems, EO/IR STA systems, Laser-based STA, designation and beam riding emitter and sensor methods.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Assess the performance of EO/IR systems based on analysis of the underlying principles and technology,
  • Evaluate and justify the choices of EO/IR systems for the STA and homing in a Guided Weapon system,
  • Critically assess the performance of laser-based technologies in the context of target acquisition, designation, beam riding.

GW Control and Guidance


    To provide you with an understanding of the principles, methods and design of guided weapon autopilot and guidance systems and the interaction between autopilot, guidance and other missile sub-systems.

    • Introduction to Missile Control and Guidance: Introduction to closed loop control applied to guided weapon guidance, classification of guidance methods, autopilots and guidance loop performance requirements. Interaction between control, guidance and other key GW sub-systems,
    • Control & Actuation Methods: Aerodynamic control methods, flight stability and control surface positioning. Thrust vector control (TVC), side thrusters and bonkers. Pneumatic hydraulic and electric actuation systems,
    • Missile Instrumentation: Control sensors, accelerometers, mechanical angle and rate gyroscopes, solid-state rate sensors, roll resolvers and altimeters,
    • Missile Dynamics & Autopilots: Heading and velocity control, missile lateral, roll and altitude dynamics. Lateral roll and altitude autopilots design and application of state space, root-locus and frequency response methods to autopilot design,
    • Homing Guidance: Active, semi-active and passive homing, homing guidance loop dynamics and kinematics. Proportional navigation (PN) type guidance and modern homing guidance algorithms. Guidance performance and sensitivity analysis,
    • Target Tracking: System and performance requirements, tracker loops and system type, multi-spectral sensors. Alpha-beta trackers and Kalman filters,
    • Command Guidance: Line-of-sight (LOS) systems, LOS-beam riders, command off the line-of-sight (COLOS), command guidance loop dynamics, kinematics and stability, LOS trajectories and coverage diagrams, augmented CLOS,
    • Navigation Guidance: Navigation guidance loop dynamics, kinematics and stability, inertial navigation and GPS integration, terrain reference systems, hybrid and compound guidance.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Evaluate missile autopilot categories required by various missile guidance systems and design roll, altitude and lateral autopilot systems using closed loop control methods;
  • Compare the types of guidance techniques employed on modern guided weapons and classify their usage to design application appropriate command, homing and navigation guidance systems using closed loop control methods;
  • Evaluate the interactions between the tracking, guidance and autopilot loops of a missile control system and other key GW sub-systems;
  • Classify and evaluate the parametric relationship between guidance, control and other key guided weapon sub-systems;
  • Analyse and critically evaluate the performance of guided weapon guidance and autopilot systems.

GW Energetics


    To provide you with an understanding of the principles, concepts and techniques of various key facets of GW design, including propellants, explosives, warheads, fuzes and terminal effects.

    • Warheads: Introduction to the design of warheads in relation to the type of attacks; review of the characteristics of blast, fragmentation and shaped charges and their effects on the design of warheads; assessment of the effect of different warheads on various types of target; review of the explosives components and the safety and arming systems in guided weapons,
    • Non-conventional Warhead Technologies: nuclear, chemical & biological warheads,
    • Explosives: Review of explosives suitable for warheads and of the various designs of a range of warheads; evaluation of the methods whereby a requirement for a lethal package may be translated into a design; calculation of the characteristics of explosives and high explosives,
    • Terminal Effects: Selection of material’s mechanical and physical properties for both the missile and the warhead components,
    • Fuzes: Review of fuze types and technologies involved as well as the selection of fuze type for different target types and trajectories,
    • Rocket Propellants: Liquid propellants (cryogenic and hypergolic), solid propellants (double base and composite), hybrid propellants, modifiers and additives.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Identify the requirements for GW warheads, including choice of explosive and fuzing,
  • Select and evaluate the warhead, explosive and fuze for use in a GW designed for a given scenario to include terminal effects,
  • Analyse the performance of different rocket propellants, and the GW operational requirements that impact their selection.

