Automotive engineering is a rapidly evolving field that offers a unique blend of challenges and rewards. The automotive industry is constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible and has a great impact on the environment and society. Those employed within automotive engineering face the exciting challenge to develop vehicles that are safer, more efficient and sustainable.

Established for over 60 years with excellent industrial links and an outstanding record for the employment of its graduates, the MSc in Automotive Engineering has been developed to provide the industry with high calibre engineers that are equipped with the necessary skills to advance vehicle technology to meet the demands of the future.


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

Who is it for?

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

Why this course?

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

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

Industry placement opportunities are on offer during research work.

Informed by Industry

The MSc in Automotive Engineering is directed by an Industrial Advisory Panel comprising senior engineers from the automotive sector. This maintains course relevancy and ensures that graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge required by leading employers.

You will have the opportunity to meet this panel and present your work for the group design project to them at an annual event held in April.

Panel members include:

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

Course details

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

Course delivery

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

Group project

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

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

For more information on previous Group Design Projects click here

Individual project

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

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


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Course modules

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

Automotive Engineering Induction

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

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

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

Vehicle Design Propulsion, and Performance

    • Provide deep understanding of vehicle propulsion options and driveline.
    • Establish approaches and procedures to analysing and predicting vehicle performance.
    • Provide a framework for the appreciation of the interdependency of vehicle systems.
    • Critically evaluate the integration of different alternative powertrain options and be able to select appropriate solutions within legislation framework.
    • Evaluate vehicle emissions and control systems to identify appropriate solutions.

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

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

    Off-Road: Introduction to off road vehicle design characteristics.

    Autonomy: Review of the current technologies surrounding Vehicle Autonomous Driving.

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

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

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

    Driveline components: Driveline components: Friction clutches, Final drives, Differentials including e-Diff

    Manual & automatic transmissions: Description of gearbox layout and gear change mechanisms.

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

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

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

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module you should be able to:
1. Interpret and apply legislative requirements in generating vehicle concepts and designs.
2. Predict resistances to motion, determine powertrain system characteristics, calculate vehicle performance (max. speed, acceleration, gradient, fuel economy etc).
3. Understand vehicle concepts for propulsion driveline systems and components; optimise vehicle performance characteristics for the selected criteria / benchmarks.
4. Understand rotating component tribology in the context of vehicle efficiency.
5. Assess and critically evaluate vehicle systems and interdependency including vehicle design and ride quality.

Powertrain Simulation and Performance

    • Equip you with the necessary skills to understand the mechanics of wave action in engines. 
    • Equip you with knowledge to be able to evaluate the impact of engine simulation on powertrain systems and global emissions.

    The module includes a systems view of powertrain simulation including:

    • Performance and emissions targets 
    • Review of the role of engine simulation 
    • Driveline and Performance 
    • Ignition and ignition timing 
    • Engine breathing 
    • Fuel injection systems
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  1. Identify and critically assess different engines for automotive applications.
  2. Critically assess the main factors that result in global emissions from engines. 
  3. Evaluate and critically assess global legislation of automotive emissions. 
  4. Evaluate and critically assess the methods of emissions abatement for vehicles. 
  5. Assess and critically evaluate the role of engine performance simulation packages within engine development.

Automotive Control and Simulation


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


    The module will provide knowledge in advanced control design tools and techniques and advance analytical methods in designing multivariable controllers with applications in the automotive engineering area. The theory of the multivariable controls will be introduced and then their use will be illustrated and developed by example applications. The theory and applications will be interleaved with selected associated topics (listed below) as appropriate through the module.

    The material will be addressed theoretically and practically: all lecture-based teaching will be supported by practical exercises using MATLAB and Simulink.
    • Revision of key concepts (covered only in outline)
    o Representing mechanical and electrical systems using differential equations
    o Use of Laplace methods
    o Transfer functions, poles and transmission zeros, and frequency responses
    o Convolution and time-domain responses

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

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

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

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

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

Vehicle Structures

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

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


Intended learning outcomes

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

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

Vehicle Materials and Manufacturing

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

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

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

Vehicle Dynamics

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

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

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


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

    Core topics:

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

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

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


Vehicle Electrification and Hybridisation


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

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

Intended learning outcomes

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

Automotive Aerodynamics

    Aerodynamics is a critical element of modern vehicle design. This module will enable you to understand the basic principles governing aerodynamics in relation to vehicles, including the use of wind tunnel testing techniques.
    • Basic flow concepts and governing equations. 
    • A review of the fundamental aerodynamic characteristics of streamlined and bluff bodies. 
    • The application of aerodynamic design principles to vehicle body design.
    • Mechanisms for controlling aerodynamic lift and drag generation.
    • An introduction to aerodynamic issues related to cooling and ventilation flows. 
    • An introduction to wheel aerodynamics.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the essential facts, concepts and principles of incompressible flows including vortices and viscous effects and boundary layers.
  • Demonstrate understanding of how aerodynamics affects the Automotive vehicle design and operation. 
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the wind tunnel techniques used to analyse vehicle aerodynamic problems and apply these techniques and concepts to develop solution strategies for relevant wind tunnel simulations. 
  • Demonstrate competence in analysing and evaluating the low speed aerodynamic characteristics of representative vehicles and components using acquired wind tunnel data, data sheets and fundamental principles.

