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Course content

Course Description

This course provides education and training in selected weapons systems. The course is intended for officers of the armed forces and for scientists and technical officers in government defence establishments and the defence industry. It is particularly suitable for those who, in their subsequent careers, will be involved with the specification, analysis, development, technical management or operation of weapons systems.

The course is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and will contribute towards an application for chartered status.


The Gun System Design MSc is part of the Vehicle and Weapons Engineering Programme. The course is designed to provide an understanding of the technologies used in the design, development, test and evaluation of gun systems.

This course offers the underpinning knowledge and education to enhance the student’s suitability for senior positions within their organisation.

Each individual module is designed and offered as a standalone course which allows an individual to understand the fundamental technology required to efficiently perform the relevant, specific job responsibilities. The course provides students with the depth of knowledge to undertake engineering analysis or the evaluation of relevant sub systems.

Duration: Full-time MSc - one year, Part-time MSc - up to three years, Full-time PgCert - one year, Part-time PgCert - two years, Full-time PgDip - one year, Part-time PgDip - two years

English Language Requirements

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

IELTS - 6.5
TOEFL - 92
Pearson PTE Academic - 65
Cambridge English Scale - 180
Cambridge English: Advanced - C
Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Course overview

This MSc course is made up of two essential components, the equivalent of 12 taught modules (including some double modules, typically of a two-week duration), and an individual project.


MSc and PGDip students take 11 compulsory modules and 1 optional module.
PGCert students take 4 compulsory modules and 2 optional modules.

- Element Design
- Fundamentals of Ballistics
- Finite Element Methods in Engineering
- Gun System Design
- Light Weapon Design
- Military Vehicle Propulsion and Dynamics
- Modelling, Simulation and Control
- Solid Modelling CAD
- Survivability
- Vehicle Systems Integration

- Guided Weapons
- Military Vehicle Dynamics
- Reliability and System Effectiveness
- Uninhabited Military Vehicle Systems

Individual Project

In addition to the taught part of the course, students can opt either to undertake an individual project or participate in a group design project. The aim of the project phase is to enable students to develop expertise in engineering research, design or development. The project phase requires a thesis to be submitted and is worth 80 credit points.

Examples of recent titles are given below.
- Use of Vibration Absorber to help in Vibration
- Validated Model of Unmanned Ground Vehicle Power Usage
- Effect of Ceramic Tile Spacing in Lightweight Armour systems
- Investigation of Suspension System for Main Battle Tank
- An Experimental and Theoretical Investigation into a Pivot Adjustable Suspension System as a Low Cost Method of Adjusting for Payload
- Analysis of Amphibious Operation and Waterjet Propulsions for Infantry Combat Vehicle.
- Design of the Light Weapon System
- Analysis of the Off-road Performance of a Wheeled or Tracked Vehicle

Group Project

- Armoured Fighting Vehicle and Weapon Systems Study
To develop the technical requirements and characteristics of armoured fighting vehicles and weapon systems, and to examine the interactions between the various sub-systems and consequential compromises and trade-offs.

- Application of systems engineering practice to an armoured fighting vehicle and weapon system.
- Practical aspects of system integration.
- Ammunition stowage, handling, replenishment and their effects on crew performance and safety.
- Applications of power, data and video bus technology to next generation armoured fighting vehicles.
- Effects of nuclear, biological and chemical attack on personnel and vehicles, and their survivability.

- Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of the group project the students should be able to –
- Demonstrate an understanding of the engineering principles involved in matching elements of the vehicle and weapon system together.
- Propose concepts for vehicle and weapon systems, taking into account incomplete and possibly conflicting user requirements.
- Effectively apply Solid Modelling in outlining proposed solutions.
- Interpret relevant legislation and standards and understand their relevance to vehicle and weapon systems.
- Work effectively in a team, communicate and make decisions.
- Report the outcome of a design study orally to a critical audience.


Continuous assessment, examinations and thesis (MSc only). Approximately 30% of the assessment is by examination.

Career opportunities

Many previous students have returned to their sponsor organisations to take up senior programme appointments and equivalent research and development roles in this technical area.

For further information

On this course, please visit our course webpage - https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/Courses/Masters/Gun-Systems-Design

Visit the Gun Systems Design (MSc/PgDip/PgCert) page on the Cranfield University at Shrivenham website for more details!





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