GW Structures, Aeroelasticity and Materials

Module Leader
  • Professor John Economou

    To provide you with an understanding of the principles, concepts and techniques of various facets of GW design, especially involving the key disciplines of structures, vibrations & aeroelasticity and materials.

    • Structures: the structural design of guided weapons; the behaviour of loaded materials; cylinders and spheres; stresses in beams; bending stresses in beams; second moments of area; beam slope and deflection; beams subjected to accelerations; shear stresses on open-section beams; torsion,
    • Vibrations & Aeroelasticity: Sources of vibrations on a GW, aeroelastic effects acting on the GW airframe,
    • Materials: Main failure modes in materials in the GW context; review on composite materials, steels, aluminium alloys and materials for radomes, airframes, nozzles and rocket motor insulation; exploration on the use of radar absorbing materials.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Analyse loading mechanisms acting on guided weapons (GW) structures and execute structural analyses of their airframes using the principles of stress and structural analysis,
  • Classify the various sources of vibrations on a GW and evaluate the various aeroelastic effects acting on the GW airframe,
  • Identify the requirements for GW materials and the factors that affect their performance,
  • Critically evaluate the key GW design trade-offs which relate to structures, vibrations, aeroelasticity and materials to justify design decisions.

Radar Principles


    To provide you with an understanding of the fundamental principles of radar, allowing you to relate this to the design and analysis of radar systems.

    • Introduction: comparison with other sensors, frequency bands, relationship between size, wavelength and range, target data, historical notes,
    • Radar detection theory: radar range equation, Pd, Pfa and SNR relationships, FAR, No. hits, Integration (quadrature detection),
    • Pulsed Radar Parameters: PRF, pulse width, duty ratio, peak and average powers, min range, eclipsing, max unambiguous range, low PRF, spectrum of pulsed radar, signal bandwidth, matched reception, range resolution. Search radar application,
    • Losses: effect of clear air, precipitation, multipath; Losses associated with radar system, including the antenna (beam-shape loss),
    • CW and FM ranging: The Doppler effect, Doppler sensing, clutter rejection, Doppler filtering/velocity gating. Two phase linear saw-tooth modulation, ranging, effect of Doppler, velocity and range measurement. Missile seeker,
    • Radar cross-section: principal factors; surface reflection effects; forms of scattering; echo mechanisms; variation of RCS with angle; typical values; Swerling models,
    • Pulse compression: frequency coding (FMOP); Phase coding (PMOP); matched filtering; range and velocity resolution; Compressed pulse width; Range-velocity coupling,
    • Clutter: surface and volume backscatter coefficient; spatial and temporal variation; estimation of clutter return and signal-to-clutter ratio for volume and surface clutter; statistical description for clutter; clutter spectrum and de-correlation time,
    • CFAR: Constant false alarm rate systems; Clutter statistics and CFAR
    • performance · Pulse-doppler radar: principle of operation; clutter spectrum; characteristics of HPRF and MPRF systems; FMICW in range measurement; multiple PRFs in range measurement. Airborne early-warning radar: requirements; design drivers and solution; typical parameters. Battlefield surveillance radar: requirements; system design; unambiguous range and velocity measurement · MTI radar: System diagram; clutter rejection by single and double delay line cancellers; blind speed · GMTI: MTI from an airborne platform, target measurement accuracy in range and in angle; clutter Doppler spread Tracking Radar. Monopulse and conical scan angle- trackers; range and velocity gates for range and Doppler tracking; angle-tracking errors; track-while-scan systems; continuity tracking synthetic-aperture radar: Cross range resolution, unfocussed SAR, focussed SAR, array length, array processing, resolution, Doppler Beam
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Analyse radar detection performance in noise and clutter, relating these principles to conventional radar system design,
  • Assess the performance and identify particular operational advantages of modern multi-function radar and SAR systems Skills and Other Attributes,
  • Critically assess the detection performance of a radar system, given its design parameters,
  • Produce a viable radar system design, given a suitable specification of the required radar performance,
  • Generate and analyse radar waveforms and target echoes with MATLAB.