Automotive Engineering Design Project


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Automotive Engineering MSc is accredited by:

on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the requirements for further learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

The best part of the course is meeting lots of different people in different environments, and doing the Group Design Project. We had to do measurements, research, a literature review and a really good project. To be here with people from the automotive industry – they know more than us for sure, so we can learn a lot and it is a great opportunity.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Automotive Engineering MSc. I was very interested in the engine modules – the engine modules and lubrication – and simulation performance. Vehicle dynamics and powertrain performance was also a very interesting module.

We’ve had quite a few guest lecturers – diesel emissions experts from Ford and one who was from VCA talking about legislation and vehicle regulations testing, so we’ve had a good amount of input from the industry.
I’ve always been attracted to the automotive industry and I wanted to study in the UK as I am really attracted to its culture and language. After some research on the quality of teaching and the reputation of Cranfield University worldwide, I knew Cranfield was the right place for me.

I am currently working as an Analysis Performance Engineer at Michelin Motorsport in France. My key responsibilities are to analyse tyre data coming from simulations, tracks or test rigs, and to develop vehicle/tyre models to perform simulations and analyse the data. Every part of the job is interesting and challenging because no mistake is accepted regarding the state-of-the-art tyre technology developed by Michelin Motorsport.

My degree at Cranfield helped me first of all to collaborate with Aston Martin as part of my MSc thesis which surely helped me to secure my current position.
All I can say is that Cranfield was the ideal place for me to pursue my MSc in Automotive Engineering as it provided just the right atmosphere and peer group to do it in.

Academically, the highlights would have to be the group design project (GDP) and the individual research project. Designing the hybrid sports car for the GDP was the most fun I’ve had on a project, ever! And the fact that our presentation received such positive feedback from the panel made the experience even more rewarding!
Having spent a year working in the automotive industry I knew that a degree from Cranfield would greatly increase both my theoretical knowledge and career potential. My interest in cars, however, has been life-long, and continues to grow as new technologies emerge.

I have recently been promoted to the role of Powertrain Cooling Systems Manager at Aston Martin. My key responsibility is to provide world-class thermal management systems that achieve the functional, quality, cost, and timing deliverables on every 'Second Century' car in the Aston Martin portfolio. As our company continues to grow, this change is both exciting and challenging, particularly as we start to enter new engineering territory in battery thermal management.

I believe that a degree from Cranfield improves initial employability and starts a candidate off with a strong advantage, but promotability requires something more; it requires knowledge, intuition and a hunger for opportunity.

I chose to study at Cranfield University because of it's massive industrial connections and the quality of teaching that reflected in it's overall rankings.

I chose Automotive Engineering MSc for two reasons: as the UK is home to some of the world's largest Automotive brands and is also the birthplace of Formula 1. Also, the evergreen and growing automotive sector in the UK and the possibility of connections.

I have managed to secure a job at Williams Advanced Engineering as a Graduate Controls Engineer. So, after finishing my degree in a few weeks, I will start my new career.

Cranfield University has helped me prepare the foundations that I needed to launch my career and also supported me in preparing my CV, cover letter and everything I needed to get the job.

Your career

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

Graduates of this MSc have taken on roles such as:

ADAS Engineer
Automotive Engineer
Design and Development Engineer
Lead Digital Vehicle Engineer
Mechanical Design Engineer
Performance Engineer
Powertrain Design Engineer
Prototype Build Engineering Manager
R&D Engineer
Simulation Engineer
Vehicle Dynamics Engineer

Companies that have recruited graduates of this course include:

Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd Auto Hangar India
Bentley Motors Cosworth
Jaguar Land Rover McLaren Automotive Ltd
Mercedes AMG High
Performance Powertrains
Nissan Motor Corporation
Prodrive Red Bull Powertrains
Safran Spark Racing Technology
Tata Motors Limited Toyota Motor Europe
Triumph Motorcycles Ltd Vintage Bentley
Volvo Trucks Williams Advanced Engineering

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

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 below to start your online application.

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