GW Power Electronics and Communication Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr Derek Bray

    To provide you with an understanding of the electronics theory required in a Guided Weapon and relate this to the GW power chain, actuation and communications technology and requirements. To also provide you with the necessary understanding of signal processing methods for reliable sensor information and communication signals and the necessary command and control functions.

    • Electronics basic principles, fundamentals of electronic circuits and functionality, pulse width, frequency and amplitude modulation methods, DC, AC and 3-phase AC principles, brushed and brushless motors for actuation,
    • Importance of Electrical Power Supplies (EPS) in a GW, role of intelligent and performance enhancement of EPS for a Guided Weapon system, power generation and distribution for a Guided Weapon, EPS design in association to switching characteristics,
    • Probability, random variables, probability distributions, covariance, correlation. Noise sources, noise bandwidth, noise figure, noise temperature. Cascaded networks. Mathematical representation of noise, correlation and convolution, Matched filters, the z-transform. Advantages/ disadvantages of DSP, sampling and quantisation, digital filters, DFT and FFT, the effect of filters on sensor and communications information, DSP applications in communications and radar,
    • Communication methods for short, medium and long-range missile systems. Transmitter and receiver communication system models, multipath effects,
    • Command and control for different missile systems and environments,
    • Guided Weapon EPS Design: A MATLAB based tutorial exploring the critical EPS design factors for an air-launched guided weapon system. To consider the EPS performance enhancement and key realisation constraints within the context of GW systems.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Synthesise electronic circuit models for guided weapons and analyse their performance,
  • Assess the importance of electrical power supplies (EPS) in a GW and justify the role of intelligence and performance enhancement for a GW EPS,
  • Analyse how signal processing methods can improve the signal quality, performance and security of sensor information and communication methods in a Guided Weapon System,
  • Evaluate the performance of C2 systems within the context of GW.

Missile System Design


    To comprehend the systems design principles of all major classes of modern missiles in the land, sea and air domains, and the parametric trade-offs associated with missile system design.

    • Systems Design: Multi-disciplinary optimisation of all relevant GW system and sub-system technology areas, datalinks,
    • Hydrodynamics: Buoyancy, virtual mass effects, cavitation and ventilation,
    • Sea Systems: – Naval attack, naval defence, torpedo systems, underwater sonar, underwater propulsion, tutorials,
    • Land Systems: Guided shells, rockets & mortars, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, anti-tank GW, surface-air missiles, ballistic missile defence, tutorials,
    • Air Systems: Air-air weapons, aircraft/weapon integration, stores carriage & release, air-surface weapons, UAV-mounted GW and UCAVs, tutorials,
    • Guided Weapon Parametric Study: Introduction to the parametric study exercise with reference to background theory. Introduction and demonstration of supporting software.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Compare, contrast and evaluate the technology associated with the various in-service worldwide missile systems in use in the land, sea and air domains and the differing approaches to their design requirements;
  • Assess the suitability of a set of missile system operational requirements;
  • Critically assess the key parameters affecting the performance of a guided weapon system (specifically regarding the fields of propulsion, aerodynamics, warheads, control, guidance and autopilots), and analyse the inter-linked parametric trends between missile subsystems;
  • Apply the knowledge and skills gained throughout the course to design and defend a GW concept that satisfies specified requirements.

GW Systems Integration


    To provide you with the skills and knowledge to create new and manage existing complex weapon systems and their integration.

    • System of Systems: definitions, Performance setting and performance assessment, dependencies, interrelationships, modelling, safety cases,
    • Physical Integration: Environment definition, Environmental data gathering,
    • Data Integration: Power and Command and Control, knowledge of start position, sensor errors,
    • Domain Specific Issues: Air/Maritime/Land, challenges of integrating into each environment, load/unload, character release and jettison, casual weapon procedure, render safe procedure,
    • Integration Facilities: Hardware-in-the-loop simulation, software-in-the-loop simulation, technical integration labs, systems reference models,
    • In-service Safety: e.g., HUMS, EMC, energetics,
    • MTDS/Life Cycle: Package Handling storage and transportation, battlefield management, ground-air-ground cycle (temperature gradients, thermal models),
    • Trials Planning: Fundamental requirements of validation, safety, trials equipment (independent flight termination system, tele-breakup unit), sequence, telemetry (instrumentation plan, go-no-go criteria), pit testing, jettison, missile simulator round, live fire.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Assess the challenges of integrating a guided weapon onto platforms with consideration of integrated logistic elements,
  • Design a performance model that depicts the system-of-systems interactions, dependencies and interrelationships of the missile in the environment,
  • Design a test and evaluation programme for a guided weapon from the design to acceptance,
  • Examine in detail and justify a safety assessment at weapon, platform, and system levels, including rules and regulations,
  • Defend the guided weapon design solution for the domain and platform-specific issues and challenges involved in the system integration.

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

GW Electronic Warfare

    To provide you with an understanding of the principles, design and analysis of the electronic threats to radar and EO/IR systems and how they may be protected.
    • RF Countermeasures (including stealth) and counter-countermeasures, RF directed energy weapons, RF protection measures,
    • EO/IR countermeasures (including stealth) and counter-countermeasures, laser directed energy weapons, laser countermeasures and electro-optic protection measures,
    • Missile sensor and airframe damage assessment and impact on kinematic and dynamic performance.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Critically assess the choice of electronic defence measures against specified GW threats and evaluate how a GW may behave to counter such defences,
  • Evaluate the performance of RF DEW systems and assess their suitability in counter-GW applications,
  • Evaluate the performance of LASER DEW systems and assess their suitability in counter-GW applications,
  • Analyse the impact of DEW systems on the performance and effectiveness of missile systems.

Hypersonic Guided Weapons


    The aim of this module is to: provide a general overview of hypersonic guided weapon systems and technology; introduce you to the theoretical design of hypersonic guided weapon subsystems; demonstrate how these subsystems form the overall weapon system.

    • Introduction to Hypersonic Weapons: General overview of hypersonic GW, emerging technologies, MTCR rules,
    • Aerodynamics: Supersonic aerodynamic principles, hypersonic flow, Shock layers, entropy layers, viscous interaction, high temperature effects, low density effects, Newtonian flow model, hypersonic guided weapon applications,
    • Hypersonic Missile Propulsion: Rocket propellants & motors, Brayton Cycle, ramjet propulsion, scramjet aerothermodynamics,
    • Hypersonic Flight Dynamics and Stability: ICBM ballistics, orbital mechanics, re-entry, stability of hypersonic vehicles,
    • Guidance, Navigation and Control: Classical & nonlinear control applications for hypersonic vehicles, navigation methods, sensors for navigation, trajectory optimisation and hypersonic vehicle navigation,
    • Hypersonic Aeromechanics: Aeroelasticity, structures and materials for hypersonic applications,
    • Hypersonic Electronic Warfare: Communications, missile signatures and detection, plasma flow,
    • Hypersonic threats and countermeasures.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Evaluate the challenges of operating a guided weapon at hypersonic velocities;
  • Assess the trade-offs between the various subsystems and technologies used in a hypersonic guided weapon;
  • Compare, contrast and appraise the key requirements for design of both offensive and defensive hypersonic weapon systems;
  • Critically analyse the design of countermeasures and defences against hypersonic guided weapons.


The MSc of this course has been accredited by the Royal Aeronautical Society under licence from the UK regulator, the Engineering Council.

Accreditation is a mark of assurance that the degree meets the standards set by the Engineering Council in the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC). An accredited degree will provide you with some or all of the underpinning knowledge, understanding and skills for eventual registration as an Incorporated (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng). Some employers recruit preferentially from accredited degrees, and an accredited degree is likely to be recognised by other countries that are signatories to international accords.

Engineering Council accredited degree

Your career

Successful students will have a detailed understanding of Guided Weapons system design and will be highly suited to any role or position with a requirement for specific knowledge of such systems. Many students go on to positions within the services which have specific needs for such skills.

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.